In the late evening of October 30, 1938, a massive tremor “of almost earthquake intensity” occurred near Princeton, NJ. Several moments later, around 8:50pm, a “huge flaming object, believed to be a meteorite,” crashed into an empty field in New Jersery.
What was thought to be a meteorite turned out to be a huge 30-yard wide metallic disc. Smoke poured from the strange craft and a large hissing sound emanated from it. Soon, large tentacles slithered out of the darkness, attached to a large body “as large as a bear glistening like wet leather.”
The eyes are black and gleam like a serpent. The mouth is kind of V-shaped with saliva dripping from its rimless lips that seem to quiver and pulsate.
The curious onlookers who strayed too close where burned alive by the creature’s terrible weapon. Soon the field, the surrounding woods, barns and vehicles caught fire. The Martian invasion had begun. The world was coming to an end and it all began in the neighborhood of Grovers Mill, New Jersey, 22 miles from Trenton. The brave armed forces of the United States Army descended upon this little town but they were no match against the alien invaders. There was nothing but death and destruction.
Except that none of this was true.
A young American actor, producer and director by the name of Orson Welles adapted a portion of H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds book and made a live radio broadcast heard around the country. It incited mass hysteria as listeners believed the broadcast to be real. Many fled their homes in fear while others flooded their local news stations, newspapers and police departments with calls of panic. There were even deaths reported although never actually confirmed.
Today, the neighborhood around Grovers Mill is quiet and serene. There’s a playground nearby and the mothers tending to their children were oblivious to the events that had “transpired” here over 75 yeas ago. Just behind the bushes, several yards away from their playing kids, is something that marks what a truly fantastic even occurred here.
You would never notice it as you first enter the park. There’s a trail that leads to Grovers Mill Pond where I encountered a man fishing. Just off the paved path, you see two tall bushes. In between the bushes, you finally see the monument.
To actually see it, you have to walk towards the field where the spaceship first landed. Turn around and there it is in all its glory. As I snapped away with my camera, two mothers walked by with cameras, having taken pictures of their kids as they played. They asked what the monument was all about. I proceeded to explain to them the significance of that history-making broadcast and how one man provoked US citizen into panic and mass hysteria. Many say that the repercussions of this broadcast are still felt today.
Conspiracy theorist will say that because of this broadcast, the US government will always be tightlipped about any UFO sighting in America, quickly debunking any claims of sightings, landings or visitations from “little green men” lest 1938 happens all over again.
Looking at the monument now, I think about how it was all easy to believe back then without our cell phones, camera phones, Facebook, Twitter and social media to set things straight. Could something like this ever happen again? I seriously doubt it (I would like to think so). We’re all so much smarter than that now. Right?
Before leaving, I drive around to the other side of the pond and take a look across it and try to spot the field beyond the trees.