On This Date in 1938 …

(11 am. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

Many families have a story about that night.

My grandmother used to describe how my grandfather spent the night on the roof of their tenement building, drunk out of his mind, brandishing his old WWI  Navy service revolver.  From time to time my grandmother would hang her head out the apartment window and shout out updates.

“Al! Al! They’re coming! God’s sake, they’re by Passaic now!”

“Shut up and get your head back in the house, will you?”

“Oh God, Al! They’re coming up on the Palisades! They starting to wade over to New York!”

“Will you get back inside, god damn it!!!”

“Can you see ’em, Al?  God’s sake, can you see ’em???”

A long pause … his eyes would have been squinting, scanning the horizon hard, searching for Martian machines the way he had once scanned for German U-boats … his voice drifted down from up above on the roof  … his voice sounded very small, very sober, and very, very scared.

” … yeah … yeah, I see them … they’re coming ….”

He went to his grave insisting that he saw a line of vast Martian machines striding across to Manhattan. You understand: he saw them.

From the Writer’s Almanac:

   It was on this day in 1938 that a radio broadcast based on a science fiction novel caused mass hysteria across New England: Orson Welles’s adaptation of War of the Worlds. The first part of the broadcast imitated news bulletins and announced that Martians had invaded New Jersey. There was a disclaimer at the beginning of the program explaining that it was fictional, but many people tuned in late and missed the explanation. So they panicked; some people fled their homes and many were terrified.

   War of the Worlds (1898) was a novel by H.G. Wells set in 19th-century England. Orson Welles kept the same plot but updated it and set it in Grover’s Mill, New Jersey.


Skip to comment form

  1. thinking that it was going to say that Crusty was born on this day in history. As I did, I thought “He really is a crusty old dude.”

    Happy Not-Birthday, Crusty.

  2. New Jersey people would think the broadcast was a hoax.  But it wasn’t.  There actually was a martian invasion.  I’m sure it’s documented elsewhere on the tubes (I don’t have time to provide a link, I’m at work).

    This was not a hoax.  It was an unbelievably well executed false flag invasion by the Red Planet.

    You people are being taken in, you don’t know history, you cannot really believe this cover story.


  3. seems we always have even children love it. The Grimm brothers are hair raising in original form. cassiodoris is right people have a hard time separating entertainment from reality. Orson’s reality with just audio was actually more effective then the hyper real horror shows of modern technology as it allows the imagination to create the picture. Last night the TV was crawling with chainsaws,vampires and gore.

    The media has for me anyway has gone into over kill. One of my favorite panics was the 2000 ‘Oh my God the computers are going to get us’ idiocy. Boogie men aren’t what they used to be, pretty hard to get all tweaked about socialists or liberalism. Terrorists is a good one it’s so nebulous and can can be applied to anyone who resists us.  

    Invaders are always good for a scare. As a child in the Cold War I remember thinking why would the Russians, the actual people of Russia want to en mass come here and would they fit? Nationalism is what really scares me as it leads people to unleash the demons of destruction on other.              

Comments have been disabled.