Victor Hansen, Alchemist
Victor bought the Keely Motor from the Franklin Institute in the 1940s. He told me it took him ten years to pay off the $1,000 agreed upon price. Along with the motor he also acquired an original share of stock in The Keely Motor Company. He dearly loved that "little motor" as he called it.
My recent (2004) road trip was for the primary purpose of visiting with my long time friend and fellow Keely enthusiast, Victor Hansen. I've known Vic since about 1987 or 1988. He is currently confined to an elderly care facility in rural Iowa. How he came to be there (aside from his age of 84) is a story of monumental proportions and is vitally important to the rest of us. One day I hope to write his full story. His life is an inspiration and filled with wisdom. In the meantime here is quick synapsis.
The last time I saw Vic was in 1999. I was in process of relocating from Oklahoma to Colorado and I wanted to see how he was doing, in general. A few years earlier Vic had been living in his parents home in downtown Dike, Iowa. His grandfather helped settled the town and his family had been an integral part of that community ever since. Now (1999), however, Vic was living in a run-down farm house several miles from town and in the middle of a corn field, sometimes planted to soybeans. My stays with Vic have always been pleasurable, relaxing and always educational.
This trip was initiated by a phone call from Vic - something he has never done before as he did not have a phone. Actually it was a nurse who placed the call. Vic said all his stuff was gone and he wanted to see me - soon. I immediately took to the road. As I was coming up from the south it was logical to stop at the old farm house and see what the situation was concerning his "stuff". Imagine my shock to see not only was all his stuff gone but the house too - now planted in soybeans. Not a trace of Vic, his stuff or any sign that he had ever been there. Vic had packed the house with antiques, rare books, nick-nacks, the Keely Motor, an immense collection of old electrical devices and of course his decades old efforts with alchemy - making gold. (The real purpose of alchemy is the perfecting of ones soul! (see Alchemy - Most Sacred Science) He had packed the barn with old mechanical and electrical devices too. Now, all gone - not a trace any of this stuff or Vic ever existed. But I had seen it many times and knew then this trip was important.
On arriving at the rest home and seeing Vic, sitting in a wheelchair, a broken hulk of his former self I did not recognize him. Try as I may I was not able to recognize a single physical feature save his size and his voice. Who could ever forget Vic's voice? He however recognized me and gave me his usual warm and sunny welcome - though it was a bit subdued. Vic is a giant of a man - well over six feet and probably weighed 250 or more pounds. Now he was thinned down to maybe half that, gaunt and stressed. I've often described Vic to others as a "giant Teddy bear". Gentle, pleasing, filled to overflowing with wisdom, without a single mean bone in his considerable body.
Vic launched into his story. Tears from both of us rolled down our cheeks.
Some time ago (I didn't get dates) he was arrested on trumped up charges of child molestation. He had the usual insane ordeal with the insane courts. Then he was sent to prison. Two or three months in one prison then transferred to another "hardened" prison for another two or three months. This man was at that time over 80 years old! The details of his stays sound like an Edgar Allen Poe horror story. I'll leave these for the more detailed story to follow later.
When he was abruptly released (without warning or notice!) he found his way back to his home only to discover it had been ransacked, trashed and a complete mess. He said the mess was so great he couldn't tell what was still there and what had been stolen. The very next day his landlady serves him with an eviction notice saying she could no longer protect him or provide security and that he must have strange friends who could do this to him and his property. I don't have a good timeline but it must have been that day that Vic, driving his pickup and all doped up from the "sleeping" pills given him by the prison, crashed into another pickup pulling a trailer. He broke four vertebrae, severed his thumb off and dislocated his left shoulder. Vic woke up swinging beneath a rescue helicopter.
His thumb was reattached and his neck is now permanently frozen in the forward position. He is in reasonably good mental and emotional condition - considering his entire life has been erased.
So Vic's lifetime of studying alchemy, Keely, science and philosophy is gone. As also his antiques, books and collection of old electrical devices - gone. Someone from a neighboring town had stepped in claiming to be his relative and sold off everything, stealing much and kept all proceeds for himself. Another person aided in this looting of a gentle and loving friend of humanity. Vic loved Keely as much as he loved God of whom he always spoke in loving terms.
The thing that tears (pun intended!) me up the most is Vic's eyes. Never have I seen such eyes! The pain, agony, appeal for love and hope, his lost life's ambitions and possessions burned from deep in his soul. Those eyes are forever burned into my memory!
During the telling of this story which took all afternoon neither of us could hold back the tears. The horror of it, the sense of persecution and betrayal he must have felt. The sense of hopelessness he was not able to fight back. His gentle side did not prepare him for fighting back - he didn't know how. Wrenched from his house and thrown into a maelstrom of horror, abuse, neglect, mistreatment, loneliness and all the rest. Only to finally return home to find his life trashed. My mind went into this vicarously and I think the only thing that saved me was the realization that this was Vic's chosen experience - not mine. I had to wall it off.
So what were the theives after? The Keely Motor? His antiques and books? Or were they after his gold-making formula? Or were they just seizing an opportunity to enrich themselves at Vic's expense? Was it just neighborhood hoods? Or were they covering for something more sinister?
The second day visit I asked Vic for some of his wisdom. He was able to quote many things which I wrote down and will share with you later. Such a mind he has! Such wisdom mostly unappreciated by the uninformed and ignorant. Vic has been a teacher for me all these years. No other ever came even close. Here is one of his priceless pearls of wisdom:
from Waterloo and Cedar Falls Courier
Victor R. Hansen (1918-2008)
DIKE Victor R. Hansen, 89, of Dike, died Monday, March 23, at the Shell Rock Care Center, Shell Rock.
He was born May 31, 1918, in Dike, son of Laurits “Louie” and Mary Hansen.
Mr. Hansen graduated from Dike High School, then operated an electrical shop in Dike. He served in the U.S. Navy as a chief electrician, then returned to his electrical shop; worked at John Deere Waterloo Tractor Works, then for Western Electric Co.
Survived by: friends, James and Tammy (Sires) Miller.
Preceded in death by: a sister, Hazel Hansen.His body was cremated, and there will be no services. Kaiser-Corson Funeral Home, Waverly, is assisting with arrangements.
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