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Gray Barker and the UFO Magazine: The Saucerian

Gray Barker was the founder of a popular UFO magazine, The Saucerian, and the author of They Knew Too Much About Flying Saucers. He was born on May 2, 1925, in Riffle,West Virginia.

In 1947 he graduated from Glenville State College in West Virginia. He taught public school for a year and then began selling theatrical equipment and working as a theater booker.

In 1952 Barker wrote his first magazine article, an account of the so-called Flatwoods Monster, a UFO encounter that occurred in West Virginia. It was published in Fate magazine. That year he joined the International Flying Saucer Bureau (IFSB), headed by Albert K. Bender of Bridgeport, Connecticut, and became one of its most active members. Barker wrote frequently for Space Review, the publication of the IFSB.

In late 1953 Albert Bender closed down the IFSB, allegedly due to a threat he received from three men dressed in black (this was the origin of the so-called men-in-black, or MIB, phenomenon).

Gray Barker’s book about the Bender incident, They Knew Too Much About Flying Saucers, was published in 1956.When the IFSB dissolved, Barker started his own magazine, The Saucerian. It became one of the most popular UFO magazines, with a circulation of 1,500. Barker considered himself an entertainer and folklorist rather than a factual reporter and was a gifted writer with a gentle, understated sense of humor.

One of Barker’s best friends was James W.

Moseley, publisher of a rival magazine, Saucer News. Moseley and Barker pretended to be feuding and sniped at each other in the pages of their magazines. Together, Barker and Moseley were responsible for one of the most notorious hoaxes of the 1950s. They obtained a piece of State Department stationery and wrote a letter to contactee George Adamski, signing it “R. E. Straith.”

The letter stated that the State Department had on file a great deal of evidence confirming Adamski’s claims and encouraged his work. After receiving this letter, Adamski sent a registered letter addressed to Straith at the State Department. When the return receipt indicated that the letter had been accepted, it was assumed that Straith was real. The Straith letter was announced in an article in the March/April 1958 issue of Flying Saucer Review. Adamski partisans around the world celebrated this validation of his work. The Straith letter created Barker and Moseley’s desired effect of throwing long-term confusion into the UFO field.

In 1959 Barker entered the book-publishing field.His first offering was Howard Menger’s From Outer Space to You. In 1962 he published Albert K.

Bender’s Flying Saucers and the Three Men. This was a wild story that told of Bender being abducted by monstrous aliens and taken to the South Pole. Barker also published several paperback compilations, such as The Strange Case of Dr.M. K.Jessup and Gray Barker’s Book of Saucers. The last issue of Barker’s magazine, which had changed its name to Saucerian Bulletin in 1956, appeared in 1962. Barker sold the magazine to James Moseley, who incorporated it into Saucer News. In 1970 Barker wrote and published The Silver Bridge, a fictionalized account of UFO-related events. Barker published a tabloid, Gray Barker’sNewsletter, in the 1970s. In 1981 he compiled and published A UFO Guide to “Fate” Magazine. Gray Barker died on December 6, 1984. Following Barker’s death, Moseley confessed to writing the Straith letter with Barker.

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