What We Know And How We Know It, Part 5.
What We Know: Betty and Barney Misidentified the Jack O’Lantern Resort as a Flying Saucer
How We Know It:
The Jack O’Lantern Resort has been located on US 3 in Woodstock, NH, since the 1940s. Its logo is a large, stylized jack o’lantern. In the 1960s there was a billboard down along the road, and a large, lighted jack o’lantern on the roof of the main building.
The next bit isn’t actual knowledge on my part. This is supposition, but it’s far more solid than the supposition that Betty and Barney were abducted by space aliens, because we know that the Jack O’Lantern existed (and still exists) but the “flying saucer” didn’t. In Fuller’s book we read, “Both recalled very faintly a large, luminous moon-shape, which seemed to be touching the road, sitting on end under some pines.” That could be a description of the billboard, as their headlights swept momentarily across it.
Betty and Barney were already thinking of the “flying saucer” as a glowing red-orange orb, ever since they misidentified the moon as a flying saucer back there by the Old Man of the Mountain. So when they saw another red-orange orb, it became the same flying saucer in their minds. A little bit farther on, they came to a place where the red-orange glowing orb of the jack o’lantern on top of the motel came in view. This too became the same flying saucer in their memories. It is my belief that this was where they stopped the car and ran around an otherwise empty field, where they looked with binoculars into the jack o’lantern’s eyes and mouth and called them windows, and all the other garish things they remembered the next day. They conflated the memory of this object with the memory of the moon that they had seen back a few miles farther north in Franconia. When, some weeks or months later, they tried to find in daylight the place where they had stopped at night, they missed it.
In between sighting the moon in Franconia, and sighting the Jack O’Lantern Resort in Woodstock, was the portion where the flying saucer flew directly above them. They didn’t see this, of course – the car roof was in the way – rather they believed that it must be true: they could no longer see the lights in the sky (the moon had set, the beacon was obscured by the mountain). But they still felt they were being watched and followed (the paranoia due to sleep deprivation). So, where was the flying saucer? By elimination it had to be directly above them.
After the sighting of the Jack O’Lantern Resort (where “…Barney was near hysteria. He jammed the car into first gear, spurted off down the road, shouting that he was sure they were going to be captured…”) they had no more experiences with strange lights (until the recovered memory sessions over a year later). May I suggest that Barney wasn’t “near” hysteria: he was all the way there. Even so, even then, he still didn’t believe they had seen a flying saucer: “In those first few moments of consciousness, Betty remembers faintly saying to her husband, ‘Now do you believe in flying saucers?’ And he recalls answering: ‘Don’t be ridiculous. Of course not.’”