Once we’d decided absolutely to live in Florida, we fell for the seductive charms of the American Southwest.
We were lured by arid landscapes on high plateaus with layers of rugged purple mountain ranges as a backdrop; warm dry air; sunlight so bright I can almost see to read without my glasses; desert sunsets; a pleasing mix of Spanish and Native American architecture; acres of white sand with no sea in sight; the unfamiliar flora of Joshua trees (the funny little people of the tree world on which it is said Dr. Seuss modeled his trees), saguaros, mesquite trees, tumbleweeds, incredible cactus flowers; the unfamiliar and thrilling fauna of scorpions, rattlesnakes, coyotes and road runners.
And flying saucers.
The guidebook we were using recommended a visit to the UFO Museum in Roswell, New Mexico. In its words the museum “inadvertently exposes the whole tawdry business as transparent nonsense” referring to the 1947 crash landing of a flying saucer manned by little aliens.
The feeling I had as we entered the museum was not disbelief so much as not really caring one way or the other, the same as if I was going to see a science fiction movie. I expected to be entertained by a lighthearted couple of hours looking at mocked up spaceships.
As I began to read through witness statements, taken at the time and in later years, as well as the government and military’s vehement denials (to this day) that anything otherworldly had happened, I became intrigued. As I looked at grainy photographs and amateur drawings, my interest waned.
Then I saw it – a drawing of a spaceship I had seen when I was a little girl. Jimmy drifted further away in the museum as I stared at the simple drawing. It all came back to me as clearly as if it were yesterday.
I was no more than five years old and sitting in the back seat of my father’s Buick as he drove along Taylor Avenue close to where we lived at the time in the suburbs north of Baltimore. What appeared to be a commercial airliner without wings – although I wouldn’t even have thought of it in those terms at that age – was hovering right above the houses facing the road. It was so low I could see the rectangles of light of the “passenger” windows. My little girl mind imagined it was landing on the rooftops. The image seared on my mind was the row of rectangles of dazzling bright light. And as I stared it zoomed off.
The sight was vivid in my little mind for many years, then faded with the decades.
And I had never spoken of it.
Rushing to find Jimmy, I blurted out, “I’ve seen a flying saucer.”
“Well of course you have.”
“No! Not here. When I was a little girl. But I never told anyone.”
“Why?” he asked, grinning at me.
“Maybe I thought they wouldn’t believe me.”
“Are you sure it wasn’t one of your crazy dreams?”
It wasn’t a dream, was it?
I went back and stared at the drawing some more. No. It wasn’t a dream. It had been early evening and dark. The rectangles of light had been intense in the large dark shape hovering over the rooftops. A stationary aircraft, but not a helicopter and it didn’t make a sound. I had known that wasn’t quite right, but a five-year-old’s head is full of wonderment and anything is possible. My mind hadn’t developed the ability to analyze using logic.
I hadn’t said anything to anyone because . . . why hadn’t I said anything? More than feeling silly, I was scared. This was at the height of the Cold War with the U.S.S.R. It frightened me. I never told a soul.
At my elementary school, as well as fire drills, we had air raid drills. Every classroom in the school trooped into the corridors and closed the classroom doors to protect ourselves from flying glass. Shoulder to shoulder we faced the wall, crouched down, and face to the floor clasped our hands behind our necks and waited for the all clear. The posture would have been useless with post-war bombs but we continued to practice the drill at various schools for years.
It was all very alarming in a strangely exhilarating way. The Russians were coming. The spaceship I saw I was convinced was full of Russians and they were going to bomb us. If I never told anyone what I saw it might never happen.
That’s how it worked in my tiny mind and Jimmy confirmed a similar way of juvenile thinking a few days later by telling me of a headline he’d seen as a young lad delivering newspapers. “Khrushchev Says 8 Bombs Will Obliterate England.” He was fearful too, and for years, but never confided in his family or friends. Perhaps we’d have made good spy material. Strong silent types.
Although no physical evidence remains, the documents on display at the UFO Museum were very compelling. Those, with my own sighting and a photo of a flying saucer over the Chesapeake Bay were enough.
Over the years, numerous and diverse witnesses have given similar accounts of flying discs, scorched earth at the crash landing site, descriptions of pieces of the craft that had no earthly properties and alien bodies, one of which (of whom?) was alive for a short time.
Interestingly, the witnesses of the Roswell incident who blabbed to the press and flying saucer investigators were the ones not in government employment.
The rancher who discovered the crash site was asked “What about the little green men?” and in an unguarded moment he replied, “I never said they were green.”
Government officials and career military personnel (who were later in life in receipt of a government pension) don’t even remember the “incident” and denied being involved when documentary evidence proves the contrary. Now you have to ask yourself why?
I don’t care if you don’t believe I saw a UFO. Decades later the remembered image is still intoxicating. In the words of one of the many witnesses who weren’t dependent on a government pension,
“I know what I saw.”