Digging continues on Saipan.
Captain Paul Cooper has been diligently pursing all leads, sometimes with a magnatometer, sometimes with a GPR, and sometimes with intuition. (Helped by a shovel and some good luck).
|Talking to Connie about the ring - photo by Robert Rustin|
Connie Kaufer, a relative of the woman who Amelia gave a ring to, has been helping in the effort. She met with Robert Hunter, curator of the CNMI museum on Saipan (an excellent museum if you're even in the area), and Connie described the ring so that he could generate some sketches.
Meanwhile, Paul has been on site with the help and assistance of the photographer Robert Rustin, looking in the ruins of the family home to see if it can be located. It was lost during a typhoon, went under the floorboards... and perhaps is still there.
|Looking for the ring - photo by Robert Rustin|
One of the friends of this blog, Woody Peard, contacted us about the ring. He supplied us with a photograph that was sent to him by Ann Pellegreno
. Ann is the aviatrix who recreated Amelia's flight in 1967, flying in an Electra. While she was in Lae, New Guinea, she met the famed photographer James Francis, who has done a number of books about the history of the island.
At some point she was given this photograph - I'm not sure if it was taken by Francis, but if memory serves me correctly (and I think the story of the photograph can be found in "Last Flight" - Amelia's book about her last flight) she met with a local mission on the island, and a number of people came to meet the famed Aviatrix after she had dinner with them. I've been looking at photos of Amelia and her last flight for 30 years, and I have seen another foto of this same meeting - not sure if it was the same photographer, or if it was with someone else's camera - and I have to dig through the files to find out where it currently is being held.
|Lae with AE and Fred - photo courtesy Ann Pellegreno & Woody Peard|
But the story is that the woman on the far left of the photograph is holding a ring in her hand, and it's been reported that that was the ring that was given to Amelia before she left on her last flight.
|Holding what looks like a ring - Photo courtesy Ann Pellegreno & Woody Peard|
And may, perhaps, be the same ring that Amelia gave to Mathilde Arriola (interviewed by Fred Goerner and Father Arnold in 1960 for "Searching for AE") when Amelia was incarcerated on Saipan. Forensic technology can help us get a better view of the bauble in the woman's hand, as well as help us see if there are any written accounts of this woman giving her that same ring. But we're on a path and we are pursuing it.
|Sam being interviewed by Alexie of the Marianas Variety & Saipan Tribune|
photo Robert Rustin
We also got a request from Sam McPhetres, local historian and co founder of the Northern Marianas College. Sam has been instrumental in our research, helping us with searching the archives for eye witness accounts, and many other leads.
|Scott Russell from the NMI Humanities Council - photo Robert Rustin|
Sam had one request; could we help him drain the large water tank located in the middle of the jail in Garapan? This cistern contains water that hasn't been disturbed since 1944, when the jail was taken by US forces. Sam suspected there was a detention room under that cistern, a "hot box" for prisoners who were given extreme punishment. With all the permits involved with getting our first shovel into the ground, we thought it was unlikely we'd be able to fulfill that request. However, Captain Cooper insisted that he could and would do so, and here's some photos of that historic event.
|Draining the cistern at the jail - photo Robert Rustin|
Finally, we had a wonderful interview with Tan Escolastica, who has been a historian of sorts, one of the frequently interviewed people on Saipan for her memory of people and events. We spoke to her first when we arrived on the island, and then a few weeks later when she helped us find an old hidden cemetery, and finally, another interview where she wanted to recount a profound vision she had the night before. She was in her home and saw a figure appear in the hallway. She described the figure as tall, thin, wearing khaki and when she turned towards Tan Escolastica, she clearly saw that it was Amelia.
|Tan Escolastica telling her story. Photo Chris Neltner|
Science will tell us that because of the stirring up of events, the search for her plane, that this "vision" of Amelia's ghost was just an imaginary event. That may very well be the case. However, as we've outlined in previous posts, we've left no stone unturned in our search. And that includes interviews with "dowsers" who were able to pinpoint ley lines on Saipan that Paul Cooper also found independently, and in my case, it involved a psychic who I happened to meet while working on the feature film "Salt." I was having lunch with an old friend, and this old friend had brought her friend Pattie Canova
to our brunch. At some point, Pattie offered to do a "reading."
I told her that was very kind, I didn't need to do a reading, as I've done my own research into the world of ESP, and I was very comfortable with the results I'd gotten - no need to do one. She insisted, and I said "Ok." She had me flip over some playing cards and said "You're doing a project about a female pilot. Is it Amelia Earhart?" I look at my friend in chagrin, assuming she must have said something. I didn't know that Pattie is renowned in NYC, and does this kind of thing for a living. I've become friends with her and believe beyond a shadow of doubt, she knew nothing about the famed flier.
|Amelia and her Electra|
So I set aside my skepticism for an hour - and instead of trying to get her to prove she was accurate, I dove into an interview with someone, or something that knew more about Amelia Earhart than anyone I've spoken to, past or present. And I know a lot about her - from family secrets, to other secrets that have never been published, but were part of my research for the film "Amelia."
So - when we say that it could have been Amelia's ghost visiting Escolastica - we mean literally that whatever energy that is out there in the Universe that contains the engrams of memories that belong to the Aviatrix, it may very well have made a visit to this gentle older Chomorro, who is very religious, who has never claimed to have seen Amelia on Saipan, despite knowing many folks who have, and who isn't making this claim to satisfy any modicum of fame, fortune.. or to appear on this blog.
So. Take it for what you will. A dear elderly lady, who has been instrumental in helping the historians of the island, gave us a call and wanted to tell us about her encounter with Amelia's ghost. We will include a transcript of it when we get around to completing our book, film and exhibit; Earhart on Saipan.
Thanks for tuning in....