We continue with our visit to the strange and desperate times of George P. Putnam, as he futilely searched for his missing wife, Amelia Earhart, in the years immediately following her disappearance on July 2, 1937. This article appeared in the November 1994 issue of the Amelia Earhart Society Newsletters, and outside of my boldface emphasis and inserted photos, it is a near exact representation of the stories that appeared in the December 1939 and January 1940 editions of Popular Aviation magazine.
“IS AMELIA EARHART STILL ALIVE?” (Part II of three)
By Dean S. Jennings
A woman in Detroit sent a series of unique sketches which she called “human radio wave pictures,” depicting Amelia Earhart dragging Capt. Noonan ashore on a barren island. The woman, an architect with two university degrees, said she was impelled to draw the pictures by a power she could not explain. At the same time another correspondent airmailed a crude pencil sketch which she said was drawn by “the eye of science” moving her fingers. It showed Miss Earhart sprawled face down on a beach, dead.
The messages came from every, state, from Mexico, Canada, Great Britain and a dozen other countries. A clairvoyant in Miami “saw” Miss Earhart in a native village at Samoa and asked a reward for her information. Five prominent citizens of Denver “talked” to Miss Earhart in a séance and learned that she and Capt. Noonan had been forced down on a volcanic island and were asphyxiated by sulfur fumes. A seer in Boston forwarded a 5,000-word transcript of her astral conversations with the lost flyers.
From an engineer in New Mexico came an incredible account of a dream in which, he saw rescue boats approach the wrecked Electra. He quoted Miss Earhart:
“We felt no uneasiness, thinking we were among friends. But when our plane touched water, we were shot in the back of the head. Our plane and bodies were rifled of all valuables and the inhuman monsters sank the plane with our bodies.”
The writer offered an explanation for the crime, saying: “This dream was so starkly clear I felt it my duty’ to tell you. When one considers the pirating done in the past and today with automobiles, trains and ships, it seems entirely reasonable . . .”
A retired Los Angeles businessman forwarded a diary of his spirit talks with Miss Earhart, and a detailed map of an island he had seen in his visions. He had drawn it in the dark of night, but was never able to give an exact location.
In looking back through the bright pages of Amelia Earhart’s adventurous life, George Putnam remembered something that might have explained the curious fervor of all those men and women who wanted to help in his hour of despair. It was simply that Amelia Earhart herself had a fragile psychic quality, some strange susceptibility to conditions beyond understanding. She rarely mentioned it to friends, never discussed it publicly. But whenever AE participated in mental telepathy or other psychic experiments to further her curiosity, observers were astonished at results. And yet she never invoked or followed the advice of countless clairvoyants and astrologers who besieged her at every stage of her great flights.
She used to say, laughing gaily: “I haven’t the courage to tell people my plans in advance. A pilot shouldn’t worry: if I listened to every prediction, I’d probably never leave the ground.”
It is not generally known that forecasters predicted accidents on two of Amelia’s successful ocean flights — or that several astrologers begged her not to fly on March 20th in 1937, the day her plane was smashed on a take-off from Honolulu.
Despite his willingness and feverish anxiety to leave nothing to chance, George Putnam found little or nothing tangible in the first rush of letters from eager writers. He was ready to be shown, but there was heartbreaking confusion and disparity in every batch of mail. Late in July, however, occurred the first of several remarkable events. That morning Mr. Putnam received the following telegram from Hamilton, Ontario:
AMELIA EARHART ALIVE ON CORAL SHOAL ON ONE OF GILBERT ISLANDS LATITUDE 2 ABOVE EQUATOR 174 LONGITUDE. THIS MESSAGE RECEIVED BY MR. L______ NEW YORK MEDIUM.
Mr. Putnam made a note of the position, intending to check it later on his maps, and filed the telegram away. An hour or so later, when the morning mail was delivered, there came a brief but pleasant note from Capt. T_____ M______ of Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. Mr. Putnam eventually came to it, in the monotonous process of routine, and began reading:
“I am the retired captain of a copra boat that used to trade in the South Seas. I just happened to remember an uncharted island that we frequently visited for turtle eggs. The Gilbertese natives know where it is, too. The island is at ______ ”
George Putnam was suddenly out of his office chair, yelling for his son. “Dave! Oh, Dave!”
David Putnam came, running. “Trouble, Dad?”
“No. Listen, Dave. get me the telegram that came this morning from Ontario, Canada. The one about the island near the Gilberts.”
David fetched it, and he and his father nervously compared the latitude and longitude with that given in Capt. M ’s letter. They were exactly the same! The retired skipper’s letter, however, gave a more detailed location — 174 degrees, 10 minutes east longitude, 2 degrees, 36 minutes north latitude. A hasty examination of a map located the spot, roughly about 85 miles from Tarawa Island.
Urgent telegrams were rushed to the Ontario medium and to Capt. M asking further details. Suitcases were packed for a swift trip to New York. The telephone wires throbbed with calls to navigation authorities, government officials, explorers, seasoned travelers — anyone who might have come upon that tiny dot of land in their wanderings
Two days later, in New York, George Putnam knew in his heart that he must have that island searched. And finally, through the cooperation of Sumner Welles, Under-Secretary of State, the transatlantic cables to London pulsed with Mr. Putnam’s plea. The British authorities agreed to communicate with their consul in the distant outpost and a search was arranged — at Mr. Putnam’s expense.
A vessel put out from Makin Island. skimmed through uncharted lanes and soon came to 174 east longitude, 2 degrees north latitude.
But the island had vanished. The searching crew checked and re-checked their bearings. They poured over maps, took soundings and cruised around the spot for two days. But there was no land within 20 miles, there wasn’t one single clue to indicate what might have happened to that uncharted speck of earth. And the island has not been found to this day.
While Putnam was in New York late that summer, stopping at the Barclay Hotel, he was approached by numerous persons who offered to sell him information concerning his missing wife’s whereabouts. One man, Wilbur Rothar, a Bronx janitor, actually claimed he had found Miss Earhart on a South Seas island, and attempted to extort $2,000 from Putnam. He was trapped by Dept. of Justice agents, found insane by a board of alienists, and sent to an asylum for life.
George Putnam returned to California — and the stream of letters still flowed. But the edge of curiosity was dulled; he had not quite the same zest for searching the unknown. Yet there were some whose challenge he could not resist. And occasionally there were results which, though inexplicable, clearly showed how much the world has yet to learn about psychic phenomena, mental telepathy and related fields. One of these experiences concerned Mr. Ka, a Los Angeles crystal gazer. Accompanied by his son, David, and a stenographer, Mr. Putnam attended a demonstration in which Mr. Ka went into a trance over a huge crystal ball.
After a moment of silence, he began reciting letters rapidly in a hollow, muffled tone. He rattled them off for seven minutes and, when typed, they proved to be rambling sentences in Latin. Subsequently, when the message was translated, it contained an astonishing amount of little-known information about Amelia Earhart’s flight, and gave the location of the lost plane.
A search of the remote area described was out of the question. And later, when Mr. Putnam called on the clairvoyant again, he was given another message which said, simply: “You are too late.”
George Putnam was convinced the whole performance was faked, until a confidential investigation disclosed that Mr. Ka was totally uneducated, spoke and wrote very poor English — and had never before given out a message in Latin. (End of Part II.)
Today we reach back into the dusty archives that chronicle the early years following Amelia Earhart’s disappearance, for an up-close-and-personal look at the strange and bizarre experiences that Amelia’s desperate husband, George Palmer Putnam, encountered during his vain search for his doomed wife.
For added realism, I’ve included the original headings from the November 1994 Amelia Earhart Society Newsletter article; forthwith is the first of three parts of “Is Amelia Earhart Still Alive,” by Dean S. Jennings (1905-1969), taken from the December 1939 and January 1940 editions of Popular Aviation. (Boldface emphasis both mine and in AES Newsletter original version.)
The judge’s voice had the tone of unwilling finality: “With all the evidence before me, I can reach no other decision: Amelia Earhart Putnam died on or about July 2, 1937. . . ”
And so, in the court of Superior Judge Elliott Craig at Los Angeles on January 5, 1939, ended another tragic chapter in-the dark glories of aviation.
Ended? Indeed not! For the next morning the postman arrived at the home of George Palmer Putnam in North Hollywood with his usual batch of strange letters from psychics and others who said: “She is not dead” . . . “I spoke to her last night” . . . “I saw Amelia in a dream.” There were more telegrams for a file already choked with some 500 wires. There were phone calls, local and long distance, from persons who challenged: “No court can govern nature. She is still alive.”
What is the answer to this mass controversy? Is Amelia Earhart alive? Did she find a refuge on some remote, uninhabited island? These are the questions that emerge from deeply moving appeals — more than 3,000 of them — to Mr. Putnam since America’s premier aviatrix vanished with her navigator, Capt. Fred Noonan, in the sunlight of a South Seas morning months ago.
Hundreds of writers, asking neither publicity nor reward, insist they have seen Amelia Earhart in their dreams. Many others claim they have talked to her in an astral world. One man in New Mexico insists Amelia told him she was murdered, not drowned. And Mr. Putnam himself, on several occasions, has conversed with weird spirit voices, at least one of which was supposed to be that of his lost wife. The letter writers ask the question: “Mr. Putnam. do you believe she is alive?” Now at last, 20 long months after the disastrous flight, her husband has given the answer he feels deep in heart and mind — an answer echoed by a court of law: “NO.”
In that agonizing interval George Putnam has had some of the most extraordinary experiences ever allotted to one man in a lifetime. Some of them were uncanny with truth and fact — and without explanation
He has been besieged, hoaxed, heckled, and strangely stirred by thousands of correspondents in every comer of the world. Open-minded, he has attended séances, read horoscopes, corresponded with mediums. He has received rambling messages written by spirit hands; has examined sketches of Amelia Earhart, handwriting, maps — all supposedly emanating from unworldly sources. And once, through one of the cruelest plots ever born in a criminal mind, he was actually convinced that Amelia had been found alive — and brought to New York.
The deluge began less than three hours after that last pitiful radio whisper from a plane floundering in the sky south of Howland Island. The Coast Guard cutter Itasca heard that SOS. Georgia Putnam heard it, crouched over a receiver in a Coast Guard station at San Francisco. The whole world soon heard it.
Here is the first telegram, copied verbatim from the original in Mr. Putnam’s personal files which, never before shown to anyone, were made available to this writer:
NEW YORK N.Y. DL
OPERATIONS MANAGER OAKLAND AIRPORT.
PLEASE GIVE THIS INFORMATION TO PUTNAM. EMINENT PSYCHIC SAYS BOTH SAFE ON REEF LESS THAN 200 MILES NORTHWEST HOWLAND ISLAND. PLANE PRETTY WELL CRACKED UP BUT BOTH SAFE.MISS EARHART IN BETTER SHAPE THAN NOONAN. ITASCA WILL FIND THEM IN MORNING. HASTE IS NECESSARY BUT THEY WILL BE RESCUED. PLEASE TAKE THIS FOR WHAT IT IS WORTH FROM A WELL WISHER.
The Itasca did not find them the next morning. Or the next. Or ever again. But the telegrams and letters and phone calls kept coming. By nightfall operators at the airport telegraph office had stopped sealing the messages; they gave them to Mr. Putnam in bundles. The telephone company installed a special wire. Postmen trudged a weary path to the Coast Guard office and his rooms at the airport hotel in Oakland. Today — more than two years later — those messages are still coming.
In those first anxious hours and days, George Putnam was surrounded by friends and well wishers, most of whom, openly skeptical, saw something grimly humorous in the flood of bizarre messages. He himself was faced with conflicting emotions–an ingrained doubt of the supernatural, a natural curiosity heightened by grief and worry. AE was down. And any thread was a line of life. . . .
George Putnam tried to answer every wire and letter, tried to run down every meager clue that offered any hope at all. By the end of the third day the task assumed staggering proportions. He had gone without sleep for 70 hours, had taken virtually no food. and friends tried to intervene.
“Now look, George,” said Dr. Harry Clay of San Francisco, an old friend, “you can’t stand much more of this. And anyway, you certainly don’t believe in that psychic stuff.”
“Believe?” George Putnam said wearily. “At a time like this, Harry, I’m willing to believe almost anything that might help.”
“But those letters are based on dreams. On spook voices. Probably fakes.”
“Perhaps, Harry. You’re a doctor. You know how close dreams are to reality. And who really knows how to find the dividing line?”
Dr. Clay smiled at his friend and patient. “There are some things people shouldn’t know. Oh, I know you and AE have sat in on table-tappings and other experiments out of your healthy curiosity.”
“With some astonishing results — ”
“–and others plainly ridiculous.”
“Of course. Someone asked me last night,” Mr. Putnam added a little bitterly, “whether AE carried a good luck piece on her plane.”
“Certainly not. She said the only lucky charms she wanted were a good engine and a first class mechanic.”
“That sounds like AE.”
George Putnam said no more, and walked back to the airport office and his long vain vigil. On the fifth day, when Mr. Putnam was on the verge of a physical disintegration that might have left permanent scars, the wise and determined San Francisco physician saw to it that he found rest. He slept 48 hours and rode the crisis.
Then, with his son David, and others who remained at his side during that humbling period when men and planes and ships searched the south Pacific, he began sorting the messages with a calmer mind. One of them might keep hope alive. . . .
One of the first telegrams, significantly, was from a woman now recognized as one of America’s leading astrologers. It was she who had written to Miss Earhart before the flight, counseling: “Flying conditions on the first and second of July (italics are the author’s) are very good indeed, and this would be an excellent time to make the last lap.”
On July 7, plainly stunned, the noted forecaster telegraphed to Mr. Putnam at Oakland:
YOU CAN IMAGINE MY STATE OF MIND AND I CAN IMAGINE YOURS.
CONSULTATION OF THREE PSYCHICS SIX ASTROLOGERS SAY ALL WILL BE WELL.
Still later, in a humble and poignant letter that reflected her perplexity, she wrote:
“I don’t want to alibi. I have none. I failed in the biggest job I’ve ever had and there’s no alibi for that. About psychics and astrologers, our work has been wrong many times right many times. That is about as much as one can say for it. It has a long way to go.”
In the same mail came a letter from another astrologer, Mrs. K___ S___, gently and wistfully reproving Miss Earhart and Mr. Putnam for having ignored a warning she had given them before the fatal flight. And she was right. Her first letter dated May 7, 1937, was found in the files, and it read:
“I beg of you to postpone your trip . . . you can expect at best only delays, obstructions, and difficulties, even if you avoid a dangerous crash. Please believe that this letter was motivated by a sincere desire to keep you from possible disaster.”
These ironic contradictions were noticeable in all the letters and telegrams that reached Mr. Putnam, first at Oakland, then in his North Hollywood home. (End of Part I.)
Today we leave the sordid world of bogus claims about antique cars and enter the bizarre realm of fringe Earhart lore to hear from the “other Irene Bolam,” Irene E. Bolam, who gained her last name through an accident of marriage and was a sometime, little-regarded member of the Amelia Earhart Society whose total contributions can be found in the below essay. I have no photo of her, can’t find her maiden name, and know almost nothing of her, or whether she’s even still alive.* But she did have a few opinions, not all coherent, about the better-known Irene with the same last name, and she voices them in the below essay for the AES readership.
Shortly after publication of Joe Klaas’ Amelia Earhart Lives * in 1970, Irene Bolam held a well-attended but brief news conference in which she spoke only a few sentences, although these were most emphatic, according to observers. Holding an upside-down copy of the source of her consternation, she labeled it a “cruel hoax,” slammed the book on a table, roared, “I AM NOT AMELIA EARHART!” and left the room. Seven weeks later, publisher McGraw-Hill ceased sales of Amelia Earhart Lives and pulled it from shelves nationwide; no official explanation was ever given.
lrene’s written denial to Klaas and Joe Gervais, “I am not she,” was apparently too succinct and unassertive to convince them of her veracity. For the record, Irene Craigmile Bolam (Oct. 1, 1904 – July 7, 1982) was a former aviatrix who claimed to know Amelia Earhart and other celebrities, but in middle age had morphed into a devoted wife, financial manager, world traveler and resident of Monroe Township, Middlesex County, New Jersey, but these real and verifiable facts evaded the Earhart-addled Gervais, who never accepted them, at least publicly.
For anyone who would like to learn or get reacquainted with the odious details of the long-debunked, worm-eaten Amelia Earhart-as-Irene Bolam myth, please see “Irene Bolam and the Decline of the Amelia Earhart Society: Part I of IV,” on Dec. 29, 2015, the first of a four-part series I wrote on this dark chapter of the Earhart saga, as well as the 2005 jointly written “Amelia Earhart’s Survival and Repatriation: Myth or Reality?” also known as “The Atchison Report.”
The following essay by the “other Irene Bolam” appeared in the December 1993 edition of the Amelia Earhart Society Newsletters. (Boldface emphasis mine throughout.)
“A Personal View of Irene Bolam”
By Irene E. Bolam
Irene O’Crowley Craigmile Heller Bolam acquired her name the same way I did: by marrying one of the Bolam brothers. Her husband, Guy Bolam, was the first son of their father, born in England at the turn of the century. My husband, John was the last son, born in the U.S., 31 years later. So Irene became-a sister-in-law in the family when she married Guy in 1958, albeit more than a generation from us in age. John and I first met her in 1964 when we returned from Germany. She and Guy picked us up at JFK airport and took us to their home in Bedford Hills, N.Y. for several days. Irene was gracious, friendly, generous, helpful, funny, intelligent, worldly, and very much in charge of things. Guy was charming, intelligent, worldly, dapper, opinionated, but a stubborn Englishman who was hard to live with.
Regardless of what the New Jersey psychic said about Irene’s problems with love, marriage and grief during the first half of her life, she and Guy finally found true love when they married in their 50s. She was a perfect asset for his worldwide business dealings. They made friends easily, loved to travel, and people were delighted to be with them. Yet we believe that foremost they were friends and protectors of each other, and perhaps the keepers of each other’s secrets.
Guy and Irene traveled extensively and often, because he worked with Radio Luxembourg. Since he was born and raised in England, they spent much time with friends there. They met the author Lady Mary Stewart (from Scotland) on a train in southern Europe. Later while dining at their hotel they saw her sitting alone in the same dining room. Guy asked her to join them, and a very deep and lasting relationship continued between their families for the rest of their lives. Guy and Irene knew people all around the world, some of which were well known figures in high places. We can’t say there was anything odd or deceptive about this. Irene, especially, was very outgoing and friendly. If she liked you, you were a friend forever. People liked her immensely, and would proudly introduce her to others. She was intelligent, articulate (except for occasionally salty and sometimes acerbic language), and had a commanding presence. She knew a lot of important people, including many high ranking military officers, astronauts, and flyers.
Irene and Guy made the trip to Boston once a year for physical checkups at the Lahey Clinic. During the last three years of Guy’s life, John was working near Boston, so we were able to visit during their week-long stays. It has been written that Irene didn’t really do much flying, became inactive in 1933, and let her license lapse in 1937. However she knew a lot about early flying and spoke fondly of it. One night in 1969, when Guy was in the hospital and Irene was very worried about him, we spent a long evening in a restaurant atop one of the insurance buildings in downtown Boston. Since John and I were taking flying lessons at the time, we were delightfully entertained by Irene’s stories of learning to fly.
When she was ready for her first solo flight in an old biplane with an OX-5 engine, the instructor gave her careful instructions about flying once around the field and landing again. She took off OK, but as she leveled off at pattern altitude her plane started to trail a plume of smoke (apparently the water-cooled engine had a leak in the radiator). While the instructor waved frantically for her to cut the flight short and land immediately, she doggedly continued to follow his original instructions and made a long leisurely downward leg and approach. As luck would have it, she landed safely amid a cloud of smoke and wondered what all the fuss was about.
Irene related other interesting anecdotes, including the fact that she knew many of the famous flyers of the time, including Wiley Post and Amelia Earhart, and that she had indeed flown with some of them. She appeared to be completely familiar with any subject we might bring up about flying in the old days, such as types of planes, instruments, early airports, etc.
Irene also loved to go shopping and buy whatever she pleased with little regard to the price. Not everything she bought was for herself, however. She also showered gifts on her friends, often bringing back woolen items from Scotland, and linens from Ireland to give away. One time in their Boston hotel room, she was trying on a lounging outfit to show another friend and me. The friend asked how old I was, and I told her. Irene came storming out of the bathroom and said, “Don’t EVER tell anyone how old you are!” She managed to get away with that philosophy throughout her life; perhaps there’s a lesson here for all of us?
After Guy died in 1970, she continued to manage the Radio Luxembourg accounts while trekking around the world. She rarely traveled alone, always talking one of her women friends into accompanying her on interesting adventures. Her Christmas cards told of the places she had been that year, or the ones she intended to visit next. She thoroughly enjoyed life, people, events, theater, travel, new heights. She was the epitome of a “Classy Lady.”
What do we think about the Irene Bolam/Amelia Earhart connection? After a most fascinating three days of the AES Symposium at the Flying Lady, our heads were swimming with the new information revealed. From Irene’s actions in numerous situations, we believe retired NYPD Forensic Specialist Jerome Steigmann’s conclusions seem most logical. His evidence indicates that Irene had been recruited by the U.S. government to play the role of a decoy, because Gervais & Klaas (and perhaps other researchers) were getting too close to the truth about Amelia. The government and Irene could “muddy the waters” of her past, in order to leave the impression that she might be Amelia, but maybe not. She could deny everything with vigor, act elusive with some interviewers and mislead others, refuse to let her fingerprints be taken, occasionally wear Amelia’s jewelry but deny that it was what it appeared to be.
Irene told us she was a member of both the Ninety-Nines and Zonta [International], but others say that her name doesn’t appear in the records of these organizations. Why then would they ask her to speak at their national and international meetings? As far as we know, she was just another female flyer, who never broke any records or made famous flights that might be reported in the newspapers of that time. Perhaps some of the older Ninety-Nines members knew more than they are telling about Irene being a decoy? She traveled a great deal, and could have used these trips to meet with Amelia and learn everything she needed to know about Amelia’s life.
Guy and Irene often entertained guests at their Bedford Village home. It was a country home and neighbors were some distance away, so Amelia could have visited there incognito. I can see how Irene might have gotten a kick out of playing the role, pretending to be mysterious, and keeping everyone guessing. John wonders if she might even have been associated with a covert government organization in the first place, and met Guy, a member of British MI-6, through that connection.
We were shown pictures at the AES meeting, and were asked if they were all Irene. Frankly, about half looked like her, and the other half were similar, but not quite the same! We are also curious as to whether her “lawyer,” ex-judge Kennedy, might have been connected with the government also? He was often at her side, or in the background, at interviews and public appearances. Could his role have been to see that she said the right things?
From letters, we know that Irene was bedridden for several months to a year with cancer of the spine before she died. But Robert Myers, author of Stand By To Die, who knew Amelia from the early 1930’s, claims to have had a meeting with Irene/Amelia in 1982 on a New Jersey street corner. While her driver waited a discreet distance away, she and Myers talked thru the window of her limo about the days at old Oakland airport when her [?] plane was being readied for the world flight. Myers said Irene died “a few weeks later.” (Italics mine.)
We find it hard to believe this could have been the same woman who was so incapacitated. Also, according to the last issue of the AES Newsletters, an old flame of Amelia’s from the early 1920s named Lloyd Royer contacted author Gervais in 1977, to tell him about the secret shenanigans with Amelia and her plane. He is the one who said a new plane was waiting in the skunk works hanger, complete with her N-number painted on the tail, even before her busted craft arrived from Hawaii. Royer told Joe that Irene Bolam had recently visited him and left a copy of “AE Lives” inscribed to him. Why would she do this if she hated the book? Could the real Amelia Earhart have traveled around meeting old friends under the guise of Irene Bolam? [For more on Royer, see my Feb. 24, 2021 post “Lloyd Royer’s Earhart claim: Truth or fancy?”]
In her final days, Irene was taken to an indigent hospital where they say she died. Her body was willed to Rutgers University Hospital with the stipulation that no fingerprints would be taken. The hospital later reported they had cremated her body and the ashes were buried in an unmarked grave. This sounds too much like a contrived “final solution” to this intriguing story.
Almost four months after Irene’s death, a memorial “dinner” was held at Forsgate Country Club in New Jersey — invited guests only. There were no Bolams on the list. None of the Bolam family were ever notified of Irene’s death. Richard Bolam. another brother, just happened to see her obituary in the St. Petersburg, Florida newspaper under the section of “celebrity” deaths. We think Irene would be amused to be able to continue playing her role, even after death. (End of “A Personal View of Irene Bolam.”)
The foregoing is apparently all that Irene E. Bolam left to posterity and the record, at least as it’s found in the AES Newsletters. The events surrounding Irene Bolam’s death and memorial dinner are indeed bizarre. I would have expected more, but Bill Prymak had little to say when I once asked him about this “other Irene,” offering only a brief remark about people who are attracted to fame. I didn’t pursue it.
* Amelia Earhart Lives author Joe Klaas, who passed away in February 2016 at 95, was a pilot and World War II hero, a POW and a talented writer with 12 books to his credit. But sadly, Klaas fell victim to the insane delusion Joe Gervais had birthed and spread to other witless sheep over the years that New Jersey housewife Irene Bolam was actually Amelia Earhart returned from Saipan via the Japanese Imperial Palace in Tokyo, determined to live out her life in obscurity and isolation from her family — something Amelia was incapable of doing.
Some have even suggested that Gervais was a paid agent of disinformation — working for Uncle Sam to muddle the truth about Earhart’s disappearance. I wouldn’t dismiss the possibility, but whether Gervais dreamed up his ridiculous claims about Bolam, as well as his other phony assertions, or was doing the bidding of the U.S. Deep State matters little now. Nobody until TIGHAR came along in the late 1980s did more damage to the truth about Amelia Earhart and the public’s perception of credible research, such as that done by Fred Goerner, Vincent V. Loomis, Oliver Knaggs and Bill Prymak, than Gervais and his sidekick Joe Klaas.
It was a shame, because the eyewitness interviews conducted by Gervais, Robert Dinger and the local police detectives on Guam and Saipan in 1960, on the heels of Fred Goerner’s arrival on Saipan, were some of the most compelling ever done.
Once again, you can read everything and more than you need to know about Irene Bolam and Amelia Earhart, beginning with “Irene Bolam and the Decline of the Amelia Earhart Society: Part I of IV,” posted on Dec. 29, 2015.
* A bit of closer checking reveals that Irene Egnor Bolam, 88, lives in Independence, Ore. We’ve never corresponded and I’m not inclined to start now, as this post is about Irene Craigmile Bolam as seen by someone who claimed to have known her. I’m not comfortable doing any more with this post than what was published in the AES Newsletters.