A Visit from Mars

Alumni Memories - A Visit from MarsDuring my senior year there was a radio program that was remembered for decades! On Sunday evening, October 30, 1938 (Halloween weekend, probably intentionally!) my roommate Oden Pullen and I had gone to the youth meeting at the Methodist church. About the end of the service the fire alarm sounded for the Wilmore volunteer fire department. Oden was a real fire engine fan, so I followed him. The fire was at Wesley Hall, and it finally turned out that a student in that men’s dorm was a “fire bug” and had started a fire in a trash can.

We decided that it was too late to return to the church for the evening service, so we went to our Morrison Hall room and turned on the radio. We quickly heard what seemed to be a news report of a landing of an army from Mars, near Princeton, New Jersey! We listened for a few minutes, and we soon realized that other fellows in the dorm were listening and were frightened! So I turned to another station or two, confident that if this were actual news the other stations would be broadcasting it as well. The other stations had nothing of the sort, so I realized that the invasion from Mars was just a program. I went into the hall and yelled, “Fake! Fake!” and returned to my room and listened to the drama with real interest. Indeed, there were even disclaimers from time to time during the program that this was not an actual event, just a play by Orson Welles entitled “War between the Worlds,” based, I believe, on a previous book by H. G. Wells.

It was only after the program was over that I began to realize that all over the campus kids were scared out of their wits, still thinking that the invasion from Mars was real. Dorothy Best ’41 Rains boyfriend at the time was at Princeton Seminary, and she was almost tearing her hair! The following morning it turned out that thousands of people all across the country had been taken in by the drama, and all sorts of reactions and defense preparations were made in many places. That program surely brought Orson Welles’ name into the spotlight; and the program probably had more repercussions than any other program for years to come.

by Harold Greenlee ’39

A Special Election

In my years in the Asbury College Men’s Glee Club, the annual spring tour was arranged by the business manager, an elected member of the glee club. During each spring tour the business manager was elected for the following year. Our 1938 tour included a concert in The People’s Church in Toronto, Ontario, where Oswald J. Smith was pastor. Our next concert was in London, Ontario, and it was there that I was elected business manager for the following year. As a result, I am probably the only person ever elected outside the United States to an office in an Asbury College student organization.

by Harold Greenlee ’39