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Archive for the ‘bigfoot’ Category

“There’s no plainer way to say it: I write about monsters.

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Illustration by Lucia Calfapietra for Read It Forward.com 2019

As in wolves that walk on their hind legs, Bigfoot, and man-bats—the spooky stuff that pounding hearts and cold midnight sweats are made of. Upon learning what I do, most people assume I’m 6-foot-3 and spend my time clomping around forests with a rifle and a rucksack, hunting for phantom animals. They’re always disappointed to learn I’m closer in size to a Hobbit than I am to Paul Bunyan and that I carry a camera rather than a machete. (I do clomp around in forests every chance I get.)

Some expect me to resemble a woodsy goth. “You look like you could be somebody’s mom,” I’ve heard young fans moan. I am indeed the mom of two somebodies, and happy for it. But the fact that I seem so ordinary may be why every interview I’ve ever had starts with something like, “So how did a rather short art teacher/journalist from Wisconsin turn into a werewolf investigator and author?”

Truth? It’s not just about the monsters. It never has been just about the monsters, as much as I adore their rippling, furry muscles and their fangs all-a-glisten with viscous drool. No, there’s something more intrinsic, something monster-like that we’re all on watch for in this world because we know it exists even if we won’t admit it. Stories and folk tales are full of this mystery factor, and they can serve to make us aware there’s a monster in everyone’s life. But sometimes the monster just stands and introduces itself.

It surprised me as much as anyone when, in 1992, I wrote a newspaper article on an alleged werewolf-like creature seen by eyewitnesses outside a small town in Wisconsin, and the story blew up worldwide. The universe then turned its astonished, glowing eyes my way, and the “hunt” ended up taking over much of my life. Somehow the creature just never seemed as strange to me as it did to most other people, and I credit a few special childhood books that I believe helped make it so.

One of these books made me decide at age 3 that I wanted to be an artist and writer, but again, it wasn’t for the love of bears, ghosties, or wolves jeering at little pigs in fragile houses.

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This book’s protagonists were two feisty kittens named Hush and Brush, who invented every color ever seen by men or angels and went off to paint the world. I remember begging my mother to read it over and over because this story, Margaret Wise Brown’s 1949 The Color Kittens, showed me both the power of words and the miracle of color. It was as close to a religious experience as most 3-year-olds can have. And I’m not even a cat person.

Despite that fact, it was another cat tale that would give my world its second wakeup call. At Herbert V. Schenck Elementary School in Madison, Wisconsin, in 1957, I was 6 years old, lying on my kindergarten nap-mat waiting for the teacher to read us something dull. Then she announced the day’s story: The Cat in the Hat, by a man with the funny name of Dr. Seuss.

Cat? Hat? I perked up, and by the time she’d finished the first couple pages I was entranced in a state of joyful shock—not only at the rhymes but at the audacious rhythm, the unsentimental artwork, and the ludicrous Cat, who seemed more sinister than saccharine. Most riveting was the scary premise of the story: Mother leaves two children alone, extremely weird character enters the home, wreaks havoc, calls in two even stranger characters that go wild on the place, and then somehow the whole mess is cleaned up and the mother never finds out. Only the goldfish knows.

The teacher had read us many books, but this one felt completely new. I didn’t realize at the time, of course, that this was exactly what Dr. Seuss, aka Theodore Geisel, had been going for when he was asked to create a children’s book that would make young kids want to read. But it worked on me. I felt the power. The Cat was a creepily benign monster, and I understood that intuitively, as young children do.

There have been other books that opened unexpected worlds. One of my favorites, by Katherine Gibson Isobel Read, was simply called Fairy Tales. Its cover illustration showed a small group of children sitting at the feet of a storytelling elf, watched over by an enigmatic and beautiful fairy. The back cover completed the scene with a high hill topped by the requisite castle and towers. I looked at this illustration so long and often that I wore the binding off the book.

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My drawing of a rather stately fairy and elf quartet done in 3rd grade, age 9.

I didn’t believe fairies were real, but I wished very hard that they were. My sister and I invented a make-believe fairy universe of beings that lived in the clouds by day and danced in streetlights at night. They had magnificent wardrobes of gowns and tiaras, and left their tiny, polished teeth in a nearby quarry where we would spend hours hunting for small quartz pebbles. This world was strangely devoid of monsters, though there are many adult folk traditions that see fairies in an ominous light.

Together these books fused art, words, and unknown creatures into a corner of my youthful mind that always made me think, What if? Their message was a promise that though strange things may happen, and that these things may bring disorder to our lives—and though there may, indeed, be monsters—we’re strong enough to face the unknown beasts, clean up the messes, and leave some beauty in the world.

It was for the love of those books that I dared to write about werewolves, and still do.

See this and other essays at Read It Forward.Com!

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I’d really rather stay on the viewer’s end of the binoculars when folks are discussing cryptid or unknown creatures, but this article “Do You Have a Werewolf Problem?” by the Trib’s Chris Borelli places me firmly on the “focus–zoom in–speculate” side of field equipment and monster tales. It’s a fun piece of writing (although I’m pretty sure I said the 60# deer left NO drag marks, and how is just turned 68 “nearly 70?”) but overall it’s a good representation of the last 27 years or so, and I’m very grateful to Chris, Chad Lewis, and Loren Coleman for their kind remarks and analyses. Stacey Wescott also created some inspired visuals that help tell my unexpected tale.

I would also be remiss if I failed to thank an alligator that recently kickstarted the whole thing by showing up in the Humboldt Park lagoon, sending Borelli in search of explanations.

The alligator also had impeccable timing as my new book, I Know What I Saw, was just released July 16 and I’m speaking and signing books in Chicago at The Book Cellar in Lincoln Square July 25, 2019 at 7 pm. And no, I was not the one who put the alligator in the water. But as I’ve learned from this occupation–and preoccupation–of mine, strangeness is everywhere, and once in a while it does you a kind turn or two.

Here is the link to chomp onLindaTribStone: https://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/ct-ent-linda-godfrey-cryptozoologist-0725-20190724-fcoddjwfwzg7fne6ljmldutaae-story.html

 

 

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FindingJay

The ancient admonition “know thyself” stems back to ancient Egyptian and Greek writers and philosophers, and generally means learning to understand one’s own being—especially through understanding other beings, cultures or ideas. Wisconsin graphic printer and designer Jay Bachochin has dedicated himself for years to the pursuit of that scientifically unknown creature called Bigfoot, in an effort to see and understand what this phenomenon might actually be and discern more about himself in the process. 

He is aware of the ways this quest has become a driving force in his life, as his passion to somehow document the creature is often at odds with his equally dedicated role as a family man. In this film, we watch him balancing the two goals by bringing his wife and children to the winter forests of Wisconsin on occasion, or, more often, braving dark nights in rough territory with only a flashlight to show the way.

In full disclosure, I’ve hiked numerous trails with Bachochin over the past half-decade, and have watched him dash off into the darkness to give chase to some creature just out of our sight. I’ve also seen him take a hard knock in the head from some invisible force as we walked a path in the Kettle Moraine State Forest.  (Both incidents are covered in the film.) Nothing discourages him, and I think the fact that his title is “Finding Jay” rather than “I Found Jay” tells us that there is probably a “Still Looking for Jay” in the works. 

This film is a two-hour trek that distinguishes itself as the thoughtful overview of a true-life monster-seeker. Where most such films focus on the creature, Bachochin shows us the heart of the search. 

Finding Jay is available starting July 1 from Amazon Prime. Learn more at www.WPIhuntsthetruth.com  and at https://www.facebook.com/FindingJayDocumentary/

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I Know What I Saw is now out to be seen! 

This week, starting 7-20-2019 also see Inside Edition.com‘s  rerun of their original vintage episode of the Beast of Bray Road, plus a more current interview they did with me a few weeks ago to update the old beast. Next week, watch for a full feature story in the Chicago Tribune in the online section and then the print version on that Thursday.

Also new indie film out this fall, RETURN TO WILDCAT MOUNTAIN; Wisconsin’s Black Panther Nexus.  (click to see trailer and watch for release news, or see Facebook @whitelhasa’s Return to Wildcat Mountain page.) 

 

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Coming up July 7 and 8th…I’ll be giving a talk at the local library on the 7th at 3:30 and then on the 8th a Q & A with my son, Nate, on our (mostly his) RETURN TO WILDCAT MOUNTAIN documentary on the scores of mountain lion sightings and the fact that in one Wisconsin area, over half are of black panther-like creatures, and officials say there are NO black mountain lions anywhere! First screening of the director’s rough first cut — told by witnesses including a former staff researcher of Florida’s Panther Project.

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Check out our 2.5 minute flyer on Return to Wildcat Mountain, Wisconsin’s Black Panther Nexus

 

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It has a cover! And can be preordered, and is totally written. It even has pages up such as  the publisher’s at https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/565784/i-know-what-i-saw-by-linda-s-godfrey/9780143132806/   Alas, the final production will take a few more months incubation at Penguin/Random House, but I’m hoping the results will be worth it. Also, there will be a documentary film launched at the same time of the book, with a trailer reveal to be announced. And it isn’t about dogman. Not that there’s anything wrong with dogman. Watch here for links to the trailer, hoping in a month or so. Happy New Year!!!

 

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1994 artwork by Linda S. Godfrey created for The Week newspaper in So. Wisconsin

From the Cryptid Art Department Files:

I was pretty excited back in 1994 when comedian Bobcat Goldthwaite came to Walworth County, especially since I got to write a story on his visit and also make an illustration. It was only about two years after the initial Beast of Bray Road story and I wasn’t implying any connection between Bobcat and the Beast. But I think he got a kick out of it.

Here is another drawing made a year earlier, in 1993, as an editorial cartoon for a local issue. I believe the problem at the time was that property tax rates had been frozen and school districts were trying to get them unfrozen to increase school funding. Two sides with good arguments! One of the county school districts is the Bigfoot School District in Walworth, which was named for a local Potawatomi chieftain, NOT Sasquatch.

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Drawing by Linda S. Godfrey, 1993, created for The Week Newspaper, So. Wisconsin

I post them here for fun and also because some recent documentaries have shown interest in my illustrations of other cryptid artwork figures than upright canines. I have 10 years worth created for The Week alone but don’t worry: I won’t post them all. I just wanted to show I don’t play favorites when it comes to unknown creatures!

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