Myth Monday: 1967: The Year the Green Space Penguins Made Contact
By Kara Newcastle
Farmers don’t get enough credit; they work from before sunup to sundown, toiling under the hot sun, growing the crops and raising the livestock we need to eat, fending off a hoard of green space penguins as they emerge from their mushroom spaceship while armed with nothing but a handful of rocks ….
No, it’s true—apparently. On the morning of February 14, 1967, 64-year-old farmer Claude Edwards of Tuscumbia, Missouri, was heading out to begin his work on his farm when he noticed something odd: in one of his pastures, all of the cows were all looking in the same direction. He followed the cows’ line of sight and noticed something even odder: a large metallic structure in his field. Most people would understandably assume that it was the farmer’s silo, but according to Edwards, the new structure wasn’t that big. Actually, it wasn’t anything that he had placed there, it just kind of … showed up. It was large, metal, grayish-green, and shaped like a mushroom with a stem and a cap.
Hold on, it gets better.
Edwards, like any true farmer, first went to put the feed bucket back and close the barn doors—because as weird as this new thing was, he still had to finish his work. Still, he kept his eyes on the object, estimating that there were about seventy feet of field, fence, and cows between him and whatever the thing was.
As Edwards studied this bizarre contraption on his property, he suddenly realized that trundling around in front of the metal mushroom was a dozen small … things. They were each about three feet tall, and green from head to toe. Because of the way the creatures looked and walked, Edwards said that they reminded him of penguins.
Edwards stood there, staring slack-jawed, as these little green penguins scuttled about the base of what Edwards was rapidly realizing was a green mushroom-shaped spaceship. The aliens—because that’s what they had to be—didn’t seem to be doing anything in particular. They were just kind of milling around.
Even though the space penguins didn’t seem to be acting aggressively, their appearance spooked Edwards’ cows, and the farmer just couldn’t have that. Determined to do … something … Edwards strode forward and clambered over one of the gates, heading to the diminutive aliens.
Why he was going over there and what exactly he was going to do once he got to the waddling entities, even Edward admitted he wasn’t sure. He said it was curiosity that prompted him to approach. Me, I would have satisfied my curiosity by backing slowly into my house and watching the whole thing through some binoculars, all while cradling the first blunt object I could get my hands on.
Edwards later said that as he drew closer, he could see the aliens were the same gray-green color of their spaceship, didn’t seem to have any kind of neck and that it looked like they were wearing big black eye goggles or had very wide-set black eyes. The front of their faces had dark, beak-like protuberances, leading some to wonder if these were parts of their faces or in actuality some kind of breathing device. Edwards couldn’t discern their arms and hands, clearly, but when he sketched a picture later on, they appeared to be somewhat flipper-like. The space penguins also were moving too quickly for Edwards to determine if they had legs and feet or some other manner of locomotion. Either way, they toddled about like, well, penguins.
Edwards also got a better look at the UFO, saying that in addition to the gray-green color and mushroom shape, the whole thing was smooth, with no seams of any kind, likening it to a “shiny silk.” Edwards guessed that the main part of the ship was about eighteen feet wide, and at the tallest point of the dome was about eight feet tall. The edge of the ship was lined with window-like portals measuring about twelve inches by twelve inches, from which colors glowed and oscillated. He also sketched the ship to accompany the picture of the green penguin alien.
Seeing Edwards approach, the space penguins became anxious, waddling around frantically. They appeared to be afraid of Edwards. Therefore, Edwards did what any rational human being would do when coming across a group of nervous, intergalactic alien penguins traveling in a fungoid ship.
He picked up a couple of rocks and began chucking them at the aliens. More accurately, he began throwing the rocks at the UFO, hoping to punch a hole through it to keep it from taking off.
Or at least he tried; to Edwards’ disbelief, just as he came within fifteen feet of the ship, something stopped him dead in his tracks. He said that it wasn’t anything he could see or plainly feel, it was like an invisible wall or force field stopped him short. Unnerved, he backed up about ten feet, then lobbed a rock at the spaceship. The stony projectile bounced harmlessly off the invisible barrier back at him. Not ready to give up, Edwards threw a second rock. This time it skipped over the top of the force field and landed behind the UFO.
Edwards’ Neanderthal-like attack sent the space penguins into a panic, and they all waddled as fast as they could to the stem-part of the mushroom ship, disappearing behind it into what can be assumed to be a doorway. The mushroom tilted towards Edwards twice, then, after the third tilt, rose into the sky and sped off with incredible speed in the direction of St. Elizabeth, a town northeast of Tuscumbia.
And Edwards said the whole event took place in about ten minutes.
Okay, so the whole thing sounds like a bad LSD trip or something, and naturally, a lot of people don’t believe it happened. The entire episode sounds so out of this world (no pun intended) that it just sounds like an out and out hoax.
But, as with chicken farmer Joe Simonton (see The Man Who Breakfasted with Aliens), Claude Edwards was your stereotypical farmer; he was a no B.S. kind of guy who worked hard all day long. Never mind not having the time to pull off a hoax, Edwards also had nothing to gain from it either. In fact, he told very few people about it, and when his brother found UFO investigator Ted Phillips, Edwards flat out refused to speak to the man about the encounter until he had Phillips’s complete assurances that he would never identify the Edwards family by name. (According to the Miller County Museum website, Edwards did indeed give several local radio interviews, but it didn’t say whether or not he had been identified by his real name.) Phillips kept his promise, revealing the tale of the space penguins and their space truffle only after Claude Phillips passed away. Not once did Edwards try to make any money off of his experience.
Could somebody have pranked old farmer Edwards? It’s always possible, but no one ever came forward to admit it, and I can’t imagine anyone—especially in a tiny town where everyone knew each other and pretty much everybody spent all their waking moments farming—in 1967 having the ability to slap together a fake UFO that actually flew. Or to collect a bunch of penguins and paint them green. Not that it’s impossible, it’s just really, really, REALLY unlikely.
Of course, they could be actual penguins that escaped the Bronx Zoo, mistook a time machine for an airplane, and wound up in Tuscumbia, Missouri, 1967 while trying to return to Antarctica …
Hey, if you’ve got a better idea, I’d like to hear it!