Warning: This story contains highly disturbing images and events.
My name is David Silvey. I wrote a book called Project Artichoke. It contains a collection of notes and stories I wrote before I died. I tried to persuade a friend of mine to edit the book, but she was not able to do it. So my children published the book as is. You can understand the beginning of the book pretty easily, as I spent time on that part. After the first couple of chapters, though, my story becomes awfully disconnected. One bad thing after another kept happening to me, starting when I was about eight years old. Let me tell that story, because the worst part comes first. Then perhaps the other things that happened to me, and to others, make sense.
When I was in about third grade, my mom turned me over to a priest, who turned me over to bad people at Livermore, near Sunol, California. I didn’t know it then, but later I learned the team at Livermore did studies for the CIA’s Project Artichoke. Thus the title of my book. For the longest time, I could not seem to escape that project. Bad people purchased me, body and soul. I wanted my mother to protect me from people like that. She received $2,700 on the sale.
* * *
I was born to Genevieve and Alvin Silvey on January 27, 1951 at Hayward Hospital in California. I was the third of four boys. My father was a blacksmith. He had a shop in the town of Alvarado and worked very long hours. From the beginning, I was closer to my dad than my mother. I considered my father to be a kind person, a good dad, but rarely around. My mother was a traditional, stay-at-home mother of the era. She washed, cooked, and generally looked after household affairs.
I was baptized at the Old Roman Catholic Church in Alvarado. I’m not sure what the differences among churches were, but there was a church in town of that type, so we went there. The priest wore brown robes with sandals. I remember midnight Mass seemed magical, spoken in Latin with incense burning. I was an altar boy. Most people wouldn’t remark about where or which church they were baptized in, but as you’ll see, in my life it mattered.
We lived behind my Dad’s shop in a trailer, near the railroad crossing on Hesperian Boulevard in Alvarado. We were about a mile north of town, in an area surrounded by duck clubs, creeks, and marshlands. The early years were good, and it was great being a kid.
I had relatives who lived in the area. When we went to family gatherings or functions of my father’s relatives, my father often brought only me along. If you were to look at the four boys you’d see a marked difference among our looks. I am the only one with the light complexion, blond hair and brown eyes of my father’s side of the family. As a little boy this meant nothing to me. As a young man and then an adult I pieced together the reasons for this.
My oldest brother, Alvin James Silvey, Jr., nicknamed ‘Ike’ by my mother, was like a best friend to me. He taught me how to hunt, fish, fight and play sports. As far back as I can remember, my father and Ike never bonded and rarely spoke. The alienation that would last a lifetime even extended to my brother’s wife Louis and the children.
My mother had a friend named Ike; and she apparently nicknamed my brother after him. Sometimes we would picnic with him at the old secluded cemetery off Mission Boulevard in Irvington. We would have fried chicken, potato salad, and wine. My brother and I were allowed to drink Mogen David wine. My younger brother and I would benefit greatly from this get-together, because after we drove Ike home near the cannery on A Street in Hayward, my mother would always take us to the toy store in Tennyson on the way home.
It was difficult to remember that my younger brother and I weren’t supposed to mention outings with Ike. Retribution from my mother came in the way of ass whippings, and threats of selling us instead of toy store runs at Tennyson. My younger bother Richard locked himself in the bathroom to avoid an ass whipping, and she got the door open. He ran past her and away from home, hiding in the marsh for hours into the night.
My parents were separated for a time, and my mother started doing crazy stuff around the house, like hanging dead chickens on the outside of our doors, dripping blood at night. She would also hang blankets over any mirrors during a full moon. It wasn’t great for us being kids in Alvarado anymore. Both my older brothers moved out of the house, and got arrested for robbing the post office in Alvarado.
Ike Feldman had a chicken ranch near the border of Alvarado and Fremont just off Highway 17, on Fremont Boulevard. One day we stopped there to buy eggs. We drove into the dirt road, past barns and stopped. My mother told me and my brother to stay in the car. As my mother walked to the house, a young kid my age ran to the car from one of the barns. He said his name was Jimmy, and that his father brought him here and left.
He started to cry, and said they kill people here! Jimmy wanted to come with us, and I let him in the car. Minutes later, my mother came back to the car and saw Jimmy. I tried to tell her what he said but she dragged him out of the car and we left Jimmy crying. She pulled over just past the fruit stand, and she whipped my ass. I didn’t want to cry out of defiance but her knuckles were boney and caused incredible pain on my face, head, and back.
* * *
It was a nice day: I had just celebrated my eighth birthday and was in third grade at Alvarado Elementary. I had just got out of school. In northern California’s Bay Area it doesn’t snow, it mostly just rains a couple days a week and is often cloudy and cool the remaining days in winter. Since the weather is mild kids can walk to and from school if they live nearby. I was walking home and was alone.
As I was walking by the Old Roman Catholic Church a young priest whom I had never seen before stepped out onto the sidewalk between the church and a car parked in front on Main Street. The priest said to me, “You’re going to help us on the farm today. Your mother is already out there, you can ride in the back seat.” He opened the back door but it didn’t feel right and I was kind of scared. I looked at his brown robe, his sandals, and at the church where I was baptized, where I went to Mass.
I got in the back seat, and as he shut the door I noticed an army blanket folded neatly on the floor with pieces of cut rope. The priest got into the front of the car and looked back and said, “You get down on the floor.” He appeared different, with a menacing look on the face. I couldn’t move. He back-handed me hard in the face and said it to me one more time. I got down on the floor, my nose was bleeding, and I was crying uncontrollably.
As we drove past the school I stuck my head up to see if anyone was watching. The priest stopped the car on the railroad tracks and reached around to tie my hands behind my back, then threw me on my back on the seat and hit me hard in the groin. We drove for what seemed like an hour, then he stopped the car. I looked up to see as he got out of the car, then he came around and opened the passenger side back door at my feet. I noticed that the door and window handles were missing. The priest told me to get out. As I did a mangy looking black German shepherd bit my leg.
I began to run in a tight circle with my hands still tied behind my back around the car. I turned to see an ever-haunting horrific sight. I saw a little girl my age with a monstrous look on her face, her head was shaved and bruised; she had two wires coming out of the top of her head. She was on the attack growling and showing her teeth just like the dog.
A big guy with dirty blonde hair, wearing those black-rimmed glasses that men of the era wore, put the girl inside the barn near the house and then ran the dog off. We were all still near the car as the priest spoke with another man, whom I recognized as my mother’s friend Ike, dressed in khaki clothing wearing aviator-type sunglasses. Ike told the big guy he wants $3,700. The big guy came over to me and asked if I had been baptized. I said that I was baptized. The priest was paid $2,700 for me. Ike counted the money on the hood of the car. The priest told them that he was on his way to Arizona and left. At this point Ike told me: your mother sold you and she doesn’t want to see you anymore. You belong to this man now do you understand!
All I knew about these people convinced me that they might do to me something like what had been done to the little girl. I completely bought what Ike said; my mother had often threatened to do just that. Over and over, to myself, I said prayers that I had learned in church, while the man untied my hands. Then we went in through the back door of the house and sat at the kitchen table. There was an old couple in the kitchen cooking. They said nothing to me, nor did I to them. They talked at each other using no names.
The big man went to the refrigerator and returned with some red kool-aid, several sheets of paper and some pens. He asked if I could write something for him. I was shaking so badly that I had great difficulty writing the last two words and doing the art work. Investigator and author Maury Terry found the letter many years later at a satanic site in Fire Island, New York, and published it in his book Ultimate Evil. I wrote the following per his yelling instructions.
WOE TO you O Earth and sea, for the devil sends the Beast with wrath, Let him who has understand recon the number of the beast, for it is a human number – its number is Six hundred and Sixty Six…
He poured about half a glass of kool-aid and gave it to me. I drank it quickly and soon feel asleep at the kitchen table. I woke up the next morning near what looked like a dentist chair. I was on a sofa in front of the upstairs window. I could see the range land gently sloping up to mountains a couple miles away. I would soon find out first-hand that there was a gun range just to the east of the neighboring eucalyptus grove.
When I got up to go to the bathroom, I didn’t see anyone until I opened the bathroom door and saw the big man. He handed me a little bit of kool-aid and said let’s go get something to eat! I followed him out the back door to a black Cadillac parked at the south side of the farm house. I opened the passenger door and got in. I noticed the door and window handles were there. We drove out the eucalyptus tree-lined driveway, and made a left turn onto the roadway. As we came to a cross street I strained to see the road name – it was Mary School Road. He didn’t say anything to me about it, but he noticed.
A couple of miles down the road he turned left into a driveway to the closest neighbor’s farmhouse. An old man was signaling us to drive near the barns behind the farmhouse, and that’s where we parked. The old man opened the barn door and we got out of the car, then went inside. The big man ordered me to pull my pants down as he pulled his down. His penis was huge and white like wax. I felt the old man looking at me like I was a woman. My thoughts went to extremes: from prayer to how to save my soul if not my life, to fantasies of vengeance, to just getting through the physical and emotional trauma… The old man had open sores on his penis. I started to feel the effects of my first acid trip. It felt like I was crawling out of my skin.
I remember we got into the car and drove back to the big farmhouse where he drove into the yard then parked next to the barn. He got out and opened the barn door; I got out of the car and began to run away when he grabbed me by the neck, then carried me inside the barn. He dropped me in front of a large wooden box.
He took the lock off the clasp and opened the door. He then grabbed the little girl and pulled her out of the box. He told me to get up and get in the box. I got up and saw the hellish sight, inside was part of a child’s torso with guts and a big live snake. I couldn’t bring myself to get in and he stepped forward to pound on me so I got into the box. The beast closed the door and I heard him attach the lock to the clasp. I had to take short breaths, it smelled terrible and there wasn’t enough room to sit up (4’ by 4’ and 3’ high) so I had to lie down. I had dry heaves real bad, I couldn’t even cry. It seemed like hours went by before the snake got active and bit me on the face, then the thigh. The snake stuck to my pants so I was able to grab it. I was choking it as hard as I could when I heard the lock being removed from the clasp. I pushed the door up with my head to see the little girl. She had wires sticking out of her head with a normal warm human look on her face. She was using her hands motioning for me to get out.
I looked at the incredible colors of the snake as I tossed it aside and quickly got out of the box. The front barn door was locked from the outside so I ran around looking for a place to break out. I started kicking one of the boards on the south barn wall. I got down and charged it with my shoulder and was able to push the bottom of the board out enough to escape. I saw the little girl’s hands pull the board back in place from inside. I ran south as fast as I could. I soon heard gunshots and closed my eyes but kept running.
I crashed into a barbed wire fence, but was able to get myself free, continuing to run southeast through what I would later find out to be a Lawrence Livermore Radiation Laboratory experimental ground-based wire antennae field. It was a massive area of poles and wires. There was a fence with green posts and white tips and signs warning that I was on FCC property. I ran into fairly new homes and pounded on a couple of doors before a man answered his door and I pretty much dove onto his living room floor.
I tried to tell him what happened but I could hardly breathe. The man told his wife to call the police and tell them that I had been kidnapped. She came into the living room and told him that the Livermore Police won’t come out because we were in an unincorporated area. He told her to try the Sheriff’s Department. A Sheriff’s deputy showed up and took me to Hayward Hospital.
Dr. David Crocket examined me, the same doctor who delivered me eight years ago. I told him and the Sheriff’s deputy everything that had happened. I was relieved to be free but deeply depressed about the little girl. From this point on and through the rest of my childhood I would not be able to sleep without a light for fear of waking up in that box. They took my clothes all stained with visceral fluids, then treated me for the bites, barbed wire cuts, and sexual trauma. This all took days and no one came to see me, then a man dressed in a dark suit came into my hospital room to tell me that he would be taking me home. “Relax you’ll see your mother shortly.”
Dr. Crocket introduced the heavy-set policeman to me as Captain White… I asked him why there was no door handle as we left Hayward Hospital in the black sedan. He said nothing, just got on Highway 50 toward Stockton, then exited on North Vasco Road in Livermore. He made a left turn into the area of houses that I ran to, then he wanted to back track. We drove past the gun range, then up May School Road to North Livermore Avenue.
When he drove past the farm where I had been taken to, I pointed to the barns and he pulled over in front. “This is where you were? A doctor lives here! You’re making this all up.” He shoved me hard against the door. “How do you know Ike?” I told him that he was a friend of my mother. “Your mother is a whore?” He made a U-turn and drove while glaring at me most of the way to Alvarado.
He let me out of the car, and on the way to the trailer threatened to kill me if I keep lying. My mother acted broken and surprised. “They didn’t call me to come pick him up!” White told her that I was fine and made all this up. “He is a runaway.” White further stated that I made serious allegations concerning a doctor to the Sheriff’s Department and that I was lying, “He should be taken care of. I never want to hear anything more about this again.” Captain White asked to use the restroom, when he returned he took me outside and told me he had left two guns in the closet under towels, “You hide them, when the time comes you’ll know what to do with them.” I did what he said.
This was so emotionally draining and ever haunting that we never spoke of it again until forty-five years later. After my father’s death when my mother apologized for her being evil and hurting me as a child, consumed with tears she admitted to selling me.