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MidMIMonster

Original drawing by Linda S. Godfrey, copyright 2017 all rights reserved

Skeptics like to characterize unknown creature eyewitnesses as unsophisticated, uneducated or even under the influence of drugs or alcohol. What I have found over 25 years of reports is that these eyewitnesses are actually almost always sober, and that as a group they are quite diverse in profession, gender and age. Even young children are strongly represented, although they usually don’t report their encounters until they are much older.

I’ve received several reports lately from people whose sightings occurred decades earlier, when the witnesses were children or pre-teens. The following is a transcript of a phone interview I had with a woman from south of Eau Claire who saw a puzzling creature when she was a pre-teen. She did not want the exact location revealed and asked me to keep her identity private as well, which I always do when requested. I met with her in person, too, and found her to be a very cordial and sensible person. She simply happened to have once encountered something most children would consider a nightmare – a black, hairy being with “spikes” on its head that looked like horns or ears.

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In her words:

“I grew up south of Eau Claire, and one day I was out in our woods a distance of a football field and a half, alongside a path to a trash-burning area. I had a tire swing and was playing on it when I saw it. It peeked from behind a tree halfway between me and the house. It was a black creature, looked like it had ears or horns. It was solid black, on two legs, and it was the same size as me at that time, about four and one half feet.

When it stepped out [from behind the tree] I could see half the body. It had a regular hand. I couldn’t see the feet. Its leg looked like a human leg; it had knees. All I could see on the face was its eyes. They were yellow but not reflecting any light because we were in the woods where it was shaded. Its arm was hanging down, and may have been slightly longer than a human’s. It was a straight-on shot. It seemed like everything was three-dimensional. The spikes on its head could have been ears, hair that spiked up, horns, or tree branches that were behind him.

It reminded me of a human but because it was all black I thought it must have been a demon because I had never heard of Bigfoot at that age. I closed my eyes and started praying The Lord’s Prayer and when I opened them it was gone. I can’t remember if I ran to the house right then or not. I waited a few days before going back and never saw it again. But after seeing it, I’d wake up at night for months to hear either a scratching or a tapping on the window. I always put the covers over my head. It was quite often at first – every night – then slowly tapered off. I remember being scared out of my wits. It was almost like it wanted me to come with it or come out to play.

My parents still own the acreage. I never told them about it. My own kids wouldn’t go play out there.”

So what did she see peeping at her in those woods? I include here my own sketch interpretation, which the woman told me was pretty close. To me, the description and behavior scream juvenile Bigfoot. Young Sasquatch’ are often noticed watching children at play and following them home, and I think this conclusion is logical here. Except for those things on the head. That’s not a Bigfoot trait, but the woman may be correct in her guess that the “ears” were just branches in the woods behind it.

Other possible identities just don’t jibe with the report. A bear cub or deer? Not with “regular hands.” An upright canine? Goatman? These also seem unlikely for a creature with human hands, knees and a long arm hanging down at its side. Some might say it was a pukwudjie, or little person of the forest described in lore of the Algonquian, Wampanoag and other Native American peoples, but the pukwudjies are often described as only knee-high and covered with smooth gray skin rather than black fur.

If it was a juvenile Bigfoot, there may be a family group that is still somewhere in the area.  In Monsters Among Us, I told the story of a family who believed a Bigfoot was watching their children play in their back yard near Neillsville (only half an hour east of this sighting), and who had seen several of them over the past five years. The whole Eau Claire area is surrounded by forests and wildlife preserves that would create prime habitat for Bigfoot.

One more note: this report is also one of a growing number I’ve received wherein the witness prays or calls out to God in fear, and the creature is immediately gone. I do not know for sure what this creature was, but even though it appeared years ago and did no physical harm, residents in that part of the state may want to keep an eye on their tire swings!

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And this is what he looks like. This is the face I see when I have the occasional dream about Bigfoot. Nothing else usually occurs in the dream, but I finally decided to draw him just for fun…

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I’m always saying I don’t believe in TRADITIONAL werewolves, but almost every culture worldwide has its own, unique version of werewolves or something similar. That fact requires me to define “traditional.” What I usually mean by that are those moonstruck, hairy creatures  whose attributes are derived mainly from old European legends and Hollywood movies. But even these examples may vary. When I come across a legend with some interesting features, then, I like to note it for future reference.

Today while I was looking for something else, I happened across this charming artwork depicting a priest from Ulster named Gerald and his encounter with a couple of upright werewolves. The illustrations look a lot like many drawings made by modern day eyewitnesses and artists. The creatures appear completely canine, for instance, and they can walk either on all fours or upright. Muzzles, pointed ears and toe-pad-walking complete the pictures.

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(image from Creative Commons O, Europeana Collection, from the British Library Royal Collection, c. 1196-1223)

Their behavior, however, is the big surprise here.The story is written in Latin, but as I understand it from various translations, Gerald of Ulster was camping in the woods sometime around the year 1200 when he was approached by a large werewolf.

Short version: The creature begged Gerald to come with him and minister last rites to his mate. It seems they hadn’t always been werewolves. Their village had been more or less cursed to give up one couple every seven years to wander as Lycans, and it had been this pair’s turn to serve. They hadn’t yet completed their obligation when the missus fell ill. Gerald succeeded in tearing part of her fur away to reveal the shriveled elderly woman inside, and she was then able to eat a consecrated wafer. Happy ending.

There isn’t much more to the story. I simply thought it appropriate to begin the New Year with a tale from the era that still informs today’s lore. But I saw something both touching and brave about Gerald’s willingness to follow the wolfman into the woods and in the wolf couple’s determination to keep their faith. Most contemporary reports would have the witness fleeing the scene in terror (as I would be doing) while the wolf creature gave chase and then growled off into the night. That’s probably much closer to reality. But reality bites.

And I suspect they just don’t make werewolves like they used to.

Enjoy the art, anyway, and Happy 2017!

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Every once in a while I’ll be going through my files and will  discover items that have never been resolved for various reasons, just crumbling away in the staid limbo of manila folders. Here are a couple of headscratchers that turned up recently.  While I also have a bunch of newer reports to share soon, I feel I should mention these oldies first, just in case anyone knows more:

Nashotah Bigfoot? July, 2006, Nashotah, Wisconsin report from three men driving on County C south of town described “something huge and brownish that turned to gray toward the back end” crossing the road in front of them as close as only six feet from the car. It was on all fours, had bigger legs than arms (or forelimbs) and its rear end was higher than its front end, giving it a posture “like a souped-up car” as it ran. They were sure it wasn’t a bear or a deer, and indeed, I’ve heard reports of Bigfoots running on all fours in just this manner.

The man who wrote me about it (second hand) in October, 2006, said he was investigating the incident for the BFRO (Bigfoot Field Research Organization) but it doesn’t appear on their site as far as I could discover. I sent him a recent email for an update and am hoping for a reply. I also have the name of the witness, but his contact info has changed.

I would say this sounded more like a Bigfoot than dogman, except the witnesses also said it had a 4-6 inch long tail.  They did not get a good look at its head. The driver said he’d also seen a large upright creature running through his back yard, and it was seven to eight feet tall. That by itself is not conclusive. I remain especially interested in this incident because of the “Hartland Hairy Thing” seen only two years ago in Hartland, Wisconsin, just five miles away. Both towns are about thirty miles north of Bray Road, Elkhorn.

Water Walker and Giant Swimming Animal: August, 2006, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, was the date of an old Yahoo conversation I printed and saved from another group because of a question from John Scherf asking if anyone had seen the “Lake Michigan Water Walker.” He said that a strange figure was sometimes sighted sitting on the beach in the very early morning hours. It would then rise up and walk out onto the lake waters until it disappeared. (A person wading out to swim, perhaps?”

The page also included a note from friend and long time cryptid quester Kimberly Poeppey: “I saw a big animal swimming in Lake Michigan! It was as big as a car. It was swimming in the bay by the Art Museum.” She added it was winter and the animal was swimming around blocks of floating ice, leaving a large wake behind. All she could see was its “big, dark, back.” Lake monster?

Anyway, I feel better having given these three mysteries a fighting chance. I penned out a rough map, above, just to give some idea of their relative locations–all in S.E. Wisconsin. I’m no cartographer, but I added a few representative bipeds and quadrupeds in appropriate places for interest. And I’m far from done going through my files. I’ll post again if anything else shakes out.

 

 

 

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Only a few days before Christmas, 2014, Phantoms and Monsters blogger Lon Strickler included a UFO sighting and close encounter report titled “Still…the Oddest Account I’ve Ever Read.” http://www.phantomsandmonsters.com/2014/12/stillthe-oddest-account-ive-ever-read.html It came from a man named Ken who sent Strickler his late father’s written account of seeing a UFO in Orange County, CA in 1996, just before spotting a bald, alien-looking being dressed in a light blue bodysuit as he was walking a few blocks away from his house.

I almost choked on my eggnog–in a good way–as the story reminded me of a 2006 Wisconsin sighting that also involved a UFO and an muscoda1alien in a light blue body suit. And it’s a Christmas story, as well.

I visited and interviewed the nationally recognized, visionary artist Ellis Nelson of Muscoda for my book, “Strange Wisconsin,” not long after his sighting. Nelson is a semi-retired, self-taught metal sculptor. His front yard gallery on the edge of Muscoda teems with original versions of the Grim Reaper, various animals, and a stylized version of the UFO he saw fly overhead as he sat outdoors in his lawn chair one day that year.

It was August, and the yellow jackets were swarming. Nelson watched one of them as it spiraled into the sky, hoping to discover the location of its nest, when he noticed a silent, gray disk emerging from a large cloud bank. He watched the strange craft glide acrossmuscoda2 the sky and disappear in another group of clouds.

A few months later, on Christmas day, he was sitting inside his studio next to his home-made, sawdust-burning furnace, when a strange, female humanoid appeared only a little over a foot away. He had been dozing, said Nelson, but her presence jolted him awake. (Some may say this was therefore a dream-state experience but Nelson insists it was not.) Despite his surprise, he sat stock still and studied her carefully. She had white hair arranged in corkscrew curls, large blue eyes lacking pupils or whites but covered by a clear membrane, and she wore a form-fitting, light blue bodysuit accented with a red bowtie. Her mouth was a just a straight slit, she had no visible nose, and her head “bulged in back where it met the neck.” She was staring at his furnace, and he watched her for what he estimated was about 8 seconds.

He was then distracted by the sudden awareness that his drill press was lying on the floor, and when he looked up again, she had vanished. But so certain was Nelson about the reality of his experience that he wrote and signed an affidavit attesting to his truthfulness. He keeps this memento of the Christmas visitor sitting framed on his desk.

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The California alien was a bit different than the Wisconsin creature. Its eyes were small and round, and it wore big black boots. But the biggest difference between the two sightings is that the alien Ken’s father saw walked behind a garage, only to (apparently) re-emerge as a huge, glowing-red-eyed, Sasquatch-like being that ran to a nearby woods! That witness also reported a time gap of nearly two hours during the event, while Nelson wasn’t aware of missing any time.

The annals of UFO lore are rife with descriptions of small, slim aliens in body suits of different colors, but these two incidents with their respective connections to Sasquatch and Christmas set them apart in a scary, yet almost charming way.

Muscoda, however, has also been the site of at least one reported cryptid sighting—albeit over 60 years before Nelson’s drop-in guest. In 1941, two young men driving just north of the town had to brake to avoid a dark-furred, furry creature standing upright in the middle of the road. By the time they managed to stop the truck, the beast was right next to their window, well lit by a bright moon. It stood about five-and-one-half feet tall, and was not a bear, cow, deer or any other animal either man could identify. The story was told to me by the daughter of one of the witnesses, who said he spoke of it often over the rest of his life, describing it as “creepy.”  (“Hunting the American Werewolf”)

UFOs, body-suited beings and furred, bipedal creatures. Not so different than a flying sleigh, a white-haired man in a red suit and big black boots, accompanied by a slew of prancing, magical beasts with glowing red noses instead of eyes. And there it is: another example of the weird similarities between folklore and contemporary eyewitness reports as so many researchers have pointed out. A Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

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art by Linda Godfrey

art by Linda Godfrey

Super-sized birds are one of the most tantalizing topics for researchers of cryptid animals. Most of these weird flyers resemble some type of actual bird (often a type thought long extinct) that would seem to put them in the “likely to be ‘real’” category – except for their wingspan usually reported at 20 feet or more, their massive bodies, and their penchant for carrying off live creatures considerably larger than the rabbits, fish and squirrels preferred by even the largest of our known birds of prey.

The 2005 sighting near Hayward, Wisconsin by a Minnesota businessman named John Bolduan that I chronicled in American Monsters describes one of the better observations I’ve seen anywhere of these creatures. Bolduan’s sighting was in close range in full daylight and included seeing the bird on the ground, taking off, and then flapping away, with nearby trees, tall grasses and roadway for size comparisons. It had a stork-like appearance, but Bolduan hasn’t been able to match it to any known species.

Since the time that I had to submit the manuscript for that book, I’ve received other reports of oversized avians that I wish could have been included. A brief summary:

  • Pike County, PA, autumn 1996 or 1997: A woman reported seeing a huge birdlike creature gliding over the trees during the day. She stopped her car to watch it and estimated it was the same length as her car, 17 feet. She tried reporting it to an area animal preserve and to a game warden, who both told her she had probably seen a vulture, but she said it looked nothing like a vulture and could not find anything to compare it to other than something prehistoric.
  • State Line Island, Nebraska, May 1995: In another daylight sighting, a man hiking along the North Platte River encountered two birds standing in a clearing that appeared the size of large humans but were covered with black feathers and had raptor-like heads. No markings. One turned and looked at him, then both spread their wings to an estimated 20 foot span and jumped from the ground. One was carrying a small deer in its talons and had a hard time getting airborne with it as the other bird screeched from the treetops. He believed the deer was the same small doe he had seen at that site the day before and estimated its weight at at least 75 pounds.
  • Clements, Michigan, spring 2014: NOTE — I’m withdrawing this report of a “giant” bird that had been sent by a third party. Subsequent interviews with the actual witnesses revealed this was almost certainly a turkey vulture. According to the father and son, it had the typical pinkish-red, unfeathered head and other characteristics of this bird that is probably the Midwest’s most oft-misidentified bird of prey. Just goes to show the importance of a little extra digging, and my apologies for posting the brief version prematurely!
  • On the other hand, as if to make up for that one, I received another report from Brookfield, a suburb of Milwaukee, that was indeed submitted by the original witness who answered follow-up questions. Her sighting occurred in fall, 2006, in daylight, as she and her three-year old son stood in the backyard of the home they were renting. She noted that the area had enough natural cover that they often saw deer, coyotes and other wildlife. She wrote, “A bird that resembled a golden eagle, except that it was about the same height as me (five feet, four inches) landed 15-20 feet away from us, looking me in the eye. We all remained still, staring at each other for a while. I remember feeling a little scared, as it could easily fly away with my 3-year old, but also a great reverence as I felt the bird was deciding how it felt about us being on that land.”  The woman added that they all stood for about 20 seconds, eyeing one another, before it flapped away with “great ease.” After it left, she took a  yardstick and measured what its height and wingspan would have been according to where it had stood in relation to corresponding features of her lawn, and said it stood 50-55 inches tall (about a foot shorter than she thought at first) with a 12-foot wingspan. A golden eagle may have a 5 1/2 to 8-foot wingspan but stands only about 27-36 inches tall. She added that the breast color of the bird she saw was “creamish,”  which is not usual for this species. Was it a golden eagle? If so, it was a specimen considerably larger than the known dimensions of that species, with unusual coloring. I do think what ever it may have been, it probably was interested in checking out her 3-year old, and that’s the scariest aspect of this encounter. Golden eagles have been known to seize small deer and domestic animals.

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It’s been a couple of harried weeks, and I won’t schlep through the long tale of what’s kept me from blogging. But sometimes a video just says things so much better, and here is one that, while it has nothing to do with anything, conveys the feelings from my little timeout. Its first line says it all. And since it’s experimental animation, prepare for strangeness. I am not the creator, kudos go to guerilla You-Tube artist Narfin1000.

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