Omaha, 1970. Most, if not all of our friends had curfews, so on the weekends Jamie and I often ended up driving around Omaha and the surrounding area very late at night. I had to have Pat (now my wife) whom I was going steady with home by 11:00, so after I took her home Jamie would often pick me up and off we went.
On this particular night it was two in the morning and time to get home. The headlights of Jamie’s VW bug cut into the darkness of the country road as we drove. For those familiar with Omaha it was 118th and Maple – which was out in the country at that time.
I gazed up at the clear night sky - a thousand shining stars stared back. Suddenly, a meteor appeared in the sky and flashed across the road in front of us. Instinctively, we ducked our heads as it went by. Slowing down, we looked to our left to see if we could see where it had landed. Our eyes widened as we saw a soft glow in the middle of a golf course about a half mile away.
“There it is!”
“What should we do?”
“Shouldn’t we call somebody?”
“Like who, the police?”
“No, we should call NASA or something”
“Let’s just drive closer and check it out first”
We pulled into the parking lot of the country club and you could see the glow of the meteor just 100 yards away behind a hill. The place was closed but we could see a janitor inside. We pounded on the door frantically. The janitor came over and asked us what we wanted. Through the glass, in a rather animated and excited way we told him about the meteor on the golf course and that we had to get inside and call someone.
He did not share our concern and just pointed to a phone booth in the parking lot. We ran to the booth and I opened the yellow pages. How could there not be a listing for NASA? OK, think Steve, who do I call? The FBI! Yes, they would know what to do. The phone rang and there was a recording saying that they were closed, but that you could leave a message. The FBI closed? What kind of country is this? I would have to leave a message. I didn’t have time to think, I just blurted out, “This is Steve Bendy and a meteor has landed just south of 120th and Blondo. It almost hit us! We are going to explore it. My phone number is 334-2927.”
We ran to the hill that separated us from the fallen meteor, keeping well behind the hill so our heads would not be melted by the heat or radiation. We were no dummies. As we neared the base of the hill we slowed down. We had to look at it eventually. What if there was radiation? Would it kill us? What would it look like? We had better go slow. We crawled up the hill and slowly peeked over the top. Our eyes focused on the glow. Even in our wildest imagination we could never have believed what we saw.
A Pepsi machine glowing softly in the middle of the field by a bench.
Neither of us said a thing as we walked back to the car. In fact, we didn’t say a thing as we drove home and neither of us mentioned the incident to anyone for a long, long time. Oh - and the FBI never returned my call.