Alternate Perceptions Magazine, February 2021
Drive-in Theater UFO encounter at Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio
by: Scott Santa [with Alfred Lehmberg]
[Editor’s Note: I visited the home several times of a pretty extraordinary researcher-experiencer named Madeline Teagle who lived in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. Back during the summer of 1975, when I was traveling around from Maine to Florida interviewing UFO researchers and experiencers, I periodically would visit her home. Madeline on Saturday’s would open her home to gatherings for meditation and skywatching. Often on Saturday nights there would be a large bonfire near the woods behind her home and people gathered outside watching for UFOs. That area seemed like a hotbed of activity. Madeline’s home was only about a mile from the drive-in of Santa’s encounter described below. Today Santa, now retired military [20 years U.S. Coast Guard as a radioman/crypto and also retired from the U.S. Post Office, has returned to Cuyahoga Falls, but was unaware of Madeline Teagle and her past activities, until I mentioned her to him. He is however already acquainted with other currently active ufologists in his area, including Phyllis Budinger, the editor of the MUFON Ohio newsletter (www.mufonohio.com), who featured his story in the December 2020 edition and gave me permission to reprint Santa’s fascinating story from that issue and kindly put me in touch with him.
Here is a link to a brief article I wrote for our October 2020 issue sharing some details about meeting Madeline and a few of the interesting locals she introduced me to: http://www.apmagazine.info/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1548&Itemid=53
• Brent Raynes, editor]
And now here’s Santa’s story:
The exact date is not recalled, but on one day in August 1974, a pseudonym friend “Mike” and I had nothing going on. Bored, we idly elected to go to the drive-in movies. I must add here that I only seem to recall, at this point, that I was with someone at all… I likely was, I think I was, ...but I am just not sure. I could have been alone. This speaks directly only to the high strangeness of the evening’s whole affair.
It was a beautiful summer evening; that much is clearly remembered! There was not a cloud in the sky—stars were everywhere and so thick they looked like they could even be reached up to and touched—real Starry Night stuff! We paid for our tickets, drove in, and parked… in the back, of course! We’re 19 in 1974 and always hoping to find that mythic car full of like-minded ladies! It was not quite a full house that night, but it was adequately packed. There was a gang of noisy kids playing at that obligatory playground always just under and in front of the screen… everyone was settled in and ready to watch a couple of the now unremembered movies... This was a “normal” night as normal and mundane as ever there was one observed as normalized, ok? Too, there was no foreboding tenseness… no unsettling portends or eerie foreshadowing… neck hair was decidedly down. We got some food and drinks and settled in to watch the cartoons. We'd sit quietly munching for a few minutes, watching the silliness and waiting for the movie... then, annoyed, I would become distracted by this bizarre movement peripheral to the screen, a movement where movement just should not be!
…I could just begin to make out this creeping sharp-edged “something” approaching the movie screen from behind and above… then, just like that! …A HUGE, and I do mean MONSTROUS... a gargantuan “object” (!!!) was suddenly resolved in my perception... a boomerang-like chevron ...thing... loomed into view! It towered over the top and above the screen! It dwarfed the parking area! It's like it was all the eye could see as far as the eye could see!
I shouted to Mike, asking if he could see it, too, and yes, "…what the hell is that!" was his reply. ...That reply was to be near our last on the subject... ...ever! Flag down, reader (you'll see!)! ...Then the object moved! Its speed of advance was an awesome languidness; my best guess is that it is no more than 10-15 mph! Too, it seemed to float, rather dirigible-like, than fly. It had no lights; there was no illumination of any kind! Indeed, it could only be seen at all because the object was so coalsack black and unreflective that it blotted out the brilliant starfield in the sky behind it! It was, and utterly… silent.
“Mike” and I got boiled out of our car at some point! Then, we'd just stand and stare at this fulsome and inexplicable impossibility!
Again, the size of this "craft" (for want of a better term?) was nothing short of enormous! From wingtip to wingtip it overlapped the drive-in enclosure, in fact... it dwarfed it! It "dwarfed" it by the proverbial 3-4 football fields! Ominously, then, it proceeded in a straight line to waft right over the top of the first row of cars and heading right towards me! By this time I could observe that almost everyone was out of their vehicles like ourselves, pointing to the sky, and looking around—quite possibly to make sure everyone else was seeing the same thing! There were plenty of witnesses! ...Everyone in the bleeding park saw this thing! As the object continued on—not quite immediately over my head, yet, but on its way—ALL of the lights in the drive-in, and abruptly as if thrown on a single switch, went out! The movie stopped; the concession stand went black! Running cars died... I noticed that several people were trying to start their cars and leave! Their cars were dead, too.
As difficult as this is to explain—I was aware of all of this occurring around me! Though my recollection is that I never really took my eyes off of the object, overhead, ever! I add that there wasn't any panic expressed around me! I didn't feel any myself! "Mike" seemed OK given circumstances...
I could tell some of the folks were completely terrified, yet all were zombified into rigidity, if the reader will, into some strange and unusual immobility! Mesmerized? Glamoured? Enchanted?
Mike and I weren't speaking by this time. I do not recollect us ever speaking again. At this juncture, I felt as if I might be by myself (though I wasn't, I seem to recall)... so my over-riding recollection is that my senses and extreme focus of concentration were employed staring at this wafting yet monstrous "thing" as it continued on its way! By the time it arrived right over the top of us, strangeness starting to ramp up unsettlingly! I could feel that something wasn't quite right with my perceptions! The air started to feel thick and gooey! I could even see and feel that the air around us was shimmering thickly as if it were… well, similar to what one sees on top of egg-cooking asphalt or cement on a hot summer day at noon… but minus the heat, at night—just the blurringly wavy distortions of it. It was like the air had an unnatural weight and density to it, too! The air "felt" like honey or molasses! We both perceived that it was somewhat difficult to move in it!
I remember my ears popping, even, though it was completely silent around us, otherwise. Quiet like a tomb! I could hear Mike, I think, if he’d spoken, but we could not hear anything else. It was not deafness; it was just that quiet. The other people around were not talking or yelling... nothing! Astonished immobility like headlight frozen deer? No clue!
I add that the shimmering air had the effect of making one feel as if they were walking underwater! One can read where this is now understood as the "OZ" effect. As an aside, I felt that were I to have reached down and picked up a larger piece of the gravel, I could have thrown it up and hit this thing slowly hovering over us. That's how close it appeared to be! I was struck again by the complete and utter silence around me…
Oddly, everyone seemed to be in a funk and just standing around looking at this foreboding and psychotic thing. As to that, it never veered or changed direction and hovered over top of the park for what seemed like 10 minutes. Though, I cannot be sure of this length of time. Time got "funny." Time may have even gotten lost! I say lost in that current sense...
The object was traveling from the west and proceeding languidly on its easterly track. Finally, when it cleared a vacant property and was over a vast field of undeveloped acreage behind the drive-in, the "OZ" effect ceased and just disappeared! ...Another switch thrown!
I felt as if a weight had been lifted off of me, the air abruptly thinned out to lose its shimmer, and "normal time" returned! I think we all felt that! …Startlingly, ALL of the lights flicked back on! Everyone must have jumped. I know I did! The cartoon started and the snack stand lit back up… just like that! It was like that aforementioned lightswitch had been re-flipped!
I continued to watch this object until it disappeared from my view in the distance to our east. It never changed course and "flew" or floated in a straight line. It was the most incredible thing this person has ever seen... ...Then stuff got really weird...
Once I lost sight of it I got back in my car, almost robotic-like, and then just completely forgot all about the whole strange affair! ...Just... forgot! What I had just witnessed was just dropped from my mind... dropped like what color socks I had on that day in 1962!
“Mike” and I did not speak to each other about it… ever! We just carried on with watching the movie as if nothing had happened. Apparently, so did everyone else in the park. At least, this is my recollection. No one, I mean nobody, was running around asking questions or doing anything but watching the movie and acting normally. I recall having to go to the bathroom sometime afterward and as usual, there was a bit of a line to get in... only, no one talked about it! No one said a word about what just happened! That should be a flag thrown with a reflecting person!
Moreover, when the movie was over, I don't remember leaving or what happened afterward. All that is a complete and utter blank!
...But obviously, I dropped Mike off and went home completely forgetting what had just happened. I mean, I put it out of my mind altogether! Another flag down! I have no idea what time I got home that night or even what time we left each other, another complete blank! I never told my brother or my parents what had occurred! There were no news stories later on! In fact, I had a bit of a black hole in my memory from that point on, and until some years later!
I was in a bookstore and happened upon a paperback edition of Edward Ruppelt’s The Report On Unidentified Flying Objects, and BANG! The experience flooded back in upon me as if a software gate had been installed and abruptly opened! Recalled Memory download! It was bizarre!
Well, truly, and strangely compelled, I had to sit down and absorb this book! I was almost overwhelmed by it and the memories it provoked! I had lost contact with "Mike" by this time, years later, so was unable to verify the experience with him... but in my mind’s eye? It was as clear as any day can be as long...
...And not to put the reader off? I confess I have my suspicions, now, about the aforementioned "missing (weirded) time," alluded to and described above, too. After years of reflection, it seems obvious that something other than just a Close Encounter sighting may have happened... only, I have never explored that aspect. That seems a beast best not poked...
Still, I highly suspect that "something else" may have happened, to me personally, and maybe to everyone else in the park, as well! I do not know, I cannot recall anything like that, but there is that gut instinct nagging at me continuously that there was something, some further interaction, something else I was supposed to do or remember... something…
This is an inexplicable and unrequited itch that has never gone away after that chance encounter with Edward Ruppelt's book. ...But why did I forget it until then? All those thrown flags above come due for the reasonable person...
I was, without question, confronted with "something" that was distinctly impossible! I add that it happened as I have described it, despite the fantastic scenario that is manifested in a reader’s imagination. ...I've never had the luxury of disbelief, myself.
It has been suggested to me that I put an ad in the local paper to see if there was anyone else who happened to have recalled the affair. After mulling that option over I decided it would not be such a great idea. I can only imagine the responses I would get. But I'm okay with that at this point. Like I stated previously I don’t have the luxury of disbelief, nor do I need validation from anyone. It’s like the sentiment expressed best in the James Fox documentary, I Know What I Saw. Reader… I know what I saw.
I just don't know what it did to me... if anything, except to provoke an undying interest in the subject. It is a most confusing event for which I wish there was some explanation, but that’s where it must be left. There’s throwing everything away chasing an ephemeral unknown, reader… or there is trying to live a normal life. Remains? I know what I saw.