Friday, July 15, 2011

Grandma's paranormal nexus

I have just returned from a week long respite and retreat at my Grandmother's farm in Ohio.

Ohio.  Big Sky country.  My Grandma lives in an extremely rural area just north of Dayton and west of Columbus, a portion of an area commonly referred to as The Miami Valley.  It's a seemingly endless expanse of farmer's fields and dense woods.  It's the kind of place where you see a lot of shoulders barren of clothes but covered in tattoos; where roadkill is as common as stop signs, where the nearest vegetarian is a cow, and where the youth have an odd predilection for collecting scrap metal.  Your closest neighbor might be a mile or more away.  It's also where The Weird can and does happen.  Here are two such occurrences from my Grandmother's home region.

Back in Christmas of 1991, I had a family member tell me of a UFO encounter they once had.  I will not give this person's name nor their relation to me out of respect for their privacy.  Suffice it to say that they are someone whom I have great respect for and that they have spent their life as a highly successful professional, holding a graduate level degree in a field of scientific study.  Sufficiently vauge?  Ok, moving on.
The sighting took place back in the 1960s when they were still in high school.  While driving at night to a school basketball game, they saw a red light in the sky.  Eventually this red light appeared on the horizon on the side opposite to where it was formerly.  While that was bizarre enough, you can imagine my family member's response when the aerial object flew across the road directly in front of them.  More than that, it shot a beam of light into the car's interior.  My family member pulled over to the side of the road and watched as this craft hovered above a field, completely silent.  They described the UFO as a cluster of lights with no readily discernible structure or hull.  Being a teenager at the time, my family member soon restarted their car and moved on so as not to miss their game, leaving the UFO behind, still hovering.
Throughout their academic study, my family member never once came across an apt explanation for how that flying object they witnessed could hover without making any noise.  We can barely do that now, let alone back in the 1960s.  I should remind everyone, however, that my Grandmother's location is near Dayton.  Dayton is home to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.  This base includes the Air Force Research Laboratory, Material Command, and Institute of Technology and therefore has strong ties to Area 51.  It is also said to be the original destination for the debris from the Roswell crash of 1947.  It was home base for the farcical Project Blue Book.  When the politcally powerful Senator Barry Goldwater asked the Strategic Air Command's Gen. Curtis LeMay to show him UFO crash debris stored at Wright-Patterson, the General gave him "holy hell" and responded, "not only can't you get into it but don't ever mention it to me again!"

As I said earlier, this partciular area of Ohio is definitely farm country.  Still, I am always surprised to see just how much wooded area there is.  In fact, there is a sizeable woods located just behind my Grandma's farm.  The woods of Ohio's Miami Valley are thick, wild, and sparsely populated. 
While on a family vacation in 1980, my Grandma phoned us and told me that Bigfoot had been sighted in Ohio.  Well, that alone was enough to make my pants dance, but to then find out that the sightings were a mere twenty minutes from Grandma's house...well, it was more than this budding little paranormal investigator could take.  I demanded that my parents take me to Grandma's house and then on to Westville, Ohio.
The sightings themselves were run-of-the-mill as cryptid encounters go.  Hairy "ape man" seen in brush and wooded areas.  Enormous footprints found later.  Occassional talk of the creatures pounding on the sides of houses or tearing down clotheslines but with no evidence to back up these accounts.  There was, at the time, a theory amongst investigators that the sasquatches had migrated to Ohio from the Pacific Northwest, instinctively anticipating the eruption of Mount St. Helens in 1980.  Again, there was not much to back that up and I came to write it all off during my "I'm too cool for the paranormal" teen years.
Then in 1989, my Grandfather said to me, "I believe that there really are such creatures and that they were in Ohio at one time.  I've talked to friends who saw them and these are people that I just can't see making up a story like that."  Indeed.  The people of that region aren't generally prone to such dellusions.  If anything, they would be terribly reluctant to talk about such an encounter for fear of being ridiculed and getting a "reputation" in their small town.  If someone made up these stories in order to gain fame and fortune, wow.  They seriously misjudged the outcome.
There's no one in human history that I respect more than my Grandfather.  If it's good enough for him, it's good enough for me.

So there you have it.  As I said, it's an isolated region of sparse population.  The lonesome country roads there are quite the thing to travel at night for us cityfolk.  And after hearing true accounts of The Weird such as these, they take on an entirely new countenance.

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