It was the end of May when I last posted here. A lot of things have happened at this end since then. Quite a lot has been good; some of it not so good. That’s all in the past, or still present but under control now, as regards this and my other Blogs are concerned.
There will be a wide range of historic stories and events but, just as a little starter of what will appear in the days/weeks/months and hopefully years ahead – it was on this day – 30th November 1954 – that Ann Hodges of Sylacauga, Alabama USA became the only confirmed person in history to have been hit by a meteorite. Ann was snoozing on her couch, covered by quilts, when a softball-size hunk of black rock broke through the ceiling, bounced off a radio, and hit her in the thigh, leaving a pineapple-shaped bruise. Now called the ‘Hodges Meteorite’ it remains the only recorded incident of someone being hit by ‘a visitor such as this from outer space’. A government geologist working in a nearby quarry was called to the scene and confirmed that the object was a meteorite, but not everyone in town was so sure. It was a time of the Cold War and many thought it was the first of a Soviet attack.
So many people flocked to Hodges’s house that when her husband, Eugene Hodges, a utility worker, returned home from work, he had to push gawkers off the porch to get inside. Ann was transferred to a hospital. With Cold War paranoia running high, the Sylacauga police chief confiscated the black rock and turned it over to the Air Force.
After the Air Force confirmed it was a meteorite, the question then was what to do with it. The public demanded the space rock be returned to Ann, and she agreed.
“I feel like the meteorite is mine,” she said, according to the museum. “I think God intended it for me. After all, it hit me!”
But … there was a problem …… Ann and Eugene were renters, and their landlady, a recently widowed woman named Birdie Guy, wanted the meteorite for herself. She got a lawyer and sued, claiming the rock was hers since it had fallen on her property. The law was actually on her side, but public opinion wasn’t and she settled out of court, giving up her claim to the meteorite in exchange for $500. Eugene was convinced the couple could make big money off the rock and turned down a modest offer from the Smithsonian Institute but no one bit, and in the end the Hodges donated the meteorite to the natural history museum in 1956, where it’s still on display.
As a result of all this Ann suffered a nervous breakdown. In 1964 she and Eugene separated and she died in 1972, aged just 52, of kidney failure.