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2006 Richard Toronto

The June 1947 issue of Amazing Stories featuri...

The June 1947 issue of Amazing Stories featuring the “Shaver Mystery” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Little is known of Edward John‘s origin. That which was
known of him by friends and acquaintences is now
forgotten. His life, as we know it, began with the May
1946 issue of AMAZING STORIES magazine in a rambling,
detailed letter confirming the truths of the Shaver
The letter was postmarked San Francisco, where Edward
“Ed” John shared a one bedroom apartment with his aged
mother. Their modest digs were located in a row of
Victorian flats on the 400 block of Fell street — 475
to be exact.
John’s incredible claim was that he believed he had
found an entrance to a subterranean city, discussed in
one of Shaver’s stories. It all began on his remote
property in Mendocino County…
“In 1931 my mother and I took up a section of land as a
cattle raising homestead from the U. S. G-vernment, and
naturally, it was not a choice piece,”
John wrote. “As a note of interest, I had to use
30,000 rounds of ammunition, and that is perhaps why we
are still here. At night I would sit up fully dressed
with a rifle in my hands…In about five hours after
dark, I would hear things moving outside the house, and
after awhile something would try to open the door
quietly, and I would wait until I saw the knob turn,
then let go a clip right through the door and then
pull it open and look around outside and there was
nothing to be seen.”
After many sleepless nights with gun in hand, Ed John
began to believe something evil was out there. He
witnessed other strange things. He watched two black
automobiles drive down a dead end dirt road one night,
and disappear!
“They were silent, smooth, no wavering of the lights,
and the trail is extremely rough; in places it has
hollows a yard deep, but these cars went through at 25
mph, and it would even wreck a jeep to do that, so you
figure it out and let me know the answer…”
John fleshed out his yarn with a moody “…atmosphere
of fear within 30 miles of the area…” He even offered
help to readers who might want to confirm his story.
Interest in the Shaver Mystery was keen in those days.
His flat soon became a destination for truth seekers
across the West Coast. And some of them actually
trekked to Hopland for a closer look.
Upon publication of EJ‘s letter, Ray Palmer stoked the
boiler with a challenge to AMAZING’s readers.
“Here is a definite lead on just the sort of thing Mr.
Shaver insists exists. The directions are specific, and
it is possible some of our more adventerous readers who
live nearby would like to do a little scouting.”
With a little coaching from Ed John, they did.AMAZING STORIES, December 1946:“Report from one of the CHMBS” (Cave Hunters Mutual
Benefit Society)…”Arrived today in Hopland, Mendocino
County, California. The Redwood Highway runs through
Hopland…Found the road all right. It’s near the town,
a rural road making a loop from the main highway back
into the country west of Hopland and returning to it
again some miles further north.”
(Ye Editor’s note: From our personal experience of the
Hopland area, this does not sound correct. The road
from Hopland to Clear Lake goes east, not west. Here is
a satellite map of the Hopland area. If you zoom in on
the town area, you will see an “East Side Road” which
does loop back to Highway 101 up north. We believe the
road to the elusive EJ homestead is actually Highway
175, which runs through desolate mountain canyons that
fit EJ’s descriptions).
In any case, our hardy, if not confused, CHMBS member
“Poor farming land…now scorched and parched. Causes
me to feel weak and jittery and helpless….Have torn
up half the brush along the roadside to some distance
looking for ventriloquists and hoax makers to no
effect. Yes, there are voices, mostly in a strange
foreign tongue… and after much effort, I believe they
came from a person in the atmosphere. My car, for no
reason, would stop running for awhile and then for no
reason it would start again. It is true that something
or somebody does not want settlers in this area–also
very true there are strange phenomena…”
This letter was signed by a “C.C.C.” of Burke Idaho.
For being on the totally wrong road, he sure suffered
mightily from EJ’s evil phenomena. Or was this yet
AMAZING STORIES, September 1946:MORE ABOUT MR. JOHN’S CAVE…“Sirs: “This concerns Shaver’s caves. I wrote to Mr.
Johns (sic) who had a letter in AMAZING STORIES some
time back concerning a cave location in Mendocino
County…He answered, telling me quite a bit, and that
on his last trip there with two friends, they were all
blanked out for two hours and didn’t know where they
went or what they did or why. Also they saw wires (as
nearly as we can decipher the word–RAP) which vanished
when they neared them. One of them got a photo of a
shadowy being but was told not to go there again.”
Signed, John Preve, Jr. S2/c, USS Hart, DD 594, USNRB,
San Diego.
RAP replied that he was “…using every effort to check
on his caves that is available to us–and apparently
many of our readers have called on him, and some of
them with a skepticism that seems to have angered
Yes, EJ had his share of detractors. Again in that Dec.
’46 AMAZING ish we find:
“Some time ago I became interested in the story of Mr.
John of San Francisco. Since then I have investigated
thoroughly all the angles of the somewhat distorted
tale. After some months of careful investigation, these
facts remain:
1) There is no cave, in or near the locations Mr. John
2)There are no phenomena existent in the Clear Lake
Region. Neither natural or unnatural…”
Signed, Frank N. Grubb, Oakland, California.
These are just a few letters, but there were more.In any case, the controversy over this remote area of
Mendocino County did not end with Ed John. In 1983, the
Hare Krishna sect announced plans to build a towering
445 foot temple on the very same road – Highway 175 –
outside of Hopland. The clip appeared in Shavertron 17,
1983. As an aside to the Krishna temple announcement,
the San Francisco Chronicle reported…”In 1980, police
raided the Krishna ranch in Mendocino County and
confiscated 300,000 military-type bullets, gunpowder
and bullet making equipment…and automatic weapons.”
Why would blissed-out Hare Krishnas need all that
firepower? Ed John said he only needed 30,000 rounds.
Even more bizarre, the suicidal cult minister Jim Jones
had a ranch 22 miles north of Hopland.
The San Francisco Examiner’s religion reporter, Les
Kinsolving in 1972 broke the first stories about odd
happenings at the Peoples Temple in Mendocino County’s
Redwood Valley. The stories recounted how Jones had
brought more than 40 people “back from near d-ath”
during c-urch services at the Mendocino Ranch.
Kinsolving exposed the violent nature of the cult after
witnessing Temple guards armed with .357 magnum
revolvers as they escorted dozens of Bay Area followers
inside the ch-rch.
It does, indeed appear that this Mendocino County area
has had its share of sinister, often violent
“phenomena”, and for these reasons, EJ and his mother
packed their bags and high-tailed it to San Francisco
sometime during the Great Depression.
Safely in his new digs, Ed John’s Fell Street apartment
soon became a “research lab.” By 1946, it was filled
with the kind of equipment you’d expect from a machine
shop: a lathe, drill press, hand tools, scraps of
metal, electronic gadgets, vacuum tubes, and wires were
scattered throughout the room; EJ even had a darkroom
in there, according to eyewitness Vaughn Greene, who
paid Ed John a visit after reading “the letter” in
AMAZING. Just how EJ, his mother and all that equipment
fit into the small apartment is also a mystery. He and
Greene had their first meeting in the Johns’ small
“Ed John was an electronic genius,” recalled Greene.
“He built radios in the late 1940s that could pick up
peoples’ talking around his apartment building and on
the street. He claimed sometimes to even hear their
Apparently, Ed John was full of odd claims, said
Greene. “He said he could touch a light bulb and light
it. He had dozens of diagrams all over the house, and
was very much into the occult — the ‘black hat’ sect,
I think he said. In one room he had a machine shop. He
was quite a character. He even had a teletype machine.
They were expensive but he had one. He was into color
photography, too; not many people were at the time. He
built his own color enlarger, and used a new color
process that you could do in eight hours.”
John’s proclivity for the occult was known by other San
Franciscans as well. Emma Martinelli was a member of
the S.F. Interplanetary Club and was on a first name
basis with the likes of flying saucer gurus George
Adamski and George Hunt Williamson. She threw many
“metaphysical” parties at her Gough Street flat, often
with EJ in attendance.
“Ed John! There was a character,” wrote Martinelli in a
March, 1984 letter to Shavertron. “I felt sorry for him
as he was so crippled, but he had a fine mind. I also
knew his mother. She was a lovely person. The
characters we had in the 40s! One night we had this big
party at our place. All kinds of people there…
Rosicrucians, etc. Ed John was going to send himself
through the ceiling. I’m smiling yet. The Rosicrucian
couple, holding hands, was scared to death.
John Winston.