On the evening of October 30, 1938 my Father
was doing traffic duty at Broad and Market Streets. Unknown to him
the metropolitan area was being placed in a state of terror by a
radio broadcast by Orson Wells.
Mercury Theatre on the Columbia Broadcasting System ( CBS ) had
Orson Wells do a dramatization of the H. G. Wells "War of the
I'm sure most of us have heard about it.
Briefly a Martian space ship landed in Grover's Mill, N. J. When
the Martians were confronted by our military they killed 7,000 of
our soldiers. They then proceeded towards New York City. The Martians
were attacked by eight of our aircraft in the Jersey Meadows. Our
aircraft reported seeing a large "black cloud" near South
Street flowing towards Raymond Boulevard. The radio broadcast instructed
the people of Newark to evacuate the city. They were told to use
Routes 7,23 and 24.
People were stopping their cars and asking my Father for his advice.
They told him about the large black cloud approaching the city and
the evacuation order. In his innocence he told them to go up Market
Street and take Springfield Avenue to the safety of the mountains.
He later found out that it wasn't true but rather a dramatization
on the radio.
Over the years he told me this story many times. While it amused
me it also interested me. I made a point of visiting Grover's Mill
several years ago (it's around 10 miles southeast of Princeton).
It is as laid back as any little town could be. I thought of my
Father on Four Corners and the advice he gave to the fleeing motorists.
I recently listened to the original radio broadcast. To me I could
understand why people believed what they heard. This
is a link to the original radio broadcast.
See what you think.