Saturday, August 14, 2010


Roswell, NM

When people ask me where I'm from, I change the subject.

If asked again, I give a vague regional reference, like, "I'm from the Southwest." Only under harsh interrogation and Klieg lights do I divulge the inconvenient truth: I'm from Roswell.

And I think my truth is much more inconvenient than Al Gore's, because I'm from the UFO Friggin' Capital of the World. And if you're me, that's really inconvenient.

What is my own alma mater, Roswell High, known for? Not academic excellence. No, it was the setting for a paranormal, science fiction TV series. I wonder if that renders my diploma invalid?

Although I have not embraced my UFO heritage, the town certainly has. Here is their logo:

My thoughts on UFOs? Here's a reprint of a column I wrote for in 1996.


My Paranormal Life in Roswell
by Tammy Kennon Hudson Production Manager
June 21, 1996

To some, my hometown, Roswell, may be just a sleepy little dot on the southeastern New Mexico plains, but for fans of the "X Files" and flying-disk buffs called "ufologists," it is the UFO capital of the world.

Yes, it's true. If you haven't heard of Roswell, you must not watch "Unsolved Mysteries." It seems that back in July of 1947 some wayward little intergalactic craft, or a weather balloon, depending on who you ask, was zipping across southeastern New Mexico near Roswell, and took a wrong turn. Down, that is. It crashed into the only thing it might encounter in the plains outside Roswell: the ground. The rest is, well, quasi-history.

The UFO vein runs deep in Roswell, even in my own family. Long before the 1947 "Roswell Incident" began to get attention in the late '70s, we were well versed in our own UFO lore. There was the story that my mom's friend told about her relatives who cowered in their northern New Mexico ranch house while a UFO zipped around outside. Another favorite was the huge, mysterious glob of colorful wire that hitched a ride on my cousin's car in the desert outside Las Cruces. And, even better, there was the chilling story about my sister's close encounter while camping in the woods near Capitan. This UFO actually flew in and out, making the lights flicker on and off in her camping trailer.

The relationship between Roswellites and space has always been a strange one. On the one hand there is the legitimate relationship. Robert H Goddard, the father of modern rocketry, launched his first prototypes from the plains outside of Roswell. My mom and her siblings would surreptitiously watch him drive past their place in the country. They thought he was crazy. He always had mysterious paraphernalia hanging out of the back of his truck. They would hear strange explosions coming from his land just over the horizon. 

Then there was Edgar Dean Mitchell, who went to Berrendo School with my mom. He turned out to be a real, live space traveler -- a NASA astronaut.

But on the other hand, there's the "UFO thing." Just ask around in Roswell. If the guy you ask hasn't seen a UFO, his aunt has, or maybe his neighbor or his girlfriend's second cousin has. The way people talk, you'd think Roswell is some kind of intergalactic Stuckey's -- you just have to stop. There is so much terrestrial interest in these cosmic tourists that Roswell now sports two thriving UFO museums.

Last year one of my old high school buddies told me the "real" reason all the UFOs are buzzing the Land of Enchantment. You see, she heard that those industrious extraterrestrials are running an interstellar mining operation. They're getting something in New Mexico that their own planet can't produce (green chiles, perhaps?).

Regardless of the reason for the visitations, the Holy Grail for a Roswellite is definitive documentation, actual proof of extraterrestrial existence. Every Harry, Louise and Mabel has a video camera at the ready, hoping to be featured next week on "Inside Edition" and make an all-expense-paid guest appearance on Oprah.

In the quest for documentation, it is my uncles who lead our clan. One year my family was all atwitter because my Uncle Bob took an actual Polaroid snapshot of a UFO. Sure enough, there it was for all us earthlings to see: a flying silver disk hovering just above the trees in Uncle Bob's back yard. Turns out he had glued two pie pans together, thrown it in the air like a Frisbee and got his daughter to snap the picture.

Then there's my Uncle Dow, who features a UFO in his annual Christmas light display, which is so elaborate the Roswell Daily Record featured it one year. Well, old Uncle Dow spotted a real UFO zigzagging around in broad daylight last year. Last time I was in Roswell he invited me over to watch a videotape of it. Despite great effort on my part, all I could see was a brilliant blue sky with patchy clouds. In the background I could hear my uncle saying, "Oh look, there it goes again!" Then, the camera operator, my Aunt Hazel saying, "Well, Dow, I just can't see it in the view-finder!"

As a kid, it never occurred to me that all the UFO lore was, shall we say, paranormal. Maybe I've been gone too long, but I couldn't help smiling recently when my sister complained to me on the phone about the growing UFO hoopla in Roswell. 

"This UFO thing is just getting out of hand," she said. "It's bringing some real weirdos to town!"

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