[EXCEPTIONAL HUMAN EXPERIENCE 14(3): SITTER GROUP]
55 Orlando Avenue
Ardsley, NY 10502
This is a four-part account of a series of séances by a group of adolescent boys that began in 1931 and lasted until the spring of 1934. The initial participants were Gilbert Roller (Gil), Leonard Lauer (Len, Jeff), and Gilbert Lawrence (Larry). All were 15 at ,the time. Gil had a history of pre-adolescent poltergeist. His mother (Olga) had a deep interest in psychic phenomena. The early sittings were held either in Jeff's living room where they sat in the dark around a bridge table or in Gil's bedroom around a small night table. I joined the group in the fall of 1932. Others soon followed, enlarging the group to include Howard Frisch, Tom Newman, George Kaiser, Horace Joseph, and, sometime later, Eleanor Turmo (Ellie), an aunt of Gilbert's. I was 16 at the time I joined. It was soon after I joined that we began to meet regularly every Saturday night. Most of these sessions I participated in took place in Gil's bedroom, sitting in the dark with our hand in contact and held lightly on the surface of the night table. Over the course of several months I witnessed a gradual development of physical effects involving the table (knocks, movement of the table about the room, and finally levitation). We also encountered success in our efforts to produce images of objects without exposing the film to light. At first, we placed an object on unexposed film set in a metal container. Later on we simply thought of an object and an image appeared. It seemed to us at the time that we were in contact with an intelligent "force" that responded to our efforts to reproduce many of the phenomena we had read about in the classical literature of psychical research. Part 3 begins with the first written material obtained at a sitting.
In September of 1933 the most exciting phase of our pursuit of psychic phenomena began. Our weekly sessions from then until the end of the year resulted in happenings that far exceeded not only our expectations but went beyond anything we had read about. By the end of the summer we were veteran sitters, confident about our ability to evoke such unexplainable effects as rapid movements of the table about the room to the point where it was hard for us to keep up with it, levitation, and success with psychic photography. We were ready for something different. We wanted desperately to pin down the nature of this seemingly intelligent force we had encountered. I think we all wanted to assume it was the work of some discarnate entity and that we were on the path toward satisfying our curiosity about survival.
We certainly were more organized, both with regard to the regularity of our sittings and the commitment of the core group to full attendance. When lapses in attendance did occur they were generally for good reasons. Gil's bedroom remained our meeting place for the most part. It was small, set apart from the other rooms, and the one that could be darkened almost completely. Whatever dim light might escape from the edges of the window shade that covered the only window was not enough to disrupt the sense of total darkness. (Some degree of dark adaptation of course did occur sometimes to the point where sitter outlines could be discerned.) Our procedure was to continue as we had been, namely, to sit around the small table with our hands in contact with each other and held lightly on the table. We were far enough away from the living room so that no noise reached us. We sat for varying lengths of time, generally no longer than 15 or 20 minutes with breaks of the same duration. During these breaks we congregated in the living room discussing what had happened during the sitting, engaged in hi jinx, and listened to records. It was actually my introduction to classical music; Rimsky-Korsakoff's Scheherazade and Honnegar's Pacific 231 were our favorites. On occasion Gil's mother and his stepfather Eddie would be with us during the breaks. Eddie was a talented pianist who enjoyed playing for us. These breaks were a much needed relief from the tension and excitement generated by the sittings. The state we were in at the time can best be described as a strange mix of both awe and a deep conviction that the phenomena unfolding before us were genuine. I think I can speak for all concerned when I say that these experiences set us apart from the everyday world of ordinary reality, making us feel very special. We were witnesses to "other-worldly" events brought about through our collective effort. Our excitement about what was happening overflowed to friends, including girl friends, resulting in not infrequent guest participants.
By the time these sittings started, the "force" had begun to announce itself soon after the lights were turned off by a rapid series of knocks on the table that gradually increased in intensity, ending with one shockingly loud final knock. Sometimes the staccato occurred spontaneously, sometimes it was in answer to our inquiry as to whether the "force" was present. In an effort to move beyond the results we had already obtained we hit on the idea of asking for written messages. Earlier we had attempted to communicate on occasion by spelling out the letters of the alphabet and hearing a knock after the designated letter. This method was cumbersome, time consuming, and the yield, while occasionally making sense, was never very impressive.
Our collective recall is not very clear as to how we got started once we decided to try for written messages. We ended up placing sheets of yellow foolscap and a pencil on the lower shelf of the night table. Len, whose talent as a natural leader was recognized by all, was designated to be spokesperson. The messages initially were in response to questions addressed to the "force." Later on when the "force" identified itself as a distinct entity it sometimes had an agenda of its own.
My own limited recall of the events to follow will be supplemented by the following sources:
• The messages themselves. These were entrusted to me several years after the sittings ended. The paper, being ordinary foolscap, eventually began to show signs of wear. Sometime in the 1960s I had the "significant" messages, those written at some length, laminated. There were a number of brief messages that have remained as they were.
• Additional "psychic" photographs taken in December 1933.
• Documents prepared at the time of the sittings. These included agendas, minutes, and letters of those who participated in the "healing" experiments.
• An account written in 1934 by Larry.
• An account written in 1946 by myself.
• An account written by Howard in 1966 including a chart noting dates of the sessions, attendance, and the various effects noted at each.
• Taped interview with Helen Pinco (Mrs. Lauer, Len's mother) in 1971.
• Taped interview with Tom Newman in 1972.
• A taped account by Gil, Len, and myself on a visit to the Maimonides Medical Center in 1973.
• A taped account by Jeff in 1976.
• A taped interview with Jeff in 1985.
• A taped interview with Ellie in 1989.
• Taped interviews with Gil in the spring of 1993 and in December 1993.
• Taped reminiscences of reunions of the core group held in 1966, 1969, and 1971.
• Informal meetings with Len.
Len and I, who had been friends prior to the sittings, resumed and deepened our friendship in 1946 when the core group came together for a not very successful attempt at having a sitting. In our many meetings our talk often went back to our earlier days. His recall of the sittings was far sharper than mine. Unfortunately, I kept no written notes of these sessions. His death in 1988 was a big blow to my hopes for his active collaboration in my desire to reconstruct the experience. There is much of Len's influence behind the present account. His stepdaughter, Judith Malamud, his daughter, Helen Lauer, and his wife, Rachel Lauer, have been most helpful. I have sought the input of Gil, Larry, and Howard, the only other surviving members of the core group, in the preparation of this account. (Having assumed the responsibility for writing the initial draft, I am very much aware that it tended to reflect my own perspective.) I am very aware of all that is missing. There are inevitable gaps and uncertainties in recall across a span of over 60 years. The transcripts of the reunions, begun almost 30 years ago, make up for this in part, though questions still occur that remain unanswerable. The first coherent written message occurred on September 2, 1933. There are a few references in the various accounts as to what happened prior to that date when we tried to obtain writing. At the early trials we could hear the pencil being picked up and put down repetitively with no actual writing. Later, scribbling appeared and then a few printed words (no longer recalled). From September 2nd on, lengthy printed messages interspersed with occasional short ones were obtained. The general procedure was for Len initially and later on Larry to act as spokesman and to ask the "force" to manifest itself. Within a minute or less the very sharp staccato rap was heard. While there was no record most of the time of the questions asked their nature can be surmised from the content of the message. The writing was very rapid, sometimes incredibly out of proportion to the length of the message (we were to learn later why this was so). The pencil was then slammed down indicating the writing had come to an end. At the same time we could hear the paper being crumpled. The lights were turned on immediately and the message read.
In what follows, the dates of the sequence of sittings are noted along with the messages and any other available data. Sometime in the fall, concomitant with the written messages, we went back to further experiments in photography as well as efforts at materialization. We became a bit more organized, began to keep minutes (sporadically), and drew up agendas. This, in turn, led to the decision to refer to ourselves as The Bindelof Society, named after the presumptively discarnate entity that befriended us. We had calling cards printed, elected officers, and collected dues. I was secretary up to the time I left the group, and I believe Len was treasurer.
The messages were written in a legible but somewhat sprawling printed style. Figure 1, a characteristic message from Dr. Bindelof (sorry, missing in this scanned document) is one of the more clearly written messages (sitting of Oct. 7, 1933). All of the messages of any length will be reproduced. There were from time to time shorter messages of a word or two. These will be noted as well as any other material extant from the sittings, for example, records of temperature and humidity, agendas, minutes.
September 2, 1933
Imagine the scene. Probably eight of us by that time, in the small room that was Gil's bedroom, the room as dark as we could make it, our hands in contact and resting lightly on a table less than two feet square, the pencil and paper in place on the lower shelf. Len addresses the "force" and the staccato promptly occurs in response. At the first sitting of the evening, the questions pertained to the nature of the "force" and how the earlier photographs had been obtained. We had apparently also included a question about materialization. Both sides of the paper were written on.
Message #1 Sept, 2,1933
The force is generated by the combined efforts of the sitters operating in unison. The production of this force by the sitters sets into action the otherwise dormant energy present in the surrounding atmosphere. The force has the ability to penetrate only one solid object of a series. As in the plate, it penetrated only the part of the plate uncovered. However, if the object such as the keys had been welded into one solid piece (combined with the plate cover) the force would have penetrated the entire plate, rendering it entirely exposed. After penetrating one object and encountering another surface of air, it is incapable of penetrating the following object. the force can be projected from one of the sites in the shadow form of an object (the clarity depending on the ability of the sitter). It is not a constant penetration during the plate but an accumulation of force with instant penetration at a maximum point. Materialization and contact you are incapable of understanding.
The next time we sat that evening a second message was obtained. Note the directions to us to turn the page.
Message #2 Sept. 2, 1933
As I said before, materialization you are incapable of understanding. (It involves the manipulation of dimensions you cannot conceive.) Please believe me when I say this.
I shall by demonstration make it perhaps a bit comprehensive.
Please Turn Outline
1. Sitters concentrate mildly on contact. (Leonard will verbally order intensity of concentration).
2. One of the sitters upon feeling contact will announce it.
3. Spokesman will tell sitter what to concentrate on (such as increased pressure, movement, pulling of hair). Notice how degree of concentration affects contact. This is the only similarity your minds can conceive.
The rest of you will understand when you are part of us.
It is not clear from the record whether or not we attempted materialization that night. There is no record of any meetings on the 9th or 16th of September.
September 23, 1933
In message #3 we continued to ask about materialization. This message also contains the first reference to curative powers.
Message #3 Sept. 23,1933
Continue tonight with the same seating order. The suggestion made by one of the sitters to surface an object with luminous paint is a splendid method for me to manifest my shape. By blocking out radiance you may observe my form in shadow. Before continuing let me make clear a few points. I told you before that I am a part of a common force. You seemed to assume that I am no identity in particular. You are wrong. In the lower forms of phenomena such as table movements, no one identity exists, but merely an exertion of force brought into play by the sitters. In the higher manifestations such as you are obtaining, the force molds itself into an identity with definite intelligence.
*Definite identity in form, intelligence.
*Knocks. Higher intelligence with a semblance of an identity.
*Average séance reaches this point.
* Weak movements. Common force.
The subconscious attitude of the sitters means almost everything to the success of the sitting. Time element does not enter into my existence. It is possible for me to be in three different places at the same time as easily as one. (For instance, holding Leonard's vest, pulling Leo's hair, pulling Gilbert's hair, and brushing across Horace's face and Tom's hand at the same time.) As to my curative powers ... let me explain it. By this method. The sitters concentrate on the desired cure. This sets into play a force generated with that basis of thought. The impression is transmitted and impregnated in the subconscious of the patient where it proceeds to work similarly to a radium bead imbedded in the center of a tumor, even though consciously the patient objects to the method.
The date the materialization effects refer to is uncertain. It might have been on September 2nd following Message #2 or on September 23 as implied in Message #3. Whenever it did occur this is my recollection of how it came about. Len asked if we could be touched by the "force." When the response was positive, probably in the staccato announcing the readiness of the "force" to begin, there was some preliminary discussion as to who should be first. There was a prevailing sense of relief when Len volunteered. He rolled up the sleeve of one arm, then sat for a few moments in the dark before announcing that he felt several fingers stroking his forearm. We then asked that each of us be touched in turn. I recall that several of us in turn, including myself, were touched in the same way but when it came to Gil's turn, he said that he was going to grab it when it came to him. No sooner were the words out of his mouth when we heard a loud slap, a surprised ejaculation from Gil, and frightened responses from all of us. We couldn't get the lights turned on fast enough. Gil seemed dazed. He had received a hard slap across the face. We were all shaken by what had happened. At one of the subsequent sittings (Oct. 7th) we were informed that Gil was about to grab a dangerous "elemental" (destructive entities without any specific identity) and that Dr. Bindelof (of whose name we were later informed) had to intervene to prevent this from happening. When these events were recalled years later (Len, 1976), Len also described shaking hands with what felt like fingers that were both small and soft, as if it were a child's hand. The simultaneous touching as described in the message also occurred.
From the content of the message I infer we had also been inquiring about the healing power of the force. In terms of sheer excitement this session stood out for all of us.
September 30, 1933
The first message was brief:
Tonight you shall have astounding phenomena. To obtain materialization you must build the contact force to pitch materialization.
There is no record of any materialization that night. It is possible, however, that what was described as occurring on the 23rd may have actually happened at this point.
Message #4 conveys our unknown friend's emphasis on still being an individual entity. Reading it at the time, I think we felt chided a bit as our questioning may have been too persistent. In the elaboration of the curative powers an incorrect reference was made to "retina muscles." Len picked this up. He was the only one who knew at the time that there were no retinal muscles.
Message #4 Sept. 30,1933
Thank you. A seemingly small thing like the mental alertness of the sitters also plays no small part. I explained before that I was and am still an entity that is entirely individual. I can govern the power of animation by your combined efforts. Do not question that point again.
My curative powers are extensive because I, unlike you, have the power to use to my pleasure, this force that so mystifies you. Any muscular disease with my aid, you can remedy. Replacement of limbs and the like, is of course, beyond even my scope. Cancer, a disease of uncontrollable cellular growth, may be rapidly cured by using the tremendous disintegrating power of the force (the retina muscles can easily be reshaped by the force). (Of interest to Tom.) To affect such cures, the patient is the subject of concentration. Presently the patient will feel a pressure at the diseased part. The pressure will increase tremendously, then diminish. One application should suffice. Nothing should be prepared for the force, not even the removal of glasses.
October 7, 1933
Two lengthy messages were received. Again, judging from the content, the first came in response to our questions about the nature of postmortem existence. It is also obvious in his reference to healing that some efforts at healing had already begun. Tom, a regular member of the group, and Willie, a friend of mind who came for a while, wore glasses and needed strong corrective lenses. We were told they would be suitable subjects for improving their vision. After the sessions began, they each in turn reported feeling fingers gently massaging their eyes. I have a memory of Tom saying the fingers felt as if they were behind the eyeball. To the best of our recollections, there may have been a transitory subjective sense of improvement. In any case they both continued to need glasses. This message, in addition to stressing the curative powers now at our disposal, also gave an explanation of why Gilbert's face was slapped.
Message #5 Oct. 7,1933
1. Before you proceed, let me attempt to make clear to you a few points about which you are still doubtful. I say attempt because the fundamentals of our existence are so contrary that it is impossible for me to explain them to you in terms which are elementary to me. Your existence is physical and as long as it is such you will not be able to conceive of my life. When you question my existence and expect an explanation, you irritate me because you question a thing you cannot possibly comprehend. You lads are correct in the belief that you have brought into play a highly intelligent force. Undoubtedly the question comes to your minds as to why no other circle has ever secured such an intelligent force. Let me explain it this way. There are countless thousands of identities surrounding the earth practically all of which are malicious and destructive in their nature. Some are powerful enough to detach themselves from the common force and return to the earth and manifest themselves by physical destruction. It may astound you to know that many unexplained accidents such as the derailing of trains from fouled switches has been caused by groups of elementals which combine into one powerfully destructive force and operate in unison. Fortunately this occurs very seldom.
An average sitting creates conditions which make it momentarily possible for these identities to detach and weakly manifest themselves. But with the dissolution and breaking up of the concentration necessary they become powerless. To bring an intelligent force into play it requires a certain combination of sitters who by their combined thought repel the common identities and make possible the passage to earth of an intelligent identity. Each time you sit it becomes simpler for me to penetrate to you. You have, previously to this, always associated with this force nothing but destruction, but believe me when I say you have befriended a person who is truly constructive. You are headed towards amazing revelations which you nor anyone else ever dreamed possible. Do not falter because of petty disbeliefs. Trust in my curative powers and cultivate them and you shall be a thousand fold rewarded. I said before that one application should suffice. This will be true when you have mastered the ability to concentrate harmoniously. Until then you will be able to use only a fraction of the force. (You see how powerless I am without you and how powerful you are with me). But rest assured the curative powers of this force are boundless.
2. Read after other sheet. I unaided am powerless to aid your people but through you I can work wonders. The adjustment of Tom's and Willie's eyes in the allotted time are but a triviality compared to what we will be able to do together. Believe in me is all I ask. Two weeks ago I slapped Gilbert's face for good reason. There were several contesting forces present that night. I would not have objected to Gilbert grabbing my hand, realizing it was a gesture of curiosity, but the form he intended to grab was not mine but that of a destructive elemental at the time dominating in the room. The action wrought havoc on all sitters. Fortunately, the elementals are incapable of understanding any remarks or thoughts.
At tonight's sitting, there must be no people present who were not present at last week's sitting. The identical seating order is to be used for the curing.
In answer to Larry's question: I cannot operate at any appreciable distance because of the dissipation of the operating force you create. I am limited to the scope of that force. As I depart from it, I gradually become part of the common force and lose my distinct physical identity. For instance, I am present in this room long before the sitting begins. I can observe your actions, but until you generate the force that gives me the power of physical animation, I cannot make my presence realized. In answer to Leonard's question: an ignorant force can manifest itself in light but it is absolutely detrimental to the operation of an intelligent identity.
The second message refers to inexplicable events that occurred in Larry's life around this time outside of the sittings. On several occasions watch crystals cracked for no obvious reason. This was also the first time the identity of the "force" was revealed. We were moved by the idealism that seemingly endured after death and his reference to the "boundless healing powers" that were to be revealed to us. If we hadn't considered ourselves a very special group before we certainly did from that point on.
Message #6 Oct. 7,1933
A light automatically lowers the concentrating powers of the sitters. In answer to Gilbert's question: The heart muscles may easily be strengthened. Hope your mother will trust in me later. I hope never to give you cause for disbelief or distrust, Madam - as to fright, how can you say you fear me? I want to warn Larry that a powerfully destructive elemental is attaching itself to him and weakly manifesting itself by destroying his watch crystals, removing articles from bags he places them in and seals, and the like. To ward off this influence I prefer Larry to assume control of this intelligent force.
3. Before proceeding to further adjust the eyes of our two patients let me outline what I want them to do for the following week. Willie is to continue wearing his glasses until the next treatment when I shall prescribe further. There will not yet be an improvement. Tom, who will notice decisive effects the next morning is to go without his glasses as long as the improvement remains. When his eyes begin to weaken, as they will, he must immediately return to his glasses. But he must not wear them until he feels actual discomfort in reading or the like. The question has been raised as to why I should want to do this. I shall explain, and in explaining shall indirectly answer many more of your questions. During my physical life I was a doctor. I loved my work as a mother adores its child. I dreamt of nothing day and night but curing the ills of humanity. I achieved little fame during my life and my hopes went unrealized. I soon after transcended into this unphysical existence, and oddly enough, still possessed the insatiable desire to aid you humans. Now I have at my perfect control this tremendous force with its boundless healing powers. It is humorous indeed to observe your doctors fumbling in their clumsy attempts to cure with their shiny, pretty steel knives and the like, when right before their very noses is a cure that will soon rock the world. May the honors go to you for discovering and developing it. Despite slight variations your circle creates a mental combination that is perfect for my penetration to the physical earth. While I have the power only when you give me the ability to manifest myself physically. As your concentration becomes more perfect so will the full power of the force become available to you. Believe me when I say you have befriended a truly constructive person who has the interest of humanity at heart. My name is Dr. Bindelof. For convenience you may call me that in the future. You have a panacea. Let us perfect it and give it to the world. Your results will leave no room for dispute. Will you be the disciples of a dead man? Now proceed but rest frequently to retain your mental strength.
4. You are now to proceed with the instructions I have given you.
October 14, 1933
From the time of the inception of the written messages, the circle of sitters had begun to grow and with that some irregularities in attendance. In the message to follow, we are berated for this. Dr. Bindelof had emphasized that his ability to contact us was contingent on the collective efforts of all of us and that any irregularity in attendance made for difficulties. The reference to causing any inconvenience was the result of my informing the group of difficulties I was having with my parents who didn't share my enthusiasm for, and commitment to, the séances.
As a consequence of Dr. Bindelofs earlier suggestion, Larry replaced Len as the spokesperson.
Message #7 Oct. 14,1933
To continue the sceances [sic] in this manner is hopeless. I was to [sic] hasty in my conclusions. The harmony which existed at the previous sittings has completely dissappeared [sic] and the inconsistancy of the sitters only adds to the confusion. Georges [sic] absence from the last sitting made the available curing force very slight. Willies [sic] disbelief adds to the difficulty. Leos [sic] and Montes [sic] absence make matters worse. The edition [addition, sic] is of no help in replacing the other sitters. If you wish tonight I will give you physical manifestations for the benifit [sic] of the new people. But my desire - curing - has been rendered impossible. I regret causing Monte any inconvenience. Larrys [sic] continued control of the sittings will soon discourage the elemental. Perhaps at some future date we may continue with our original experiment the curing. I beg of you boys never to do what you did in that tomb again. Believe me I had difficulty in aiding you then.
The reference to the tomb involved an effort on the part of Gil, Len, Howard, and George (I was not a part of it, probably because by that time my family had moved away from Washington Heights where all the others lived) to hold a séance in a cemetery. As reconstructed by Howard in his 1966 account: "We went to the nearby cemetery at 155th Street and Riverside Drive and stole into one of the open vaults. We tried to hold hands around, and suddenly some pebbles or stones were violently thrown against the side of the vault." At the reunion in 1966, Howard added: "My recollection is that those stones were thrown with terrific force and it was a frightening thing." The sitting and the visit to the cemetery ended abruptly at that point.
Note the spelling errors in Message #7. Errors in spelling and grammar were not infrequent.
October 28, 1933
There is a folder marked October 28th containing a miscellany of brief messages, some printed, some in script, but with no indications as to whether they did indeed occur on that date. The references of many of these messages remain unclear. One, for example, appeared in mirror-writing script: "A tree is bent." Many had to do with who should remain out and who should be included in the various sittings that evening. What follows is a summary of that session, prepared at the time but never completed.
Summary of Session Oct. 28, 1933
We were answered by a Dr. Rinchner, a friend of the doctor, who wrote that he was "weak." However, after continued sitting, we were reached by Dr. Bindelof. We asked, among other things, why we had such poor results in the previous sitting. It answered (by spelling )Monty. Later, we pursued this line of questioning by asking if it would be all right for Monty to sit without his parents' consent. "No," was the answer. He understood Monty's problem, he said, but he could not foresee if his parents would ever consent, and if Lenny would have any effects on them. He agreed that it was greatly to Monty's benifit [sic] to sit, and that it would be all right, from a cosmic point of view, if he sat without his parents' knowledge [apparently contradicting his earlier statement - M.U.]. Also, he said that we could, if Monty could not possibly attend, experiment with other persons to ascertain if they could contribute to the circle.
Scattered answers: to Tom - if you wish to be free from your morbid thoughts do not be so introspective. Furthermore, the doctor assured Tom that he would "go to camp" the following year, a problem the consequences of which were bothering Tom very much. Later, when Tom wished to know if the doctor would point out any sitter who would "have a happy life," (Tom later explained that the word "success" was in his mind), Dr. Bindelof patted his head and explained to Lenny that it was a paternal gesture.
Lenny: Is that part of the soul which lives after death "go out" in a séance to contact with a dead spirit?
Dr. B: Yes.
Lenny: Do any of us have that power?
Dr. B: Yes. (He then knocked at the mention of Larry's name to say that he was the person who could do that. This was the explanation for the attachment of an elemental to Larry. The fact that séances were held without Larry was not important. Once before, he wrote that mediums were not essential but important to sittings.)
Willie: Can I improve my memory?
Dr. B: Yes, by associations.
Howard: You say that only people who during life have sat at séances will have a life after death with intelligent manifestations. What then of people who know nothing of spiritualism. What becomes of them?
Dr. B: They become elementals.
Howard: Is their life happy?
Dr. B: (No definite answer. Wrote out: You think of your parents.)
Larry: Is [sic] my morbid thoughts . . .
November 4, 1933
The following message was obtained.
Message #8 Nov. 4, 1933
I do wish you lads would come to some decision as to the place you intend to hold the sittings. It is difficult for me to become accustomed to different surroundings every week. Larry is completely rid of his elemental and has little cause for future worry in that respect. I want Tom to stop leading such a morbid existence. Tom, you are becoming irrational and foolish. If your heart calls for the open fields and tree-lined roads, then take to them. Your nature revolts against conventional and sophisticated things. Live as your heart tells you.
You have never gotten any results with the luminous paper because the radiations were always too intense. Soften them so that they are barely visible.
If you construct the proper device I can speak with you.
Monte, please do not argue with your family. Rather give this up.
Now, you are to rest. We will proceed with the curing. Rest after this and then we will have further messages and phenomena.
Several points in Message #8 require further explanation. Concerning the location of the sittings, we had occasionally shifted the location to Len's home or Tom's.
Dr. Bindelof seemed to have taken a special interest in Tom and here responds to some of the issues troubling Tom.
We had tried unsuccessfully using phosphorescent paper in the hope of seeing evidence of materialization.
The reference to me again had to do with my concern with my parents' opposition to my attending the séances. At some point I had asked whether I should continue to come or give up coming. My recollection is that I did not ask this question aloud but simply thought it. The word "neither" then appeared on the paper. Not being satisfied with this response, I again silently thought: What should I do that might convince my parents to change their attitude. The next written message read: "A note from Overstreet." Professor Overstreet was chairman of the Department of Philosophy and Psychology at City College at the time. In August of 1933, I had taken a course in philosophy and somehow had gotten enough courage to write to him and tell him about the results we had been having with the table and photographs. This was his reply:
September 19, 1933
Mr. Montague Ullman
525 West End Avenue
New York City
My dear Mr. Ullman:
I have only just returned from California and find your letter of August 17 upon my desk. Please forgive the apparent discourtesy of my long delay in replying to it.
I am afraid that I cannot give you any really serviceable advice. These matters are all so mysterious that one simply has to go ahead and experiment as best he can. Some time after the beginning of the term, if you will be good enough to drop into my office on an afternoon, I shall be most happy to talk the whole matter over with you.
H. A. Overstreet
After receiving the letter I went to see him and was surprised to learn that he had a serious interest in psychical research.
There were a number of brief messages that I believed occurred at some point in this session indicating Dr. Bindelof was having difficulty reaching us because of interfering entities. These messages were seemingly scribbled with difficulty:
"Help me please."
"You shall never again get Bindelof."
Its [sic] terribly hard."
"That other man is present."
"Help me please Bindelof."
"Thank God you boys did not leave me Bindelof."
Subsequent to this session the resistance I had encountered from my parents lessened either in the face of my determination to continue or because of Dr. Overstreet's interest or both.
November 11, 1933
In Message #9 (see figure 2), Dr. Bindelof refers to the difficulties encountered the week before. He also drew a diagram of the apparatus we were to build for his voice to come through to us. There is no record of what curative efforts went on that night.
Message #9 Nov. 11, 1933
I cannot thank you enough for the way you aided me last week. Let me warn you that should that chap return again and frustrate my attempts to secure contact with you, do not dissolve the sitting until you have enabled me to reach you. If you act contrary to this advice, you may erect a permanent barrier between us. I hope Tom will forgive me for not treating his eyes last week but I was so exhausted by that encounter that I did not have the strength (you boys were also mentally fatigued). I shall try to make up for it this week, Tom. I shall suggest a device which you can construct at a nominal cost so that I may be able to speak with you.
You may proceed with the curing.
November 18, 1933
Dr. Bindelof was still testy about our behavior. The questions we put to him and the brief message received are noted in the minutes of what went on that night. What follows are the minutes as prepared at the time.
Record of the Séance Nov. 18,1933
The séance began shortly after nine with Larry as spokesman. As soon as the staccato was heard, the doctor pre-empted control by writing message number one. (A reprimand of Thomas.) After the message was read, Thomas made an effort to apologize which the doctor did not recognize. The spokesman asked if we might proceed with the cures: the doctor said no. When asked if we could try later, we discovered he didn't care. On further questioning, the doctor wrote (I'm discouraged with the whole business). This called for a lot of comment on the part of the sitters. The doctor expanded upon this by writing, "You're all the same." When questioned concerning the meaning of the last message he had asked, "Where is the tube?" "Where are your notes?" It was discovered that the doctor was displeased with our failure to bring promised apparatus. Leonard asked if the fault were his and the doctor stated that it was. Leonard apologized, promised that the apparatus would be ready at the next sitting, and inquired if we might proceed with the curing. The doctor responded negatively and when asked if he lost interest in curing, he spelled out "Don't care." Larry asked if it was because we were unscientific. The doctor rapped once and we turned on the light to decide what course we should pursue. The sitters drew up a plan for conducting the séance and we returned. The doctor approved the plan and wrote a message discussing the conversation which had taken place during the interim. On the suggestion of the spokesman, he listed the facts which he wished observed in the séance room during the curing.
We said good night and ended the séance.
A brief message obtained in this session referred to two experiments in dematerialization, neither of which were successful. At one point, we sought Dr. Bindelof's cooperation in carrying out an experiment Len had prepared. We placed a sealed and locked box on the table with a penny resting on top. The idea was to have the penny dematerialize and appear in the box. Dr. Bindelofs response to this was a written note saying, "This is assinine."[sic] The second was an effort to get two solid bracelets to connect.
November 22, 1933
This was apparently an interim meeting. The only record available is a brief account written in pencil and not completely decipherable about what went on. It began with a list of who was there - Larry, Lenny, Tom, Howard, Willie, George, Leo, Gilbert, Monte, and Ellie. Having decided sometime before to become the Bindelof Society, we apparently had prepared a constitution. The minutes read:
November 22, 9:30 Constitution accepted by all. All present. Minutes read. Short wait message received.
Dr. B. advised spreading knowledge of séance and in addition told us to go ahead with tube - after receiving short message, "I wanted it now." Tube inserted in chandelier trumpet suspended horizontally [referring to what Len had rigged up to hear Dr. Bindelof - M.U.] Doctor wrote, "For heavens [sic] sake, the things [sic] too high." After adjusted, received message k- diagram as to how it should be.
Dr. B. blew through trumpet but that was the only sound emitted. On another page was added, "First attempt with tube was unsuccessful."
All of the later accounts are in agreement that a loud breath sound was all that ever came of our efforts at getting Dr. Bindelof to vocalize. With regard to the constitution, there are no copies extant and no one has a clear idea of what was in it.
November 25, 1933
We had apparently become quite organized by this time. Committees had been formed, and for the first time an agenda was set up in advance.
Procedure for the Night of November 25, 1933
1. Demonstration of the talking apparatus.
2. Eye cures.
(a) About the soul
The secural of an explanation in writing of the explanation of the soul, its relation to the subconscious, the characteristics retained by different souls, and the acquired attributes, if any.
(b) If writing is refused, the spokesman will have to resort to individual questions such as:
Does the soul merely consist of the subconscious mind?
If not -
List the other features you attribute to the soul, e.g.,
Does the soul have all the attributes of the mind during life?
If yes -
Are there any added attributes?
If not - List them.
If yes -
Clarify and complete our concept of the subconscious.
(c) Evolution and origin of the soul:
Did the soul originate simultaneously with the first life cell?
If not -
Tell us where and how the soul did originate and if it originated before or after life.
If yes -
Did the soul develop as did this first cell, in other words, did the soul undergo evolution as did the material life?
If not -
Is our soul identical with the souls of lower forms?
If not -
Wherein and why should it differ, being that it didn't undergo evolution?
Would the doctor expect us to control certain factors he mentioned such as humidity and room temperature?
Secural of a written explanation of the mechanism of the eye cures.
Committee for Planning
Message #10 received in response:
Message #10 Nov. 25, 1933
Ah! Now you have the idea. System. The business-like method you have prepared must be adhered to. I wish to thank you for the honor you have bestowed upon my [sic] by naming your society in my behalf. First, I shall attempt to give you a demonstration of the speaking tube. Let me explain to you about the soul. The soul as you call it is nothing more than the force in an organism the [sic] gives it the breath of life, its exsistence [sic] is perpetual. The soul develops along with the mind of the organism. The soul stops developing at the point at which the physical body perishes. The intelligence of the being is largely a part of the soul so naturally this element continues to exsist [sic] with it. In lower animals while the soul exsists [sic] the accompning [sic] intelligence is so small that when the physical part is lost the soul and intelligence are incapible [sic] of retaining any individuality.
Larry has struck the right idea. People must become interested in our Society. It must become talked about. As soon as possible try to have visitors at each séance provided the comittee [sic] of admissions obtains the circles [sic] unanimous consent but there must be no mental contridictions [sic] to a persons [sic] presence.
While I can manifest myself well despite the temperature the curative force I intend to use is bound by physical conditions equally as much (as) radio and other type waves. The proper temperature and humidity I have myself yet to ascertain. At the ideal conditions the patient will feel sort of a pin-prick at the time of contact. The exact conditions at each sitting MUST BE RECORDED for future reference.
Dr. Bindelof had earlier requested that we keep a record of the temperature and humidity of the room during the sitting.
The minutes taken at the time read as follows:
Minutes Nov. 25, 1933
Society meeting. Roll called, all members present. Minutes of the last meeting submitted and accepted. The report of the Committee of Records and Appropriations proposed dues for this week of $.25. Report accepted. Committee on Planning presented a constitution which was also accepted. Apparatus (trumpet) demonstrated and approved.
Séance: After a short wait, message #1 [#11-M.U.] was received. Approved of the systematic routine, advised spreading knowledge and additional sitters each week. Wrote briefly concerning the nature of the soul. An apology was offered by the spokesman for the ACCIDENTAL BREAKING of the thermometer and our present inability to record temperature and humidity. The doctor expressed his desire to have it at the present sitting. We apologized again. The doctor instructed us to place the apparatus on the lower shelf of the table. We did this but the doctor found it impracticable. He suggested elevating it. We did so, but were told that it was too high. We lowered it. The doctor attempted to speak but achieved nothing but a blowing sound. He was absent for a short time and finally wrote that the apparatus was too primitive and he was sorry but it could not be used.
November 29, 1933
This was also an interim session. The minutes of the session are presented as they were prepared at the time.
Minutes of the Séance of Nov. 29,1933
Séance began at 8:40. Monty, William and Tom absent. The doctor arrived in ten minutes with Larry taking control. Message # 1 received directly. In view of the contents of this message, it was not deemed necessary to exclude Tom who sat for the rest of the evening. The following questions were asked:
Q. Was mind force and matter co-eternal?
Q. Are any two of these co-eternal?
Q. Will you please knock at the two correct words?
A. A knock for soul and one for force.
Q. Did matter originate simply from the combination of mind and force?
A. I shall explain in detail on Saturday.
Q. Do you know whether any of the prevalent theories concerning the origin of this solar system are correct?
(After many and complex questions it was ascertained that through true art one may develop ones soul.)
Q. Are there any poets who are now intelligent identities?
Q. Does Keats exist now as an intelligent identity? A. If you will wait I shall find out.
A short rest was taken after which the doctor was asked if he had obtained information concerning Keats. By questioning it was ascertained that the doctor would have that information Saturday.
Q. Can you manifest yourself OUTSIDE of the séance room?
Q. Can any spirits manifest themselves physically?
A. Yes. You call them earth bound spirits.
(Through a long line of questioning it was ascertained that the photographic plates were affected by a form of energy generated by the minds of the sitters. Any object used serves mainly as a basis of thought. This form of energy is distinct and resembles electricity slightly. We had asked if he could name it and the doctor spelled out "no word for it.")
Q. Is there any mechanism other than the photographic plates which will manifest this form of energy?
A. Doctor wrote, "Movements of gold leaf by the force."
After a series of questions we learned that Larry was strongly telepathic, that Tom and Ellie were mildly so.
Larry discovered that many of the questions which had troubled his mind during the week and to which an answer was mentally offered were answered by the Dr. We also discovered that interpretations of the Dr. [sic] actions by the sitters at the séance table were offered by the Dr. We discovered that, to his knowledge, no spirit possessed clairvoyant powers.
November 29, 1933
Message #11 Nov. 29,1933
(The paper folded four ways and crumpled. Message written on both sides of sheet.)
William has practially [sic] answered for my actions last week. That was the thread which broke the camels [sic] back so to speak. You may rest assured Larry that I hold no grevience [sic] against you for making the remark. I don't think it will be necessary to exclude Tom. However, that is up to the committee to decide. I would prefer it if no further permanent additions were made to the circle but rather we must reduce it to the smallest group possible so that we may have room for visitors and patients. Larry, I want to say a word about your teeth. At the rate you are going, you will lose every tooth in your head in about 5 years. The lack of calcium in your body is amazing. It is a wonder to me your teeth do not break when you chew. You must eat green vegitables [sic], lettuce especially. Learn to like them. You must. You must have a dentist attend to your front teeth also. Now about the cures. Let us proceed slowly until we find the correct conditions. For example cures such as Larry's, correct temperature and humidity are not vital but in a difficult proceedure [sic] such as eye cures where muscles must be delicately reshaped, perfect climatic control is absolutely necessary to secure the maximum powers of the force. We must find them by experimentation. I am afraid that the only method by which I will be able to speak with you is by a microphonic amplification system. The faint vibrations close against the diaphragm must be magnified to be audiable [sic]. [word illegible - M.U.) Gilbert, I have no objection to being mercinery [sic] as you put it, so that we may carry on our work. The rest of the sitting is in the hands of the committee for planning.
Among the brief messages that occurred that night were the words "Pythagorean triangle." This came in response to our question about life on Mars. We took this to mean there was life on Mars and that the triangle was a mutually understandable symbol.
With the wisdom of hindsight, that answer seems more like the response to an adolescent fantasy than something to be taken seriously. But are we ready to say life never existed on Mars?
This session also included our first case report.
Case #1 Nov. 29,1933
Name of Patient: Larry Levin
Case: During the day of November 29, 1933 the patient suffered from a severe ache in the right lower jaw. This was supposedly due to an abscessed molar. The doctor treated the jaw. The patient noticed extreme pressure applied below the diseased tooth. This application of pressure and massage were the only observable methods of treatment employed. The duration of the treatment was approximately three minutes.
The patient experienced immediate relief: The acute pain disappeared during the treatment and a dull residual ache remained for a period of about ten minutes after which the patient's sensations were normal.
The doctor advised a week later in his first message that Larry increase the amount of green vegetables in his diet. He also spoke of increasing the amount of calcium, magnesium, and phosphates in his body. He also told the patient to visit a dentist.
December 2, 1933
Extant are the minutes and messages noted in the minutes. A thermometer and hydrometer had been placed on one wall of the bedroom at the beginning of the sitting and readings were taken at intervals throughout the sitting and were noted in the minutes. Our efforts at producing sounds continued. The minutes contain the first detailed description of the apparatus we used. Only a blowing sound came through.
Description of the Apparatus:
The microphone was suspended from the ceiling so that it hung low above the center of the table. the amplification unit was placed on top of the piano. During the experiment, the microphone swung back and forth from time to time touching the sitters. Towards the end of the experiment the microphone was carried around Gilbert's head with the mike touching the back of his neck.
The reference to the bottle in message # 12 refers to one of our thought-photography experiments reported in Part II.
Message #12 Dec. 2, 1933
(Paper folded six ways and crumpled. Message written on both sides of paper. This is badly stained in places as though it had been wet.)
I am glad to see that you have finally obtained the hydrometer. Now we may continue experimenting with the various temperatures and humidities. While I appreciate your having gotten the microphone, I would rather you would not employ these methods in the future, Gilbert. In some cases when I knock I partly become semi-solid. Part of this substance may at times protrude from beneath the table. That is what George felt about his legs and what Tom and Gilbert observed. If any of you should notice it in the future please do not disrupt the concentration because of it. For photography you may use 2 [not sure of this number - M.U.] techniques, one to expose the plate in a dark room for about 10 minutes. In this case only the other presence will be visible, not the sitters. To secure pictures of the sitters also you must use about a 20-30 second exposure in a fairly light room. The other presences will reproduce in spite of this light. You may have to try several plates before you get results.
Telepathy is nothing more than the emitting of mental vibrations of a certain frequency which are reinterpreted in another mind harmonously [sic] attuned. If you ascertain these vibrations and reproduce them mechanically you can produce the illusion of thought in a mind attuned to those vibrations. The receptivity of different mind [sic] for these impulses varies considerably. The mind also generates and emitts [sic] a force that radiates in straight lines. When an image like a bottle is thought of certain amounts of the ray are not emitted, and where they do not strike, the plate is not affected. This raidation [sic] may be the shape of a bottle. I am seeking answers to your difficult questions on the soul. I will have them later. Proceed with the temperature and microphone experiments.
December 9, 1933
The minutes of the meeting and of the séance, and the brief messages referred to are here extant.
Minutes of the Meeting Dec. 9, 1933
Roll call showed all members present. The apparatus constructed last week was at hand. The committee proposed Mrs. Lauer as a patient. She was admitted to the séance that night by unanimous vote.
Minutes of the Séance Dec. 9,1933
The séance began at 9:25. After about 10 minutes rather weak knocks were heard but it was impossible to ascertain the identity of the presence. A short rest was taken and upon resuming the sitting a feebly written message was received saying, "Tom out. Leo in." All members except Horace and Leo were sitting when this message was received. A rest was taken until Leo returned. According to the doctor's instructions, Tom was excluded for the rest of the evening. At 10:40, the sitting was resumed. After an explanation of the patient's case (Mrs. Lauer suffering from a nervous insomnia), the doctor proceeded with a treatment which consisted of a massage of varying pressures across the skull, temple, and nape of the neck. By answering direct questions, the doctor stated that the necessity of additional treatments depended upon results obtained. Another rest was taken. Upon returning, we endeavored to go ahead with Monty's cure but we learned that the doctor wanted to clear up something first. He spelled out Horace, but even after a long series of questions, we failed to discover precisely what was the matter. Finally, he agreed to let the matter drop and treated Monty's eyes. Again, the circle rested. When we returned, we failed to obtain results for some time. Finally the doctor wrote, "Light in hall." It was discovered that light which had filtered into the room from the outside was the cause of the delay. The situation was remedied and we proceeded with the talking experiment using the same apparatus as was used last week. This apparatus consisted of a microphone and three volt battery in series connected in parallel with the resistor across the grid and cathode of the -58 detector tube foiled [sic] by a -47 output tube. Sounds were heard which could be duplicated by blowing drafts of air against the diaphragm of the microphone. No consonant or vowel values were distinguishable. After a series of attempts to make intelligible sounds, the doctor wrote message, "Not sensitive enough. Use oscillator" [oscillator was spelled ocil----]. After the conclusion of this experiment the group adjourned.
In an interview with Len's mother, Mrs. Lauer (Mrs. Pinco), in 1971, she didn't recall being treated for insomnia. Her husband, who was present at the interview, reminded her she had spoken to him about receiving a treatment for headache and that she felt fingers gently massaging her forehead and head.
December 16, 1933
We once again renewed our interest in photography. We received a long message from Dr. Bindelof detailing the procedure for obtaining these pictures. All were taken in accordance with his instructions. The first was to be a picture of himself, the second of what he referred to as the "common force" which was said to pervade the room, and the third was a picture (puzzling in retrospect) of "outside identities." The message also commented on his curative efforts with Mrs. Lauer. I was present throughout the sitting but not at the business meeting held after the sitting. There were also several brief written messages, the last of which was noted in the minutes. "Please forgive me. I am so tired." The session ended with another experiment with the sound equipment. Again, only a blowing sound was heard.
The picture of Dr. Bindelof (see Figure 2 sorry - missing in this scanned document) came out looking like a distinguished Victorian gentleman. In the second picture of the room (not reproducible), in addition to the irregular cloud-like spots, the hydrometer on the wall was clearly visible. The surface of the table with our hands resting on it could be made out in the original print but not in the reproduction. The third picture (not reproducible) was puzzling. In the original, there seemed to be a group of helmeted soldiers kneeling and taking aim. This does not show up in the reproduction.
The minutes were lengthy but were largely devoted to our efforts at photography following the detailed procedure outlined in Message # 13.
Fig. 2. A Psychic Photograph of Dr. Bindelof
Message #13 Dec. 16, 1933
Tonight, in view of the fact that we have so much to do, we must not spend too much time on any one experiment. The photography requiring the most energy would best be done. First, let me explain a little more in detail what I want done.
First, I shall attempt to give you a picture of myself.
1. Use full aperture in total darkness.
2. Set focus for five foot point, focal clarity to be at the center of the table.
3. Set plate. Remove cover.
4. Open lens in total darkness for period of 20-30 seconds.
Second: Picture of common force.
1. Focus universal.
2. Distance enough to include entire group (sitters).
3. 75 watts. 20-30 seconds.
4. You should observe lines of force with irregular spots on plate.
Third: Picture of outside identities.
1. Universal focus.
2. Darkness (intelligent identities cannot be photographed in light).
That will be all for the photography. If no results are obtained this time, try again next week. Please remember this method.
About Mrs. Lauer (she is not to hear this). Tom undid my work last week. She would have slept perfectly as she did the first night had Tom not given her a counter suggestion. Her case is 9/10ths mental. The 1/10th physical disorder I corrected and also induced a mental conviction of cure. She slept perfectly. Tom told her that perhaps it was just exhaustion that induced sleep. This destroyed the mental belief and the 1/10th physical correction could not overcome the 9/10th mental contradiction. In a physical disease, however, the odds are reversed. Thomas has become absolutely antagonistic. I suggest his complete removal and also that he be kept in complete ignorance as to the circle's results.
While I should like Horace in the circle, his mental vibrations unbalance the unit making communication difficult. However, if he does not object, he may sit in the room away from the table or in the hall if he chooses. I hope he will accept these terms. I am still planning complete answers to your questions on the soul.
(All plate loading and developing to be witnessed so that it may be reported as such on the records.)
December 23, 1933
Two messages were received. Message # 14 refers to curative efforts with Len's mother and Horace's mother (Mrs. Joseph). Both women wrote notes about their experience.
From Mrs. Joseph: Jan.13,1934
On December 23rd, 1933, I attended a meeting of "The Bindelof Psychical Society." Dr. Bindelof was asked to give me a treatment for a stomach condition. Dr. B. then came to me and pressed heavily on the top of my head, the sides of the head, and then the forehead. The day following the treatment, I noticed great relief from an exhausted feeling due to nerves. I had been troubled with that for five years and can truly say that after the treatment, I felt free of that condition.
The second treatment differed from the first one. There was apparently no agent [word indecipherable - M.U.] hand, but I heard rumblings from within. The result was beneficial.
The third treatment consisted of pressure on the head. The relief from the nervous exhaustion continued and the stomach condition is gradually becoming better.
Mrs. A. P. J. Hortense Joseph
38 Fort Washington Avenue
New York, NY
Statement by Mrs. Lauer:
I have been troubled with insomnia for the past 3 years. These past 6 months it has grown worse. My son, Leonard, suggested I try a cure, by sitting with them. After being told of the curative powers of this wonderful and rare phenomena, I consented.
By the time I was ready for my third treatment, I felt very confident about the cure and had a feeling of being treated by someone I knew and for whom I have a deep and sincere regard.
I am very enthusiastic, also grateful, and feel that the future holds much for this phenomena [sic]. On the whole, I am sleeping better and have hopes of complete cure.
Helen, P. Lauer
The minutes noted the humidity readings and the sequence of treatments. Reference is made to a number of brief messages no longer extant.
Message #14 Dec. 23, 1933
Monte's absence this evening renders the group too weak to take photographs. I suggest we leave that for some other time. I hardly think Mrs. Lauer will need more than one more treatment. Gradually, her sleep will become more and more profound until she obtains perfect slumber. There are no objections to sitting in Tom's circle Sunday Leonard, only don't make it customary because it drains tremendously on your mental vitality when the mental combination of sitters is not perfect. I shall not manifest myself at any of those séances. However, I wish Tom the best of luck in his enterprise about the cures.
Please read aloud the temperature and humidity during each of Mrs. Lauer's treatments. This can be done just before the room is made dark. While those readings were rather good, they still are not perfect for complete utilization of the force.
I want to take this opportunity to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas.
You may now proceed as you wish. Should you attempt a cure for Mrs. Joseph, she must first state her condition in her own words.
December 30, 1933
Message # 15 received.
Message #15 Dec. 30, 1933
I shall give you a diagnoses of Mrs. Joseph's trouble. You will then be able to better understand my method of treatment. The nerve fibers in the stomach which control the muscles of digestion have been partially destroyed most likely by continued worrying and nervousness. The automatic brain impulses which are relayed to the digestive muscles in the stomach through these destroyed fibers fail to set the muscles into operation because of the condition of these nerves, consequently, practically all of the digesting must be done by the small intestines. This will almost infallibly cause the person great distress. I sent growth stimulating impulses from the brain to these nerve ends which in a short time will fully revive them. In the meantime, you must eat no acidic foods such as pickles, etc. This only helps destroy the weakened fibers. I also suggest you stop another very useless and futile thing-worrying. If Mrs. Lauer will recall, she at one time alone developed enough energy for me to almost manifest myself physically. You may now proceed as you choose.
The minutes again correlate humidity readings with reference to the treatment given. What follows is a statement submitted by Leo, a cousin of Len's, and one of the early sitters, about his treatment.
Statement from Leo Keiser Dec. 30, 1933
As is the custom and order of proceedings, I took the place between Leonard and Gilbert for the continuation of the treatments the Doctor had begun about two months previous. The Doctor first put his hand on my head and moved it from there to my forehead. He pushed my forehead back and I, thinking that he wished to apply pressure to that region, resisted him. He then left my forehead and wrote that I should not resist him. The lights went out and I again felt his hand on the top of my head. He then pushed my head back and I felt his fingers at a point upon the neck where the thyroid glands are situated. He left that spot after a few seconds. I felt his hand upon my head. He pushed my head down and then I felt pressure upon the top of my head. He mussed my hair up and then when he was through with the treatment, he brushed it back into place again.
The sittings continued into 1934 with 10 sittings occurring between January 6th and April 7th. Contact with Dr. Bindelof was more and more erratic as other entities seemed to intervene. Long messages were obtained on January 6th. (Message #16) and January 20th. (Message #17) There were also numerous short messages. For the sake of brevity and because much of what occurred continued the successes and failures already described, I will limit this account to a few of the highlights.
January 6, 1934
Description by George of being treated for an injury to his hand. He felt a "warm moist trembling hand" flexing his wrist and then massaging his hand and wrist.
Message # 16 received.
Message #16 Jan 6, 1934
Your questions concerning the soul are no easy task to answer. You ask explanations of life itself, of the ethereal substance that affords you the power of thought and existence. Frankly, I sorely suspect my ability for the work you have assigned me, but, nevertheless, you may be assured that these answers constitute a most earnest effort to gratify your requests.
The soul itself exists quite independently of matter. It is an intangible force ever present in space (the word soul is an entirely too poetic term for such a physical phenomenon. Perhaps you can devise a more suitable name?) I do not know when the force came into existence or of what it is the result, but it would be a reasonable supposition to call it beginless [sic] (what a poor definition) and infinite. The force in this state is entirely potential. It becomes kinetic only when it combines with some substance which by its chemical construction gives this force the power to manifest itself through the action of the substance with which it has united. During the embryonic development of a being, a portion of this force at a certain period in the creation when the chemical constituency is exact combines with the previously dormant matter and by this combination gives the animal the power of life. The finer and more precise the chemical construction the more perfect the combination with the force and as a result a more intelligent person. As the chemical combination becomes more simple, such as in the lower animals and plants, the mentality becomes comparatively more simple because of the poor combination with the force. The soul then begins its development in the mind of the person it is housed in. As the chemical construction of the person weakens and changes as a result of age or disease, the force slowly separates itself from the body. It finally departs completely, rendering the body lifeless. This intelligence continues to exist however in the same sphere that it did originally with the exception that it now bears the mental characteristics of the person in which it developed. It can still think and reason but it cannot manifest itself physically for reasons I have stated in other messages. The rest of its existence I have told you previously.
I sincerely hope this message answers in some way your questions on the subject. While the foregoing message may appear rather short, believe me it is the result of much investigation.
You may now proceed as you wish.
I hope there is a possibility you boys will reconsider Monte's vote. However, that is entirely up to you.
January 13, 1934
Brief printed messages, some indecipherable. References to seating arrangements and earlier advice to someone about going to the dentist.
January 20, 1934
Difficulty was encountered reaching Dr. Bindelof before message # 17 was obtained.
Message #17 Jan. 20, 1934
I wish to apologize to you for my failure to use the microphone. We started so late in the evening that by the time I was ready to use it, you were all completely exhausted. I suggest we leave this experiment and the photography for a future date when we have better facilities. While they are interesting, they are quite unimportant. I have neglected to tell you why I seemingly crumple the paper after a message such as this. The explanation may confound you, but I shall endeavor to tell you anyhow. When you hear the pencil scratching at that terrific speed you have presumed that I am writing at that speed. I am actually writing at a normal rate - here is what happens: a type of force (what it is I do not quite know myself) forms a sphere around the paper and pencil when I write a message that you approximate would take about twenty minutes to print. It does take me twenty minutes, but the sphere reduces the time factor, so as to make the writing to appear to have been done in less than a minute. In other words, twenty minutes work can be done in twenty minutes yet done in one minute even though it still took twenty minutes to perform. As for the consumption of energy - twenty minutes of energy is consumed in one minute. When this force dissipates, it does what you might say - collapses or contracts toward the center of the sphere drawing the paper in with it, and crushing it to the extent you observe. Strangely enough, the quality of the writing is improved with the use of this force. In the short messages you will notice the pencil scratches at a normal rate and the paper does not crumple. This is because the force is not employed. To use this force represents a terrific drain on the sitters. Therefore, it is advisable to use it only once and at the beginning of the sitting. I doubt if it could be done twice at one sitting. That is why I have refused to answer many of your questions by writing during the séance.
About the cures.
Mrs. Joseph should be all right after one more treatment. What we must do now is secure a person with a definite ailment, preferably malignant. (The sooner we get started on that the better.) The first patient must be harmoniously attuned to the entire idea. (While, a negative person can be cured, it takes much longer.) An interesting point that has entirely escaped me. A person on his deathbed may be revived and carried through the crucial period by excessive heart stimulation. (Perhaps we can make the circle a portable medicinal-kit.)
Now, about that unexpected mid-week sitting. I had better tell you that is a rather foolish practice. Rather than let Elly [sic] suffer any pain, I manifested myself but at the risk of losing further contact with you. You opened wide for harmful and alien identities. With such a small circle, their passage is much easier than mine and thus having attuned themselves, permanently interfere if not completely ruin our sittings.
Incidentally, Leonard and Ellie, don't fall to far behind on your notes.
You may now proceed as you choose.
That baby should have been in the incubator last week. It was sheer lunacy to remove it from an environment that was so obviously beneficial; and on top of that to expect a child to digest a protein diet when it was not fully developed enough to stop the sugar diet - the man is crazy.
January 27, 1934
Mrs. Lauer's and Mrs. Joseph's treatments continued. Minutes refer to the megaphone being carried around over the heads of the sitters. An indistinguishable sound was heard over the megaphone.
February 3, 1934
Following a brief written note in which Dr. Bindelof thanked Mrs. Joseph for the letter she had written, contact was lost for most of the evening. A few brief messages occurred at the end.
February 10, 1934
Failure to contact Dr. Bindelof. Short messages signed by Dr. Rinchner, a friend of Dr. Bindelof, who promised to look for the doctor. Minutes included the following: "During the séance the following phenomena occurred: watch was removed from Leonard's wrist and carried around the table, twisted and toyed with and reset to read 3:16, and returned to owner's lap.
February 17, 1934
Difficulty reaching Dr. Bindelof until the end when a brief message came to the effect he would explain his absence next week. Brief messages from Dr. Rinchner and one signed in script "BAD."
February 24, 1934
A young woman, Marianne Meader, visiting from Germany, had joined the group sometime in January, 1934. She prepared the minutes of the session.
Minutes of the Meeting Feb. 24,1934
After a short conference with the officers, the chairman called the meeting to order at 11:35 and announced that a proposal had been made to disband and to return all money paid in form of dues. Reasons: Séances had been progressing rapidly until a short time ago when new members had been admitted. Since then the results had been poor. Also, nothing had been done in finding cases the doctor had asked for.
The floor was opened for discussion and then votes were taken, resulting in a 6 : 3 vote in favor of disbanding.
The meeting was adjourned after announcement had been made that the money will be refunded on Saturday, March 3, 1934.
March 31, 7934
There were no further meetings until March 31, 1934 when the New Bindelof Society was formed. This and one other meeting of the new society were held at the Hotel Ansonia where Marianne Meader was residing. She prepared the minutes which noted table movements, a pencil being thrown, a brief message signed by Mr. Bad, levitation and the paper crumpled. One brief message was presented in mirror writing: "Bindelof not here, look again." The minutes record the following toward the end of the sitting: "Larry took control, spoke to Dr. Bindelof, and explained why the sittings had been broken up, and the society disbanded." At the very end of the session a brief message from Dr. Bindelof was obtained in response to Larry's request that he treat his mother who had developed a tumor. Dr. Bindelofs response was "not as a patient, as a sitter."
April 7, 1934
A short message was received in script: "There is no sence [sic] sitting." When asked to clarify this, the same identity took the request literally and wrote the same sentence more legibly. It was re-written a third time with even larger letters. A final message read: "They are gone. Why don't you let me go, please."
This was the last recorded account of any sitting.
A number of factors went into the demise of the Bindelof Society. There was the general feeling that soon after the early sessions in 1934 contact with Dr. Bindelof became more erratic and the phenomena more unpredictable. By the sitting of January 13th, Marianne Meader had joined the group. She was a very attractive young woman who soon became the focus of interest among several members of the group, particularly Len. As he reflected on it in later life, he felt she diverted his libido from the sittings. I attended only one or two of the January sittings, if at all, preoccupied as I was with getting the marks needed to get into medical school. Larry began to go with a girl he later married. Both he and Gil as well as Len were becoming more aware of the need to find work and earn money.
In Part IV I will try to deal with two of the questions that I am sure have come up in the mind of the reader, namely, the identity of Dr. Bindelof and the question of fraud. And finally, I will describe the lifelong impact this youthful exceptional experience had on all our lives.