By Lonnie Huhman,
It was over 50 years ago when the Dexter community took its place in UFO lore.
That story and many others will be part of a special event at the Dexter District Library at 7 p.m. on July 22. As part of its Adult Summer Reading Program: “A Universe of Stories,” the DDL is welcoming in Aaron Gulyas, the host of The Saucer Life, a weekly podcast covering UFO history.
In looking at Dexter’s place in UFO history, Gulyas said, “Without giving away too many spoilers for the talk, in March, 1966 dozens–if not hundreds of witnesses–saw mysterious objects flying in the sky and occasionally hovering over the ground.”
“Many of these witnesses were law enforcement officers and the reports were very credible,” Gulyas said. “When the Air Force’s Project Blue Book investigated, their chief scientific adviser, J. Allen Hynek, provided an explanation that was, to most people, laughably unsatisfactory. The aftermath of all this would be a real turning point in the UFO movement in the United States and its epicenter was right here in Michigan.”
Gulyas is an Associate Professor of History at Mott Community College as well as a writer and historian, whose books have ranged from historical studies of conspiracy culture to guides for using film in the history classroom. His weekly podcast is at saucerlife.com.
The DDL said the presentation explores the history of American hopes and fears about alien visitation and the ways that these things reflect the ways in which American culture and society have changed over the last 70 years. It will include the Dexter and Hillsdale UFO events of 1966 and some contemporary audio clips of news reports of the sightings.
Gulyas said the presentation will be, “a fun, fast-paced tour of the history of the UFO phenomenon in the United States from the late 1940s onward.”
“Because I’m a historian by training and teaching history is my full time job, we’ll also be talking about how American UFO beliefs can help us gain a fuller understanding of American culture and society during the Cold War,” he said. “And because I’m in Dexter, of course I’m going to be talking about the Dexter UFO events of 1966.”
So why is he interested in UFOs?
“Appropriately for someone who’s giving a talk at a library, it all started with finding books on the subject as a kid,” Gulyas said. “My time in college coincided with the expansion of the internet, so I had access to all sorts of weird paranormal stories–in particular, I was fascinated by the early years of flying saucer belief and variety of colorful characters in the field.”
In graduate school, he said he realized that historians had not paid enough attention to the topic of UFO belief as a social phenomenon, so he was able to combine his interest in the subject with his profession.
Does he think the existence of UFOs will ever be outright confirmed?
“I think there’s no question that there are things in the sky that we can’t identify,” he answered. “Now, the real question is what these things actually are. Extraterrestrial space craft, while the most popular answer, may only be the tip of the iceberg. I think we’ll eventually find answers, and I suspect they may be even weirder than some people expect.”
Gulyas said he hopes those interested will come out to the library for the event and if they’re interested in the history of the UFO phenomenon, his podcast is also available on iTunes and everywhere else.
For more information go to dexter.lib.mi.us or one can register at the library’s adult service desk or call 734-426-4477.
The DDL is at 3255 Alpine Street.