The Picture That Started It All
Chances are most of you either say, “Wasn’t that the dad from ‘The Brady Bunch‘?’ or more simply, “Robert Who?” And to be honest, I didn’t recognize the name at first, despite Rines being a fairly well-known inventor, lawyer, researcher and composer.
But then I saw THE PICTURE!
When I was a kid growing up in Milford, Conn., my parents bought a set of New World Encyclopedias to help me and my sisters with our schoolwork, you know, since Al Gore hadn’t gotten around to inventing the intrawebs yet. As part of that purchase, each year in January, we received an annual for the year previous, an almanac/yearbook of sorts where all the major headlines, events and sports stories from the year prior were included.
Well, I always pored over these tomes, hoping to find something cool about the New York Mets or a picture of a TV show I loved. But I’ll never forget that day sitting in my bedroom on Linwood Street — probably in 1973, when I was 8 or so — while casually turning through the crisp new pages of the latest volume, I came upon THE PICTURE!
Yes, the photo you see above. Accompanying it was headline declaring that a scientist — Dr. Robert Rines — had taken a picture of a creature called “The Loch Ness Monster,” a prehistoric creature, possibly a plesiosaur, he believed dwelled in a Scottish lake.
“WHAT?!” I remember saying to my impressionable 8-year-old self, a switch somewhere in my brain being flipped on for the first time. “There’s a real dinosaur swimming around a lake, and someone took a picture of it? That’s the Coolest. Thing. EVER!”
Yes, back before the days of Photoshop and CGI, seeing was believing. Of course, we’ve subsequently learned that Rines’ famous photo had been re-touched to look more like a fin — apparently the original image was much more indistinct, composed mostly of bubbles, murk and sediment.
But it was too late — something had been ignited in me, a sudden interest in all that was odd, unusual or unexplained. I remember going to the J.F. Kennedy School library to find out as much as I could about Nessie, and then the Milford Public Library. Of course, that was just the first pull of the sweater — a year or two later, I got a copy of Adi-Kent Thomas Jeffrey’s The Bermuda Triangle, which I repeatedly read cover to cover. (A 1975 edition of it still sits in my “Bookcase of the Damned” — okay, it’s more like a few shelves as opposed to an entire bookcase, but you get the idea.) Other similar books followed.
Luckily, the 1970s was a great time for damned-type entertainment. For me, it was the great “Kolchak the Nightstalker“ TV series, followed by Leonard Nimoy’s classic TV series “In Search Of …” Then it was Close Encounters of the Third Kind igniting an interest in UFOs. The Warrens brought ghosts and demons into the mix, then discovering the Fortean Times and well … you can figure out where it’s gone since then.
Anyway, it all started with a single picture. THE PICTURE.
Just thought I’d share.