THE JAMES DEAN MYSTERY GHOST LIGHTS OF MARFA, TEXAS, by R.R. REES
Updated 8 July 1998 URL is http://our.tentativetimes.net/dean/marflite.html
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art copyright ©1997 Mark K. Kinnaman
Here’s a good story for Dean fans at Halloween, from Robert Rees in Texas. Remember it is copyright ©1996 R.R. Rees.
THE JAMES DEAN MYSTERY GHOST LIGHTS
OF MARFA, TEXAS
by Robert R. Rees
Painting ©:Kenneth Kendall
Some say specters are able to continue their shadowy existence between the two worlds of flesh and spirit. Physicists say there is a finite amount of mass and energy in this world. We don’t lose or gain energy, it is simply transformed; expended and spontaneously regenerated. Shades of the past may cling to former locations where personal tragedies have been played out, resulting in ghostly manifestations. Such may be the case in Marfa, Texas, where Dean’s final opus "GIANT" was filmed in the summer of 1955.
Isolated in the Big Bend area, this tiny town had long been the location of the infamous "Marfa Lights" by the time James Dean arrived there on the scene. But the eerie lights took on a different glow when Dean’s earth-bound star joined the firmament.
Some say the lights resemble lanterns twinkling among the foothills of the Chinati Mountains nearby. In fact, an old legend has it that long ago an aging Apache indian chieftain became separated from his people as they traversed the mountainous countryside. Perhaps the chief still roams the hills, lighting fires in the hopes of signaling his lost tribe. The ghost lights glow, move slowly, flare, divide, dim and fade away only to return again after sunset of the following day.
What is responsible for this startling phenomenon? Scientists have long investigated these luminous energy spots. Discounted theories include: mirages, swamp gas, temperature inversion, St. Elmo’s Fire; some even suggested the lights were caused by the moon’s reflection on an undiscovered mica vein! Regardless what may cause these manifestations that exist to this very day, things subtly changed in Marfa as regards these lights shortly after James Dean died.
Marfa County Judge Charlie Johnson said in 1984, "People who don’t want to believe in the lights figure out that they’re car lights in the distance." Could this luminous moving ebbing and flowing actually be the glow cast from the headlights of Dean’s long ago lost death car?
Again in the 1980’s, longtime Marfa resident Samuel Whatley was driving home right before dawn when he spied what he assumed were car lights speeding towards him. Suddenly, outside his pickup’s window, a cantaloupe-sized globe of orange-red light appeared and hovered. Whatley pushed his accelerator to the floor, but the globe followed him for two miles before vanishing without a trace. Perhaps the evil web of Dean’s Spyder has grown since his death to encompass such manifestations as this peculiar phenomenon in Marfa, Texas.
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