Great Balls Of...Light 
Excerpted from "EVACUATION ROAD" 

In this excerpt from "Evacuation Road" Jerry tells of his encounters with what have come to be known as red BOLs (Balls of Light), back in his hometown of Oak Ridge, Tennessee; which along with Los Alamos, NM, and Hanford, Washington, was one of a trio of cities involved in the "Manhattan Project" - the top secret effort to build the first atomic bomb back in the 1940s. With their long and well-documented history of UFO surveillance, the "unholy" trinity certainly made for a unique place to grow up. 

The following excerpt begins with Jerry and Astrid, his Norwegian girlfriend, walking along minding their own business when the strangeness begins: 

Astrid and I observed several other oddities together in the restricted skies over the Atomic City during the late 1970s. One of these sightings took place as she walked me home one evening, after hitching a ride over to her place to show her dad a copy of the Hindu text, the Sama Vedas. In Vedantic literature, which predates the Bible by thousands of years, there are numerous mentions of vimanas - flying objects that supposedly visited earth and tooled around our solar system in antiquity. 

I wanted to prove to her dad that UFOs had been around for a long time and that other folks had espied them besides me. We'd debated the subject often with Lars holding firm to his belief that UFOs were either misidentifications of conventional objects, or the imaginings of uneducated minds. Lars had a maddening habit of thinking he was right all the time, an unappealing trait made even more so by his unflappable Nordic cool. He was employed out at the Oak Ridge National 
Laboratory (X-10), so he was bedeviled with a physicist's need for hard evidence. 

"You have no proof," he'd say to me with that smug little smirk on his face, "and until you do, I'm afraid your saucers will belong in the realm of science fiction." This annoyed me to the point that I often fantasized about stuffing a wedge of Yjetost, a cloying, sweet variety of Norwegian goat-cheese, down his patronizing throat. But I never did, content in the knowledge that I was doing the "big nasty" with his lovely daughter right underneath his self-satisfied nose, and the ol' fart was clueless... 

He did appear to be somewhat intrigued by the text. I don't know if it's true of most Scandinavians, but Lars viewed religion in much the same way Karl Marx did - as an "opiate of the masses." The Vedas, however, with their detailed descriptions of what twentieth-century Man would come to know of as spaceships, piqued his interest a bit. It didn't sway his opinion on the subject fundamentally, but at least he didn't dismiss it out of hand. 

I had triumphed, so to speak, and to the victors go the spoils, so I asked Astrid to drive me home figuring that we might make a little "detour" along the way. She suggested that we walk, however, ever the practical one. 

Astrid, a Scandinavian beauty with eyes the color of jade, had dual citizenship, spoke five languages, and I was seriously in lust. Just being with her warmed the "cockles" of my heart, which the balmy mid-October temperatures only magnified. I was certainly not thinking about UFOs as we made our way along Robertsville Road, Sama Vedas in hand, about a mile from my house. A third of the way home, I was basking in my true love's presence when suddenly, from behind a nearby ridge, a glowing sphere of luminous red light appeared seemingly headed in our direction. As I watched in wonder, the object approached us, then abruptly disappeared. 

"Did you see that?" I queried Astrid excitedly. 

"Yes," she replied, sounding decidedly unimpressed. 

"What do you think it was?" 

"Nothing," she replied, "it's just one of those things." 

"One of what things?" I demanded to know as we echoed a conversation Richard Dreyfuss and Terri Garr have in the movie "Close Encounters of the 3rd Kind." 

"Nothing for you to concern yourself with," she replied as she shot me one of those withering looks that said, "If you persist with this line of questioning then you will not get your reward." So I quickly dropped the subject and we continued on our way. 

About two-thirds of the way home, we took a little detour up to the Linden School playground for that extra-curricular activity I was hoping for. Reclining in a patch of grass near the swing sets, we had a window on the world and the privacy we were seeking. Wasting no time, we were well on our way to "effecting a merger" when the damned thing happened again. As before, a ball of luminous red light emerged from behind the exact same ridge seemingly headed in our direction. Then that object disappeared, just like the first. I don't know much about triangulation, but if you used the ridge as its apex, the points of the two sightings if diagrammed out would form an equilateral triangle. Of course, I didn't make a big deal out of it this time either. I'd learned my lesson... 

Brother James and I would have another sighting of the red balls-of-light only a few nights later. Out for a walk, we'd just crested the top of our hilly street when we observed one of the crimson-red curiosities passing lazily and silently over our "crib." Flying at no higher than tree-top level, the object didn't appear to be attached to anything else as it bobbed slowly up-and-down. Continuing on around the block, we watched as the light meandered across Montana Avenue and the next ridge over before disappearing out of sight. 

Excited, but hardly new to the UFO phenomenon by that time, Jamey and I kept walking until we reached a clearing that afforded us an unfettered view of the ridge that serves as the de facto demarcation line between the restricted and residential sectors of Oak Ridge - only about a quarter of a mile away. And no sooner had we arrived than we noticed a string of little red lights flying in a train-like formation over that same ridge. Following the topography precisely, the lights flew back and forth just feet above the treetops, reversing course at will and even dividing in half at one point. That was something to see. As I focused in on the lights through a pair of binoculars we'd brought along just in case, one of the little unknowns split in two, its two halves flying off in opposite directions. 

Eventually the activity died down as the BOLs flew off in a westerly direction, towards K-25, the Uranium Enrichment Facility. 

Show over, we figured as we started to head for home. At that very moment, however, we suddenly caught sight of a "luxury cruiser," a much larger and longer object approaching at a leisurely pace from the direction of K-25. Resplendent with a row of green lights running down its mid-section, and a bright red light on each end, the object reached a point directly opposite us, behind that defacto demarcation line, where it hovered motionlessly for a few minutes before descending ever-so-slowly out of sight... 

It sure was a "hot" night in the ol' Atomic City that night! 


(c) 1998 by Jerry Washington. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No portion of this publication may be reproduced without permission from the author. 

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