About 55 years ago, there was a lot of buzz floating around Germantown about several sightings of strange lights in the skies above the Germantown Dam. A few of the people reporting the mysterious phenomenon even used the phrase “Unidentified Flying Objects.”
You can imagine how that bit of quirky news quickly drilled into the brains of the students attending Germantown High School. It was 1967. I had just started my senior year.
Like many of my classmates, I had almost all of the educational credits needed to graduate. We knew our senior year was going to be a breeze.
We were starved for excitement. We craved an adventure. Several of us decided to scout out the park near the dam. We needed to wait until the park was closed and the sun was setting.
We met downtown and piled into my old 1952 Dodge. That old gray Dodge was painted with flowers, peace-symbols and large, colorful letters that spelled out – LOVE. (Remember it was the late 1960s.)
My friends always referred to my Dodge as the LuvMobile. Driving that big, old hunk of a car was like being in a parade. People waved, smiled and laughed whenever they saw it. It was a fun ride.
That evening, no one saw us as we drove across the dam and parked at the entrance to the park. It was just starting to get dark as we climbed over the heavy chain that blocked the entrance. We walked about a quarter of a mile up into the park. There was a large grassy area at the top of the rise. Picnic tables and a few large trees were scattered around.
We decided to lean against one of the big trees. Each of us was facing a different direction so we would be able to see anything coming from any direction. We sat, and we sat, and we sat. Nothing.
After a few hours, the girls and I decided it might be time to head home. Yes, my friends were three of the most popular girls in school. At that time, I was known to be something of a flirt, but most importantly, I had my own car. As we started walking down toward the LuvMobile. We talked, laughed, giggling about what a dumb adventure we just had.
As we got near the car, Vicki started pointing and yelling, “Oh, my God. Oh, my God.” She pointed toward the horizon. We all looked toward the southwest and there in the night sky was … something.
It was not a saucer-shaped or cigar-shaped object. It was round. It looked like it was rolling across the night sky. It was not a single color but was changing and shifting colors as it moved in a straight line from right to left.
Two of us froze in place. The other two screamed and headed for the car as fast as they could run.
I was convinced that the object wasn’t in the distance horizon. As it neared the earth, I thought I saw a line of trees behind the rolling ball of light. I convinced the girls that we should drive in that direction, but there was nothing to be seen. Our rolling UFO had simply disappeared.
We agreed not to mention it to anyone. We didn’t want the entire school to think we were crazy. But the next morning, as I got to school, I was greeted with smiles, laughter and questions about little, green men. There were a few more strange sightings out at the dam that summer, but soon the topic faded into the excitement of football season.
About eight years later, I was working at Memorial Hospital of Union County in Marysville. For several weeks, UFO sightings became common in the area. It was so common that one evening several of us took a break from patient care and climbed onto the roof to get a good vantage point for spotting whatever was hovering over the county.
We struck out, but several other people reported flying objects in the Marysville sky.
We have all grown up hearing about UFO sightings. We have all heard about the captured aliens that are supposedly being stored in a secret building at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. On a tour of the base several years ago, I asked the base commander about the rumors. I received only a smile and a chuckle in response.
From Area 51 to the alien crash site in Roswell, New Mexico, people have clamored for news about UFO activity. Late last month, the Department of Defense unveiled a long awaited official report on Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon (UAP). That is the new acronym used for a UFO. Most people were disappointed in the 9-page report. Besides being short, the report revealed nothing exciting or new.
Movies and television shows will continue to produce entertaining, exciting and scary shows about aliens and UFOs threatening the earth. Will we ever find out the truth?
Until then, I will enjoy the beauty and mystery of the night sky.
Randy Riley is a former Mayor of Wilmington and former Clinton County Commissioner.