Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Roswell in 1947

Whatever it was that happened at Roswell took place in the summer of 1947. The world was a very different place sixty odd years ago. World War II had ended only two years earlier, so people were still trying to adjust to peace and to the new shape of the world. People alive then knew things and took things for granted that today would seem odd or peculiar. Similarly there was a lot that we now accept as commonplace that would have seemed quite bizarre to a resident of a middle American town like Roswell in 1947.

Before embarking on a study of what did or did not happen at Roswell that summer, it is worth spending a bit of time reviewing the world as it appeared from Roswell at that time. The way in which the people of that town reacted to the events that unfolded that summer had much to do with how the world seemed to them. Modern people would probably react quite differently, and the views and knowledge of the people of the time needs to be borne constantly in mind when reviewing the evidence. A person’s behaviour that might strike us as odd or suspicious might have been perfectly natural back then.

The first thing to bear in mind is that Roswell was dominated by the nearby base of the United States Army Air Force (USAAF). At this date the air force was still officially part of the United States Army, as it had been for decades past. That would change before the end of 1947 when the United States Air Force (USAF) as born. Of course, the new organisation was staffed by all the same men and women who had formed the USAAF. They were working on the same bases and doing the same jobs. However, there was a period of some months when administrative arrangements were changing over when some of the support staff and higher echelons of command were in a state of flux. It was at this time, it is alleged, that some of the files relating to what had been the Roswell Army Air Force (RAAF) base but was now the Roswell Air Force (RAF) base got lost. 

In itself, Roswell was a fairly typical small town of the date and place. It’s location in southeastern New Mexico put it in a somewhat remote area. The surrounding land was dominated by dry scrubland with intermittent pastures that made arable farming impossible, but was good territory for livestock. Cattle roamed widely over the landscape, herded by a small number of ranch hands and cowboys. The open country was very sparsely populated, with the more arid areas barely being visited by humans at all.

Many of the jobs in Roswell depended on the presence of the military base. Anything likely to affect the base would affect the town, so the people may have been more interested in international or military events than did residents of other small towns. This is important as there were two events unfolding in the background that would have been known to all residents of Roswell and may well have affected their reactions to what happened.  

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