An editor’s reblog: The Pascagoula Abduction, 1973

The following was originally published on editor Foster Dickson’s website in October 2018.


Forty-five years ago today, on October 11, 1973, two men named Charles Hickson and Calvin Parker reported to local sheriffs that they had been abducted by aliens while fishing on the Pascagoula River in southern Mississippi. Hickson and Parker claimed that a spaceship whizzed by, paralyzed them, and took them onto the ship to look them over.

The response from journalists was immediate and swift, and reading back over coverage from the time, it is clear the sightings weren’t limited to that one report. Less than a week after Hickson’s and Parker’s experience, The Greenwood Commonwealth‘s Jimmy Thompson shared this, on October 17:

Greenwood continued its pursuit of “UFOs” Tuesday night with two sightings reported, one witnessed by a number of Greenwood residents and the other by a lone observer near Schlater.

Greenwood joined the UFO hunt about two weeks ago when lights of various sizes were seen on the RB Moor plantation just west of the city limits.

Perhaps the most spectacular story was a sighting reported by Kerry Hamilton and Billy Henry reported [sic] being “spotlighted”  by a UFO they were observing south of Schlater.

Apparently, the claims seemed credible at the time. In addition to the rapid-fire appearance of UFO stories in Mississippi newspapers that month, the Enterprise-Tocsin newspaper in Indianola told its readers on October 25 that a poll of students found that 53% believed in the UFO sightings. (32% didn’t, and 15% were undecided.) That same day, The Yazoo Herald ran an op-ed by the editor of the Ocean Springs Record that declared:

UFO mania hit full swing when two Pascagoula men said they were taken aboard a spaceship and examined by strange looking creatures.

“Mania” might be the right word. The next month, Mississippi newspapers were again littered with stories and editorials about UFOs, including one in the Greenwood Commonwealth titled “Ezekiel describes UFOs in the Bible.” The craze even reached national audiences with Joe Ezsterhas’ “When the UFOs Fell on Dixie” in the January 17, 1974 issue of Rolling Stone.

Obviously, the furor died down, and the events were never verified to full scientific satisfaction. In time, though, both Pascagoula men put out books about their experiences. Charles Hickson’s UFO Contact at Pascagoula was published in 1983. Calvin Parker’s Pascagoula–The Closest Encounter: My Story more recently. Though Hickson passed away in 2011, Parker is still busy sharing his story. Here he is last summer discussing the abduction on a New Orleans-based talk show:

 

tidbits, fragments, and ephemera 17

tidbits, fragments, and ephemera is a usually weekly but not always, sometimes substantial but not making any promises glimpse at some information and news related to Generation X in the Deep South.


Angry but don’t know why? According to USF, we are.

This “Generational Differences Chart” compiled by the University of South Florida features a column each for four American generations: Traditionalists, born before World War II; Boomers, 1945 – 1964; Generation X, 1965 – 1980; and Millenials, 1981 – 2000. Some of the observations are astute, like the fact that we largely took care of ourselves growing up and that we are anti-authority, but others are harder to figure out, like why they decided we’re “angry but don’t know why.”

“13 Things You’ll Remember If You Grew Up In Mississippi In The ’80s”

Whoever compiled this has little idea what children pay attention to. Although it is a list of things that happened in the 1980s in Mississippi, they’re probably of greater interest to someone who was an adult at that time.

“Nashville Then, January 1980” from The Tennesseean

This look back offers seventy images of Nashville and surrounding areas at the end of the ’70s / beginning of the ’80s.

“Snow in Gainesville?” from the Independent Florida Alligator student newspaper, 1977

From the “File Story” section of the website, this image of a newspaper story shows and describes a rare snow event in the northern Florida capitol city in January 1977.


level:deepsouth is an online anthology about growing up Generation X in the Deep South during the 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s. The anthology is open to submissions of creative nonfiction (essays, memoirs, and reviews) and images (photos and flyers), as well as to contributions for the lists.

tidbits, fragments, and ephemera 12

tidbits, fragments, and ephemera is a usually weekly but not always, sometimes substantial but not making any promises glimpse at some information and news related to Generation X in the Deep South.


Birmingham radio station WAPI changes format, August 1981

About the same time that MTV was coming on the air, Birmingham’s “95 Rock” came into being after a format change to “album rock” from lighter listening.

“In Viral Bumper Sticker, Man Summed Up 1991 Governor’s Race,” July 17, 2021

This US News article from 2021 looks back at a Louisiana man named Kirby Newburger, whose unorthodox message to voters in the 1991 governor’s race was memorable: “Vote for the Crook: It’s Important.” Newburger was trying to support the election of Edwin Edwards, regarded by some as corrupt, over the openly racist David Duke.

“Mississippi Governor Bans Same-Sex Marriage,” August 24, 1996

Twenty five years ago this month, The New York Times was reporting that Mississippi’s governor Kirk Fordice had “issued an executive order banning same-sex marriages in the state in a move he said was intended to strengthen the state’s existing anti-sodomy law while a legal review of the issue is proceeding in the courts and in Congress.” The last paragraph of the article states: “The intended effect of the Governor’s executive order is to prevent county clerks from issuing marriage licenses for people of the same sex, and to invalidate in Mississippi such licenses issued by other states.”

The release of Charlie Daniels, 1971

It was fifty years ago that Charlie Daniel’s self-titled debut album was released. Though his more memorable hits, like “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” would come later, Daniels was hailed as a pioneer of the new Southern rock genre. To put it in perspective, debut albums by both Lynyrd Skynyrd and The Marshall Tucker Band came out two years later in 1973.


level:deepsouth is an online anthology about growing up Generation X in the Deep South during the 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s. The anthology is open to submissions of creative nonfiction (essays, memoirs, and reviews) and images (photos and flyers), as well as to contributions for the lists.