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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Purple (11/05/09)

TITLE: What Really Happened on a Porch in 1958
By Betty Castleberry


My granddaughter Shelly climbed up in my lap. “Grandma Pauline, tell me the little alien story.”

“You’ve heard it a thousand times.”


I patted her bony little knee. “I guess one more time won’t hurt. A long time ago…”

Shelly shifted on my lap. “It was in 1958, wasn’t it, Grandma?”

“It was. Back in 1958, Grandpa Clarence and I were sitting on my parents’ porch. We weren’t married yet. He had come over to see me and we were drinking Coca Colas and enjoying the night. The sky was pretty, with lots of stars.”

“And you saw a star that moved, didn’t you?”

“Yes, baby, but it turns out it wasn’t a star at all. It was a little flying saucer.”

My granddaughter’s eyes widened. “Wow.”

“And it landed right there on the lawn. Guess what came out of the saucer?”

“A Purple People Eater.” She folded her arms across her chest in triumph.

“That’s right. A little alien stepped out. He had one big eye, and one long horn sticking out of the top of his head. He walked pigeon-toed and had a purple glow all around him. Grandpa and I were scared. We’d never ever seen anything like that.”

“Me either, Grandma.”

“Well, finally Grandpa got his wits about him and he asked, ‘What do you want?’ That little man answered him in a tiny little voice.”

“He sounded like a cartoon, didn’t he?”

“Yes, he did. He told Grandpa he was a Purple People Eater who ate Purple People.”

Shelly wrinkled her nose. “Eww.”

“That was hard to believe, because he really wasn’t very scary after all. He was so little and talked so funny, I giggled. Besides, have you ever heard of Purple People?”


“So Grandpa kept talking to him, and do you know what he said?”

“What, Grandma?”

“He said he really came to play in a rock and roll band.”

Grandpa said he wanted to hear more, and he invited him up on the porch. He even gave the little man a Coke, and then you know what happened?”

“He said it was out of this world.”

“Yes, Shelly, that’s what he said. I poured some peanuts in his Coke bottle, and he went crazy. Said he was definitely going to tell the folks back on the planet Zarch about it. Then he told us he could play the horn on his head.”

My granddaughter clapped her hands together. “That’s awesome.”

“Yes it was, but back then we said it was hip. He puffed his cheeks out and blew, and that horn on his head started playing. It sounded just like a saxophone. He did a real good rendition of ‘Yakety Yak.’ Not only that, but he could do a real crazy swing. He grabbed me and we danced across the lawn.”

Grandpa was impressed. Told him he knew some TV producers that would let him play his horn on their show. He got real excited and started singing some funny alien words. We laughed out loud. Then you know what happened?“

“Yes, he got to be on TV.”

“Yep. That little alien, who turned out to be a real friendly guy, appeared on Fred Lance’s Original Amateur Hour. The whole country was talking about it, but nobody believed he was really an alien. They thought he was probably just a little person dressed up, but Grandpa and I knew better.”

“Why didn’t they believe he was an alien?”

“Well, sometimes people just don’t believe what is right in front of their noses. People get so caught up in their work, they can’t see things that are fun or special. They are just too busy.”

“That’s a shame, isn’t it, Grandma?”

“Yes it is. Now Grandpa and me, we know the Purple People Eater was real. There was even a man who wrote a very popular song about it. He changed a couple of details, but he did pretty well telling the story. People thought it was just a silly song, because they were too busy to have some fun and imagine what might have really happened.

Shelly looked up at me. “I believe in the Purple People Eater.”

“That’s because you’re young and nobody’s told you shouldn’t.”

I kissed her cheek as she continued, “Now will you tell me the real story of ‘Alley Oop’?”

“Sure baby. Let me get us a Coke and I’ll tell you all about it.”

Authors note: My apologies to Sheb Wooley, who wrote and performed the number one hit “Purple People Eater” in 1958.

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This article has been read 862 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Marita Thelander 11/13/09
Interesting take on the purple people eater. : ) And peanuts in coke...my inlaws use to do that. This was an enjoyable read.
Noel Mitaxa 11/14/09
Very interesting treatment of an aging song. As soon as I started reading I was taken back - all those 51 years (gasp!) ago. So thank you for showing our age; but was it a "porch" or a "mersades-bens?"
Henry Clemmons11/15/09
Not only entertaining, cute,reader friendly, and a great voice but the dialogue was superb. Excellent. I don't remember you describing either of your two characters, but the dialogue gave me a perfect character sketch of both. Very, very good.
Virgil Youngblood 11/15/09
Hey! I not only remember the song, I remember porches. This brought back memories in a fun way.
Patricia Turner11/15/09
I love your characters and their dialog - warm and very natural. A very fun story.
Barbara Lynn Culler11/15/09
Fun story, but I don't know about peanuts in coke. What happens?
Laura Manley11/16/09
Delightful story - I not only like the story line, but I love it that Grandma is telling her granddaughter this storoy. How special!
Loren T. Lowery11/16/09
This type of writing reminds me a bit of one my favorite, off-the wall-authors: Douglas Adams, esp his book "The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxies." So, so good!
Jim McWhinnie 11/16/09
Thank you for this simply delightful sprig of joy - doesn't it seem that stories are best told between grandparents and grandchildren ... you placed a smile in my Monday morning soul ...
larry troxell 11/16/09
i thought everyone knows about peanuts in a coke. the purple people eater brought back so many memories. fantastic dialogue.
Jan Ackerson 11/16/09
Great minds, Betty....

This was a total delight!
Lenda Blackmon11/16/09
Well you cleared up a lot of mysteries for me! I always wondered who really discovered the purple people eater. That was great and fun to read.
Bryan Ridenour11/16/09
Great story telling and dialogue. Very well written!
Shellie Goff11/17/09
I really enjoyed this piece. I especially love the dialogue. I felt, I was right there on that porch listening to the conversation. Very creative.
Joy Faire Stewart11/17/09
Oh, complete fun and always enjoy your storytelling. Would love to hear Grandma's story for "Alley Oop!"
Yvonne Blake 11/18/09
Ha ha ha...so that's how it happened!
Carol Slider 11/18/09
What a fun, creative take on the topic! Loved it!
Carole Robishaw 11/18/09
Hmmm, maybe we can Ally's story for yellow?

As usual, you turned out a great story that makes me laugh, thanks.
Verna Cole Mitchell 11/18/09
Delightful humor...I love Grandma and the whole story.
Chely Roach11/18/09
This must have been SO much fun to write, because it was a blast to read. Very snicker worthy:)
Edy T Johnson 11/21/09
Betty, this is so delightful and just the way things work between little ones and their grandmas (or aunties). Good imaginative story, too. I came to thank you because I just discovered a comment from you on my "Sonnets from the Macabre" that I never got a notice about. That was so sweet of you!