In 1989 or thereabouts, the Scouts went camping at Hawn State Park, approximately fifty miles south of St. Louis. We went there to hike the beautiful trail that is kept up by the government and is free to use by anyone.
As Scouts, we were able to use the group camping area at the end of the road, to the left. The Scout Master at the time was Dudly Stark; Mike Plyman, Loraine and Frank Huighe and I were the other adults along.
We had made our long uneventful hike on Saturday and that evening we built a campfire and cooked our supper. We were all sitting around, telling stories and musing at the fire. Dudley and Mr. and Mrs. Huighe went to bed first and had been in there tents for about 30 minutes. The sky was clear, the weather was cool, and we were all having a good time and fellowship around the fire.
As we all stared into the fire, a light of extreme brilliance came over the horizon, blinding each one of us. As the light passed from approximately south to north, the light it emitted was so bright you could see the shadows of the individuals standing next to the fire move from left to right.
Dudley, who had gone to bed about fifteen minutes earlier, yelled “Stop shining that light in my tent!” We all stood in amazement while it passed over the next hill and appeared to have fallen to earth.
Everyone was silent for a few seconds, frightened and surprised, then we heard the faint sound of a jet engine coming from the direction the light had come from. The roar became louder and louder and got so intense it rumbled the insides of each one of us, then dissipated slowly back to the dead quiet of the country.
The questions started flying from all the boys: “What was that? What are we going to do? Can we go see where the light landed? Was that a rocket?
All of these questions were on the minds of everyone.
Mike has always been a great guy to camp with. His wit, knowledge of the things around him, and his “get it done” attitude have always made it pleasurable to be with. Saying all this about Mike, he did make it a bit more exciting by throwing in that, “Oh, that was probably a bomb heading for St. Louis.”
Now at this time the Cold War was going strong and the Scouts knew that something like a bombing could happen. No matter what I said to try to deny the possibilities of the bombing of St. Louis, the Scouts got more worried, while Mike just stood there, smiled and chuckled.
I told the Scouts that if St. Louis would have been bombed the radio station KMOX would not be on the air. We walked to my van and turned on the radio and heard the Blues hockey game being broadcast. The Scouts seemed more relaxed right away, and went back to the fire and Mike to razz him for pulling one over on them.
I was still interested in what that was so I got into the van and drove toward the park entrance. While traveling the winding road out I had a feeling in my stomach about what that could have been.
As I passed the ranger’s house I noticed that he was standing outside looking up at the sky. I asked him if he saw that light, he responded by saying that he didn’t but was operating a CB (Citizens Band) radio and a shortwave radio when he started getting reports from truckers and travelers on the road of the anomaly.
As I sat in my van at the entrance of the state park I listened to different radio stations and heard from people from many states call in talking about the light and the sound. It wasn’t until that Sunday afternoon when I returned home from the camping trip did I hear that there was a meteorite about the size of a station wagon that had entered the atmosphere that night and it had landed someplace in the northern United States.
There have been many exciting things that have happened in my life while camping or being outdoors; I wish I could go out into the woods more often.
I intend to do more outdoors things in the future. We all may be just too busy but that’s the only way to get a good camping background.
By Bob Brennecke
(Bob Brennecke lives in Ballwin, Mo., and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)