Recollections of UFOs: They’re out there, and we’re still here

·4 min read

It was the Unidentified Flying Objects that seemed to confirm to us that something important was going on.

UFO’s — and whoever or whatever was inside — were apparently fascinated by the events underway at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico during the 1950s and ‘60s. For those of us who lived and worked there, it was business as usual, as we got used to the fact that our everyday visitors seemed to be more than passive observers.

They were there every morning as commuters came across the Organ Mountains heading to work from Las Cruces and Alamogordo. A headline in the Alamogordo Daily News on Nov. 5, 1957 reads “Car stalled by UFO.” This nearly everyday experience didn’t even rate much notice.

Frequently, as the UFOs appeared over The Organ Mountains, they seemed to stall the cars of commuters. The cars just stopped as if the batteries were drained while the space ships — or whatever they were — hovered above. There was nothing to do but wait until the flying objects zipped away, and the cars automatically started up again.

One theory was that these were visitors from outer space and they were as fascinated as the rest of us with the events going on around us at the installation that has been called “the launching pad for the space age.” We got used to names like Athena and Nike Zeus, but in later years it was the more down to earth Honest John. The families never guessed at the nuclear capabilities of these missiles.

We were all up at 4 a.m. many days to go out and watch the test launches.

Our Number One son, who was only 5 at the time, has clear memories of watching those space travelers rise majestically and come back in pieces.

“Those were memorable days,” he says. “The rockets frequently came back looking like they’d been in a highway accident.”

This left him absolutely convinced that the Trip To The Moon Ride at Disneyland was not a good idea. At all.

Of course, life had to go on as usual around these astonishing events creating astonishing events of our own. My husband (Sir) had been chasing a 69-cent balsa wood glider when he stepped in a gopher hole and broke one of his perfectly serviceable knees.

“Broke his leg chasing a model,” the medical record said and it was true, but aggravating.

I had to drive him everywhere he went for six weeks. Apparently he would have preferred traveling in a space ship or nearly anything else, as long as I wasn’t driving. And I vowed never to drive him anywhere as long as I lived. I never did, and he was OK with that.

Somewhere along the line, Sir decided the children needed a pet. So he caught them a horned toad. The thing about horned toads is that they want to eat ants, lots and lots of ants.

Son recalls, “I remember standing in the ant hills and I remember everyone thinking after a very short time that a horned toad wasn’t that good an idea after all. It’s hard digging up enough ants to feed a horned toad. Perhaps,” he reflects, “that’s because I captured ants by standing in the middle of the ant hill in my shower shoes, and becoming increasingly distressed to discover the ants decided to fight back by chomping on my bare feet. Easy to collect the ants off my feet, if not exactly painless. Serious jaws on those black ants.”

In 36 hours, the horned toad, having enjoyed a good meal, was released.

Little creatures and big ones, tiny days and earth shaking days, masked days and unmasked, make up our lives today.

So the new year has come round again. I’m writing as I wait for my children to dare ice and flight delays to be with me for my 88th birthday. Age is just a number, the saying goes, and I’m hoping this is a lucky one. Sometimes it’s useful to look back and wonder.

Unidentified Flying Objects have been plentiful in the West since one of the very earliest sightings over Mount Rainier in 1948. The latest report from the Department of Defense and the Director of National Intelligence suggests that most objects that are mistaken for UFOs include Chinese Lanterns, aircraft, drones, astronomical objects, and light reflections — and then there are a few they’re not sure about.

All I can say is, we were there and they were there. I’m still here. They’re still there. Happy New Year!

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