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Meet: Professor Sonia Doré



A Strange Science Exclusive!

From Strange Science Monthly, April 1938

The ever-changing science of chemistry has mystified man since he first discovered fire.  Like the five vowels that are the basis of our language, the ancient Hindoos and Greeks saw the universe as being made up of just five elements: earth, water, air, fire, and sometimes "ether", that unknown space between everything else.  By the Middle Ages, alchemists had isolated 13 mineral elements and tried in vain to transmute one into another well before the Renaissance brought us the knowledge of our air being a mixture of elemental gases.  In 1869 the Russian D. I. Mendeleev gave us the first modern Periodic Table listing 63 chemical elements, and just last year the Italians Perier and Segrè raised that number to 89 with their synthesis of technetium.  Indeed, something akin to alchemy is alive and well, even in our modern 20th century.  But dabble in alchemy—or anything other than “established” science—and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a job.

That’s been the challenge for “wandering professor” Sonia Doré.  “There are other approaches to understanding these universal building blocks,” says this woman who holds a PhD in chemistry from New York University.  “We look at the periodic table with all of its colored squares as a way of grasping how the smallest of particles relate to each other.  It’s a useful tool, but only one of many for unlocking the secrets of the world.”

Doré’s lab work began in the southern college circuit, but that was only part of her training.  As a chemist by day, Doré spent her nights with doing field work professed healers—jujus and hoodoos, modern-day alchemists working in Harlem and New Orleans, Cuba and Haiti.  Combining her academic acredidation with these other understandings of chemistry—many as ancient as the Greek lore handed down to western men— Professor Doré is taking science to where few men (or women) have taken it before—in more ways than on.  Traveling by train with a portable laboratory, small enough to fit into a suitcase, she collects her atomic wherever she can find them: sticks of chalk, roots rich in mineral content, and ordinary sand are some favorite staples that she uses for experiments, as well as reading dreams, healing psyches, and chasing out evil spirits.

Professor Doré often adds to her lectures by accompanying herself on the autoharp.

Professor Doré often adds to her lectures by accompanying herself on the autoharp.

With her presentation that’s part lecture, part séance, Professor Doré never turns down an invitation to speak.  Roaming from town to town, she’s visited veteran’s hospitals, sanitariums, horse doctors, events hosted by the Rotary Club and the American Theosophical Society, and even some churches.

“The university will teach you so much,” says Professor Doré, “but only so much.  And they aren’t yet ready for a woman like me to literally come and stir things up.”

Professor Doré’s Traveling Lecture and Séance will be passing though the Midwest this spring, then over to California for the Summer before making its way back east this fall.  For an updated itinerary of Professor Doré’s engagements, please send a self-addressed envelope to the address given at the front of this magazine.



An Invisible Parrot, Perhaps




Common thieves, Russian spies, and invisible parrots all suspected

From The Cincinnati Scepter, August 8, 1936

The world famous Medium Family of Allamuchy, New Jersey, has made quite a splash of late.  At a recent New York City engagement, these Mediums (in more than one sense of the word) described past events for dozens of people in the audience, listed objects that people had in their pockets, and forecast a number of in-house happenings mere moments before they occurred—all with absolute certainty and correctness.

“I had a silver pocketwatch with a crack in the glass, a billfold with two dollars and a stick of gum in it, and a lucky thimble that I always carry around with me,” says Sheldon Sheingold of Brooklyn who was in attendance and came onstage as a randomly chosen volunteer.  “Not only did they name all these things, but they talked about Kugel, which was not just my favorite food as a kid but also the name of my puppy dog back then.”

The crowd applauded for the Mediums and for Sheingold alike when, just before walking offstage, Montrose Medium, the head of the family proclaimed, “In just a moment, Mr. Sheingold shall trip and fall on his way down the steps.”

He did just that.

“How’d they know?” said Sheingold, talking to the press from his hospital bed, his bandaged leg elevated in a sling.  “And if they did know, why didn’t they stop it from happening?”

★ ★ ★

Questions like Mr. Sheingold’s are on the minds of many who have come in contact with the Medium Family. 

Alleged senatorial corset

Alleged senatorial corset

At one engagement in Chicago, Mr. Medium stated, “Before you leave the theatre, those of you who left your coats with the check girl are in for a nasty shock.”  Sure enough, all the contents of patrons’ pockets were missing and the check girl was nowhere to be found. 

At a gala event in Atlanta, Georgia, Marsha McMedium (her maiden name) divulged that a Democratic senator was wearing a corset and brassiere beneath his tuxedo, right after Mr. Medium pronounced, “In just a moment, this gentlemen shall turn the color of a beet, grab his hat, coat, and wife, and then vacate the premises.”  These events transpired, though the senator's alleged corset and brassiere were never verified.

“I have many theories as to what’s transpiring at these events,” says Dr. Randall Harris of Missoula, Montana.  “One theory is that these so-called mediums* are using the power of suggestion to make these events occur.  Suggestion can sometimes be so strong that it can almost be called coercion—or even hypnosis.”

Dr. Harris, whose specialty is psychology, when asked about a theory that the Mediums are in cahoots with a ring of pickpockets said,  “As a man of science, I can neither verify nor refute these claims.  Not without hard evidence.  There are those who say that Mr. Medium has spent time in Communist Russia and carries a device that sends direct signals to the KGB.  I’ve also heard a theory that there is an invisible parrot sitting on Marsha McMedium’s shoulder, whispering secrets in her ear.”

Dr. Harris went on to say that an invisible parrot was implausible, but that a “very small parrot” would be possible.

The Medium Family performs this Tuesday, August 11th, at the Bastion Hill Auditorium in downtown Cincinnati.  It is predicted that there will not be an empty seat in the house.

*Editor’s note:  Mr. Harris’s use of the phrase “so-called mediums” refers to the family’s occupation being put into question, whereas the family’s surname is indeed “Medium” , a fact that this reporter has verified through reputable sources.



Meet: Aurora Medium



Explanation hailed by physicists and mystics alike

From The Beantown Borealis, June 21, 1938

17-year-old Aurora Medium of New Jersey is no ordinary girl.  As a radio enthusiast, she’s tuned into sounds and ideas from all over the globe.  She follows politics and will readily quote from President Roosevelt’s Fireside Chats.  A music lover, Miss Medium adores everything from opera to Appalachia, and can play violin along to Mozart as easily as she fiddles to A. P. Carter.  As extraordinary as she already is, Miss Medium claims to tune her radio even further afield:  into the spirit realm.

“People always ask me how I speak to the dead, which isn’t exactly accurate,” says Miss Medium.  She explains,  “The voices that I hear are not dead.  They are of people living in parallel dimensions, alternate realities that could have been had something gone a bit differently.”

This writer had the pleasure of seeing Miss Medium perform her radio feat at the Somerville Theatre last week.  Not far from Harvard University, Tufts College, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Miss Medium’s stage show drew many from the scientific community, as well as those interested in spiritualism.  Certain academics in the audience came as outspoken skeptics, but were won over by evening’s end—not just by the young lady’s charm, but by her clear understanding of science.

“She had a clear analysis of two physical principles,” stated professor John C. Slater, chair of M.I.T.’s department of Physics, “that of radio waves, which are rudimentary, and also of quantum mechanics, which are not.” 

Professor Slater went on to cite recent work by a group of physicists based out of Princeton University, summing it up like this:  “When an event occurs, it takes us down a certain pathway, just as if we were take the left fork at a split on a highway.  But should that same event have a different result, say going right at that same fork in the road, it changes our entire reality altogether.  But the other path still exists, running parallel to the one we took.”

Miss Medium demonstrated this concept onstage by tuning in her radio to hear voices of people in alternate realities.  In one such communication, we heard the voice of a longshoreman in Nova Scotia in a reality where the Great Halifax Explosion of 1917 had never occurred, resulting in that city becoming the second largest in North America.  In another broadcast, we heard the voice of the first woman governor of Rhode Island, although our nation has never had any female heads of state.  For her finale, Miss Medium spoke to the famous magician Harry Houdini who passed away a dozen years ago.

“In this universe,” says Miss Medium, referring to the reality with which we are all familiar, “Mr. Houdini died from complications due to a poorly timed punch to the stomach.  But tonight we hear the Great Houdini himself, not back from the grave, but having sidestepped that grave altogether!”

“As supernatural as it seems,” say Professor Slater, “this is actually very advanced physics.  Should she come to Cambridge, our department is prepared to offer the young lady a full scholarship.” 

But Miss Medium isn’t interested.  “I learn more about the world by traveling around it with my stage presentation,” she says, “and about other worlds just by tuning my radio.”

17-year-old Aurora Medium of New Jersey is no ordinary girl.  As a radio enthusiast, she’s tuned into sounds and ideas from all over the globe.  She follows politics and will readily quote from President Roosevelt’s Fireside Chats.  A music lover, Miss Medium adores everything from opera to Appalachia, and can play violin along to Mozart as easily as she fiddles to A. P. Carter.  As extraordinary as she already is, Miss Medium claims to tune her radio even further afield:  into the spirit realm.

“People always ask me how I speak to the dead, which isn’t exactly accurate,” says Miss Medium.  She explains,  “The voices that I hear are not dead.  They are of people living in parallel dimensions, alternate realities that could have been had something gone a bit differently.”



Meet: Selene Medium



Local Pianist Wins Prize and Distances Fans with New 12-Tone Composition

From The Lehigh Valley Luna, March 15, 1933

At the recent 2nd annual Sussex County Young Pianists Competition, a local girl performed an original composition.  12-year-old Selene Medium introduced her work as, “Voices of the Past,” and claimed it to be an actual interpretation of voices from deceased residents of the tri-state area.

Because of the general cacophony one would expect from such a piece, the audience grew restless.  They soon began to leave, grumbling quietly to themselves about “heebee-jeebees.”

“At first I thought she just couldn’t play,” said local Music Guild vice president Ernest Bowtie, “and then she started speaking along with the music, saying all sorts of things my mother would say before she passed away.”

The piece was of the contemporary variety: without a sense of key, rhythm, melody, or any of the other niceties of music (the Guild had enough good sense to put the performance last).  By the end of the performance, the only people left were the members of the girl’s family, and a Mr. John Cage from New York’s New School for Social Research.  Mr. Cage enjoyed the piece thoroughly and has commissioned another on behalf of a circle of Greenwich Village composers.  Go figure.



Meet: Marsha McMedium (part two)


After Twin Injuries and Unwanted Careers, 
Medium Comes Home to Settle Down

From The New New Jersey News, September 12, 1928 
(Part Two—Click here to read Part One)

By 1918 the crowds had vanished and the Bettystown Badgers were just an ordinary team of pigskin passers.  Meanwhile Monty Medium had been all but forgotten.  Though able to walk and talk, the concussion had rendered him unaware of anything in the present moment.  At only 19 years of age and with neither sense of past or present, the ex-football star now spoke exclusively in a series of proclamations that stated what would be happening in the next moment.  But whereas at Bettystown this ability had catapulted the young Medium to stardom, he now became less of a sensation and more of a curiosity.  After two years of being the idol of the football field and pawn of the gambling syndicate, Monty Medium was abandoned, only to roped into the sideshow circuit. 

Decrepit carnies carted Montrose from town to town along with other “oddities of nature.”  For five cents onlookers entered into sideshow booths, circus tents and vaudeville houses, lured in by painted signs for “Freak Forecasts Future” or “Seer Savant.”  Barely aware of his own name and with no memory of the past, Monty Medium’s stage show was completely at the whim of his exploiters who never gave Medium a dime, leaving him in limbo for another two years.  Until his future wife walked into his life.

“When I found him, he was living like an injured housepet,” says Marsha McMedium (no blood relation—“McMedium” is her family name).  As something of a psychic herself, she made a habit of frequenting sideshows and circuses to meet others who share her skills.  When she found Monty Medium one day performing on Coney Island’s Boardwalk, she found his situation deplorable.  “He was underfed and not being paid for his gifts, so I used my knowledge of notary negotiations to nullify all carny contracts.  I even got them to pay me to take Monty off their hands.

Ms. McMedium soon helped rehabilitate Mr. Medium and within the year the two were married and took a break from touring to start a family.  “We have two daughters and a son,” says Marsha.  “They travel with us everywhere and are honing their own gifts of mediumship.  Look forward to their stage debut soon.”

Last year the Mediums returned to Warren County.  Many of Monty’s old teammates still reside in the area, and on Saturdays they still pass the ball around for fun.  Rumor has it that the ex-footballer-cum-spiritualist has taken up the practice of yoga, passed on to him by contortionists from his sideshow days.  Locals also report that they’ve seen Monty Medium step out to collect the morning papers, wearing his old uniform and leather football helmet, ready for action.



Meet: Monty Medium (part one)


One Medium’s Mysterious Mishap Leads to Life in the Limelight

From The New New Jersey News, September 12, 1928

The football held by Monty Medium when he was "ambushed" on the field in 1917.  It is rumored that he still carries it with him on his travels.

The football held by Monty Medium when he was "ambushed" on the field in 1917.  It is rumored that he still carries it with him on his travels.

They were an unbeatable team, often scoring a dozen touchdowns before their opponents could make it past the 20-yard line.  By 1917 Warren County had become a football mecca, with fans arriving by train from all over the Eastern Seaboard to see the Badgers play.  But how did this ordinary varsity team of ordinary farm boys rise to be the talk of the nation?

Suspicions abounded that some tomfoolery lay underfoot: that perhaps a wealthy backer had, out of regional pride, bribed all competitors to wither before the mighty Badgers.  Detectives were called upon to investigate and the verdict was that the Badgers’ impeccable streak was won fair and square.  Suspicion turned to superstition when sources revealed that the Badgers players would perform certain “rites and rituals” before each and every game.  Was Beattystown Boys School a warren of occultist activity?  And if so, who was their ringleader?

The answer lay in an extraordinary boy: a straight-A student rumored to possess the power to predict the future.

“I knew Monty Medium as a pupil,” says superintendent Schöenhorn who has been with the district for 33 tears.  “He wasn’t particularly hard-working in either academics or athletics, it’s just that he always knew what was about to happen.”

Montrose “Monty” Medium arrived in New Jersey an orphan and survivor of the Titanic disaster of 1912.  He’d been a cabin boy while his parents worked in the commissary before their tragic death by drowning when that ship ran up against an iceberg.  A prominent New York family took him in and enrolled him in boarding school near their summer home.  Not wanting to dwell on his tragic past, Monty Medium looked toward the future, so much so that he could even predict it.

“We ran tests on the boy,” recounts Dr. Sheldon Synapstein of Princeton University.  “Psychologically the trauma of losing his parents blocked his memory.  Physiologically, it may be that he suffered a concussion when boarding the lifeboat, resulting in a neurological condition that science has yet to understand.”

Whatever the cause, the benefits outweighed the losses, as right before things happened, the young Medium knew what would occur—from presents opened at Christmastime, to answers to classroom quizzes, to football plays.

“He was never athletically inclined,” says Schöenhorn, “he was just watching a school game one day and named every play 20 seconds before it happened, so the coach recruited him.”

But even with a winning team in its midst, not all stayed rosy in Warren County.  Beginning with the rumored occult activity around the Beattystown Badgers, the team’s mystique attracted some unsavory doings.  With the crowds of football fans came the gambling syndicate.  And crime.

“There were all these people coming through here we didn’t know,” says Gela Macungie whose family has lived around the Lehigh Valley for as long as she can remember.  “Bad people who were always making noise, leaving trash and causing trouble.”

That trouble apparently bore down upon young Montrose.  For even though he could, by all accounts, predict the future, he found himself the target of an opposing team’s clever play.

“They ambushed him,” remembers Schöenhorn.  “They’d studied the Badgers’ strategy, sliced it every possible way and came up with an offensive tackle he couldn’t avoid.”

Some suspect foul play on the part of the crime bosses’ influence over the game, others speculate the Monty Medium had grown weary and wary of the attention he had garnered and so threw the game.  But the price he paid was dear: a second brain injury, inflicted on the football field, put the boy into a vegetative state for 99 days.  When he recovered, he was not quite the same.

End of Part One.  Click here to read Part Two.



Meet: Junior Medium



A feat not to be missed . . .
or just a lot of hot air?

From The Crlimson Gazetteer, February 19, 1938

The infamously unusual Medium family has announced that on Friday, the 1st of March, they will reveal their latest and greatest show to the public.  This new act will feature the first performance by the never before seen Junior Medium, who is said to set objects ablaze with only the power of his mind and his burning ambition.

The family of supernaturals has come under criticism lately. One personal friend of the family (who would like to remain nameless) has said, "As a frequent guest of the Medium family, Junior has not to my knowledge successfully set anything on fire ever. He has on several occasions however turned bright red where upon I thought he might spontaneously combust from sheer concentration."

We citizens of Allamuchy eagerly, if not skeptically, anticipate this young Medium’s new extraordinary feat



Meet: Dr. Randall Harris


Famous Medium Family Last Holdout

From Truth & Consequences News & Courier, June 13, 1938

The reclusive Medium family of New Jersey may be among the last remaining popular spirtualists left in the United States.  Spiritualism, which caught on big in the last century, has seen a decline since the onset of the Depression as citizens face the reality of bigger challenges. 

For the past decade, Marsha McMedium (her maiden name) has crafted a traveling stage show with her husband Montrose Medium, whom she claims can predict what will happen 20 seconds into the future.  Dressed like a circus ringmaster in her jodhpurs and sequined blouse, Ms. McMedium warms up the crowd with a few tricks before ushering in Mr. Medium.  She has him predict what members of the audience will say and do just a moment before they say or do it.  

Though often correct in his guesses, Mr. Medium's predictions are usually mundane, frequently referring to where the next cough will come from during an awkward silence in the crowd.  Needing to liven up the act, the Mediums brought in her two daughters.  Now 17, Ms. McMedium purports that they can talk to spirits, and furthermore that they live in parallel dimensions, which prevent either from being able see nor hear each other.  Despite their eccentricity and impossibility of their act, the Mediums have managed to sell out houses all over the world while other such occultists have fallen out of favor.

Famed psychoanalyst Dr. Randall Harris takes part of the credit for the demise of mysticism.  As a man of science, Dr. Harris has dedicated his time to debunking mediums, psychics, seers and paranormalists the world over.

Harris performs a debunking

Harris performs a debunking

“People label me a ‘debunker’ or ‘skeptic,’” says Harris.  “I prefer to call myself ‘an investigator’ for I am here to seek the truth.  I do not want people to be deceived into believing things that are simply not legitimate.”

Dr. Harris has visited hundreds of séances, tarot readings, crystal ball rooms, table-tipping parties, palmistry salons and the like—often in disguise—and each time he publicly exposes these sham actors for what they really are.  But one bastion of spiritualism has remained out of Dr. Harris’s reach:  the Medium Family, whom he hopes to reign in before the close of the decade