Located in the county of Yakima, Harrah is a tiny town in the center of Washington State, with a current population of less than 600 citizens. While Yakima is generally thought of as BIGFOOT country, in the winter of 1977, it became the site of one of the most bizarre alien encounters ever recorded.
On the morning of January 19, 1977, 9 year-old José Cantu woke up just before 6:30 am. and decided — with a burst of selflessness rarely seen in young children — to let his mother sleep and make himself breakfast. As he was preparing his meal he glanced out the window and saw what he would later describe as a “little man” outside in the yard of his family’s farmhouse.
José rushed into his parents’ bedroom and shook his mother, Martha Cantu, awake. Martha was alone in the bed as her husband had already left for work and when her son burst into her room like a micro-cyclone it was all she could do to keep her temper.
Her son beseeched her to follow him and take a look at the strange figures “standing” in their yard, but Martha — who was exhausted from a sleepless night of caring for José’s “fussy” infant sibling — refused to follow him. It would be a decision that she would come to regret.
Undaunted, José decided to go outside and take a look for himself… and what he saw are some of the craziest allegedly alien critters on the books. José claimed that as soon as he stepped into the yard he saw a pair of “greenish creatures,” which were approximately 3-feet in height, but that would not be their weirdest attributes by a long shot.
The first thing the youngster noticed about these odd creatures was the fact that they did not have any legs, but seemed to be perched on rotating seats, which were connected to tubes and supported by a wide bases.
The bases — at least according to José’s illustration — appeared to be supported by a plethora of small wheels or protuberances that they swiveled or possibly hovered on.
As if that weren’t bizarre enough, these beings each had a pair of mushroom capped antennas, coarse hair, pig-like noses and a single cycloptic eye wedged in the center of their circular heads. They also appeared to have tiny, seemingly vestigial, arms attached to rounded torsos.
It is difficult to discern, based on José’s account, whether or not the seats these creatures sat on were artificial conveyances — like hyper-futuristic wheelchairs — or part of their actual bodies, which would essential making these little aliens cybernetic life forms.
Alarmed by the strange creatures — as any rational child (or adult) ought to be — José ducked behind a broken washing machine that was nestled next to a shed. It was then that young José’s attention was caught by two “steely” crafts, which each harbored another little, green, pig-nosed, cyclops.
The boy claimed that the first vessel was parked in his backyard, while the other was perched on the flat section of the roof of his parent’s home. José described the vessels as emitting a brilliant light from the interior and having what he referred to as “straight stairs, which most researchers assume was the child’s way of describing a “ramp.” This would make sense considering the uni-pedal locomotion apparently employed by these entities.
José claimed that the access portals on the gleaming ships opened in “two parts, like a cross,” revealing an interior just big enough to contain two seats perched on tall bases. That having been indicated, it’s possible that these “seats” were actually vice-like devices used to lock these mono-legged beings into place.
From his concealed position, José watched as one of the creatures roving around on the yard made its way up the ramp into the ship that was parked on the lawn. Moments after the hatch closed behind it, the craft ascended off the ground and vanished in what resembled a puff of steam or smoke.
It was then that the youngster had seen enough. With what must have been incredible anxiety, the boy crept back into his home. Once back inside, José wasted no time in running back into his parent’s room and this time when he tried to wake his mother he refused to take “no” for an answer.
Over the kitchen table José regaled his mother with tales of strange, one-eyed, one-legged, pig-snouted aliens and their vaporizing ships. When Martha went outside and saw no trace of the extraterrestrials or their diminutive vessels she decided that José had either been a victim of a nightmare or that he was pulling some childish prank, so she sent her agitated son off to school without another word.
Once he arrived at Harrah Grade School, the excited José told classroom aide, Diane Gomez, about his bizarre encounter. Later, when local reporters contacted Gomez for a story about these odd events the aide spoke highly of the student’s character:
“José is a serious boy. He’s not one that tells stories or lies. What he told me, I took very seriously.”
In fact, Gomez took the story so seriously that just after 10:00 am. — José scheduled recess time — she and another aide decided to accompany the boy home and take a look at the alleged landing sites for themselves. The aides greeted Martha and the trio followed José through the yard as he indicated where he saw the creatures.
According to Martha and the aides’ accounts, the place where José insisted the “men” were rotating on their bases still bore two circular marks embedded in the gravel. The ladies also saw two, seemingly inexplicable, sets of indentations consisting of three holes each where the other being had “stood.”
After the aides returned to school with José, Martha called her neighbor, Irene Sanchez, and asked her to come over. When Sanchez arrived at Martha’s house she claimed that both she and her brother had seen a strange, spherical impression (approximately 10-feet in diameter) in the Cantu’s backyard from their own adjacent home.
Sanchez and Martha examined the area and discovered that the uncut grass in the center of the circular pattern was swirled upward. Sanchez also testified to seeing the same marks that the aides had also observed. The evidence was still clearly visible when the Jose’s father came home from work.
In a community as small as Harrah, it should come as no surprise the word of the schoolboy’s encounter with the aliens spread like wildfire and the very next afternoon the Cantu farmhouse was visited by a police officer for the Indian Reserve of Yakima by the name of Willard J. Vogel.
Vogel was not, however, calling on the Cantu’s as an officer of the law, but as a well respected local UFO investigator. Vogel stated that the Hurrah area had been infested with UFO sightings over the past few decades — including reports of cattle mutilations — but had to admit that none of these cases were quite so strange as the one that face him now.
Vogel — who was accompanied by fellow UFO researcher and electrical engineer, David Akers — claimed that the perfectly formed circle and the “traces of the foot” of the alien were still very evident when he examined the scene.
Akers then checked the area with a Geiger counter, but no significant radiation readings were found. The pair also informed the Cantus that there had recently been reports of “brilliant lights” in the region before José’s weird run-in.
Two days following Vogel ‘s visit, Frances Story, a journalist with the local Toppenish Review, stopped by to get the scoop. By this point the trace evidence was beginning to fade, but was still obvious enough to be seen with the naked eye. Knowing that the Cantu family was bilingual (though more comfortable with Spanish) the reporter was accompanied by a translator who considered himself to be a skeptic regarding matters involving UFOs, E.T.s and anything else from OUT OF THIS WORLD.
The Cantu’s conceded to allow their son to be interviewed by the journalist who later indicated that José answered all of the questions posed to him respectfully and honestly, until finally requesting that he be allowed to go outside and play. In fact, the once skeptical translator was so impressed by José’s candor that he went on to assert:
“I believe he saw what he said he saw.”
The story was published in the January 26, 1977, edition of the Toppenish Review under the title: “Harrah youth reports UFOs with greenish creatures.”
While many locals dismissed the case out of hand due José’s youth and the frankly outlandish description he gave of the aliens, those who actually spoke with the young man in the days following this incident were all convinced that as bizarre as his tale was it seemed to be the truth.
© Copyright Rob Morphy — 2011