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What happened at the University of the Pacific long ago still haunts me

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Posted: Tuesday, October 23, 2012 12:00 am

Just about everyone around Halloween has a scary story to tell. Here's mine.

It was April 1966. The press was alive with UFO reports from the Midwest. Life magazine had pictures of strange unexplained lights. Concerned citizens, including police officers, described sightings that had no rational explanation.

In order to calm the public, some scientists tried to describe the phenomena as illusions, mass hysteria or even "swamp gas."

At the time, I was a student living in University of the Pacific's West Hall. It was an unusually quiet Saturday night. A friend and I had been discussing these reported front-page news stories. We finally went our separate ways and hit the hay around 2 a.m.

The next thing I remember, it was early daylight at around 6 a.m. I was in bed and looking at the ceiling. It was no different than any other day — just trying to wake up and organize my thoughts.

Then, something strange happened. I could feel myself becoming more and more weightless. I literally floated to the ceiling. At first, it seemed really cool — bouncing around on my back like a helium-filled balloon.

Suddenly, I came to my senses. "This is not right," I thought. "Whoever or whatever is doing this, bring me back down!"

Gradually my weight returned, and I was back in bed. I heard a voice say, "If you want to know the truth, come into the hallway."

I did, and there was a well-dressed Latino man with a broad smile and perfect snow-white teeth. He gestured for me to follow. But instead of complying, I froze with fear and slammed my door. It was just too weird! I really didn't want to know "the truth."

I don't recall anything after that until 9 a.m. when I awoke for a second time. I couldn't wait to tell my friend Rob.

What had just happened must have been a dream. Yet it was so vivid and real!

I found my buddy sitting in the dining hall, chomping down his favorite breakfast of scrambled eggs and crispy bacon.

"Rob! You won't believe what just happened to me!" I yelled with excitement.

"Wait!" he replied. "Before you get started, let me tell you what just happened to me!"

My friend proceeded to report the exact same story — right down to the Latino man with snowy white teeth! We looked at each other with amazement and disbelief.

After we regained our composures, Rob and I began to look for logical and rational explanations.

Perhaps we had too much to drink or had engaged in college "pharmaceutical" activities? No, we had not been drinking and did not use drugs — the latter not being that common on conservative college campuses in those days.

Maybe we had imagined the whole thing? No, we were here in the flesh and very much in a conscious state.

Had we discussed this experience beforehand, thus setting up thoughts for a common dream state? No, we had not talked about any of this.

Was it connected in some way to the reported UFO phenomena? Who knows?

Almost 47 years later, questions still remain unanswered. It's obviously an experience that is not easily forgotten. Even today, after all this time, it still feels like a surreal story from "The Twilight Zone."

I can only conclude that "the truth," as well as that little man with the shiny white teeth, must still out be there — somewhere.

Steve Hansen is a Lodi writer.

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