The LRH Archives: a memoir
Part 1 - Shannon
by Robert Vaughn Young
In the summer of 1981, I was sitting at my desk at the US Guardian's Office in Los Angeles, pushing papers, trying to get through the days. We had moved from the "Manor" on Franklin to the new "blue building" on Sunset Boulevard. While the latter was bright and clean from all of the work done by the drones, it didn't really help morale that much. There were massive power struggles going on in the wake of Mary Sue Hubbard's jailing, along with ten of our execs and staff, mostly from the Intell section. Looking back on it, I don't even remember what projects I was working on at the time. But I do remember a dispatch that came in that would change my life.
It was from a Gerry Armstrong who listed himself as "LRH Archivist." He had come across some problems regarding certain facts in the life of L. Ron Hubbard that had been turned up by one Michael Lynn Shannon, in Portland, and could I help? I walked across the hall and checked with Larry. Shannon? Rings a bell, he said, but better give Intell a call.
I phoned down to Intell to see if there was a file on Shannon. After a few minutes, the answer came back. Yeah, he's in Portland and he's been pissed because he lost his girlfriend to Scientology. It appeared he's been making Freedom of Information Act requests into LRH's life. That was all they had.
Okay, that took care of Shannon for the moment. I still couldn't figure out why Armstrong had written me, unless it was my visibility. Before, during and after the FBI raid of 1977, I had given so many talks and done so many PR events and "briefings" that I had lost track of them. Then again, there really wasn't any place in the GO for material on LRH per se. His PR was pretty much handled by his own office, the Office of LRH Public Relations. They put out the poop sheets on him. We dealt with some Hubbard family matters but the public stuff was all with his people. Oh well.
I leafed through the questions. Armstrong was asking me if I knew anything about LRH's ties to the Blackfeet Indians and if one of them would be a "Blackfoot" and about the size of the ranch where LRH grew up and something about LRH's naval history. I stuck a piece of paper in my trusty Royal manual and hammered out a reply. I gave him what I knew about Shannon and took my best stab at some of the other points but my main reason was to get in touch with this "LRH Archivist." I was intrigued with what Shannon was doing but I was more intrigued by this Armstrong guy. I had no idea where he was located, since there were locations that were highly secret, so my only connection was this piece of paper. At the close of the dispatch, I urged him to write back, that I'd like to help him as much as possible.
I pulled it out of the Royal and, per the policy on replying to dispatches, attached his to the back, put on arrow to him on the front and tossed it into my out basket, wondering if I would ever hear from him again.
About three days later he replied. (The speed told me he wasn't in Clearwater. He had to be somewhere in the Greater Los Angeles area.) He was glad to hear from me and yes, he would like to work with me on this. He gave me some more information and I fired back what I knew. I also asked him what the "LRH Archives" were and if he could disclose his location.
In the meantime, what Armstrong was bringing up was clearly going to be a problem. I went to the "LRH Biographical Data" file and pulled the latest that we had on him. It was a briefing from the Office of LRH Public Relations about the life of L. Ron Hubbard. Even with my PR experience - or perhaps because of it - the briefing was incredibly hyped. Superlatives aside, there were facts in the briefing that even I had wondered about: that he had learned to ride a horse before he could walk and was breaking broncos; that he had traveled with Mongolian bandits when was a youth; that the ranch where he grew up in Montana took up one quarter of the state; that he had been hospitalized for war wounds and his discoveries there not only healed him but gave him the basis for Dianetics, etc.
What Shannon was bringing up was starting to challenge some of this and the problem was that the briefing was from LRH's own people, based - I assumed - on information from the Old Man. Besides, I had read transcripts of briefings by LRH to some of his staff about being wounded and how he traveled through Mongolia. But something was wrong and I couldn't place my finger on it.
Several days later, Armstrong replied again. Sorry, he said, but he couldn't give location but he could give me a call. He did and we chatted a bit. There really wasn't much that I could do to help him at this point but it helped to learn he and these "LRH Archives" were real.
I wondered what was in them.
Copyright © 1997 by Robert Vaughn Young
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