IDS Letter, November 1984

A. E. van Vogt

[Extract concerning A.E. van Vogt's memories of Hubbard]


A long-time dianeticist wrote the following letter recently to the IDS mail box:

"A friend of mine: He knows a fellow who knows a nurse who might be a scientologist, who says she saw L.R.H. check out. "Do you know of anyone giving odds that Ron is dead?

"Or that he's still kicking?"

COMMENT by A. E. van Vogt

Wel-l-l-ll, I received an autographed copy of BATTLEFIELD: EARTH, as did my literary agent. My agent, after discussing with me the validity of the signature, sent his copy out to a graphologist - who compared it to earlier signature specimens, and thereupon declared it to be genuine. This, of course, was confirmed by a similar graphology test of a letter which Hubbard wrote to the court in Riverside.


A few months ago I received a letter from a woman associate of the current president (Larry West) of the C.A.D.A. She is on the board, and in her letter she said that new C.A.D.A members from other parts of the world wanted to know: what was L. Ron Hubbard like in the early days?

Her plan was to make up a tape from persons who had been associated with L.R.H. And would I contribute to such a tape?

When I first read the request, it seemed like something I might be able to contribute to. But after setting down some notes I was astonished to realize that my personal contacts with him were actually very few, and always very brief.

I received a letter from LRH shortly after WWII from a naval hospital in Oakland; he had gotten my address from John Campbell, the then editor of Astounding Science Fiction - for which magazine both Hubbard and I had written stories. He was in the hospital because his eyes had been damaged while he was in command of a small group of vessels in the far north.

Some time later I was taken by street car by a mutual friend to a large home in Pasadena. LRH was staying with the owner of the house, who subsequently took a group of us, including LRH's then fiancee, Sara, to a steak dinner. On the way back they dropped my escort and me off at a street car stop.

Subsequently, I heard LRH speak at a LASFS (L.A. Science Fiction Society) meeting. Afterwards, he drove off, and I walked home - not too faraway at that time.

In late 1949 I began to receive correspondence about something called Dianetics. In 1950 LRH called me almost every day for a while urging me to help him set up a dianetic center in Los Angeles. I was reluctant but finally I agreed, and I was immediately appointed director for California.

After we had rented a building location, LRH arrived every morning and gave a lecture, which I and 500 would-be-dianetic auditors listened to each morning for a month. After the talk, LRH went away, and I stayed until about 1 A.M. the following morning in a sort of supervising role; and I locked up the building. Every day.

Somewhere in there LRH called me into his office - he had stayed over-to be present at a meeting with a man whose name I have forgotten. LRH wanted a witness.

In September 1950, Frank Dessler - Hubbard's chief aide - and I went to Kansas City, Missouri and set up a series of speeches for him in a big auditorium - which was filled to capacity each of four nights. However, on the evening before it began, LRH arrived from New Jersey, and Frank and I, and a business couple named Adams, had dinner together. That's how we saw him - briefly. The Adams kept taking him off somewhere; and Mr. Adams commented to me that he had seldom met anyone who put himself over as an energetic type as well as Ron. Adams said, "I've got a crew of salesmen working for me, and they're like that."

Hubbard had meanwhile appointed a rear admiral [R. Adm. Scoles] to head the dianetic center in L.A.: and it went broke early in 1951. LRH then did some lecturing at a new headquarters in Wichita, Kansas - set up for him by a Wichita real estate and oil millionaire. I attended a few talks there by Hubbard, and sat at one dinner table with him; he was at one location of the table and I at another 8 or 9 chairs away. Hubbard presently disconnected from the Wichita org, and set up a place in Phoenix, Arizona; and on the invitation of James Pinkham I attended the Ability Course there for one month. After I had completed the course, I had one interview with LRH in his office-about 20 minutes, and before I left Phoenix was invited with a number of other people to swim in his pool. By this time wife Sara was long gone, and he was married to Sue, who - it turned out - had an automatic instinctual ability to handle him so that he didn't leave until he had to go into hiding to avoid the FDA-inspired police attacks, intensified by one other error that had been made in the org's search for the person in the State department who was secretly acting against Scientology.

As far as I recall that's the last time I ever saw Hubbard, or talked to him. Thereafter, each year I would send him and Sue a birthday and Xmas card at a remote box number, originally in Florida; and presently I began to receive a Xmas card from him. In the one that came at Xmas l984 he included a note stating that he had written BATTLEFIELD: EARTH - 430,000 words in 30 days, and an even longer novel of 1,250,000 words in 4 months. I received no Xmas card in 1985, although my wife, Lydia, and I had sent one as usual.

From these brief meetings, and my observation of him when he was speaking, my impression is that he was always in a high-energy state, either naturally "hyped up", as the saying goes, or else he was a clear long before he conceived the idea of dianetics.


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Last updated 16 February 1997
by Chris Owen (chriso@lutefisk.demon.co.uk)