Surprisingly the night of September 1st was quiet for me. I had planned to be on TV or radio performing ESP's Uri Geller experiment, but for one reason or another, the right connections were not made. For those of you who do not recall, the cover of ESP was supposed to bend keys and fix watches on the strength of Geller's psychic vibrations. September 1st was to be the night and thousands of people from you, our readers, to Betty Ford and Jimmy Carter had been encouraged to perform the experiment.
As for me, I sat with a group of close friends and for one half hour concentrated on having my key bend (it didn't) and trying to have my broken watch start ticking (it also didn't). Other preliminary results were discouraging: Marc Seifer, a parapsychologist who helped organize the experiment, had failed on WJAR television; Dan Lewis, a sympathetic announcer from WMRO in Aurora, Illinois, gave it a try and got nothing; and Russ Rossman, of WEHR at Penn State University, reported few convincing calls on their efforts.
Thursday morning I came to work with only eight hours to come up with something for this issue of ESP. I didn't want to report failure, but I didn't want to lie. Just as I was resigned to defeat, the editor of our classical music magazine came into my office. His key was bent. According to him, it had nothing to do with the experiment; the previous night he had just thrown his keychain down next to the magazine and went to sleep. In the morning he couldn't lock his appartment. I found the story encouraging and, at that moment, the phone started ringing.
The first call was congratulations from Providence, Rhode Island. "Why", I asked innocently. "The key to the city has bent," was the response. The story was the most dramatic of the day and involved the mayor's giving permission for a group of reporters to put a key to the city on top of ESP magazine. Tony Lioce, a well respected journalist, found the key had bent over 3/8ths of an inch during a five minute period in the morning examination. As the mayor remarked regrettably, "It was the only key we had to the city."
The next report came from Cleaveland, where Neal Zurcher of WJTV had received over 300 phone calls reporting unusual psychic occurences in response to a newscast on the experiment. Several of the reports were dramatic. One involved a 35-year-old watch which a jeweller had only recently found unworkable. It was left on the TV and began ticking, I was told and I consider the source quite reliable. Another man said every piece of silverware in his house was bending, but by the time investigators got there, they had stopped bending.
Other reports filtered in during the day: a dramatic key splitting in Indiana, a nail file twisted in Colorado, and a plant grew impressively in the fifteen minute period. We haven't had a chance to see what the mail will bring, but we are expecting more of the same.
The day ended and I was able to file this last minute story in time for the January issue of ESP. When I got back to my apartment there was a package waiting at the door. It was a large cake with a bent key and the word congratulations written across the top. The donor was anonymous but it was a nice way to end the day. The "Geller effect" had once again been demonstrated, this time to a mass audience. It was convincing to us and we hope it was convincing to you.