TIME Bizarre

How the Roswell UFO Theory Got Started

Roswell Cover
Cover Credit: MATT MAHURIN The June 23, 1997, cover of TIME

This was the first public news of the strange happenings of July 7, 1947

Odds are, if you’re familiar with the city of Roswell, N.M., you’re familiar with what happened there on this day, July 7, in 1947: a rancher named W.W. Brazel told Sheriff George Wilcox that he had found something strange on a sheep ranch northwest of the town. After finding bits of rubber, wood, foil, tape and paper in the field, the Sheriff called the local Army air field, which sent Major Jesse Marcel, an intelligence officer, to check it out. Marcel was convinced that Brazel stumbled upon nothing less than the remains of a flying saucer. He told his group commander, who told the press officer on duty, Walter Haut, who sent out a press release. The next day the Roswell Daily Record bore a headline—”RAAF CAPTURES FLYING SAUCER ON RANCH IN ROSWELL REGION”—that instantly turned the town into the nation’s UFO capital.

But there’s a big hitch in that oft-told tale. As TIME reported in an investigation on the 50th anniversary of the incident, the same day that the Daily Record ran the sensational story, it was determined that the litter was from a destroyed weather balloon. The paper printed a follow-up retraction the next day, and Brazel stated that he was embarrassed to have gotten so worked up over nothing.

That should have been that. But not everyone bought the official explanation, as TIME explained in 1997:

Enter Stanton Friedman, a former itinerant nuclear physicist now living in New Brunswick, Canada, who has long been, in his words, “a clear-cut, unambiguous UFOlogist.” In 1978, while waiting in a Baton Rouge, La., television station for an interview, Friedman was told that Jesse Marcel, long retired from the Air Force and living nearby, had once handled the wreckage of a UFO. After quizzing Marcel, who still believed the debris he retrieved was extraterrestrial, Friedman reviewed the old stories about Roswell, painstakingly sought out and interviewed other witnesses, and came to a dramatic conclusion: there had been a cover-up of “cosmic Watergate” proportions. His research and conclusions became the basis of the 1980 book The Roswell Incident, co-written by Charles Berlitz (author of The Bermuda Triangle) and UFO investigator William Moore. Its publication put Roswell back on the map.

The next decades saw the publication of several more Roswell books. Public awareness of the supposed cover-up grew to a point that the Air Force did its own investigation, eventually making public details of a top-secret balloon-tracking project that had been going on during that 1947 period and which they said explained the original wreckage.

Others clung to their belief that it was a flying saucer—including Walter Haut. Haut, who died in 2007 without ever giving up on the idea of the alien landing, was one of the founders of the city’s UFO Museum.

Read the 1997 cover story about Roswell, here in the TIME Vault: The Roswell Files

TIME Crime

Remembering When Charles Manson Terrified America

The '70s were a frightening time in many ways, but Manson's story still stands out from the crowd

There was no shortage of violence in America in the 1970s. But few criminals captivated attention like Charles Manson, as shown in this clip from the upcoming episode of CNN’s The Seventies, which airs on Thursday evening at 9:00 Eastern.

Manson’s hold on the popular imagination has endured long past the end of the 1970s. In 1994, for example, TIME noted that “America’s romance with real-life mass murder was going mainstream.” The proof? “Charles Manson has earned some $600 in royalties from a line of caps, surfer pants and T shirts adorned with his image and such studiously ironic slogans as support family values and charlie don’t surf,” the article continued. “Sales took off after Guns N’ Roses singer Axl Rose began wearing the T shirts in concert and covered a Manson song on a recent album.” And, just this summer, Lifetime greenlit a movie about Manson followers and NBC launched Aquarius, a Manson-adjacent thriller series.

Read more: Who Is Charles Manson?

TIME health

This Is What Happened to the First Person to Get the Rabies Vaccine

Joseph Meister
Apic/Getty Images Joseph Meister, who received inoculation of the rabies vaccine from Pasteur in july 1885

He received his inoculation directly from Louis Pasteur, on July 6, 1885

Rabies is among the most terrifying viruses to get. According to the Centers for Disease Control, “once clinical signs of rabies appear, the disease is nearly always fatal.” (Really: there have been fewer than 10 documented cases of survival once symptoms appear.) Luckily for us—and our pets—Louis Pasteur developed a vaccine that can stop things from getting to that point.

The first time the vaccine was ever administered to a human being–on this day in 1885–was by Pasteur himself. Knowing that the disease was otherwise fatal, both doctor and patient (or, rather, patient’s mother) were willing to risk whatever harm might come from the injection, which had only been tested on dogs.

As TIME recounted in 1939:

One hot July morning in 1885, feverish little Joseph Meister was dragged by his frantic mother through the streets of Paris in search of an unknown scientist who, according to rumors, could prevent rabies. For nine-year-old Joseph had been bitten in 14 places by a huge, mad dog and in a desperate attempt to cheat death, his mother had fled from their home town in Alsace to Paris. Early in the afternoon Mme Meister met a young physician in a hospital. “You mean Pasteur,” he said. “I’ll take you there.”

Bacteriologist Louis Pasteur, who kept kennels of mad dogs in a crowded little laboratory and was hounded by medical criticism, had never tried his rabies vaccine on a human being before. But moved by the tears of Mme Meister, he finally took the boy to the Hotel-Dieu, had him injected with material from the spinal cord of a rabbit that had died from rabies. For three weeks Pasteur watched anxiously at the boy’s bedside. To his overwhelming joy, the boy recovered.

By that fall, when his nation’s Academy of Sciences acknowledged the success, “hundreds of persons who had been bitten by mad dogs rushed to his laboratory.”

As for Meister? He ended up working as a janitor at the Pasteur Institute. There, TIME reported, Meister regaled visitors with tales of his time as the pioneering doctor’s patient: “I shall see always Pasteur’s good face focused on me,” he told them. He committed suicide in 1940, shortly after Germany invaded France—though, contrary to a prevalent myth, there is no evidence that he did so because he would rather die than allow the Nazis into the Institute.

TIME Holidays

Read a Hemingway-Era Account of the Running of the Bulls

Pamplona Encierro
FPG / Getty Images The Festival of San Fermin in Pamplona, known as 'the running of the bulls' or 'el encierro', circa 1930

"[In] in the second week of July, Pamplona becomes bull-mad"

The festival of San Fermin has been held in Pamplona, Spain, for centuries and the annual event is still the area’s claim to fame. Of the many components of the days-long event, which begins on Monday this year, the running of the bulls (which starts Tuesday) is the most famous part—and, thanks to Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises, the early 20th century is perhaps its most famous era.

The novel concerns—as TIME phrased it in the original 1926 book review—the”semi-humorous love tragedy of an insatiable young English War widow and an unmanned U. S. soldier” and takes place in “prizefights, bars, bedrooms, [and] bullrings in France and Spain.”

In 1932, TIME covered the running (or, rather, “driving”) of the bulls. Though the magazine didn’t employ Hemingway’s terse declarations or calculated repetition, it painted a picture of the world that inspired the author’s story:

For 51 weeks of the year the capital of Navarra is a sleepy little Spanish city where half-naked children play in the narrow streets and café waiters doze under the arcades of the broad, quiet Plaza de la Constitucíon. But in the second week of July, Pamplona becomes bull-mad, its streets and plaza are full of snuffing, rushing bulls. Hotels and rooming houses overflow with visitors from Madrid, Bilbao, San Sebastian, with tourists from St. Jean-de-Luz, Biarritz and Paris. Peasants from miles around sleep in wagons, in the fields, or do not sleep at all. For four days from 6 a. m. until long after midnight sleep is next to impossible while Pamplona celebrates the Fiesta of San Fermín, its patron saint. There are bullfights, street dancing, parades of huge grotesque figures, much drinking of strong Spanish wine. But by far the most exciting ceremony—one which takes place only at Pamplona—is the encierro (driving of the bulls).

Soon after dawn the first day of the fiesta this week, hundreds of youths gathered at the edge of town near the railroad station. Men climbed upon six big cages, reached down and opened them. Out walked six bulls, blinking in the sunlight. They were strong, lithe, handsome, each branded with the mark of Don Ernesto Blanco. They looked around, uncertain what to do, until from the crowd of youths came a yell: “Hah! Hah! . . . Toro!” The bulls lowered their heads, charged the crowd. The crowd took to its heels, the bulls stampeding in pursuit.

Read the full story, here in the TIME Vault: Pamplona’s Encierros

TIME movies

Read TIME’s Prescient Review of Back to the Future

Michael J Fox In 'Back To The Future'
Universal Pictures/Getty Images Michael J Fox walking across the street in a scene from the film 'Back To The Future', 1985.

The movie was released on July 3, 1985

Turning the big 3-0 is always a big deal, but for Back to the Future it’s particularly so. After all, 30 years is the time span that sets the whole movie in motion: Marty McFly travels three decades back in time from 1985 to 1955. Now, on July 3, 2015, he’ll have made it just that many years into the future. (Or, rather, the movie will have made it: the 2015 date to which Marty zooms in the movie’s sequel won’t roll around until October.)

Looking back at TIME’s original review of the movie classic (a two-fer that paired BttF with Goonies) it’s clear that the charm of the story was immediately clear—and that critic Richard Corliss had his finger on the pulse, or at least his foot on the gas of the film-criticism DeLorean. When looking at the plot structure, he ventured a guess at what might happen to the movie by 2015:

The choice of year is canny, for 1955 is close to the historical moment when television, rock ‘n’ roll and kids mounted their takeover of American culture. By now, the revolution is complete. So the child of 1985 must teach his parents (the children of 1955) how to be cool, successful and loved. When they learn it — when the Earth Angel meets Johnny Do-Gooder — the picture packs a wonderful wallop. But Back to the Future goes further: this white ’80s teenager must teach black ’50s musicians the finer points of rock ‘n’ roll. Out-rageous! After a thunderous heavy-metal riff, Marty stares at his dumbfounded audience and shrugs, ”I guess you guys aren’t ready for that yet. But your kids are gonna love it.” You bet, Marty. You and your whole movie. Now and for 30 years to come.

At this point, we don’t need a flux capacitor to guess that, another 30 years from now, that prediction will still hold true.

Read the full review, here in the TIME Vault: This Way to the Children’s Crusade

TIME Food & Drink

This Graphic Shows How Many Hot Dogs It Takes to Win the Nathan’s Eating Contest

Nathan's Hotdogs
George Heyer—Getty Images Crowds outside Nathan's Famous hot dog stand on Coney Island, New York City, circa 1955

They scarf down a lot more than they used to

According to Nathan’s Famous lore, the first Fourth of July hot-dog-eating contest took place the very year the hot dog stand on New York’s Coney Island opened in 1916. The story goes that it began when four immigrants were trying to determine who was the most patriotic by scarfing the dogs. But there’s no proof that there was an organized contest until the 1970s– as the press agent Mortimer Matz told the New York Times and Nathan’s then acknowledged. So our tally of how many hot dogs it took to win the contest begins in 1972, when Nathan’s started keeping records. That year’s winner, Jason Schechter, ate 14 wieners—a number that’s puny by today’s standards. Current record-holder Joey Chestnut won his title by noshing a whopping 69 in 2013.

For your awe-filled—or vomit-tinged—enjoyment, scroll down to see how many frankfurters have been consumed by the winners of every Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest between 1972 and 2014. As for why the thing is at Nathan’s at all, here’s how TIME explained the importance of Nathan Handwerker’s beachside joint in 1960:

The spiritual home of the U.S. hot dog —and the world’s largest hot dog stand—is Nathan‘s Famous on Brooklyn’s Coney Island. To Nathan‘s gaudy green and white stands each summer flock many of the millions of visitors to Coney, gobbling up more than 200,000 hot dogs (at 20¢ each) on a weekend. Summer or winter, Nathan‘s never closes. Its customers have braved blizzards just to reach a Nathan‘s hot dog: it is a regular last stop for many early-morning survivors of Manhattan’s cafe society.

TIME Civil Rights

The Meaning Behind the Civil Rights Act’s Signing Date

Johnson Signs Civil Rights Act
PhotoQuest / Getty Images President Lyndon B Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act in a ceremony at the White House, Washington DC, July 2, 1964 .

President Johnson signed the bill into law on July 2, 1964

For President Johnson to sign the Civil Rights Act into law on July 2, 1964, was a no-brainer: the date was a Thursday, just as it is this year, and the symbolism of marking the hard-fought victory just before Independence Day would be a shame to waste.

But, as TIME noted in its original 1964 coverage of the landmark legislation, the Fourth of July wasn’t the only significant date in play. The date on which the Senate passed the bill was June 19, 1964—precisely one year after “President John Kennedy sent to Congress a civil rights bill, [and] urged its speedy passage ‘not merely for reasons of economic efficiency, world diplomacy or domestic tranquility, but above all because it is right.'” Though Kennedy had been assassinated the previous fall, the law he had advocated for had actually grown in strength and scope.

After the House also passed the bill and it went on to the President, the season of its signing—and not just the calendar date—would also prove significant.

The bill included many obviously important provisions affecting matters of great weight, like voting rights and equal employment. But, as TIME pointed out, it would take months to see the voting rules take effect, and the labor matters included a period during which businesses could adjust. On the other hand, one of the parts of the law—a part that may seem today to be far less important—was, as TIME put it, “effective immediately, and likely to cause the fastest fireworks.”

The law entitled all persons to equal use of public accommodations, from hotels and movie theaters to soda fountains and public swimming pools. In the run up to the final vote, St. Augustine, Fla., proved why pools—long a contentious point, for the necessary closeness that comes with sharing the water with other people—would be a hot topic:

There, five Negroes and two white fellow demonstrators dived into the swimming pool at the segregated Monson Motor Lodge. The motel manager, furious, grabbed two jugs of muriatic acid, a cleansing agent, tried unsuccessfully to splash the stuff on the swimmers. Cops moved in, one of them stripped off his shoes and socks, leaped gracelessly into the water and pummeled the swimmers with his fists. When the fracas was over, 34 people, including the swimmers and other civil righters who kept dry, were hauled off to jail.

Due to the time of year, the new law’s effects would be immediately visible at swimming pools around the country.

TIME gender

See 9 Striking Historical Photos of African American Women

From the collection of the National Museum of African American History and Culture

The history of what it has meant to be black and female in the United States is not easily summed up—a point that the upcoming Smithsonian photo book African American Women makes plain. As Kinshasha Holman Conwill, deputy director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, points out in an introductory essay, the images in the book “[illuminate] a narrative that reflects large and small moments in U.S. history and culture.”

Famous faces like Lena Horne are presented alongside those whose personal stories are far less well known. Leona Dean, for example, lived a relatively prosperous life in the Midwest in the early 20th century—a place and time that has been largely eclipsed in the national memory. “We made a point of choosing images of people who aren’t famous,” says Michèle Gates Moresi, the museum’s supervisory curator of collections. “They aren’t known as leaders, but they were to their communities.”

The book is part of the Double Exposure series from the National Museum of African American History and Culture; the first installment in the series was released earlier this year and both African American Women and Civil Rights and the Promise of Equality will be released on July 7.

TIME movies

This Is Why ‘PG-13′ Is a Thing

Harrison Ford In 'Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom'
Paramount Pictures / Getty Images Harrison Ford in a scene from the film 'Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom', 1984

The movie rating was introduced on July 1, 1984

Movie-going teenagers of the United States, say “thank you” to Indiana Jones.

Before 1984, the line between movies for kids and movies for grown-ups was an all-or-nothing proposition. Everyone under the age of 16 was lumped together, kept from rated-R showings unless accompanied by a parent or guardian. And then came Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. The bloody blockbuster released that May was rated PG, much to the consternation of many parents. When Gremlins followed in June, it became clear that a movie might be neither adults-only nor kid-friendly–and the rating system needed a solution.

As TIME’s Richard Zoglin reported that June, the Hollywood establishment heard the complaints:

Last week the Motion Picture Association of America (M.P.A.A.) seemed close to making perhaps the most sweeping change in the rating system since it was established 16 years ago. Ready for unveiling is a new rating, known as PG13, that would prohibit children under 13 from being admitted unless accompanied by a parent or adult guardian. The rating would presumably be used in the future for movies like Indiana Jones that are deemed acceptable for teen-agers but potentially harmful to younger children.

The PG13 proposal has been endorsed by a number of studio chiefs and theater owners and by the chairman of the M.P.A.A. rating board. Even Spielberg, confessing in a TV interview that there were parts of Indiana Jones that he would not want a ten-year-old to see, advocated the creation of the new rating. The proposed change, however, has been opposed by M.P.A.A. President Jack Valenti. He argues that the current system is working well enough and that adding more classifications would cause more confusion. “Who is smart enough to say what is permissible for a 13-year-old and not for a twelve-year-old?”

It was on this day, July 1, in 1984, that Valenti announced that PG-13 was a go. The first PG-13 movie, Red Dawn, arrived in theaters that August.

Read the full story, here in the TIME Vault: Gremlins in the Ratings System

TIME Civil Rights

See the Civil Rights Movement in Photographs

A new Smithsonian book tells the story through pictures

As the National Museum of African American History and Culture prepares to open, its staff is preparing a vast collection of artifacts and documents for display—but, though the museum won’t officially open until next year, a new series of books offers a sneak peek at its photography collection. The second book in the Double Exposure series, Civil Rights and the Promise of Equality, will be available July 7. (The first came out earlier this year.)

Some of the images of the civil rights movement—the fire hoses, the marches—are likely to be familiar to readers. But as other photos in the collection make clear, those weren’t the whole story. The movement was also captured in photographs of a new voter’s happiness and a new father’s insistence on a better future for his child.

“Civil rights, certainly, is something where people expect a story to be told but we want people to look at it in a different way—not just the photos of Martin Luther King,” says Michèle Gates Moresi, the museum’s supervisory curator of collections. “Those are in there, of course, but I think when people actually look at the book they can be introduced to new stories.”

Your browser is out of date. Please update your browser at http://update.microsoft.com