This November will mark 65 years since an event of other-worldly conjecture set minds racing in the Dante community of north Knox County.
Now sandwiched between the various Sterchi Hills neighborhoods and Central Avenue Pike, back in 1957 the area was dominated by farmland instead of the hallmarks of suburbia. It’s not quite in Inskip, not quite in Powell, it’s just Dante (pronounced ‘dainty’), thank you very much.
On the morning of November 6, young Everett Clark claimed he saw a space ship and its crew in Gilbert Sterchi’s cow pasture on Dante School Road. The inimitable Carson Brewer of the Knoxville New Sentinel brought photographer Bill Dye along with him to get the 12-year-old out of Dante School to show where and explain what he had seen.
Despite suffering the considerable derision of his schoolmates, young Clark’s good word was bolstered by Principal Howard Field, saying the boy was a “reliable sort,” and besides, he was a Sentinel paper boy. Brewer reported:
I’m just back from a cow pasture in Dante community where Everett Clark says he saw a space ship crewed by two men and two women land at dawn today … He was at home alone early this morning … He saw an object in the field, across the road and about 100 yards from the Clark home. Everett, seeing the thing in dim light and still a bit sleepy, thought he was ‘day dreaming.’
Brewer went on to recount the rest of Clark’s story: that he got up around 6:30 a.m., his parents were already off to their jobs at Standard Knitting Mill, that he saw the ‘thing’ across the road when he let his terrier, Frisky, out of the house, but didn’t think much more of it until he saw Frisky and some other dogs over in the field, as well as two men and two women.
Clark went on to explain that one of the men started grabbing at the dogs (dogs weren’t having it), and that he heard the people talking “like some language on television” or “like German soldiers in war movies.” The people eventually motioned to Clark to come to them, but he didn’t budge. He said they were dressed “normally” and eventually returned to the space ship as if “walking through glass.” He said it took off rather sharply and without a sound.
The most interesting part of Brewer’s tale, though, is what he observed with his own eyes when he went traipsing about the field with the boy and Dye. As Clark was pointing where the unearthly visitors had been standing, Brewer and Dye simultaneously noticed an imprint in the field and noted that Clark hadn’t pointed it out. Brewer wrote that it was in the shape of an egg or a fat cigar, he stepped it off at about 24 feet in length. He marked the imprint in the grass with sheets of paper so Dye could get a picture of it (as seen in the feature art).
Clark’s father, Frank, eventually showed up, and explained that his son wasn’t given to “telling tall tales.” Brewer was non-committal about what he heard and saw that day, only that he agreed with Frank Clark:
I don’t think he made it up, but I still don’t believe it.
The story stayed in the press for a few more days following Brewer’s initial visit to the quiet community. He reported that scientists from Oak Ridge came out to have a look for themselves and check the pasture for radioactivity. And there was a spike in UFO reports to local law enforcement offices.
Credit: Knoxville News Sentinel archives, November 6-9, 1957