One evening in February of 2011, we stood outside Abbondanza, an Italian restaurant on Simonton Street in Key West and watched a tall, elderly man amble slowly across the street. We hadn’t seen Jim Moseley in more than 20 years, but we recognized him immediately. We would soon find that even at age 80 Jim’s wit remained sharp and he still maintained a bit of his New York hipster attitude.
We had kept in touch with him since the late 1980s when we wrote for OMNI and occasionally used Moseley as a background source for UFO-related stories. He’d been investigating the subject since the early 1950s. We would often receive responses from him on a postcard with CONFIDENTIAL!!! written on the front of the card.
He started a UFO magazine, Saucer New, in 1954 and traveled the country interviewing many of the so-called ‘contactees,’ people who claimed close encounters with aliens. He even managed to interview ex-president Harry Truman, who had been in office during the famous wave of sightings over the capital in 1952. Truman was friendly, but denied knowing anything about UFOs.
Later, Moseley lived in Peru for several years and excavated ancient artifacts as an amateur archaeologist. He continued his pursuit of the UFO enigma over the years and co-authored a satirical tome, Shockingly Close to the Truth, that combined his interests in ‘grave robbing’ and UFOs. From 1981 until the fall of 2012, he published a ‘trade journal’ for ufologists called Saucer Smear.
As the title suggests, Moseley used his wry sense of humor to skew both believers and skeptics who often battled each other on the pages of the journal. Jim never wrote about UFO sightings per se, only about the people investigating them. He considered himself a ‘skeptical believer,’ but questioned many of the major UFO cases, including the Roswell crash in 1947.
The long-time resident of Key West joined us for dinner that evening. After all these years, we wanted to know what he thought about UFOs. Right away, he told us that the ‘nuts and bolts’ explanation didn’t ring true. In other words, UFOs are not crafts flown here from other planets in the same sense that we would fly a spacecraft to the moon or Mars. He shrugged. “Beyond that, it’s all guesswork.”
On abductions: “I can’t say it’s true because I’ve never experienced it. However, something is happening, what it is, who knows.” His comment reminded us of lyrics from the famous Buffalo Springfield song, For What it’s Worth.
Later, Moseley suggested that UFOs and paranormal phenomenon are related. “It’s complicated. I call it the 3 ½ D explanation. It makes the most sense.” When we asked what was the most important thing he had learned about UFOs over the years, he thought about it a moment, then smiled. “You can’t be in a hurry to find answers in a field where there aren’t any.” A classic Moseley comment.
After dinner, he invited us to his home. Years earlier, we had stayed at Rose Lane Gardens, a six-unit guest house Moseley had owned in Old Town. Now, however, he lived in a dingy one-room apartment where he typed Smear on an old Selectric typewriter while sitting on his bed. He didn’t own a computer, didn’t want one. It was sad and depressing to see him living this way. His million dollar inheritance that had allowed him to spend decades investigating UFOs was gone.
Before we departed, Moseley told us there would only be a few more issues of Smear before he gave it up. He mentioned health problems. It was the last time we saw him. Jim Moseley died of cancer Nov. 16, 2012. The last issue of Smear appeared in September. We hope Jim is still exploring the mystery from the other side and finding more answers than he did here.
RIP, amigo. If the truth is out there, you’ll find it.
The above was a brief excerpt from Aliens in the Backyard, which comes out Feb. 4 as an e-book, and soon after as a trade paperback and audio book.