There’s one thing that happens to me every year at this time. It starts with a slight – almost imperceptible – soreness in the back of the throat followed by some throat clearing. It is at this point that you later tell yourself you should’ve taken some Airborne tablets or fizzy Emergen-C. Whether or not that would’ve done any good is irrelevant because you’ve already missed that opportunity.

Unless you’re one of the lucky few with an immune system like Superman, you know what I’m getting to. With winter on its last legs, I was smugly thinking that since I had my flu shot and tested negative for the ‘rona, I would miss my regularly scheduled head cold. But it was not to be. There I was flat out on the bed, sipping lots of liquids – including Vanessa’s excepcional homemade chicken soup – and being downright unmanly-like. It’s no fun, but after all these years I’ve been on this Earth it’s something I can just about set my watch to. Come late February or early March; nose-blowing, the ah-chooing, and the stuffy head.

Quick tip: do not try to wipe your nose while wearing a face mask.

I don’t know if you saw the recent article in the Journal about an airline pilot reporting a long cylindrical object that whizzed past them on a commercial flight high above Clayton, New Mexico, but with UFOs back in the news, it made me want to rifle through old newspaper files.

Here at the Chieftain, there are, of course, three or four issues in 1964 on the community hubbub surrounding the Lonnie Zamora case. The object Lonnie reported still hasn’t been put to rest, but there’s another one that once raised some eyebrows, and this one goes back to the summer of 1945, two years before the Roswell thing.

Remigio Baca of San Antonio wrote a book in 2003 that talks about it. It’s called Born on the Edge of Ground Zero: Living in the Shadow of Area 51, and I’m not even sure if it’s still in print.

While it’s mostly about Socorro and San Antonio, including Reme’s first-grade teacher, the late Melchora Gonzalez, once the Socorro County superintendent of schools, and remembrances of the atomic explosion, the book also includes the account of how he and his grade-school friend José Padilla, stumbled upon a crashed UFO in an arroyo while looking for a cow and her calf.

While not being too specific about the location, Reme says in an old article written by the late journalist Ben Moffett that it was on the west end of Highway 380 near Walnut Creek, due west from what is today Interstate 25’s milepost 139.

“It’s kind of hard to explain, but it was long and round, and there was a big gouge in the dirt and there were these hombrecitos,” Reme recalled in a 2003 interview.  Not unlike the Roswell and Aztec UFO crashes, this one had non-human life forms at the scene. And they were alive.

“Strange-looking creatures were moving around inside,” he recollected. “They looked under stress. They moved fast as if they were able to will themselves from one position to another in an instant. They were shadowy and expressionless, but definitely living beings.”

To make a long story short, the two youngsters got scared and high-tailed it back home to explain why they hadn’t collected the above-mentioned livestock. A couple of days later, the boys led José’s dad, Faustino Padilla, and state police officer Eddie Apodaca back to show them the crash site. There were no hombrecitos to be found, but the main body of the craft was still there, with odd pieces dangling everywhere.

The grownups speculated that the government had arrived during the two-day interval and whisked the little men away. The entire craft was apparently retrieved by the government soon thereafter.

And, oh, the cow and calf grazed their way back home on their own in a day or two.

The 168-page book was self-published and included 13 photos including the crash site, and connects the presence of the UFO with the atom bomb test on July 16, 1945.

Being that one night I saw some decidedly weird coming down out of the sky while driving Highway 60 between Socorro and Magdalena, I’m not one to make any judgment on the story and chalk it up as another addition to New Mexico’s UFO lore.

Anyway, a Forbes article says the airline pilot’s sighting last week is not that uncommon and even mentioned that part of the COVID-19 Relief Bill passed in December has a provision that requires U.S. intelligence agencies to inform Congress what they know about UFOs.

Good luck on that.

Me, I’m tempted to get on Spotify and re-listen to The Purple People Eater by Sheb Wooley.

Am I showing my age?