The Hopkinsville Devils
A Close Encounter Tale from the Fabulous Fifties
The Fifties were a time when, quite possibly, we were more under invasion by strange little men (and tall blonde ones, too) than at any other period of our damnable history.
They came in many, many shapes and sizes. Primarily, though, they had big heads, big eyes, long fingers—and little bodies wrapped in silver suits. (That is, when they weren't tall, blonde ski instructors from Venus; or some other adaptation.)
They frightened by the very fact that they weren't human. But, rarely, did they attack like something from the Late, Late Show. (Note: Back before the days of You Tube and Netflix, we watched shows in the wee hours of the morning, on little black-and-white boxes with rabbit-ear antenna and fuzzy cathode ray tubes that glowed blue. The sound was mono. Fabulous "Horror Hosts" horror hosted horror shows on horrible nights when the soothing balm of sleep escaped us. Also, it was an excuse to eat sugar and carbs.)
Anyway, the "Purple People Eaters" flew their bright, disc-like (sometimes cigar-like. Sometimes even weirder.) craft over corn fields and up river bends, through woodland and grassland, across hill and dale in the American Night. Flew they did. (And, some claim, still do.)
Our "Hopkinsville Devils" (known officially in UFO literature—and those paperbacks from decades back that all had fuzzy photo sections of silver frisbees and intergalactic lampshades—as the "Kelly-Hopkinsville CE3"), happened in Kentucky, a place I visited twice twenty-five or more years ago, and which I only remember as being very hot, and very hilly. Otherwise, it was just Indiana with moonshine and a heavier drawl.
Basic story: FIVE adults go pouring into the local sheriff 's station, making some extraordinary claims. One of which was that they had had an all-night gun battle with some silvery-skinned, big-eared, bug-eyed, long-armed little "green men" that came out of a landed UFO.
And, goldurn, weren't the little mothers as ugly as sin!
It was, as they described it, like something from the Creature Features.
(I should preface this, though and explain WHY this is the "Hopkinsville" Devils. The Suttons, the entertainers of Mister Billy Ray Taylor, a distant relation from Pennsylvania, lived near a small town called "Hopkinsville." This was even nearer a town called "Kelly," in Christian County. There. Cleared up that mystery for you. Now, if we're all on the same page here...)
Billy Ray, on that night of August 21st of 1955, decided, after a night of ribaldry, that he was thirsty. Going out to the well for a drink of water (I guess taps hadn't been invented by this point), he was astounded to look up and see, shazam! A giant hovering something-or-other that looked like it would make Buck Rogers rabbit-hump Wilma Deering in a fury of intense, technologically-induced space machismo, floating in the sky. Nearby.
At any rate, the intergalactic vessel descended to a gully. Billy Ray ran into the house (one supposes, with a dash of humor, he may have been clutching his "Achy-Breaky Heart") and tells the others an interstellar invasion has commenced. Grabbing their shotguns and commencing to investigate, the obviously stone-sober posse proceeded out the door, into the yard, where the men were astounded to encounter THIS:
Long arms. Bug eyes (naturally). A slit for a mouth. Claw-like fingers. HUGE elephant ears. Green skin. (How could it be otherwise?) I suppose the feet may have been stumps, but may have been claws. Nobody mentioned the damn feet, I think.
The thing advanced. The dog howled. The men shot. The thing did a back-flip, its arms held out above it, and then ran like the devil it so obviously was. The men raced inside.
At the window, the hideous visage of the DEMON appeared again. Boom! One blast of a shotgun sent the little thing reeling, racing away. The men poured outside onto the porch. One of them, coming down the steps, felt a long skinny arm and grasping talon-like claw come reaching down for his head, his hair. (See? We told you it was just like an old horror movie.)
Back inside, the comic-grotesque extraterrestrials played a "now you see us, now you don't" game with the Sutton clan into the wee hours of the morning, holding the family under veritable siege, getting shotgun blasts in their little B-Movie faces; but, seemingly, none the worse for it..
(Did I mention the one on the roof was said to have "floated" down in defiance of the laws of gravity, before running away? Small detail, but a good one.)
Boom! Boom! Boom! went the rifles. Miracle nobody (human) was killed.
Finally, the Suttons and their guest made the mad dash for the pickup, and flew to the sheriff's office, where Sheriff Russel Greenwell listened with some, you know, perhaps understandable skepticism; but, realizing the abject terror of the witnesses wasn't feigned, headed out to the Sutton property to take a look around, anyway. What he saw shocked him.
Blasted-out windows and bullet holes in the walls. No aliens did he find though, ugly or otherwise.
When the long arm of John Law finally retracted at around two, two fifteen that morning, the Suttons and Billy Ray must have assumed the "Midgets from Mars" had gotten back in their sweet ride and were heading to far more congenial climes on the other side of, perhaps, Beta Centauri. But, just a minute Doodles Weaver! That particular supposition would find you sadly mistaken.
The Hideous Hopkinsville Horrors REAPPEARED, as if they were, hold on! just LURKING in the shadows, waiting for the vigilant small town, bad movie Sheriff to skedaddle, so's they could resume being the creepy little bastards they were born, apparently, to be.
More gunfire. Screams. How could any of the windows, at this point, have any glass left in them?
Sunup, the Invaders disappeared. Never to be seen again. The Suttons were quite rigorously questioned, separately, by Air Force personnel, and each drew their sketches of the "Space Men" accordingly. And no one veered very much from the group's mind blowing narrative.
J. Allen Hynek—professor, astronomer, investigator Ufological legend, and walk-on bit actor in Spielberg's quintessential UFO masterpiece Close Encounters of the Third Kind—was the chief investigator for Project Blue Book , the official United States Air Force investigation and subsequent cover-up of the UFO phenomenon, that lead everywhere and went nowhere. He pronounced the case, "genuine."
We are lead to wonder if the Cosmic Intelligence, the Chief Trickster, the Intergalactic Joker or Supreme God "All That Is" just spits this stuff out, occasionally, for a gag. All an illusion, you dig? Mass hallucination. Space Ghosts.
Me? I dreamed this article before I wrote it.
Thank you. And good night.