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Archive for the ‘Linda Godfrey’ Category

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An overnight gift on my deck? Something unusual turned up this morning on my backyard deck which overlooks part of the Green Belt that connects hiking paths around the city where I live.

My bedroom window overlooks it directly. I once had a wired-in, infra-red motion detector focused on the yard there but something bit the wire in two! That was a few months ago. But just lately, I’ve been getting wood knocks in groups of 3 from the woods back there. Always a few minutes after I turned my light off.

A couple of nights ago, the knocks occurred immediately after I turned off my light. I told the Hubz but I wasn’t too excited, could have been lots of things. Last night around 8 or 9 pm some of the neighborhood dogs started barking in alarm mode. Again, I’d usually figure a deer or rabbit, coyote or whatever…until whatever was being barked at decided it had enough and made that super deep “hobita-hobita” growel + vowel sound that I and many others have associated with Brother Bigfoot or Sister Squatch. The barking stopped immediately. Again I mentioned it to my resident skeptic and he said, “Hmph.” So this morning I took a look out there and was shocked to see a perfect circle of 5 white landscape rocks laid out on the deck near the back rail. They had to have been carried from some edging close to the house. I know my neighbors…none of them would have sneaked onto my yard to make a little rock feature for me. The deck is surrounded by wilted plant debris so no footprints. Here are a few pix from my photo record. And the quarter and standard card deck are for size comparison, not a test to see if my visitor wants to ante up for a game of poker. BTW the woods were completely silent…no squirrels, birds etc. Eerie!

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This Halloween offering is for those followers of the the Beast of Bray Road legend and encounters, who enjoy puzzling over the decades-old paper trail of ink-blotted arcana fished out of battered files.  I recently found two such items hidden in a drawer in a folder I’d marked, “Old Beast.” They actually fell out of the folder and right in my lap–an old makeshift bookmark and a page torn from the small notebook I used in my early reporting days.

I was about to throw them in the circular file but then I noticed the words, “Bray Road Werewolf” at the top of the bookmark. Beneath it was what I believe were my first written words about witness Lori Endrizzi and her mother, Pat ; “Lady claims daughter saw a werewolf on Bray Road 2 years ago.” I had added “Hospital Road,” because the sighting was near Bray’s intersection with that shortcut to Walworth County’s hospital complex. (Some names are redacted.)

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There were other brief comments from someone inviting me to cover a meeting on alleged mis-used animal traps, along with a mention of the county  animal shelter where I later met with Jon Fredrickson, the county’s then animal control officer. The bigger piece of paper includes more notes on that meeting, and a great Fredrickson quote, “The county’s getting stranger.” And best of all are my notes on his description of a wolf or coyote springing up when startled so that it only seemed to be walking upright. And I can’t leave out the mention of the large, clawed animal trail on Potter’s Road.

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For those who are not fans of very old paper trails, I give you (metaphorically), my growing collection of creature socks, all from friends, that also give me joy. Happy Halloween to ALL my friends, I just thank you all for being here.

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“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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“Running on 2 legs super fast” — An Upright Canine Sighting in SE Wisconsin Mid-August 2018,
 
In mid-August 2018, a young man and his buddy were sitting and talking in a Rock County park late one evening when something started up a continuous howl nearby in the woods. Carver-Roehl is the 2nd oldest park in Rock County, and lies about 20 miles west of Bray Road, between Avalon and Clinton on Hwy 40. It includes a small, historic grave yard dating back to 1843 and also the large, limestone outcroppings known as Carver Rock. The man wrote me said they saw a large, dark-furred canine with pointy ears running very fast in the woods about 100 yards away. It stopped for a couple of minutes — they felt it was observing them — and then went from a crouch position to two legs and ran away “super fast.” The man and his friend also left quickly. I’m not sure exactly which part of the 53-acre park they were in, but there are several entrances.
 
I’d like to add that the man was interviewed by producers for a recent Travel Channel show but wasn’t featured in the finished episode. This happens often, I’ve learned, usually due to time constraints. They told me he seemed very credible and truthful. I stopped by the park recently for a quick recon look and found it very well cared for with pavilion, outhouses, new play equipment and trails for hiking and skiing. I imagine it’s a lot spookier at night . I did also see a large, black pointy-eared dog running at me but it was with a woman and a large white dog. They were on the ridge behind the boulders in the photo below. As you can see in the next photo I wasn’t dressed for mosquitoes and was on my way to somewhere else, so I left the rest of the exploration for a 2nd trip.

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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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