High Strangeness: We Just Wanted to Go Fishing

Thursday, September 22, 2011

We Just Wanted to Go Fishing

I wasn't planning to blog today, but last night I read that a man named Charles Hickson died just a few days ago at the age of 80, and I had to say something about him. You may not recognize Hickson's name, but for a few months in late 1973 he was one of the most famous people in the world. He was interviewed in newspapers and on TV, and he even told his story to Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show.

At nine o'clock on the night of October 11, 1973, Hickson and his pal Calvin Parker were fishing from a pier in Pascagoula, Ala-- Calif-- Wyo--- errr, Mississippi, when a glowing blue cigar-shaped object descended over the water in front of them. A door opened in the side of the object, and three eyeless humanoid creatures emerged. The creatures floated over the water to the pier, took hold of Parker and Hickson, paralyzed them, and floated the two men back to the object. Parker, only 19 at the time, was reduced to primal panic, and it was all the 42 year-old Hickson could do to keep his young friend from having a breakdown. The men were examined by the creatures and floated back to the pier. The creatures returned to the object and the object disappeared... And the next day the story broke.

I was 13 at the time. Up until this moment in my life, my experience with UFOs and other unexplained mysteries was limited to the stories told in a handful of old, dog-eared paperbacks at the tiny library in the village in which I grew up. The stories of UFO sightings and alien encounters were intriguing and exciting and scary, but they were old, and dog-eared. They had all happened years earlier, to people who had learned their lesson and weren't talking about what happened to them anymore. They were all cold cases.

Then on October 12, 1973, suddenly there was a sensational UFO story being reported in real-time, on the nightly news and in the daily newspaper. This was stunning to me. This was real! A real-live Close Encounter of the Third Kind, and Walter Flippin' Cronkite was reporting on it, for God's sake. The story was so huge, you couldn't not hear about it in the following days and weeks. And Hickson and Parker were rocks... nobody could punch a hole in their story. "We just wanted to go fishing..." Hickson would say, and you believed him. The men were interviewed over and over over again and never changed their account one iota. They took lie detector test after lie detector test and always passed; except for the time Parker went into a PTSD meltdown and couldn't continue the interview. The police chief who took their report the night of the abduction even tried to trick them: after interviewing both men separately, he left Hickson and Parker in a room together with a hidden tape recorder running, to see if they would admit to a scam when they thought they couldn't be heard. What the police chief got was a chilling recording of two men who were profoundly terrified and desperately wanted to drink themselves into a stupor so they could forget what happened to them.

And there was corroborating evidence. Over time, other witnesses came forward to report that they had seen a similar object in the area on that night. A large group of people had actually reported seeing a similar object in a neighboring town the night before Hickson's and Parker's abduction.

I think this was the first time I ever really believed that these stories could actually be true. Up until then I wanted to believe they were true, but it wasn't until Charles Hickson and Calvin Parker came along that I knew.

It's been almost 40 years, and no one has ever been able to punch a hole in their story. But there's something I always wonder about. This time, the aliens didn't make them forget...

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