The No-Show - "Sho Me" Conference
The first "Sho Me" UFO Conference was held on October 21, 1989 at the
Harley Hotel, Earth City, Missouri. It was sponsored by the UFO Study Group
of Greater St. Louis and the Missouri Chapter of the Texas based Mutual UFO
Network. The "Sho Me" Conference should have been called the "No-Show" con-
For months, Bruce Widaman, MUFON State Director for Missouri, had been
teasing the people who attend the monthly meeting with the conference schedule.
He kept saying that there would be two "Mystery Guests", in addition to the
already known, publicized, speakers; one would remain un-named, the other
would be called "Snowbird". During this period he also stated that there
would be "new information never before released" disclosed at this conference.
I didn't really give any of this much thought at the time, one gets used to
games in Ufology, but in retrospect I see this as more than a little "idio-
syncrasy" on Widaman's part.
The first session was to begin at 8:45 AM with a little intro and then
go right into the "Mystery Guest Speaker". Well, the first "Mystery Speaker"
turned out to be Bill Moore of "maybe I am a disinformation agent or maybe I'm
not" fame; who also couldn't decide if he was coming or not...and didn't.
Seems his "car broke down" in Salt Lake City, Utah. But the word in the "inner
circle" is that he is angry with certain people in St. Louis regarding an
imagined insult published in the UFOSG newsletter, The Enigma (Oct. 89).
(Personally, I think the only mystery here is why anyone would ever invite
him to speak!) Luckily, Friedman stepped in and saved the morning; un-
fortunately he was unable to present his slides.
The afternoon session was a cliffhanger too. The first speaker was to
be Ted Phillips followed by Bob Oeschler. It became obvious there was a prob-
lem when Oeschler took Phillips' time slot. Oeschler's presentation was excel-
lent. He was enthusiastic and well prepared. He discussed the recent Russian
sighting, subliminal messages regarding ETs in the media and of course, Gulf
Breeze. He spoke for about two hours until abruptly booted from the stage at
4:35P to accomodate the now, 2 1/2 hour late, Ted Phillips. Phillips spent the
first five minutes apologizing and the remaining 20 (till the 5PM dinner break),
nostalgically reliving the early days of Ufology. He did manage to mention
that he now has a catalog of 4127 physical trace cases - not one of which did
he discuss - nor did he present one single slide. Not very impressive coming
from a man who deals in "hard" evidence and just happens to be a professional
photographer. Mercifully, his lack-luster, unprepared, uninformative talk
In keeping with the rest of the day, the evening session started late.
The audience was becoming more and more restless, anticipating the arrival of
"Snowbird" the second "mystery speaker". Widaman stepped to the podium, greeted
the audience (apologetically thanking them for attending yet another session of
the conference) and introduced the next speaker, John Schuessler. "But that
can't be `Snowbird'!", I heard a woman sitting in front of me say, "Who's this
guy?". There was absolutely no association made between Schuessler and Snow-
bird for the audience. Many came thinking that "Snowbird" was one of the no-
torious informant "birdmen" of UFO-LIVE fame...and I can't help but think that
that is exactly what the promoters of this conference wanted. There was con-
fusion in the audience and I sensed displeasure at what appeared to be another
switch in the program. But as Mr. Schuessler began his talk the audience
settled down and listened intently. Those of us who have been in the UFO
field for years are familiar with the Cash/Landrum case but to the new people
this was an aspect of UFOlogy they had never been exposed to. As he spoke and
showed slides of the victims the true horror of the case became evident. There
seemed to be a sadness in his voice as he spoke of the family and I thought
how lucky they were to have him on their side. Friedman finished up the
evening with essentially the same talk he gave in the morning...and on a local
radio program on Friday...and at the 1985 MUFON Symposium...and...and...
So we were again subjected to another MJ-12 rehash, but it was lively.
The evening ended with a panel discussion. Walt Andrus and all speakers
were present. Two non-speaker/attendees were included as well: Larry Bryant
and Len Stringfield.
Accolades should go to the members of the UFOSG, John and Peggy Ropollo,
Ken and Helen Hanke, Walter and Myrtle Palmer and Spenser Wolling who diligent-
ly staffed the sale and registration tables throughout the entire day. It was
through their efforts that the registration went smoothly and visitors had
books and other memorabilia to take home.
Hand slaps should go to MUFON State Director, Bruce Widaman and his PR
man Alex Horvat, (a.k.a. Alex "Bond"...that's right, as in "James") for the
misleading advertising used to promote this conference and to MUFON's Interna-
tional Director, Walt Andrus for sanctioning the charade.
To my knowledge, there was no "new" material presented as promised. This
conference was rehash, pure and simple. It would have been fine for people
who have NEVER been exposed to the subject before, but to deliberately mis-
lead seasoned Ufologists with the promise of "new information"; knowing who
your speakers are and what they will be speaking about borders on fraud. Per-
sonally, had I known the first speaker was to have been Moore, had I known
Phillips was going to be late, basically not there, had I known "Snowbird"
was Schuessler, I would not have gone and wasted my money. A little honesty
would have gone a LONG way. Maybe its time to start treating Ufology and
these conferences like the business they have become. If you don't get what
you pay for...demand your money back.