My Mother Was an E.T.

In honor of Alien Abduction Day 2018, I share the following: My mother was an E.T., according to the classmates who signed her high school yearbook in Upstate New York. Apparently so were several of her classmates. I kid you not.

The year was 1955, right on the heels of the UFO wave of 1952 in New York state when military jets were ordered to shoot down UFOs on sight in spite of our belief that extraterrestrials were friendly. Two years later came the Worldwide UFO Wave of 1954. And then came my mother’s high school yearbook, full of girls claiming to be E.T.’s.

In order for my mother to have been born of an E.T., they would have come knocking at her mother’s window in 1936. That was the year of the purported (Schwartzwald) Black Forest UFO crash near Freiburg, in Germany. They retrieved the downed craft and attempted to reverse engineer it.

It was also the year when the Italians were chasing after UFOs in the sky. A series of documents posted in March-April 1996 were sent to Dr. Roberto Pinotti by a man known only as Mr. X. The documents related to three UFOs being chased by fighter planes in August 1936. Pinotti was the leading ufologist and director of the Italian UFO research journal Notiziario UFO.

Neither of these incidents were anywhere near my mother, not that a UFO can’t zip around the world in the blink of an eye. Nor was there anything weird about her, unlike me. She was a cheerleader, a cool kid, and everybody loved her. So what was up with this E.T. business in her 1955 high school year book? Did she and her classmates encounter UFOs? There were plenty enough of them flying around.

A July 16, 1952 headline read: “Miami Pilots Spot 8 Saucers Flying in Formation.” Staff writer John F. Bonner wrote this for The Miami Herald of Florida. Airline pilots described the flying saucers as being 100 feet in diameter, and “glowing like hot coals.” They flew over Chesapeake Bay clocking at 1,000 miles an hour. They appeared to be “operating under intelligent control” and pilots believed that they originated from “some extra-terrestrial source.” They were flying in echelon formation, and then made a sudden 150-degree turn.

A July 29, 1952 news headline read: “Jets Told to Shoot Down Flying Discs.” This from Darrell Garwood in the Herald-News of Fall River, MA. Their instructions were to chase the mysterious objects, order them to land, and if they ignored orders, to shoot them down. The trouble was that the 600-mile-an-hour jet planes couldn’t catch the “blinking, enigmatic flying discs” which outflew the jets by a thousand miles an hour. Reports of “flying saucers” were coming in to the Air Force at about 100 reports a month.

The next day, the Albuquerque Journal quoted Major Donald E. Keyhoe as saying that flying saucers were “devices from outer space.” They weren’t believed to have come from Russia or any other country on Earth, because they maneuvered “so violently” that “no human pilot born on this Earth” could withstand the changes. For that reason, they were assumed to be remote-controlled from a spaceship farther out. The reason for the shoot-down order was to capture a flying saucer, solve the mystery, and “reveal it to the public” to avoid national hysteria. We believed that the flying saucers were friendly and would eventually contact us.

1952 was also the year of a New York UFO flap or wave during which a flotilla of 60-75 bright, shiny balls like ping-pong balls flew over Susquehanna River Valley. In spite of their numbers, the flying saucers flew in complete silence.

New York State was not alone. Sightings were so prevalent that flying saucer parties were becoming all the rage in Ohio, while in Wisconsin “the hunt for flying saucers” spawned Project Vortex, an unofficial project attached to the 84th Signal Reserve which was not an official part of the army, who took “no responsibility for it.”

Comedians joked about flying saucers, psychics claimed contact, tabloids offered rewards for photographs, cartoonists were having a field day, preachers incorporated them into Sunday sermons, department stores sold “flying saucer pajamas,” and all the while UFOs played hide and seek with jet planes from Nellis Air Force Base. Some even flipped around our military jets like a jumprope.

Parapsychologist Ted Owens suggested that we use mass telepathy to contact them, by bringing together peopled gifted with strong psychic powers. Hollywood capitalized on the saucer craze by producing UFO movies including the science-fiction thriller, “War of the Worlds.”

There was even a Wizard of Oz theater play featuring a flying saucer instead of a ballooon transporting Dorothy back to Kansas. Buddy Ebsen starred in the play, and he kept the flying saucer as a souvenir. This was posted by Hedda Hopper in the August 8, 1952 issue of Siftings Herald in Arkadelphia, Arkansas. The news item also appeared in several other newspapers around the country.

As compelling as 1952 was, the real UFO wave came in 1954, which came to be known as “The Worldwide UFO Wave of 1954,” as compiled by Donald Johnson. At least 3,015 UFO reports came in from around the world, with more than a third of those in October, and over half from Europe. Flying saucers were reported in the United States, Europe, Latin America, Australia, Asia, Africa, and Canada.

These reports included small humanoids with large heads wearing diver suits. They were about three feet or a yardstick tall. UFOs buzzed cars and triggered electrical interference. The spacecrafts manifested in over a dozen different shapes, including the traditional disc, domed disk, cigar, oval, oblong, and triangle or crescent shape, in addition to irregular shapes such as dumbbells, barrels, parachutes, and footballs.

More than 10% of the reports included extraterrestrial sightings, and less than 1% involved UFO alien abductions. But no sightings involved little grey aliens. The extraterrestrials were either human-looking, very tall or very short, or hairy dwarfs, or peculiar-looking humanoids, and sometimes even robots. Heights varied, with some being of normal human height. Clothing varied as well, but conspicuously absent were the alien greys.

In spite of all the media hype, my mother didn’t talk about UFOs or anything even remotely weird. UFO news didn’t enter into our home, not on the radio or TV, and if there was a newspaper headline, they ignored it. Maybe because by the time I came into being, the government was full on into the hush-hush coverup.

I didn’t even hear about the Roswell UFO crash until nearly 30 years after it happened. I was 19 years old, and then I didn’t understand what it was. Friends of mine talked about a flying disc being moved from Nevada to Texas, or some such, as if it was a big deal. I’d been so sheltered from UFO news that I didn’t have a clue what they were talking about, nor did I particularly care as it did not impact my local sphere. I was totally in the moment, and faraway abstract events did not qualify in spite of my own life being full of otherworldly high strangeness. I pretty much ignored that as well, not realizing the significance.

My mother also had a phobia about ever discussing the past, not hers, or her parents, or her siblings, or anybody else’s. It was a taboo subject, one which drove me crazy wanting to know things. I’d ask lots of questions, and she’d give the shortest answer possible, if she answered at all. Her whole family was like that except for one sister, the Keeper of All Secrets, the one who knew all of the juicy family gossip and who didn’t mind sharing it.

This avoidance of discussing all things past kept me from knowing much about my mother’s life prior to my memories. So I didn’t know that she was a cool kid. The few stories that she did share gave a very different impression, and they related to the Great Depression. Maybe she shared those in the spirit of, “See how lucky you are?” One being that for Christmas, all she got was an orange and a coloring book, and how big a deal it was to get even that.

It’s bizarre to think of one’s mother as a popular cool kid, especially if you were the exact opposite. I did not inherit the cool gene from her. Instead, I was known as “the strange little girl who lives down the street.” Making friends was hard, and I was the LAST kid picked for teams in gym class — the polar opposite of my mother who was a varsity cheerleader for four years running.

According to her, I took after my father, who I later found out had a history of UFO sightings, some of which made it into the newspaper along with his name. His family even carried the RH-negative blood type, which I inherited, along with his personality. My mother’s family must also have carried the RH-negative blood type in order for me to have inherited it.

So my mother was a popular cool kid, a varsity cheerleader, and she was in a sorority. My first thought was that E.T. represented that sorority, and that’s where the mystery began. These are a few of the E.T. entries from her yearbook friends:

  • I think you’re just about the cutest kid in school. Stay as sweet as you are now. Lots of luck in the future. Love, Patsy “ET”
  • Well kid, you finally got out of this hole! You lucky dog. Hope you have good luck in your future. Take it easy on the poor, defenseless boys. Don’t get drunk! Love, luck to a doll. Elena “ET”
  • To a cute and wonderful kid. Best of luck always. Love, Carol Sue “ET”
  • It has been swell being in the same sorority with you. Lots of luck, love ya, Natalie “ET”
  • You’re a terrific kid. I’ll never forget summer school with you. Good luck in all you set out to do. Love, Toni “ET”
  • I have enjoyed having such a wonderful friend and sorority sister as you have been. I wish you the best of everything. Be good! Marge & Louie “ET”
  • It’s been wonderful getting to know you. I hope all you do in the future turns out fine for you. Please don’t forget me, and I won’t forget you! Love, luck, laughter, Pat “ET”
  • We certainly did have fun, didn’t we! I really think you’re tops. Nat “ET”
  • It’s been real great knowing you. You’re a real ball at sorority meetings. Lots of luck to a real swell gal. Margie “ET”
  • It’s been swell getting to know you. Even though you’re small, you’re loads of fun. Take it easy. Love Rosie “BER” (My mother was 4-foot-9 and weighed 90 lbs. for most of her life.)
  • What a blast we have had this past year! You’re such a wonderful girl, and so darn cute. This summer we will have a blast at house party. See you at the “pinto.” Love Heather “BER”
  • I will never forget classday and you and the Flyers. I wish you all the luck in the world. Margot “BER”
  • It doesn’t seem possible that this is the last year already. It’s been wonderful having someone shorter than me. Always stay as sweet as you are. I know you’ll really go places. God bless ya, always, Stevie “BER”
  • What fun we have had this year in cooking class. So glad I got to know you better this year. Best of luck always. P.S. I hate your boyfriend’s car, but do I like him! What a doll! (She was referring to my father.)
  • You’re always keeping the class laughing! Stay that way.

So my mother was short, sweet, cute, a good friend, lots of fun, and she made people laugh. Plus she had the boys wrapped around her pinky finger, including my father who devoted a whole page in his signing of the year book. I didn’t know that high schools even had sororities, and technically they didn’t, so it took some digging to get to the bottom of it.

During the 1950s, the YMCA and YWCA were actively involved with high school kids, creating boy’s clubs and girl’s clubs to keep kids off the streets, out of gangs, and create a positive influence in their lives. Apparently it worked.

The YMCA boy’s club was known as Hi-Y, and the YWCA girl’s club was Tri-Y, which stood for Triangle Girl’s Club. Some of her sorority sisters signed with a triangle instead of E.T., but the mystery deepened over what E.T. stood for because the initials for her sorority were closer to BERTY or BENTY.

The sorority was called Beta Sigma Nu Tri-Y, and Greek letters don’t match standard English letters in the expected sense, so it breaks down as follows:

B = Beta
E = Sigma
N or R= Nu
T or TY = Tri-Y

The archaic Greek letter for Nu looked like a small R, which is how the BER was written, with a capital BE and a small R.

The letters E.T. do not appear consecutively in the name of her sorority, so it remains a mystery. In subsequent years, other sororities did exist. The 1957 yearbook listed Alpha Beta Sigma Tri-Y, and a 1963 newspaper article named Beta Sigma Gamma.

So E.T. in my mother’s high school yearbook will go down in history as an unsolved mystery. All I know is that my mother was an E.T., her friends were E.T.’s, and my life was full of little grey E.T.’s from as early as I can remember. Only mine weren’t in sorority fun. I experienced the real thing.

I’ve shared some of my extraterrestrial experiences in the book Alien Nightmares: Screen Memories of UFO Alien Abductions. It’s full of high strangeness, bizarre tasks and puzzles, mushroom-skinned beings, clusters of abductions which coincide with known UFO flaps, and fright nights of sheer and utter terror. Don’t read it on a dark and creepy night.

  • Alien Nightmares: Screen Memories of UFO Alien Abductions

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