Yankee Classic: A Strange Light over Starks
From Yankee Magazine April 1982
It was twilight, still and overcast, in Starks, Maine, on November 28, 1981, two days after Thanksgiving. Elsewhere in New England, store merchants were enjoying one of the year's busiest shopping days. But you wouldn't have known that in Starks. The town, with a population of 440, is strung along Route 43 in the hills between Farmington and Madison, and if you asked anybody outside of Somerset County, he'd more than likely tell you he had never heard of Starks.
At 5:00 that Saturday afternoon, Kenos Henry pulled off Route 43 onto the Brann Mills Road, where he was caretaking a farmhouse for some friends. He had been working all day, and now he had his heart set on some cold Thanksgiving turkey. As he pulled into the dooryard, half a mile down the remote dirt road he noticed an odd light, glowing deep red, motionless against the sky. He looked at it curiously. He had seen the same light before -- actually three times since summer -- above the farmhouse. The first time he hadn't given it much thought, but the next time it had appeared, it was lower in the sky and had a golden glow around the red, and the barely discernible shape of two intersecting sickles or crescents. A satellite, to be sure, he had thought.
But the third time, the thing had suddenly beamed a needle of red light right down to him. He had run into the house then and told his friend Roger, "Hey, there's a satellite or something up in the sky, and it's sending lasers down at me." Kenos says he has always come up with some pretty wild stories, and this one didn't sound much different from others he had told. Now, it was in the sky again, that same odd light, but this time something else caught his attention. It was coming down.
Eleven miles away, in the town of Madison, Bud Hendsbee and his wife Helen backed their truck out of the driveway. They had decided to cap off a long, busy week by trying out the Fiddlehead, a popular new restaurant in Farmington, a leisurely 20-mile drive on Route 43, over the wide hills of Starks. Bud, a Somerset County deputy sheriff for 23 years, and Helen, a Madison selectwoman, both agree it was a decision they came to regret. In fact, Helen says she'll probably never travel that road again.
Kenos Henry was hungry. He could almost taste that turkey. But he couldn't get out of his car, couldn't take his eyes off that light in the sky. As he put it, "It was getting awful big, awful fast." He could see the double golden sickles distinctly now, and a silvery light pulsated in the V-shaped area created by the apparent union of the sickles. "I thought I was seeing things, but I hadn't had anything to drink for four or five days," he said later. Suddenly it darted to the left, then back to the right, much faster than any plane could fly, and it kept getting brighter, closer.
Willie, the black Lab farm dog, became agitated, barking up at the sky and racing around the yard. The thought of turkey was rapidly disappearing from Kenos' mind. He was thinking only of backing calmly out of the dooryard and getting off that dirt road, when the thing shot a red beam down through the windshield into his eyes. "I don't like telling people this, because they think you're nuts, but, man, what I saw! I said to myself, 'I'm not going to get any turkey. I'm getting this car out of here!' I grabbed the dog, turned the car around, and left snow and ice flying for about forty feet."
Please Note: This article was accurate at the time of publication. When planning a trip, please confirm details by directly contacting any company or establishment you intend to visit.