Hey Mr Spaceman

Won’t you please take me along, I won’t do anything wrong.

The lines to the Byrds song kept playing in my head, after I wrote about my close encounter with Roger McGuinn at the age of 14 in South Africa, in my post on Larry Bell’s new show at the Harwood Museum. Years later, I met McGuinn at the La Paloma Theater in San Diego the night Timothy Leary was released from prison. (I met Leary that night as well.)

5th Dimension by the Byrds was the first l.p. record I’d bought myself a year or so before the McGuinn incident, and it featured the song. I loved it. It piqued my curiosity about the unknown. My father, a sci-fi buff, encouraged the exploration of possibility.

But it wasn’t till I first visited Taos in ‘79, that I learned about Roswell.

Although Roswell has other claims to fame – it was an important military location from  1941 to 1967. In 1967, the Walker Air Force Base was decommissioned – we immediately think of aliens when its name is mentioned.

During World War II, a prisoner-of-war camp was located in nearby Orchard Park. The German prisoners of war were used to do major infrastructure work in Roswell, including paving the banks of the North Spring River. Some POWs used rocks of different sizes to create the outline of an iron cross among the stones covering the north bank. Later, the iron cross was covered with a thin layer of concrete.

In the 1980s, a crew cleaning the river bed cleared off the concrete and revealed the outline once more. The small park just south of the cross was then known as Iron Cross Park. In November of 1996, the park was renamed POW/MIA Park. The park displays a piece of the Berlin Wall, presented to the city of Roswell by the German Air Force.

During the 1930s, Roswell was a site used for testing much of Robert H. Goddard’s early rocketry work. (The Roswell Museum and Art Center maintains an exhibit which includes a recreation of Goddard’s rocketry development workshop.)

But Roswell truly landed on the proverbial map, when on July 8, 1947 the Roswell Daily Record announced the “capture” of a “flying saucer”

The paper  reported on an object that crashed in the general vicinity in June or July 1947, allegedly an extraterrestrial spacecraft and its alien occupants. The investigation and debris recovery was allegedly handled by the local Roswell Army Air Field.

Since the late 1970s, the incident has been the subject of intense controversy and of a conspiracy theory regarding a classified program named “Mogul”. Many UFO proponents maintain that an alien craft was found and its occupants were captured, and that the military then engaged in a cover-up. In more recent times, Roswell has capitalized on the incident, marketing the town to visitors who are interested in UFOs, science fiction, and aliens.

What is now called the Roswell UFO incident, though the crash site of the alleged UFO was some 75 miles from Roswell and closer to Corona, has been a boon to this once sleepy New Mexican town.

Prior to the opening of the International UFO Museum and Research Center in Roswell, in 1992, the city did not really show any signs of being home to the famous “incident.”

After being sought after by various UFO researchers, Lt. Walter Haut (who worked for the military in Roswell in 1947) had the idea of building the museum as an educational center for the public. Little did he know, hundreds of thousands of people from around the world would be magnetized by this paranormal mecca.

Today, curious tourists and researchers have helped Roswell grow as a popular attraction, leaving the town with no other choice than to accept the reputation as epicenter of extraterrestrial activity.

The museum provides loads of information regarding the “Roswell Incident” as well as alleged crop circles and abductions.

Models of aliens, UFOs, “autopsy” reports and documentaries can all be found here, depicting what some believe to be the truth of what occurred in Roswell during that summer of 1947.

Whether you believe the incident happened there or not, these days when everything seems a little surreal, possible aliens amongst us appear to be the least of our worries!

Roswell is a great road trip (about 41/2 hrs from Taos), for those of you wondering what to do with the kids during summer weekends. For more info on the alleged crash site, do visit the site linked below.



Won’t you please take me along, I won’t do anything wrong. lyric from Mr. Spaceman by the Byrds.

All images Stock Files