Memorate: My Grandpa’s UFO Sighting


Informant J is a 73 year old Mexican-American man and is the collector’s grandfather. He is from San Jose, California, but his family moved there from parts of Texas and Mexico. For the majority of his life, J was a manager at a regional grocery store, and studied art in college with a focus in jewelry making. J is now retired and his hobbies include guitar playing, metal working, and reworking vintage cars.


(Please excuse typos, this is an unaltered text message from the informant): “I was fifteen years old and had just finished watching Superman on my grandfather’s television (he had one of the only color television on the block so I would frequent his house regularly). I lived caddy corner from them across the street so it only took a minute to get home. Upon reaching my house I stopped at my father’s 1959 surf green four door Oldsmobile which was parked in our driveway. It had a huge trunk like most cars of that era and I layer back on the trunk as was a regular occurrence. I was laying back on the trunk looking up at the stars when I saw a  pattern of five or six lights moving across the sky moving at a very fast rate of speed in a tight pattern. I was extremely frightened when the pattern of lights stopped for a few seconds and then split in different directions. I could not sleep with the lights off for at least a week and i was very reluctant to lay on that trunk to look up at the sky after that experience.”


This was a story my grandpa had previously told me, and I asked him to write it out for this assignment. He claims that this was his own personal UFO sighting, and is the reason he believes in aliens now. It’s an interesting memorate, however, because he distinctly remembers watching Superman right before it happened. To me, that reads as inspiration for the story, something that may have convinced his brain that the stars moving in the sky were someone or something supernatural was moving, rather than a shooting star or a plane. My grandpa seemingly wanted to believe that whatever was in the sky was a UFO. It’s important to note, too, that this memorate made him reluctant to look up at the sky again for fear of seeing what he was convinced were aliens of some sort, and that he associated lying in the truck bed with that experience. I also wanted to mention that my grandpa specifically included details like the car’s make and color; it makes me think that those smaller bits of the story are what helps him to remember it.