It was a pleasant afternoon on November 30, 1954, in Sylacauga, Alabama, a small town a few hours away from Tuscaloosa and Birmingham. Quiet — until folks saw something streaking across the sky — a bright red fireball like a Roman candle with a long tail of smoke. Some thought it was a visitor from outer space; others were sure it was a Russian invasion.
Ann Elizabeth Hodges thought neither. Under the weather, under a quilt, napping, she didn’t see the thing — not until it crashed through her ceiling, bounced off her big console radio and onto the couch where she reclined, striking her in the hip. The eight-pound thing, which was indeed from outer space, left a bruise the size of a football. And to make matters worse, her house was soon overrun by curious Alabamans from miles around. A government geologist called to the scene identified the thing as a meteorite, many of which fall to earth but usually end up in an ocean or some remote wilderness.
A legal battle followed over who now owned the meteorite. “I feel like the meteorite is mine,” Elizabeth said. “I think God intended it for me. After all, it hit me!” Unfortunately, the law was not on her side. She and her husband rented their house, and their landlady claimed ownership. The case was settled out of court, with the landlady relinquishing control for a settlement of $500. After all, there was a hole in her roof.
Elizabeth’s husband thought they would be able to earn some big bucks by showing off the meteorite, but he was disappointed, and the Hodges eventually donated it to the Smithsonian.
Elizabeth did earn a spot in the record books, being the only person ever struck by a meteorite. Evidently, the odds of being struck by a meteorite are about the same as tripping over the body of a dead clown, falling into an open elevator shaft and being struck by lightning on the way down.
I believe we are on an irreversible trend toward more freedom and democracy — but that could change. — Dan Quayle