No items found.

Terror At Moose Burger Farm

Story and Media by
Pete Hjellen
Media by
No items found.
Written by
Pete Hjellen

The Valley Theatre in Palmer, Alaska, was the closest movie theater to our home near Wasilla in the 1950s. There was no television in those days and many folks didn’t even have electricity or running water. But we had no trouble making our own fun. We lived at Moose Burger Farm, the nickname given to our 160 acres by my big brother Gary, in part because of the dozens of moose that could always be seen on our property in the winter, as well as the inordinate amount of moose meat we consumed. The hay barn was an ideal place for us to play in out of the rain. The rafters were high enough for several rope swings and there was a huge plank we slid down into a stack of hay. There were big barn doors, also used for swinging on. We enjoyed camping out in the barn because we could stay up later than our folks allowed. 

One morning, after one of our barn campouts, Gary, the oldest, and Gil, the second oldest, were talking about going to the new science fiction/horror film called “The Thing.” The folks had promised to take them that evening. Of course, all of us younger siblings wanted to go, but Gary and Gil teased that they were the only ones old enough because the movie was too scary for us little kids.

After dinner, the whole family piled into the blue ‘52 Plymouth station wagon. Mom and Dad were in the front with Ida squeezed in between them. Susan, Alice, and I climbed in the back seat. Gary and Gil were behind us in the back. No seats for them, just a small open cargo space. It was a tight fit for all eight of us, but no one minded because we were going to see “The Thing.” Ida, the youngest, would be the only “little kid” staying with the folks.

During the eight-mile drive to Palmer, Gary and Gil provided several scary stories about “The Thing” and how it was going to “get us.” They’d heard that some of the movie was filmed at the nearby Knik Glacier, and claimed “The Thing” was not really dead, just waiting for the ice to melt again. And, Gary reminded us, “The Thing could easily walk all the way to our house in a single night.”

The folks dropped us off at the movie-house and, taking Ida along, went to do whatever parents did in those days when most of the kids were out of their hair. We purchased our tickets and then spread out in the theater. Gary and Gil could not be seen with the rest of us because that wasn’t cool. As usual, I sat in the front row so I could get the full impact of the movie—big mistake! 

The movie started with a cartoon first, followed by a piece on the World War II efforts. The war had been over for several years, but we were still getting updates letting us know “Uncle Sam Wants You.”

As the movie progressed it was indeed scary. “The Thing” was this huge fierce person frozen in ice for 10,000 years. The scientists, flown out from Anchorage, removed this creature from the ice and placed it in a cold room to keep it frozen. Several thought it could be dangerous and should be returned to the ice. One of them commented that it looked so real and it still seemed alive. We kids in the audience certainly agreed! A malfunction caused the cold room to warm up and of course, “The Thing” escaped. 

Logo of the 1951 film The Thing From Another World, RKO Radio Pictures

During a tense scene of searching a room, destroyed by “The Thing,” a hand fell out of a cupboard and started moving around. At that point, I got up and moved back quite a few rows in the theater. When it appeared, “The Thing” was usually moving towards us with stiff legs and outstretched arms. In the end, to our relief, “The Thing” was liquidated by stepping on a large electrified metal plate. The theater lights came on. Despite our older brothers’ teasing we had survived a terrifying movie.

When we walked out of the theater Gary and Gil insisted “The Thing” had actually survived. It was still out there, ready to return, and get us as soon as it climbed out of the Knik Glacier. Gary and Gil pointed over to Pioneer Peak and said it was just beyond the mountain and it would probably visit us tonight. When the folks came by about five minutes after the show let out I was ready to be picked up. We climbed back into our customary seats and began the ride home. Like typical older brothers, Gary and Gil immediately started to harass my sister Sue and me over the back of the seat with their version of the “moving hand.” For eight miles the torture was constant. We would scream, Mom and Dad would tell them to stop it, and a few minutes later a crawling hand would appear again. For good reason they never messed with our sister Alice. Even though she had limited use of her right hand, her left hand could do some serious damage, and she was not opposed to using it on anyone who deserved it.

By the time we got home it was twilight. We piled out of the car and into the house as quickly as possible. Gary and Gil doing “The Thing” walk didn’t help one bit. That would have been the end of it all, except since all of us six kids had spent the previous night in the barn, all of our bedding and pillows were still out there. There was no way anyone would willingly go out there in the dark when “The Thing” was waiting to get us! It was a dilemma quickly resolved by Dad. He informed Gary and Gil that they were to go to the barn and return with everyone’s blankets. A cry of “Unfair!” followed by pleading was heard, but they knew from Dad’s tone of voice and his finger pointed to the back door that there would be no argument.

We had several of those old olive-drab WWII military flashlights, the kind that are turned 90 degrees on the end. The only one of them that worked was in the folk’s bedroom, safely tucked away from us kids, but it was worth a try to ask. Dad just pointed to the door again, so Gil pulled out his trusty Boy Scouts’ flashlight that looked exactly like the military ones except it had a Boy Scout emblem on it. After a few determined shakes, it finally flashed on!

“We’re not afraid of nothin!” were the last words heard from Gary and Gil as they ventured out the back door, flashlight ready. Our faces were plastered to the dining room windows watching as they moved quickly toward the barn. Gil’s flashlight flickered once more then failed as they passed the old log cabin on their way by the chicken shed. 

The chickens were not settled down for the night and were cackling as Gary and Gil passed them and finally made it into the dark barn. Red and Blacky (our cows) were moving around in their stalls making unearthly noises. Eventually they had gathered up all the bedding and began venturing back toward the house. The cows were still disturbed in the barn and for some reason the chickens were sounding even more troubled. Right after they passed the chicken coop, out of the dark “It” appeared! Close behind them they saw a huge creature with its face lit up and a glowing light circling over its head! “The Thing” was making ugly noises and coming towards them with outstretched arms and stiff legs!

From inside the house, we could see a small light shining, moving in circles and illuminating a frightening face. At the same time, the monster let out a blood curdling scream that rattled the windows and could have been heard all the way down to our neighbor’s, the Vickaryous place, a half a mile away. It was quickly followed by higher-pitched screams of terror. We couldn’t tell what happened next, but within a few seconds both Gary and Gil came blasting through the back door into the kitchen, slamming the door behind them! Gil later said that Gary got to the house first and ran smack into the wall before finding the door. Dad looked at them and before they could catch their breath he asked them, “Where is the bedding?”

The boys were shaking with fright and talking about “The Thing” coming to get us when Mom came walking in, holding her flashlight, and carrying all the blankets and pillows that had been thrown into the air. After the bedding was sorted out, Mom flicked the kitchen light off leaving everyone in total darkness. Within a second the shining flashlight was under her face, a cigarette waving above her head and she gave out the same blood-curdling scream we’d heard earlier. This time, we all took off for parts unknown while she and Dad were left having the last laugh.

No items found.

Terror At Moose Burger Farm

No items found.

Author

Pete Hjellen

Pete Hjellen is a lifelong Alaskan, retired from the State of Alaska as a data processing manager. He and his wife, Diane Holmstrom, became foster parents, fostering over 65 children in their retirement. Pete and Diane spend their summers at Harding Lake near Fairbanks and snowbird to Anchorage for the winters

The Valley Theatre in Palmer, Alaska, was the closest movie theater to our home near Wasilla in the 1950s. There was no television in those days and many folks didn’t even have electricity or running water. But we had no trouble making our own fun. We lived at Moose Burger Farm, the nickname given to our 160 acres by my big brother Gary, in part because of the dozens of moose that could always be seen on our property in the winter, as well as the inordinate amount of moose meat we consumed. The hay barn was an ideal place for us to play in out of the rain. The rafters were high enough for several rope swings and there was a huge plank we slid down into a stack of hay. There were big barn doors, also used for swinging on. We enjoyed camping out in the barn because we could stay up later than our folks allowed. 

One morning, after one of our barn campouts, Gary, the oldest, and Gil, the second oldest, were talking about going to the new science fiction/horror film called “The Thing.” The folks had promised to take them that evening. Of course, all of us younger siblings wanted to go, but Gary and Gil teased that they were the only ones old enough because the movie was too scary for us little kids.

After dinner, the whole family piled into the blue ‘52 Plymouth station wagon. Mom and Dad were in the front with Ida squeezed in between them. Susan, Alice, and I climbed in the back seat. Gary and Gil were behind us in the back. No seats for them, just a small open cargo space. It was a tight fit for all eight of us, but no one minded because we were going to see “The Thing.” Ida, the youngest, would be the only “little kid” staying with the folks.

During the eight-mile drive to Palmer, Gary and Gil provided several scary stories about “The Thing” and how it was going to “get us.” They’d heard that some of the movie was filmed at the nearby Knik Glacier, and claimed “The Thing” was not really dead, just waiting for the ice to melt again. And, Gary reminded us, “The Thing could easily walk all the way to our house in a single night.”

The folks dropped us off at the movie-house and, taking Ida along, went to do whatever parents did in those days when most of the kids were out of their hair. We purchased our tickets and then spread out in the theater. Gary and Gil could not be seen with the rest of us because that wasn’t cool. As usual, I sat in the front row so I could get the full impact of the movie—big mistake! 

The movie started with a cartoon first, followed by a piece on the World War II efforts. The war had been over for several years, but we were still getting updates letting us know “Uncle Sam Wants You.”

As the movie progressed it was indeed scary. “The Thing” was this huge fierce person frozen in ice for 10,000 years. The scientists, flown out from Anchorage, removed this creature from the ice and placed it in a cold room to keep it frozen. Several thought it could be dangerous and should be returned to the ice. One of them commented that it looked so real and it still seemed alive. We kids in the audience certainly agreed! A malfunction caused the cold room to warm up and of course, “The Thing” escaped. 

Logo of the 1951 film The Thing From Another World, RKO Radio Pictures

During a tense scene of searching a room, destroyed by “The Thing,” a hand fell out of a cupboard and started moving around. At that point, I got up and moved back quite a few rows in the theater. When it appeared, “The Thing” was usually moving towards us with stiff legs and outstretched arms. In the end, to our relief, “The Thing” was liquidated by stepping on a large electrified metal plate. The theater lights came on. Despite our older brothers’ teasing we had survived a terrifying movie.

When we walked out of the theater Gary and Gil insisted “The Thing” had actually survived. It was still out there, ready to return, and get us as soon as it climbed out of the Knik Glacier. Gary and Gil pointed over to Pioneer Peak and said it was just beyond the mountain and it would probably visit us tonight. When the folks came by about five minutes after the show let out I was ready to be picked up. We climbed back into our customary seats and began the ride home. Like typical older brothers, Gary and Gil immediately started to harass my sister Sue and me over the back of the seat with their version of the “moving hand.” For eight miles the torture was constant. We would scream, Mom and Dad would tell them to stop it, and a few minutes later a crawling hand would appear again. For good reason they never messed with our sister Alice. Even though she had limited use of her right hand, her left hand could do some serious damage, and she was not opposed to using it on anyone who deserved it.

By the time we got home it was twilight. We piled out of the car and into the house as quickly as possible. Gary and Gil doing “The Thing” walk didn’t help one bit. That would have been the end of it all, except since all of us six kids had spent the previous night in the barn, all of our bedding and pillows were still out there. There was no way anyone would willingly go out there in the dark when “The Thing” was waiting to get us! It was a dilemma quickly resolved by Dad. He informed Gary and Gil that they were to go to the barn and return with everyone’s blankets. A cry of “Unfair!” followed by pleading was heard, but they knew from Dad’s tone of voice and his finger pointed to the back door that there would be no argument.

We had several of those old olive-drab WWII military flashlights, the kind that are turned 90 degrees on the end. The only one of them that worked was in the folk’s bedroom, safely tucked away from us kids, but it was worth a try to ask. Dad just pointed to the door again, so Gil pulled out his trusty Boy Scouts’ flashlight that looked exactly like the military ones except it had a Boy Scout emblem on it. After a few determined shakes, it finally flashed on!

“We’re not afraid of nothin!” were the last words heard from Gary and Gil as they ventured out the back door, flashlight ready. Our faces were plastered to the dining room windows watching as they moved quickly toward the barn. Gil’s flashlight flickered once more then failed as they passed the old log cabin on their way by the chicken shed. 

The chickens were not settled down for the night and were cackling as Gary and Gil passed them and finally made it into the dark barn. Red and Blacky (our cows) were moving around in their stalls making unearthly noises. Eventually they had gathered up all the bedding and began venturing back toward the house. The cows were still disturbed in the barn and for some reason the chickens were sounding even more troubled. Right after they passed the chicken coop, out of the dark “It” appeared! Close behind them they saw a huge creature with its face lit up and a glowing light circling over its head! “The Thing” was making ugly noises and coming towards them with outstretched arms and stiff legs!

From inside the house, we could see a small light shining, moving in circles and illuminating a frightening face. At the same time, the monster let out a blood curdling scream that rattled the windows and could have been heard all the way down to our neighbor’s, the Vickaryous place, a half a mile away. It was quickly followed by higher-pitched screams of terror. We couldn’t tell what happened next, but within a few seconds both Gary and Gil came blasting through the back door into the kitchen, slamming the door behind them! Gil later said that Gary got to the house first and ran smack into the wall before finding the door. Dad looked at them and before they could catch their breath he asked them, “Where is the bedding?”

The boys were shaking with fright and talking about “The Thing” coming to get us when Mom came walking in, holding her flashlight, and carrying all the blankets and pillows that had been thrown into the air. After the bedding was sorted out, Mom flicked the kitchen light off leaving everyone in total darkness. Within a second the shining flashlight was under her face, a cigarette waving above her head and she gave out the same blood-curdling scream we’d heard earlier. This time, we all took off for parts unknown while she and Dad were left having the last laugh.

No items found.

Author

Pete Hjellen

Author & Media

Pete Hjellen

No items found.

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