In the spring of 1973, two children had a run in with an inexplicable clown-like entity that eerily beckoned to them from beneath a bridge and managed to lead them into what some have speculated was an alternate dimension.
In south east region of England, located in the English Channel, about 2-miles off the coast of Hampshire, is the Isle of Wight. This tourist destination is renowned for its temperate climate, natural beauty and one very bizarre encounter with an intelligent and apparently non-human entity.
On the east coast of the Isle is the coastal resort town of Sandown. Wedged between that seaside paradise and the nearby town of Shanklin is the aptly named Shanklin & Sandown Golf Club. It would be sometime in May of 1973, on these impeccably manicured fairways, that this truly curious case would begin.
At about 4:00 pm. on the day in question a 7 year-old girl named Fay (a pseudonym) was wandering around the golf course with an unnamed male friend who was approximately the same age. The duo were exploring the nooks and hills of this great expanse when they were both startled by a sound that they compared to the wail of an ambulance siren in the distance.
The young children filled with both natural curiosity and the sense of invulnerability that comes before a dawning awareness of their own mortality, swiftly set out to locate and identify the source of the hauntingly repetitive monotone screech.
These fledgling explorers pushed through the thick hedgerow and made their way to a swampy pasture which was adjacent to the oft abandoned Sandown Airport. The moment Fay and her companion came into the clear the intermittent shrieking ceased.
Not content to forgo this mystery without at least a cursory search of the area, the two intrepid investigators pressed forward, looking for any sign of the thing that had made so startling a noise. As the pair crossed over a wooden footbridge that traversed a narrow creek they experienced the shock of their young lives.
Without warning a large, three fingered hand clad in what appeared to be a blue glove emerged from beneath the bridge and urged the youngsters to come forward. The kids, seemingly more curious than they were concerned, did not run away, but stared in astonishment as an utterly unbelievable, humanoid figure arose from beneath the bridge.
The first publicized description of this unique entity was circulated in the British UFO Research Association’s Journal, Vol. 6, No. 5, January/February 1978, in an article by Norman Oliver titled: “Report-Extra! Ghost or Spaceman ’73?”
In it, Oliver reported what the children had claimed to have seen emerging from under the old wooden bridge:
“He was nearly seven feet tall and had no neck, for his head appeared to be wedged straight onto his shoulders. He wore a yellow, pointed hat, which interlocked with the red collar of a tattered green tunic. A round, black knob was affixed to the top of his hat and wooden antennae were attached either side.”
Oliver went on to explicitly describe the odd entities stoic facial features:
“The face had triangular markings for eyes, a brown square of a nose and motionless yellow lips. Other round markings were on his paper-white cheeks and a fringe of red hair fell onto his forehead. Wooden slats protruded from his sleeves and from below his white trousers.”
The children also noticed that the entity had only three white toes on its apparently bare feet. That’s right boys and girls; it’s a scummy, barefoot, robo-puppet clown from hell!
At this moment of what may well have been first contact between the human race and a being of unknown origin, the creature did something uncannily clownish; he began fumbling a book that he had been holding, dropping it into the water below.
Fay and her cohort watched this erratic, clown-like being as it almost comically splashed around in the creek in an attempt to retrieve the book. After he salvaged his tome, the entity leapt out of the water and moved away from the children employing a high-kneed, hopping gait, not unlike that of an astronaut moving about on the lunar surface.
Within moments, the being disappeared inside what looked to the school children to be a small windowless, metallic hut comparable to those used in construction sites. The perplexed kids simply stared at the structure for a bit, then decided it was time to leave.
When they were about 150-feet away from the structure, the entity reemerged; this time holding a device with resembled a black-knobbed microphone with a white flex attached to a small box that apparently served as an amplifier. According to Oliver:
“The wailing noise immediately returned, this time being so loud that the boy was scared and began to run away.”
Fay turned and was about to follow her friend when the screeching sound faded. The mechanized clown began to speak into the microphone. The pair would later claim that they heard his voice with perfect clarity as it asked them a seemingly obvious question:
“Are you still here?”
The boy stopped running and he and Fay came to the conclusion that this clown-like creature’s voice had a friendly, non-threatening tone. Once again the kids’ curiosity usurped their better judgment and, proving that they would have been prime candidates for “stranger danger” training, they started back toward eccentric entity.
At this point the clown-like being raised his presumably still moist book, opened it, and in a large, childish scrawl wrote a message. The boy was wary, but Fay cautiously approached the clown creature and inspected the writing. As the chaotic sequence of words was in no conventional order, Fay read each one as the thing pointed to it. The message read:
“Hello and I am all colors, Sam.”
Seeing as Fay had not been harmed by the unusual visitor, the boy gained the pluck to join her next to the looming figure. The children then learned that the creature named Sam was able to talk without the aid of a microphone.
The kids were fascinated by the being’s ability to talk without moving its lips. Fay would state that even though the thing was able to speak perfect English the sounds it made were distorted rather like an individual who was incapable of opening their mouth properly… or perhaps a creep hiding behind a wooden mask.
The children began to feel comfortable enough to start asking questions. Caught on appearances, as kids often are, they duo asked the being why his clothes were all torn. Sam replied that they were the only clothes that he had available.
Fay, fixated on the humanoid’s strangely immobile features and paper white skin, mustered the courage to ask Sam if he was human. His reply was simply “no.” Anxious about his status as a paranormal entity, they then asked Sam if he was a ghost. The strange being replied:
“Well, not really, but I am in an odd sort of way.”
Quick on her feet the kids retorted: “What are you then?” Sam vaguely replied: “You Know” adding no further explanation.
The creature then went on to explain that although he had indicated that his moniker was Sam in the book, he had no real name. He also claimed that there were others like him on the Earth and further confessed that he was frightened of people and scared that they might hurt him; stating that if he were attacked he would not fight back.
In what is perhaps his most disconcerting move, the being then invited the children to enter into his metal-sided, eerily windowless hut through a small flap-like opening in the side. The kids crawled through, followed by the creature.
The hut was divided into two levels. The lower level had blue-green wallpaper and covered with a pattern of dials. Also, it had an electric heater and some basic wooden furniture. The upper level was not as expansive and had a metal floor.
Sam (not Sam) told them that he managed to survive feeding on berries that he collected in the late afternoon and that he got his water from the nearby river, but cleaned it before he consumed it. His purification process was not described.
Sam also confided in the children the existence (but not the specific site) of a secret camp that he maintained, which was located somewhere in mainland England.
Once inside the hut, Sam removed his hat to reveal a pair of rounded white ears and sparse patch of brownish hair. Next the creature did something truly outlandish. The children testified that the creature placed a berry in his ear, then lunged his head forward causing the berry to disappear and reappear in one of his triangular eye sockets. After repeating the head movement the berry reached his mouth.
Oliver speculated that this unusual trick might have been a process used by a biological-robot to verify the quality and potential toxicity of the berry before he consumed it. Of course, it also might be a supernatural entity attempting to entertain a pair of children or a weird man in a wooden clown mask performing a magic trick… there’s simply no way to know for sure.
The children remained inside the creature’s hut-like home for the better part of a half-hour, asking Sam questions and receiving ambiguous answers. After a while they said goodbye and, despite Sam’s only nebulous admittance to such, hurried out across the golf-links to tell the first person that they ran into that they had seen not only seen, but talked to a genuine ghost.
The first individual they ran into was likely a groundskeeper who simply laughed at their outlandish tale assuming it was nothing more than a flight of fancy or a childish prank. This greatly upset Fay and her compatriot.
Disturbed by this initial reaction it took Fay a few weeks to tell her father (oddly designated in Oliver’s article as Mr. Y) about her experience. At first he did not pay too much attention but started to be convinced due to the extraordinary level of detail of the account. Her friend also supported the Fay’s description of the weird incident.
Soon after Fay’s father explored the area where is daughter claimed to have the encounter. There was no trace of the metal hut, nor any trace evidence of it having once been there, which Mr. Y considered to be odd considering the weight of a metal hut and the softness of the soil on which it allegedly rested. Mr. Y also spoke to two workmen who had been repairing a post in the area when the event allegedly transpired. Neither man claimed to have heard or seen anything unusual that day.
So the question that we are left with is this: was no name Sam an alien, a ghost, an inter-dimensional being, a biological-robot, a supernatural entity, an ultraterrestrial, a case of two-person mass hysteria, the product of fertile young imaginations, a terrifying all-too human predator or something utterly inexplicable? Unfortunately, we likely never know.
Rob Morphy is an artist / journalist / filmmaker / graphic designer / crypto historian / podcaster / co-founder of American Monsters, Cryptopia and Cryptonaut Podcast