USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘ufo’
Folk Beliefs

Blue Mountain Flying Saucers

Informant: Grandma Johnson once saw a flying saucer. Yes, she saw it—saw it hover, and then it landed in a field by her house. And when she went to go look at it, there was a—a burnt place, in the field. A burnt area.

Me: Did anyone else see it?

Informant: Not that one, no. Grandma Johnson saw that one. But one of the other families in town—their two little girls, they saw a flying saucer land near their house. And they wanted to go out and look, too—to investigate—but their parents, oh, they wouldn’t let them. They were hysterical! They wouldn’t even let them outside, they were so worried they’d go looking.

The informant (my grandmother) was born in Missouri and has lived in Berkeley, CA for close to sixty years. She has always been a remarkably hard worker; she was raised by her uncle on his farm, where she more than carried her own weight, and, after completing four years at Penn State (where she was the only female Chemistry major at the time), she insisted on paying her uncle back every dime of her tuition. The informant moved out to California, went to graduate school at Mills College, and became a nutritionist working with nursing homes and other care facilities to develop standards for feeding different types of patients. After having two sons, the informant became the President of the Parents Association for the Head-Royce School in Oakland, CA and remained an active member of the Claremont Book Club.

“Grandma Johnson” is the informant’s mother (born and buried in Blue Mountain, Missouri, despite having moved to Berkeley, CA for several years to be cared for by the informant), so the date of this flying saucer viewing would have occurred a little fewer than one hundred years prior to 2015, the date of the collection. Today, a Google search of Blue Mountain, Missouri yields one major result—the Blue Mountain Methodist Camp. The area, the informant says, has not changed too much; the landscape is still predominately rural, low to lower middle class, and religious.

UFO and flying saucer sightings tend to occur in regions of America (specifically America; the United States has an undeniable fascination with extraterrestrials) where there is less light pollution and a lot more open space (a flying saucer landing in a city would cause innumerable damage, but a landing in, say, a corn field, might be more discreet). The informant delivered her mother’s encounter with a flying saucer to me in a way which I believe indicates that the informant, too, believes in extraterrestrial contact with Earth.

Narrative
Stereotypes/Blason Populaire
Tales /märchen

UFO Sighting

Both my mother and sister claim to have witnessed a UFO several years ago while driving home from a Target store which is only about a mile from my house in Marietta, Georgia.  It was late and dark outside.  Through the front window, my mother saw a pair of white lights approaching the intersection outside of the Target.  She recalled that the object, which she definitely believed was a craft, was extremely low in the sky – she said maybe the height of a telephone pole.  She could make out a boomerang shape as it moved overhead, where to her amazement, it hovered in absolute silence.
While my mother will admit being uncertain as to the craft’s identity, she suggested that it was some form of secret military technology; in particular she indicated that the craft she saw resembled the stealth fighter she had seen in photographs.  This is one popular interpretation of unidentified flying objects, and it is a viable explanation for many such sightings, perhaps including this one.  Together with this idea of futuristic military (human) technology, it seems the idea of super-advanced alien technology forms the overwhelming majority of the public sentiment on the subject of UFO’s throughout the US and most of the free world.  Though many UFO witnesses (and many who hear second hand) ascribe a spiritual nature to their experience, these interpretations and others are far outnumbered by those that focus on the future and progress of the human race.  While my mother does not believe in aliens and simply gave an honest account of what she witnessed, people of other cultures would probably have provided vastly different explanations.

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