Thursday, October 30, 2008

"We take you now to Grovers Mill, New Jersey"

Originally uploaded by ammodramus88
On this day in 1938, a Martian saucer landed in the bucolic setting of Grover's Mill, a mere stone's throw from where I currently reside. I have to say, given the remaining traces on the landscape, it's as if it never happened; all that's left is this monument and, of course, the typical local pride that comes along with something so momentous having happened in the immediate neighborhood. Why, even the old mill that gave Grover's Mill its name survives. The Yoyodyne Systems campus is difficult to locate, but that comes as no surprise given its checkered history, as well as the plentitude of corporate campuses (campii?) along this part of the Rt. 1 corridor.

What many people don't realize is that another Martian craft landed in the Great Swamp, an NWR that seems ignorant of its connection to this event. According to a news bulletin of the time from Basking Ridge, it was discovered by hunters, although the pinpointing of its location as "twenty miles south of Morristown" is wildly inaccurate. I guess that if the newscasters of the day had had access to modern-day bird-finding guides, they might have done a bit better. Or perhaps they were somewhat over-excited by the unprecedented events they were called upon to report.

As usual, seeking a birdy connection to this non-birding event, I came up short. The best I could do was the report of "black birds" that feasted upon the unlucky Martians' remains in Central Park; perhaps NJ corvids from the Newark and Secaucus marshes joined the mayhem, but that would require further digging into historical crow roost reports, some of which were notably vague due to concern over persecution.

War of the Worlds script
War of the Worlds website
Wired post on War of the Worlds


Rick said...

Delightful! We always used to run over from Princeton on Halloween, just to see if perhaps the e-t's had caught on...

Jennifer Hanson said...

Thanks! I just couldn't resist it on the 70th anniversary.