Truman Bethurum from Redondo Beach captivated crowds in the 1950s with his tales of riding in a spaceship and its exotic occupants. This is the story of the planet Clarion and its race of small, but fully formed, men. We know of their existence because on Sept. 24, 1953, Redondo Beach resident Truman Bethurum told a Daily Breeze reporter that he saw them. In fact, Bethurum did a lot more than see them. According to several articles, he rode on their flying saucer 11 times. And its captain, Aura Rahnes, promised to take Bethurum to visit Clarion in the near future.
Another thing Bethurum noticed: The Clarions all dressed like Greyhound bus drivers. And, not only did they speak perfect English, but they also spoke in rhyme. At the time of his encounters, Bethurum, was working on a construction job in the Nevada desert when the Clarionites, as he called them, stopped by for a visit.
"What I saw cost me my job and endless ridicule," Bethurum said at the time.
His tale was filled with vivid details. Capt. Rahnes was a beautiful woman who had a "slender Latin-type face" and wore a radiant red skirt, black velvet short sleeve blouse and a black beret with red trim. And they didn't refer to their ship as a saucer. They called it a "scow." And they enjoyed polkas and square dances. The ship itself was 300 feet in diameter, 6 yards deep and made of burnished stainless steel. It hovered silently inches above the ground.
Coming at a time when flying saucer mania was riding high, Bethurum's tale of olive-skinned, black-haired aliens, quickly captured the nation's attention. He enthralled a capacity (and paying) audience at the aptly named Neptunian Club in Manhattan Beach and, within a few years, was on the lecture circuit, entertaining enthusiasts with tales of intergalactic visitors. He spoke to Lions Clubs, and appeared on radio and television programs. He was especially popular with the Unidentified Flying Object Club of Sacramento and visited them several times.
And in 1954, he wrote a book, Aboard a Flying Saucer. Even today, his allure continues to resonate; a Google search of his name lists more than 500 entries. Life on Clarion was blissful. According to Bethurum, there were no divorces, graft, tobacco or liquor. And Clarionites lived to be 1,000 years old. Bethurum said he was given a message by the aliens for the people of Earth: We won't achieve space flight until we eliminate strife among men.
That wasn't the only prediction that didn't pan out. He was also informed that Mars contained heavy industry. Some time after the initial encounter, Bethurum saw Rahnes drinking a glass of orange juice at a restaurant, but she ignored him. Bethurum was 55 when he had his first encounter. Sometime later, he left the South Bay and moved to Salt Lake City. What became of him, records don't say. But his final appearance in the Daily Breeze on Oct. 5, 1958, states that his friends never came back.
By Josh Grossberg
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