“Three strange beings … warbling”

The Fitz’s Stockton about a pioneer Stockton UFO brings this from reader Kevin Shawver:

“Did you know one of the earliest claims of attempted alien abduction was in an area between Lodi and Stockton? … The man who made the claim, H.G. Shaw, was the editor of the Stockton Evening Mail.”

He sends this remarkable archival stuff of the Mail story of Nov. 25, 1896.

Here’s Shaw describing the close encounter:

“They resembled humans in many respects, but still they were not like anything I had ever seen. They were nearly or quite seven feet high and very slender.  …  I asked where they were from. They seemed not to understand me, but began – well, “warbling” expresses it better than talking.

“… I noticed, further, that their hands were quite small and delicate, and that their fingers were without nails. Their feet, however, were nearly twice as long as those of an ordinary man, though they were narrow, and the toes were also long and slender. I noticed, too, that they were able to use their feet and toes much the same as a monkey; in fact, they appeared to have much better use of their feet than their hands.

“I presently discovered that this was probably a provision of nature. As one of then came close to me I reached out to touch him, and placing my hand under his elbow pressed gently upward, and lo and behold I lifted him from the ground with scarcely an effort. I should judge that the specific gravity of the creature was less than an ounce. It was then that I observed him try to grasp the earth with his toes to prevent my lifting him. You can readily understand that their slight weight made such a provision necessary, or they might be blown away.”

It goes on like that, wonderfully — unless you think newspaper editors, including retired ones, should not be fabulists. The best I can conjecture is that the Mail was trying to one-up the Stockton Daily Independent, which ran the stories about “the Stockton Airship” earlier in the year. Perhaps, in an era of three-newspaper towns, editors would do anything to win circulation wars. Or maybe such stories were done with a wink and a nod to the reader. Who knows?

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    Michael Fitzgerald

    Mike Fitzgerald is The Record’s award-winning metro columnist. His column runs in the paper three times a week. Born in San Francisco, he was raised in Stockton. His column covers diverse beats including, sometimes, the offbeat. Read Full
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