The Philadelphia Experiment – Calling Anna Genzlinger

Does anybody know whether Anna Lykins Genzlinger is still alive?  If so, could you please put me in touch with her?  I would love to meet her.

I’ve known Genzlinger for years as the author of a book entitled The Jessup Dimension, published in 1981 by Gray Barker’s “Saucerian Press.”  It’s so rare as to be nearly unattainable. For years I tried to get hold of a copy through the University of North Carolina’s interlibrary loan; no luck.  How thrilled I was, visiting the Barker Collection in Clarksburg, West Virginia, to come upon the original manuscript that Genzlinger sent Barker more than thirty years ago!  Sprinkled with Barker’s handwritten notes, revisions, excisions.

Since then my old friend, UFOlogist Rick Hilberg, has sent me a photocopy of the published edition.  But for me the manuscript I found and photocopied in the Barker Collection remains the “real” book.

And here I must quarrel with another old UFOlogical friend, Jerome Clark.  In the article “Jessup, Morris Ketchum (1900-1959),” in volume 2 of his monumental UFO Encyclopedia, Jerry writes:  “Anna Lykins Genzlinger decided that Jessup was not a victim of suicide but of murder by government agents because he knew too much about the Philadelphia experiment and other matters, and she went out in search of evidence to substantiate her intuition.  The result was The Jessup Dimension (1981), in which the author says Jessup’s ghost (whom she calls ‘Ketch’) guided her in her investigation.”  You come away with the impression of Genzlinger as—well, something of a flake.

The impression is unfair.  It’s true that, in her final pages, Genzlinger toys with the idea she’d had guidance from the Beyond.  Yet by and large Jessup’s ghost functions in her book as a poetic conceit, an expression of the spiritual attachment this fierce, fearless, warm-hearted woman had formed for the lonely UFO hunter who she could never bring herself to believe really took his own life.

Full disclosure: Genzlinger won my heart with her revelation, tossed out as an aside, that at one point she took a break from her Jessup obsession by returning to her study of Hebrew.  (“I was the only Gentile in my class.”)  Anybody who shares my love for the Hebrew language is automatically my friend.  A photo in Barker’s files shows a woman I would very much like to have known: fleshy, heavy-set, with kinky hair and slightly African features, radiating intelligence, kindness, and force of character.  Her light-colored eyes look not quite at you but just over your shoulder, toward something only she can see.  On her lips, just a trace of a smile.

There’s an exchange of letters between her and Dr. Joseph Davis, the Dade County Medical Examiner, dated October 1977.  Genzlinger wants an appointment with Davis to discuss certain points of medical procedure in connection with Jessup’s death.  Davis’s secretary has just informed Genzlinger that Davis has no time to talk with her, “now or ever.”  Davis himself writes:  “I have been less than enchanted with the idea of becoming involved in conspiracy theories pertaining to UFO phenomena.

Hard not to sympathize with the (no doubt) dedicated and overworked county official.  Yet even harder, at least for me, not to cheer for the dogged outsider who writes to Davis:  “Anyway I’m going on with it [her investigation] even tho I’ve been warned that I could be placing myself in danger.  Im [sic] not telling you this in hopes that you’ll change your mind about helping me but only to let you know how determined I am to get at the truth.”

The truth.  Which is that Jessup’s death can’t be as it seems.

I should note here,” I wrote in my diary the evening of my third day in the Barker Collection (Thursday, 9/9/04), “a thought that has come to me several times over the past few days.  In one of his interminable letters, [Carl] Allen writes that Ivan Sanderson (for whom he seems to have genuine nostalgia, as one of the few people who treated him decently and did not insult or abuse him) was murdered; he indeed died of cancer, but this cancer was not really natural, but was induced by some malignant force. …  Anna Genzlinger, although she acknowledges Jessup did commit suicide, nevertheless toys with the idea he was driven to it by some murderous external force trying to silence him.  The tendency, it seems to me, is to deny that death is natural and inevitable, to peg it on some malign external force …

I suspect this “tendency” is a central, if normally unspoken, theme of UFOlogy.  I’m not the only one who’s had this thought.  Jerry Clark, interviewed in Bob Wilkinson’s brilliant 2009 documentary film “Shades of Gray” (referring to Gray Barker), makes precisely the same point.

At 6:20 p.m. on April 20, 1979, twenty years almost to the minute after Jessup’s death, Anna Genzlinger drove to Matheson Hammock Park in Coral Gables and parked in the exact spot where he’d died.  “Heat waves are rising around my car from the asphalt paving.  There’s a slight breeze blowing from the Southeast, just enough to stir the hot air and make it cling to your body.  It’s very hot in the car.  But, I must sit here.  If anything happens then it must be here, sitting where he sat.  Looking and seeing the same things his eyes saw.”

She feels Jessup’s presence.  She feels the loss of him.  She’s tempted to follow him into the “Jessup Dimension,” and resists the temptation.  She says a short prayer for his wanderings and begins to drive, with no idea where she’s headed.  A half hour later she’s sitting on the beach, convinced she’s experienced what he experienced twenty years earlier.

“I felt no fear, no dread of the unknown.  I looked up at the clouds blowing swiftly overhead, scattered and laying bare great patches of the night sky where the stars glittered and danced on their trip across the Universe. … [A]ll I felt was loneliness and peace and a strange sense of sadness.

“I’ve always been a loner so that part of it was not new to me.  I felt grateful for the peace.  And more than a little resentful of the sadness. …

“I got up from the sand and brushed my jeans off, put my shoes on and stopped, still, pushing my hair out of my face.  The night seemed suddenly darker all around me.  I was overwhelmed by a sudden anger like nothing I had ever felt before!  Jessup was gone!  He had left me to finish this thing alone, and I resented it! … In truth, on the night of April 20, 1979, Jessup died again.  This time he would have at least one person to mourn his passing. …

“I gave him the only answer I could, ‘Rest in peace, Ketch.’ ”

You too, Anna, if you’re now in his “dimension”—rest in peace.

5 Responses to “The Philadelphia Experiment – Calling Anna Genzlinger”

  • Alene Genzlinger Hales:

    Good Evening, I just read the above posted request Calling Anna Genzlinger and wanted to contact you to let you know she is my mother. And if you would like further information please feel free to contact me at my email listed above. Thanks, Alene (Alli)

  • STEVE A JEFFREY:

    Where can I get the PDF of Annas book or excerpts from it.

    • David:

      I can think of one possible source for the printed version but I will need to check it out. If you’re anywhere near West Virginia it’s worth driving to Clarksburg to read the manuscript. Gray Barker was a brilliant writer but as an editor he could be clunky, and what Anna Genzlinger originally wrote was a vastly better book than the one he published under her name.
      I’ll get back to you.

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