Monday, August 24, 2009

The Aliens of SR9

by Lance Albertson for Sanity Preferred
You've just left the town of Grace, WA in your rear view mirror (population 12, says the sign), heading north on a two-lane highway, north towards Clearview, then on to Snohomish. You're tooling down the highway when you see - no, it couldn't have been. You look again, and it's true. Your eyes did not deceive you. They are real. Lurking beneath the apple trees, the aliens of SR9 are among us.
And have been for about ten years.

They are the handiwork of John King, tow-truck driver, sci-fi fan, and resident artist. Not surprisingly, people like me stop by all the time to take pictures of the creatures and their spaceships. John's wife, Sue (pictured left, with the artist), puts up with them.
Each of the spaceships is constructed of a pair of large, old-style satellite dishes that people had asked him to haul off for scrap, then topped off with a Weber grill. The mid-line is covered by lights that the Kings turn on in the fall which makes the ships easy to pick out at night. The aliens are made of car suspension springs and alien Halloween masks. Both the springs and the masks are harder to come by than they used to be. (If anyone knows where to find the alien masks, please let John know - he's especially interested in green ones.) Sometimes he does get donations. The round-faced alien shown above is a cookie jar left anonymously on the Kings' doorstep.

John said that when he finished building his first ship he sat in the back yard with spacey, New Age music playing and the lights flashing and it felt "almost mystic". He might have stopped there if it weren't for someone saying it looked like a clam (must have been an Ivar's fan). To make sure that people realized that they were spaceships and not clams, John set about creating a small army of aliens. Now there are two ships and seven aliens, five on the ground, and two in one of the ships.

John has made other things from scrap as well. He has a larger, man-sized spring creature that can sometimes be seen dressed in a Mariners outfit, and he has made a dinner bell (left) out of an old compressed air tank. An avowed pack rat, he has pulled an eclectic mix of items from cars before he drags them off to be scrapped: an Oscar the Grouch who pops out of his plastic garbage can when you squeeze an air bulb, a stack of bibles (which he gives away), and boxes of car emblems pried from the sides of the soon-to-not-be cars. The strangest thing he ever found in a car? A box of cremated human remains, packaged up nicely, complete with the deceased's name on the box (the remains were respectfully disposed of at a funeral home).
The aliens wear out over time, their plastic faces fade from exposure to the elements. In fact, John replaced the masks for the spaceship aliens while I was there today, a little maintenance to keep this alien roadside attraction in shape, a task that John seems to enjoy. I suppose I should expect nothing less, after all, John's father was born in Roswell, New Mexico.
If you ever need a tow, be sure to give John's Econo-Tow a call at 425-488-2406.


  1. You know if you continue North to Clearview, the nursery has the original large Ivars Clam.

  2. So glad to see this...I'm just a sister-in-law...not a blood relative to either...thank goodness...LOL

    I've taken pictures of the space ship and aliens at night and it is awesome. A must see at night!

  3. sadly, john is no longer with us. RIP.