Another San Francisco Original

© San Francisco Chronicle October 10, 1947

© San Francisco Chronicle
October 10, 1947

Ole J. Sneide made the news twice in 1947—once for his theories and another for his wishes.

On June 25,1947 a curious series of events occurred across the United states—people began to report sightings of strange objects in the skies above them. Kenneth Arnold flew his private plane from Boise, Idaho into Washington and was between Mt. Rainier and Mt. Adams when he spotted nine saucer-like objects flying in formation at 1,200 mph.

Aircraft engineers at the University of California conceded that if the “flying saucers” were traveling at 1,200 mph, as reported, any passengers must be “out of this world.”

Professor H.A. Johnson said that air travel at more than 600 mph was impractical now [1947] because of temperatures generated by air friction. “At 1,200 mph air friction would generate a temperature of about 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, which is about the limit of safety for metals now in use,” he said. He said V-2 rockets traveled 3,600 mph, but were in the air only a short time.

Over the next 10 days flying disks were reported over 10 states and Canada, including one sighting by a United Airlines pilot on July 4th. By July 10th, disks had been reported in 43 states and the District of Columbia.

No photographs existed and explanations came from many sources:

  • A Harvard University Anthropologist said that they were “misplaced halos searching for all the people who were killed over the Fourth of July.
  • A Chicago man proffered that the disks were merely hallucinations which would disappear if citizens followed a correct diet, including eating 50 dandelion blooms a day.
  • Scientists pointed out that the disks were symptoms of scintillating scotomy—spots before the eyes.
  • A variety of people believed that the saucers were weather balloons, airplanes, clouds or secret weapons of the U.S. or Russia.

Photo Credit: © 1947 Life magazine

Perhaps the most original explanation belonged to San Francisco’s Ole J. Sneide, since it was the one that gained him mention in the July 21, 1947 edition of Life magazine.

According to Ole, the “oblate spheroid spaceships were scout ships from Nimbre A. Theatos”. The saucers were allegedly sent out by The Great Master who left Earth in disgust after the fall of the Roman Empire and now resides on the dark side of the moon.

Ole also stated that these are high class people, from one of the older planets, who take an intellectual interest in the Earth’s problems. Sneide warned the people of Earth to “set up no belligerence or they would be wiped out in less than 24 hours.”

When queried as to how he obtained this information, Ole said, “I projected myself into space to find the answer.” His sources were the Dhyanis, rulers of creation. “They appeared in a blinding flash of light—the answer was ‘Information refused!’ ”


In a scene worthy of The Twilight Zone, details of Ole J. Sneide’s last appearance in the news became his first appearance my life. I was working in a storage room at the Golden Gate Bridge Administration Building and I had to move some boxes and binders to gain access to a control panel.

A city is not gauged by its length and width, but by the broadness of its vision and the height of its dreams. —Herb Caen

The binder on top caught my eye and I decided to open it and look inside. It was a scrapbook full of press clippings from around the country. For a fee, Clipping Companies used to scour print publications for any mention of their clients, good or bad, and they would “clip” the article and document its source.

This book was a treasure trove of history and I spent my lunchtime perusing the pages of an Honest-to-God Wayback Machine. It was here that I met Ole J. Sneide, described by the Marysville Democrat as, “…a student of the occult who lived in seclusion in a room on Market Street, [he] died unnoticed last August 31 [1947], only to capture public interest again today when his will was filed for probate. He was 61.”

The San Francisco Chronicle offers the best look at Ole’s last wishes when his will, written in 1937, was entered into Probate:

  1. That his ashes be scattered from the Golden Gate Bridge. (While no State law prohibits the scattering of ashes, health departments are ordered not to release ashes except to a cemetery or other funeral depository. This makes requests to have ashes scattered impossible in California.)
  2. That his manuscripts on occult affairs in the vaults of the Bank of America be published at a cost of $3,000.
  3. That the title be “Heimrhibeat” (German, meaning “homework”) and $500 be provided for library copies and that the book be published in a magazine of national circulation. (The Saturday Evening Post or Literary Digest)
  4. That the remainder of the estate pay for a statue of Aphrodite, Greek goddess of love and beauty, for the City of San Francisco.

Mr. Sneide was specific about the last point. He wanted the statue chosen by the Art Commission and if no commission existed he wanted the mayor to appoint a three-man commission to carry out his request. The statue was to be placed in Golden Gate Park, or “in some site in conformity with the history attaching to said statue.”

The heirs of Ole J. Sneide contested his Last Will & Testament on October 29, 1947 and by July 7, 1948 it had still not been entered into Probate. Action by the Art Commission was stalled at this point and from the research that I have done it looks as though the statue was never commissioned, or placed, in Golden Gate Park.

R.I.P. Ole J. Sneide


  • Life magazine, A Rash Of Flying Disks Breaks Out Over The U.S.
  • San Francisco Chronicle, Mr. Sneide Leaves Cash for a Statue
  • Vallejo Chronicle, Screwball on Discs Leaves Strange Will
  • Marysville Democrat, Eccentric Who Saw ‘Moon Beings’ Wants Papers Published
  • Modesto Bee, Eccentric’s Will Calls For Aphrodite Statue To Honor Memory
  • Art Commission meeting minutes, July 7, 1948

  2 comments for “Another San Francisco Original

  1. October 5, 2014 at 5:43 PM

    Misplaced halos? Hmmm…
    This is a lot interesting and a whole bunch weird!
    You DO come up with some stuff. 😉


Questions? Comments? Let's talk...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: