In the early days of contactees and UFOs, the Missouri farmer Buck Nelson was a breath of fresh air. While other contactees figured talking eloquently and lying about their academic credentials would make their stories believable, the plain-speaking Nelson admitted his education didn’t go any further than the sixth grade. He presented himself as a humble, hard-working guy, and though Nelson’s stories were every bit as ridiculous as his contemporaries, they have an amusing, folksy kind of charm to them.
Fortunately, Nelson was kind (and brave) enough to share his encounters of giant space dogs and Venusian English teachers in a booklet he published in 1956, the bluntly titled “My Trip to Mars, the Moon, and Venus.” For a journey that covered, as an opening page calculates it, an astonishing 800,000,000 miles, the booklet is short and to the point. As far as I know, it’s the only full-length piece of work Nelson ever wrote, and for that, we’ll have to assume it’s the definitive account of his tale.
Before his epic space odyssey, Nelson claimed to have had four earlier contacts with aliens. The first happened on July 30, 1954, when Nelson noticed three UFOs flying outside his home. He took a few pictures and waved a flashlight at the saucers, thinking they would come down and land. I have no idea whether waving a flashlight is offensive in Venusian culture, but the UFOs responded to Nelson’s request by shooting him with a ray of light and knocking him onto the ground. The attack had paralyzed him for a moment, but oddly enough, healed some long-suffering back pain and improved Nelson’s eyesight.
The subsequent encounters were much less violent. The occupants of the UFOs talked to Nelson during the second encounter, and they finally showed themselves on the third. On March 5, 1955, the colorful crew visited Nelson at his home, consisting of an earthling, two Venusians, and a giant space dog. The earthling was a young man named Bucky. Bucky was born in Colorado, but his parents sent him to be brought up on Venus, where he lived and taught English. (Fun fact: Nelson later learned that Bucky was a distant cousin.)
The Venusian guests were both older men. The older of the pair never mentioned his name, but the other said that his name was the distinctly Venusian Bob Solomon, and that he was 200-years-old. Frankly, none of these people are as interesting as the dog though, a 385-pound giant named Bo. On her hind legs, Bo stood even taller than Buck Nelson, and she could shake hands (eh, paws) just like a human.
Over the space of an hour, the friendly crew marveled over Nelson’s ordinary home, and invited him to come along for a trip to outer space sometime. On April 24, Nelson’s friends picked him and his dog Teddy up for the promised trip. Before entering their UFO, Nelson was given the Venusians’ “Twelve Laws of God,” a set of rules that pretty much just updated the Ten Commandments. Unlike the Ten Commandments though, Nelson tells us that the people of outer space actually listen to these rules, and hence are able to live without such destructive influences as war, disease, jails, and- truly the Devil’s liquid- tea.
After writing the Twelve Laws down for all mankind, Nelson was allowed to enter the spaceship. His hosts let him fiddle around with the controls, laughing at him when he accidentally flew the ship upside down. First the crew visited Mars, then the moon, and then Venus. Nelson was introduced to various leaders, and sampled the local cuisine on each stop. Generally, the inhabitants of Mars, the moon, and Venus were like earthlings. They ate a lot of fruits and vegetables, and like Buck Nelson, wore overalls. They lived for a long time, using natural medicine and hypnotism to treat pain.
Of the three destinations, Nelson spent the longest amount of time on Venus. He noted that Venusian cars lacked wheels, but could float three to five feet off the ground. Because the cars could float, Venus had no roads. Because there were no roads or even government buildings, the Venusians paid very little in taxes. They worked only an hour a day, and spent much of their time visiting and socializing with others. For entertainment, the Venusians had “Book Machines,” computer-like devices that could read books and play music.
When Nelson was dropped back off on Earth, he found that he was gone for three days. Nelson promised his extraterrestrial friends that he would tell everybody about the trip. He traveled to Detroit to talk at a “saucer club,” and was allegedly interviewed by astronomers and scientists in Chicago. (Nelson claims these scientists were positive, based on his descriptions, that he had visited the Moon.) Interested in his story, men from the Armed Forces investigated Nelson as well, looking over his house and buying the pair of overalls he wore on his space odyssey. (Again, we have only Nelson’s word to confirm this.)
On December 25, 1955, Bucky showed up at Nelson’s house to deliver a message. It seems Nelson recorded Bucky’s voice, but I can’t find any trace of a recording. In the booklet, however, Nelson writes Bucky’s message down verbatim. To sum it up, Bucky lovingly warned mankind to give up atomic weapons, otherwise America would destroy itself fighting a war on its soil. The rest of that Christmas was pretty cheerful; Nelson hosted some other guests, and one of these men tried selling Bucky insurance.
Traveling across the country, talking on and on about Bucky and Bo, and his 800,000,000 mile journey, Nelson earned a bit of a following among people interested in aliens and flying saucers. He was a guest on radio and TV shows, and spoke in churches as well. Since the aliens apparently recognized how to create a brand, they told Nelson that it was best he always wore overalls in his public appearances. “I think it is something which will fit in with their future plans for me,” Nelson speculates in his booklet.
For a while, Buck Nelson had a good thing going on. Between 1954 and 1966, Nelson held UFO conventions on his farm, featuring, according to one 1961 poster, music, telescopes, fried chicken, and “speakers who have contacted our space brothers.” Nelson also sold copies of his booklet, along with pieces of dog hair he took off Bo. Ultimately, however, Buck Nelson and his overalls ended up playing no great cosmic significance. The last few years of his UFO convention saw disappointing turn-outs, and Nelson is believed to have spent the rest of his life in California, staying with relatives until his death in 1982.
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