Twilight fell upon an unusually cold day on March 28, 1950. Amid the dirty snow piles of downtown Hibbing, Minnesota, a short, thin, properly-dressed podiatrist pushing 40 and his wife, four years his junior, walked down Howard Street near the office where they would both work most of their lives. They looked up at the dimming sky east of town, eyes drawn by an odd flash of glowing green light.
Nothing that gnaws at the human race like the unknown. We can’t stand it; so when we encounter the mystery our brains devise a plot to fill in the gaps.
Why do certain popular songs, often dubbed “ear worms,” get stuck in our heads? Researchers say because we don’t know the lyrics and our brain won’t let the tune go until we do. That’s why playing these songs to death often cures us. In time. At the expense of our personal relationships.
We can’t possibly understand all the people we see on the streets of our town; so our brain labels and sorts them for us. Redneck. Cop. Yoga Lady.
Why do we remain obsessed with the Bermuda Triangle, the Loch Ness Monster and Bigfoot, even though none of these mysteries have ever been proven? Because we have wisps of evidence, not reams. The unknown makes for better stories, and humans subsist through stories passed down through the generations using spoken and written language. That’s literally what separates us from animals. This trait keeps us spry and adaptable through the ages.
But what would the human mind make of a green, cylindrical object streaking at high speed over Hibbing? It was described as being like a “55-gallon old drum” with a long phosphorescent tail dangling behind it “like a pollywog.”
Even though the world possesses no concrete proof of either aliens or flying saucers, I got excited when last month a website published United States government UFO reports from the Cold War era, declassified and released in recent years. My friend Matt Nelson, a Hibbing guy working down at the Washington Post now, highlighted some of the reports that originated from Hibbing.
Including one dated March 28, 1950 around 6:40 p.m.
The redacted name is blacked out, but the first name starts with an “A” and the last name ends with an “n.” I spent some time talking to people who remember that year, and that part of Howard Street. After all that, I’ve come to believe that this redacted report was probably filed by Dr. Alvin Larson and his wife Edna. The length of the blacked-out name is roughly equal to “Alvin Larson,” but obviously this can’t be completely confirmed. Nevertheless, the report’s professional description of the man and his location would match.
I would have called Dr. Larson to confirm, but he passed away in 1997. His wife Edna, who was the other witness to the glowing green object, died in 2002. The couple had no children. Edna’s only surviving sister died two years ago. I would have liked to ask if the couple had ever discussed the object they saw, or if it was merely something they dutifully reported, never mentioning to avoid the raised eyebrows that would have come from the suspicion.
But then, the story took a new turn. As I continued to write and research the matter, suddenly all the “Project Blue Book” UFO files at the website The Black Vault were pulled off the site for what the site’s owner cited as “reasons beyond my control.”
Fortunately, a Brazilian website had pulled the files and reposted them, so I was back on the case. Personally, I suspect J. Edgar Hoover (who never really died) had something to do with this.
U.S. government investigators ruled that what the Larsons saw was a meteor. Just a harmless meteor that glowed an eerie green and resembled a hurtling oil drum in the darkening skies above Hibbing so many years ago. A meteor, if you believe that: just another of many mysteries involving the people we know and see every day on the streets of our little town. We can only imagine how much truth we don’t know, and how each year allows more details to slip just outside our mind’s reach.
Aaron J. Brown is an author and college instructor from northern Minnesota’s Iron Range. He writes the blog MinnesotaBrown.com and hosts the Great Northern Radio Show on Northern Community Radio. This post first appeared in the Sunday, Feb. 15, 2015 edition of the Hibbing Daily Tribune.