Something was wrong with the rain in Oakville on Aug. 7, 1994. At about 3 a.m. it smeared across windshields like Vaseline and clung to the trees in clear gelatinous lumps. Animals died almost immediately after eating it, often falling just a few feet from their last meal with a telltale green film gurgling from their mouths. For 20 square miles everyone was affected but no one knew what was going on. Then people started getting sick.
Beverly Roberts, 77, remembers the experience and the days afterwards with the rhythm of a song she knows by heart.
Roberts said 12 of her friend’s animals died soon after it came. One day she found about two gallons of the stuff sitting on the side of the road with a frog and raven both dead a few feet away. She put on latex gloves and collected a sample to study at home, but, fell ill soon after. The next morning she went to get out of bed but fell to the floor immediately. The vertigo was so bad she had to dress on the floor and crawl outside to her car.
“I was upside down in my mind, but I concentrated on the lines on the road,” she said.
She managed to get to the doctor’s office where she spilled out of her car and made it to the threshold of the door. She spent nearly a week in the hospital. She wasn’t alone.
Doctors saw a spike in patients diagnosed with inner-ear problems and major respiratory issues when the blobs came.
It came six more times over that August, and each time it dissolved into the ground. To this day no one is sure what it was, but the outside world keeps asking.
In the 20 years since the rain Roberts has been interviewed by numerous media outlets and television shows from as far away from Japan, Australia and England. They all have the same questions: What was it that fell from the sky? What did you see? Did people get sick? Was it aliens? She, like everyone else that was around for those times, has their theories.
Some people thought military experiments, or, maybe, bizarre weather over the Pacific blew a school of jellyfish into the clouds that rained down and poisoned the town.
That theory was quickly shot down since it seemed so unlikely that jellyfish could fly 50 miles over land, then deteriorate without any odor.
The U.S. Navy admitted to flying bombing exercises over the Northern Pacific, but denies any knowledge or involvement with the mysterious gel.
The issue attracted attention from media outlets from around the country, including the New York Times, the National Geographic Channel and the television show Unsolved Mysteries.
Samples of the material were sent to the Washington Department of Health. Scientists were able to identify human white blood cells and two types of bacteria known to cause illnesses in people, but neither one could explain the symptoms found in Oakville. What was even more puzzling to researchers was how the blobs got into the sky.
Initial speculation was a commercial flight dumped human waste over the town, but the Federal Aviation Administration forbids airlines from dropping waste in midflight and, it was a blue material besides. What landed on Oakville was crystal clear.
To this day it’s a mystery that’s never been solved.
Roberts said she kept a jar of it hidden in the tall grass on her property for years, never knowing exactly what she would do with it. Then, a few months ago a Japanese television crew called and asked her about the jelly rain. She brushed up the old sample and mailed it off, a few weeks ago they sent her a DVD and $100—the first of any media outlet to pay her— but she has yet to watch it.
“Maybe I’ll do it, now that I have a computer,” she said. “But I’m going to write a book about the whole thing here pretty soon.”