Strange things happen at White Sands…

When my parents first began operating the Ruidoso News in the early 1950s, we did not have a large enough press to print the newspaper in our home town. The closest place with a broadsheet press for printing newspapers was in Alamogordo. Our staff would “make up” the lead type pages of local news and advertising on large metal frames called trucks, then load them into the trunk of our car and drive them 45 miles to Alamogordo for printing every Thursday.

Often, I would accompany my father to watch the newspaper being printed on the press of the Alamogordo Daily News. One time, I chose to stay home in Ruidoso with friends to see an exciting new science fiction movie while my parents drove to Alamogordo with the print ready pages.

The movie was called “Them” and the plot was this: After the testing of the first atomic bomb near Alamogordo in 1945, common ants living at White Sands National Monument were exposed to radiation and mutated into giants insects the size of elephants. Naturally, they began creating a giant colony underground in the sand dunes and began terrorizing the nearby town of Alamogordo. The military finally was able to finish off the adult ants in the colony with napalm guns, but not before the critters had munched down several brave soldiers and scientists. However, the last scene of the movie showed a deep dark corner of the ant tunnels in which eggs for a new wave of the mutant ants were beginning to hatch.

Imagine this guy about 5,000 times bigger.

Needless to say, I was most anxious for my parents to get home that evening. It really did enter my 8-10 year old brain that they might have been intercepted and turned into dinner by the mutant pogonomyrmex barbatus species (common red harvester ants).

Strange things do inhabit White Sands National Monument. Take for example the fact that in 2018 Ozzy Osborne was wandering around there to star in an episode of some video production. I don’t think it involved ants.

However, while he was waiting in his trailer for the cue for him to go on the set, the manager of the Alamogordo Chamber of Commerce stopped by and casually asked him if he would consider being a member of the organization.

Ozzie, surprisingly, said yes.

Ozzie and Alamogordo Chamber of Commerce Director at White Sands National Monument

I’m not certain whether Ozzie kept up his membership in the Alamogordo Chamber of Commerce. Come to think of it, I haven’t seen Ozzie in the last couple of years on the tube. Maybe “Them” got him.

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