By Bob Huber: CNJ Columnist
It’s spring again — daffodils are blooming, pollen dust is up your nostrils, and folks all over New Mexico are getting stiff necks from gazing at Unidentified Flying Objects.
That’s because this state holds the record for the most melodramatic assaults from outer space. In fact, New Mexicans have won the coveted Black Hole Cup at the annual Alien Invitational Tournament in Pebble Beach so many times that their experiences have become legendary. Even Rush Limbaugh is speechless.
So if you’re a distinguished UFO-ologist emeritus like I am, you’ll remember that folks in the community of Clovis continue to boast of their award-winning “Clovis Lights,” a spatial incident several years ago where formations of glowing red chilies filled the night sky.
Sad to relate, only a few individuals in Clovis knew what chili was at the time, so the aberrations and their resulting heartburn faded into obscurity.
Other prize winning New Mexico communities soon got into the act, such as the landing of a 50-foot Corelle dinner plate at Socorro, glowing grave stones at Dulce, constant underground humming at Taos, and a winning hockey team at Floyd.
But before things got completely out of hand, the community of Roswell, in a move toward conciliation, broke into the lead with the “1947 Roswell Story.” It was a simple, ageless fable, 40 years after the fact, about a crashed spacecraft brimming over with aliens, brass bands, confetti, girls in bikinis, and a top secret government cover up aimed at erasing 1947, a year when absolutely nothing worthwhile took place anyway.
So cleverly publicized was the Roswell yarn that all other New Mexico anecdotes faded into obscurity or were barely footnoted. Even Gov. Richardson’s championship run in the grueling nine furlongs Roundhouse Marathon was sidestepped.
The Roswell story steamrolled on to win the coveted “Orrery” award, a small gold statue of a space alien riding sidesaddle on a meteor. And that action resulted in even more yarns dedicated to the proposition that Roswell folks will say anything as long as it lures money out of the pockets of motorists on their way to the nuclear waste depository at Carlsbad, where the sun always shines.
All of which brings us up to date in Portales where the question arises: Why has this community never experienced a wild and woolly alien invasion and cashed in on it?
I lean toward an explanation that says local Post Office patrons are forced every day to play matador with 18-wheelers rumbling up and down the town’s main streets and have little emotion left for spacemen. In fact, when Hollywood’s latest horror movies come to town, locals believe they’re watching slapstick comedy.
But records of UFO sightings in Roosevelt County do exist even though the stories surface only in tipsy whispers, because no one takes them seriously without a couple martinis. Take the story of Noel Noffstocker of Elida who went snipe hunting one night with his son, Yule, and spotted a throbbing light in the sky.
“What’s that, Daddy?” Yule asked.
“Shut up,” Noel replied. “You’ll scare the snipes.”
Yule shook his head. “Ain’t no such a thing as snipes. Ma just wanted us out of the house so she could watch wrestling in peace.”
“Oh yeah?” Noel said. “Then what are those little green things running around with no clothes on?”
To cut this story short, Noel and Yule captured one of the creatures in a snipe sack and lugged it home. Ma Noffstocker took one look and said, “Ain’t enough I got to cook you up a space alien, you expect me to dress it too?”
Later that same night a brakeman on the Greyhound Stadium Zephyr claimed he had a conversation with a bug-eyed spaceman who was carrying a lantern. The alien, according to the brakeman, was looking for a well-dressed college student.
“Did he find one?” his friends asked.
The brakeman shrugged. “Who cares?”
Which shows that if folks in Portales ever hope to promote anything close to the Roswell story, they’ll have to do something about their unflagging apathy. But as the brakeman said, “Who cares?”
Bob Huber is a retired journalist living in Portales. He can be contacted at 356-3674.