This odd little news item came from the "Cincinnati Enquirer," August 25, 1955:
What was it that fell out of the sky to kill the little peach tree Edward Mootz had so carefully nurtured in his side yard? That problem has Mr. Mootz, who owns a handsome estate just off Sycamore Street Hill, tossing in his sleep these hot, humid nights.The cause of Mr. Mootz's tree-killing cloud was never identified.
It all started early in the evening on July 22. It was a hot day and Mr. Mootz had waited for the cool of the early evening to mow his terraced lawn at 440 Boal St. He estimated that the time must have been 5:30 and 6:30 p. m. Mr. Mootz first noticed that something unnatural was occurring when he was down on his knees near the peach tree.
"All of a sudden," he recalled, "a peculiar liquid substance, dark red in color and feeling somewhat oily, began pelting me and the tree. It was almost like being caught in a shower. I looked up and hanging directly over me about 1000 feet in the air was the strangest cloud I had ever seen. It wasn't a big cloud but it certainly did have odd colors. It was dark green, red and pink. The red in it matched the color of the substance which hit me and the tree. I could see that whatever it was that was raining down on me was coming from that cloud.
"I watched the cloud for a minute trying to figure it out and then my bare arms and hands where the drops had hit me began to burn. They really hurt, too. It felt like I had put turpentine on an open cut. I ran for the house and washed It off real good with strong soap and hot water."
Concerned only with washing off the burning drops, Mr. Mootz didn't even wonder how the tree might have fared. But the next morning when he stepped out in his yard he was stunned. The tree had died overnight. The day before it had been a healthy young tree over six feet tall. Mr. Mootz estimated that It had a "good peck" of young peaches on it. Still green, the peaches were about the size of a chicken egg. Overnight most of its leaves had turned brown, and fallen off. The healthy young peaches had shriveled up to the size of the stones inside of them. The twigs and limbs were brown and brittle as if the tree had frozen to its roots. The main trunk of the tree had shriveled also and had become so hard that Mr. Mootz had difficulty driving a nail in it. On the side of the tree which bore the brunt of the miasmic shower, the leaves not only died but fell completely off. They died just as completely on the other side but they remained attached to the twigs. The grass was killed where the drops sifted down through the tree to the ground.
Mr. Mootz has been growing shrubs and bushes and trees for many years but he contends that he has never seen a plant die so fast. "I've seen plenty of them killed by insects, disease and poor care," he explained, "but it takes a while for them to die. I never heard of anything that could kill a plant within 12 hours."
No one can tell him that his peach tree died of anything other than that strange, red shower. Whatever it was," he contends, "it killed my tree. Some of my friends have suggested that an airplane dropped jet fuel on my tree. But it wasn't that. There wasn't an airplane in the sky. I know. I looked for one. Furthermore, that cloud was the only cloud in the sky."
Mr. Mootz also puts no stock in the theory that the cloud was produced by some chemical plant and drifted over his yard to drop its red death.
"I've lived here for 15 years," he said, "and it's never happened before. I've never even seen a cloud like that before and I'm 59 years old now. Besides, I don't think I live near enough to any kind of plant that might produce such a cloud for it to drift over my land."
Mr. Mootz believes that the most ridiculous theory yet advanced is that a flying saucer was hidden in the cloud. "That's silly," he said. "That cloud wasn't big enough to hide a flying saucer if there are such things. Besides, it wasn't controlled. I watched it for a long time from the house and it was drifting with the wind. I watched it until it drifted out of my sight over toward Eden Park. No, it definitely wasn't controlled."
He doesn't know how or why, but Mr. Mootz believes that the cloud somehow is connected with the atomic bomb tests which were conducted in Nevada some time ago.
"You hear a. lot of talk about fall-out," he said. "Maybe this was part of it. That's the only thing I can think of. But I do know one thing. Whatever that stuff was, someone should put it on the market as a weed killer. Those weeds under that little peach tree died just as fast as the tree and the grass did."