Tag Archive: New York

A man from the past – part 2

This story was found by Jacques Bergier who read about it in an American parapsychology magazine and contacted Captain Rihm.  By this time, the Captain had retired, but he perfectly remembered the essential details of the case, which allowed Jacques Bergier to resume it in his work Le Livre du Mystere.  Later, Guy Breton, whose work I have translated, took up the investigation and was able to obtain, thanks to journalists who gained access to the Police files, some precisions which Bergier did not have.


The problem can be resumed in two points:

1.  A man mysteriously disappears without a trace in New York on the evening of 14 June 1876.

2.  An individual, having the features and clothes of the missing man appears, no less mysteriously, in a crowd on Broadway on the evening of 14 June 1950.

Did the man from 1876 leap into the future?

We know that the first fact relates indubitably to Rudolf Fentz Senior.  The second, however, does not necessarily imply a “reappearance” of the 1876 person.  There could be other explanations.

A collective hallucination has to be excluded because the body of the man run-over in Times Square was autopsied and buried.


Broadway around 1860 was a calm neighbourhood with provincial charm.

There is the possibility that a friend of the Fentz family, knowing of Rudolf Fentz’ disappearance, decided to play a practical joke.

This hypothetical person would have dressed up in similar clothes to the missing man, in 1950, would have mingled with the crowd on Broadway, would have drawn attention to himself by his strange comportment and would have committed suicide exclusively so that the Police, when they find the dollars and papers dating from 1876 in his pockets, would be placed before an insoluble enigma.  That seems a bit far-fetched.


For the moment, we have to be content with Jacques Bergier’s explanation:

“We find ourselves before a flagrant, irrefutable example of instantaneous “chronotransfer” or time travelling.”

According to him, this man would have penetrated, without knowing it, “some crack in the spatial-temporal continuum”.  This co-author of the Matin des Magiciens adds:

“Perhaps he is not the only one…”

He is doubtless alluding to the sudden and inexplicable disappearances of some people…


Broadway’s aspect in 1950 would have stunned a man from the XIXth Century who was used to the slow rhythm of a big village and hadn’t seen cars, skyscrapers, cinemas, television, or even electricity before.

There are people who run away, mountaineers who fall into crevasses, solo sailors who sink in the middle of the ocean, hikers who perish in forest fires and perfect crimes…

However, there are also the people who literally “disappear” before the eyes of witnesses.  Here is an example.  It is something which took place in the United States in 1880.  On the 23 September to be precise.  On this day, the weather is fine and David Lang, a farmer in the neighbourhood of Gallatin, Tennessee, is walking in a field with his wife and children.  Around six o’clock, as the sun is starting to set, the Langs come back towards the farm.  When they are less than fifty metres from the road, the children see a car belonging to Judge August Peck, a friend of the family, arriving.  They call out:

“Look!.  There’s Mr Peck!”

David Lang immediately raises his hand and calls out:

“Hello, August!”

Mrs Lang waves to him.  Then she turns toward her husband and remains stunned:  he has disappeared.  She searches all around her.  No-one.  Then she calls:

“David, where are you?”

Judge Peck leaps from his car and runs over.  He is white-faced.

“What happened to David?”

“I don’t know.  He was here a minute ago…”

“I know.  I saw him wave to me…  And I was going to respond when, before he had even lowered his arm, he had disappeared.”

Everyone then inspects the ground without finding the slightest hole, the slightest crack where the unfortunate farmer could have fallen.

For days, the terrain is tested without any trace of an excavation being found.   And no-one ever found out what happened to David Lang who had disappeared in a field, in the midst of his family, before the eyes of his friend Judge Peck…


It is possible that David Lang also found himself in another time.  Some scientists no longer dismiss this possibility.


Guy Breton concludes that eyes are opening, that Science is advancing with giant steps and that one day, it will be announced in the media as a perhaps rare, but perfectly explicable thing, that Mr Rudolf Fentz Senior did not return home one evening in June 1876, because he had been run over by a car, in 1950…


In 1876, the only cars that Rudolf Fentz would have seen looked like this. Nothing in these primitive engines announced the sumptuous Cadillacs which were to be seen 74 years later on Broadway.


A man from the past

On Wednesday 14 June 1950, around a quarter past eleven at night, the Broadway theatres and cinemas are slowly emptying, sending waves of spectators onto the sidewalks, when cries are heard.  A man around thirty years old, who had unthinkingly stepped onto the road, has just been hit by a car.  He is now lying in the middle of a pool of blood which is reflecting the lights of Times Square.

The people who crowd around the body then notice that the unknown man is dressed in a very old-fashioned way.  He is wearing a grey jacket with a row of buttons at the back, tight black and white checked pants, with no crease nor turned-up cuffs, and high-mounting shoes with buckles.  Not far from him, his top hat has rolled onto the asphalt…

At the morgue, a police officer empties this strange person’s pockets.  What he finds there rather surprises him.  There are:

– an obsolete bronze coin,

– a bill from a stable in Lexington Avenue with the mention:

“For the feed and stabling of one horse and for the storing of one carriage:  3 dollars”,

– seventy dollars in old money,

– a few visiting cards engraved with the name of Rudolf Fentz, and an address:  372 Fifth Avenue,

– a letter addressed to Mr R. Fentz bearing the postal stamp of June 1876.

The public servant transmits these objects to his superior who remains perplexed.

“And you say that he was wearing a jacket, checked pants, ankle boots and a top hat.  He was therefore in fancy dress.  But, when you put on fancy dress, you don’t go as far as having money corresponding to the period on you…  There is something funny here.”

“You don’t bother making fake papers either,”

says the other policeman, pointing to the bill and the letter, both perfectly new-looking with barely marked creases, which prove that they are of recent date.

“Do you think that it’s one of those crazy people who refuse our modern civilization and imagine that they are living in another age?”

“Unless he’s just an actor in a play where the action takes place in 1876 and has on him the money and the different documents of this time for use in the play…”

“He would have gone out into the street in costume?”

“With actors, anything’s possible!…”

This last hypothesis, by far the most plausible, is finally retained and the police officer sends two inspectors into the Broadway theatres with a photo of the victim, while a third goes to the address indicated on the visiting cards, the telephone directories are consulted, and the fingerprints of the mysterious person are sent to the records kept in New York and Washington.

All the witnesses thought that the mysterious person who was hit by a car on 14 June 1950 was terrified by the luminous signs on Broadway, and that was why he rushed onto the road.

That evening, the policemen come back with nothing.  No actor recognized the man in Times Square, the name of Rudolf Fentz is totally unknown at 372 Fifth Avenue, the telephone directories list no Fentz and the records do not contain the dead man’s fingerprints…

The affair is then handed over to Captain Hubert V. Rihm who is in charge of Missing Persons.  This officer immediately declares:

“We have to know where this person was coming from when he so stupidly got himself run over.  Was he leaving a shop, a show, a restaurant?  Publish a drawing of him in his extravagant outfit in the Press.  Perhaps the public will give us a clue.”

The portrait appears the following day in the New York Press and a few people who were in the crowd at Times Square on 14 June, at a quarter past eleven at night, present themselves at Captain Rihm’s office.  Alas, their testimonies, far from shedding any light on the case, cloud it even more.

A certain Mrs Kinners declares:

“I was coming out of the cinema with some friends.  There were a lot of people on the sidewalk.  Suddenly, this man appeared amongst us  I remember saying to myself:  ‘Where did he come from?’  Then, I thought that it might be someone doing some publicity for a show.  I thought that he was going to distribute some flyers.  But he was looking at all the signs in lights with a frightened air which struck me.  He asked me:  ‘What’s happening?  Is there a fire?”  And without waiting for my reply, he pushed into the crowd towards the road…”

Another witness, Mr Barnett, a friend of Mrs Kinners, came to say:

“We were coming out of the cinema and I was going to take a step towards the friend in front of me when, suddenly, this person was in between us.  How did he get there?  I don’t know.  All that I can say, is that he wasn’t there the second before.  I would have seen him because of his outfit and his big cigar.  The funniest thing was his expression.  He seemed astonished when he looked at me, as if I was a phenomenon.  Then he turned his head in all directions and seemed panicked to find himself in this crowd.  Finally, he looked up at the skyscrapers and murmured:  ‘My God!’  After which, he said something about a fire and, suddenly, went towards the road, as if he wanted to flee…”

Other witnesses came to testify to Captain Rihm.  Most of them repeated almost word for word what Mr Barnett and Mrs Kinners had said about the person’s sudden apparition.  But one of them, who was at the edge of the sidewalk at the moment of the accident, brought a supplementary detail:

“When the individual arrived near the road, I noticed that he was looking at the traffic lights with a frightened air, as if he had never seen any before.  Then he seemed to discover the traffic, turned to me and said, pointing to the cars that were passing by:  ‘But what’s that?’  …He looked terrified.  Suddenly, he rushed towards the street.  I called out to him:  ‘Watch out!’  But he mustn’t have heard me.  The car had already hit him…”

So who is this strange person dressed like an 1870s dandy, who appears not to know of the existence of skyscrapers, luminous signs, traffic lights and cars?

The astonishment of 1950 New Yorkers can easily be imagined when they see a man dressed in clothes from the XIXth Century suddenly appear amongst them.

Captain Rihm pursues his investigations and finally discovers, in a telephone directory of 1939, a Rudolf Fentz Junior living at 112 East 21st Street.  He goes there and learns that this Fentz, at the time that he was living in the building, was a man around sixty who worked in a bank nearby.  One of the lodgers gives the precision:

“In 1940, he retired and left the neighbourhood.  Since then, we’ve never had any news of him.”

The policeman enquires at the bank where he is told that Rudolf Fentz died in 1945, but that his widow was still alive and living in California.

Rihm takes an aeroplane and goes to question her.  Mrs Fentz’ answers can be resumed like this:

“No, she didn’t have a son, or a nephew, or even a cousin bearing the name of Rudolf Fentz.  No, her husband had not been married before marrying her.  No, no-one in her family had a taste for fancy dress.  No, she had never lived in Fifth Avenue, but her husband, yes, when he was a child.  He had even often shown her the building in which his parents had lived.  No, she didn’t recognize the visiting cards that the Captain was showing her, but the address could well be that of her father-in-law.  1876?  Yes, that year reminds her of something:  it was the year of her husband’s birth.  Yes, she has a family photo album…”

And she shows it to him.

The Captain wants to know if there is, among Rudolf Fentz Junior’s relatives, someone who resembles his mysterious person.

After having turned several pages, he stops suddenly, as if petrified, before a photograph representing a man dressed in a jacket and black and white checked pants, with buckled ankle boots, wearing a top hat…

Underneath this old-fashioned hat, a face is smiling, and although the document has yellowed, Captain Rihm immediately recognizes it:  it is the unknown man from Times Square.

“Who is this?”

“My father-in-law;  and the baby he is holding in his arms is my husband…  I mean, my future husband…”

“Have you any other portraits of your father-in-law?”

“No, that’s the only one that I have.  The unfortunate man mysteriously disappeared shortly after the photo was taken.”


“Yes.  His wife couldn’t stand the smell of tobacco.  So he had the habit of going for a little walk after dinner to smoke a cigar.  And one evening, he didn’t come home.  His family had a search made for him by the Police, but it was never known what happened to him…”

“Do you know the date of this disappearance?”

“My mother-in-law often told me about it:  my husband was three months old.  He was born in March.  My father-in-law therefore disappeared in June 1876…”

Very impressed, Captain Rihm returns to New York where he finds in the Police archives the list of Missing Persons in 1876.  On 14 June, the name of Rudolf Fentz, aged twenty-nine, is listed “wearing a gray jacket, black and white checked trousers, high shoes with buckles and a top hat”


To be continued.

Eusapia Palladino.

Science is asked to conceive complicated apparatus to measure the fluid emitted by Eusapia Palladino:  notably a manometric dispositive with a Marey cylinder, which inscribes on paper the lightest pressure exercised on a little, wooden plank.  To make all fraud impossible, not only is the apparatus placed out of Eusapia’s reach, but the plank is also entirely covered in soot.  So any direct contact would leave a very visible trace…  It could be asked, why so many precautions when simple, direct observation would have been enough?

“It is customary to say that one must resign oneself to being tricked by all mediums and that surprising them in the act must not make us doubt their sincerity at other moments… “

The words which introduce this report are surprising and rather like a warning:  our scholars appear to be saying that, as astounding as the phenomena which we have seen may be, none of us would dare to draw a scientific law from it.

“Although we are all ready to allow our throats to be cut to affirm their reality, none of us would dare assure that this reality will ever be proven one day… “

As prudent as their conclusions are, they are still significant, and will have considerable impact throughout the whole world.  After fifty tightly-written pages in which they expose the draconian psycho-physiological conditions of control and observation that they had put in place around the medium, they come to the description of the phenomena.

At the fourth seance of 1905, the report indicates

“a table weighing seven kilogrammes and carrying a weight of ten kilogrammes is twice completely raised for several seconds.  It is again raised at the sixth seance of the same year while the table’s legs were wrapped”.

This chapter of the report concludes:

“We defy a person of average strength to try to reproduce this phenomenon!”

The scholars actually do try;  Yurievitch and Courtier, both of above-average strength, try to succeed in this exercise by putting themselves in all imaginable positions.  The raising of the table is absolutely impossible when they respect the conditions which had been imposed on Eusapia.

The report in fact underlines that, when the table had started to float “for a fairly long number of seconds”, Eusapia’s feet and knees were being very firmly held  by Messieurs d’Arsonval and Baillet, and that at this moment, absolutely no contact had been exercised on any part whatsoever of the table.  Several other raisings are noted, some of which are up to one metre from the floor…  Even better.  On an order from Eusapia, a side-table starts to advance towards her.  Pulled by an invisible string?  Our scholars think so, and scramble to verify it…  Of course, they find nothing, and to punish them, the medium makes the side-table move away from her, also.

Pierre Curie saw a side-table rise to the level of his shoulders and turn over in the air.

On 6 April 1906, during a particularly impressive seance, the side-table rises as high as Pierre Curie’s shoulders, turns over in the air, and comes to rest, top against top, on the experimental table, in front of Eusapia.

A collective hallucination, perhaps?  Not at all, for all of the little table’s movements are registered on the Marey cylinder…

During these very many seances, diverse prodigies occur – mysterious imprints, apparitions and the unexplained touching of the witnesses, divisions of Eusapia into two, the movement of veils and cords placed above or in front of her, etc.  But the scholars are unable to agree on the quality of the controls which had been exercised, and prefer not to place them among the number of those which they qualify as true and authentic, deplacements and upraisings, intense molecular vibrations (raps, sound vibrations) which she manages to produce at a distance, from diverse objects, and spectacular emissions of sparks which occur around her.

The roll of thunder which this report produces throughout the scholarly world and in public opinion leads the medium to receive a series of other invitations from French metapsychists, and on 10 February 1908, in the presence notably of Monsieur Rene Warcollier, President of the Institut metapsychique, and the engineer Archat, the imprint of a face suddenly appears on a block of putty placed opposite Eusapia.

The English, always more sceptical than others, regret having scorned the Eusapia phenomenon.  A commission composed of the best observers of physical phenomena, Fielding, Baggaly and Carrington, go to Naples and control, according to their report,

“four hundred-and-seventy paranormal phenomena, many of which occurred in full light, while the medium’s hands and her whole body were fully visible”.

On 10 November 1909, Eusapia debarks at New York, preceded by a considerable reputation.  Her arrival in the country of spiritists and blossoming publicity produces enormous enthusiasm, despite the fifty dollars charged at the entrance to the room.  Is it all this noise, or the enormous efforts that Eusapia has to make during these parades, that wear her out, probably prematurely?  Others incriminate menopause and her now world-wide celebrity, which modify her psychism…  Whatever the reason, Eusapia will very rapidly lose her gifts.  She, whose main fear is to fall back into her former milieu, notices with consternation that the prodigies, which she had been accomplishing before with relative facility, are no longer occurring.  She will then start to cheat, openly and with pitful clumsiness.  From 1910, Fielding easily unmasks these poor ruses.

Ill, more and more decried, she hangs on for another few years, without accepting to put away her more and more tattered robe of guardian of the spirits.  So she, more than any other medium much less gifted than herself, will thus contribute to discrediting psychical research.  In the face of her lamentable failures, the few friends who remain to her can only sigh:

“Ah!  If only you could have seen her in the old days… “


To be continued.



When the Year Thousand that comes after Year Thousand begins

The sun will burn the earth

The Air will no longer be a veil which protects from the fire

It will be only a curtain with holes

And the burning light will eat away skins and eyes.


The sea will rise like boiling water

Cities and seasides will be covered

And entire continents will disappear

Men will take refuge on the heights

And they will rebuild already forgetting that which has happened.


This prophecy starts by speaking of the holes we have caused in the layer of ozone and of the resulting danger of exposing our skins and eyes to sunlight.  Skin cancers and cataracts are eating “away skins and eyes”.

The second part speaks of rising sea levels and tidal waves.  It tells of the cities, and even continents, which will disappear.

It warns us again of Man refusing to listen to the Earth’s warnings, and building again in the same places where the tsunami have wiped out whole towns.

A lot of small island nations will disappear over the next few decades.  If the waters continue to rise, cities like New York, San Francisco, Melbourne and Sydney will follow them.

Urgent action is needed to slow down, then reverse, global warming, which is causing the ice at the poles to melt, thereby raising sea levels.

Twenty-fourth prophecy tomorrow.

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