It’s hard to write coherently about something that happened long before you were born, when the source is questionable because that source may be pulling your appendage. Still, as apocryphal as this supposedly true story is, it’s entertaining enough to write about even if it never happened except in somebody’s head.
Late 1940s. We have won the war and everybody knows the next one will be with the Russians. And they have the bomb. And everybody’s scared shitless about nuclear destruction. Why wouldn’t they be? The world had never seen anything like the bomb, and no one had any faith that we would get through these years without the end of the world.
So people were scared. When they couldn’t deal with fear of the bomb, they decided to be afraid of something else that was easier to grasp, like “communists.” Or “aliens.” It was in the late 1940s that the idea of extraterrestrial life became a part of pop culture. The idea of hostile invading aliens became a common theme in movies. Everybody was told to “watch the skies.”
But fear this intense, even of something like “aliens” is paralyzing and has to be dealt with somehow. The healthiest way was to get a sense of humor like two college boys did. Their practical joke embarrassed so many people they were dealt with very harshly, which is too bad. No one was hurt, just humiliated. And the idea of aliens was so popular even AP and UPI bought it uncritically.
This is what happened. Two college boys somehow got hold of a little monkey and shaved it. Then they painted its face to look like a man. Then they made a little space suit for it. Finally they attached wires to it so they could maneuver him like a marionette and make him appear to “levitate.” The boys got up in the leaves of a tree on Highway 78 east of Atlanta and made the monkey levitate until somebody noticed it.
Pretty soon the locals were out gawking at the visitor from another planet, parking their cars all over the place and causing traffic jams. The police cordoned off the area while they figured out what to do while everyone watched the alien levitate down from the branches of the tree and back up and back down.
UPI doesn’t exist anymore but they did then. They and AP were reporting that an “alien” had landed outside Atlanta. Everybody was in an uproar. When the monkey squeaked or squawked everybody thought it was trying to communicate in an advanced language beyond our comprehension. But they tried. They had people trying to speak to it in every language they could.
Finally some guy from the Yerkes Primate Center at Emory went out to see what the fuss was about.
He took one look at the alien and said: Oh, hell, this is a Goddamn monkey.
IDK how they covered up a news story that hot that fast but I guess things were different back then. Everything was hushed up. The students were punished to the fullest. And all this never happened.
The truth is out there.