17 July 2008

The Monsters In My Mind

I grew up with an active imagination - an imagination that came in the form of a sweet, honest, Democrat hillbilly cop who loved the idea of Bigfoot, UFOs, and all things strange and unexplainable. My imagination was my dad and he passed on that love and wonder of all things weird and paranormal to me.

I can remember bringing home a copy of John Keel's The Mothman Prophecies from the local library. I was 12 and fascinated that some strange creature, something from another dimension or planet had come to warn the citizens of Point Pleasant, West Virginia, about the collapse of the Silver Bridge, that odd "Men in Black" were trying to cover up the truth about the creature, and that UFOs were seen in the area for 13 solid months.

Then? Upon seeing my reading material? My father told me about another West Virginia monster - the Braxton County Monster, a.k.a. the Flatwoods Monster. Oh, my imagination ran wild. My girl scout troop camped in that area one summer and I waited for some Bigfoot-type creature with glowing, red eyes to step out of the forest and scare the piss out of me.

Turns out, the Braxton County monster wasn't a monster at all - more like an alien in a rocket-propelled space suit, if the witnesses are to be believed. The Braxton County monster was seen the night of September 12, 1952 and I'm sure that if my father hadn't been in Korea, he would have driven the 71 miles from Charleston to Flatwoods to check out the scene. Immediately. He was that kind of guy.

But like any other story involving purported aliens/UFOs and West Virginians, the press got it wrong. It wasn't a furry, man-sized ape, it was something from beyond our atmosphere, something that will never be seen again.

What brought on this bit of West Virginia monster-hunting nostalgia? I picked up a copy of The Braxton County Monster: The Cover-Up of the Flatwoods Monster Revealed by Frank C. Feschino, Jr. It's a wonderful account of that one night in Flatwoods, West Virginia and when you hear the recollections of the young boys and mother who encountered this thing, who have nothing to lose or gain in telling their story, you can't help but believe them.

And I can't help but feel my dad, looking over my shoulder, reading the book with me and smiling.

14 comments:

Bucky said...

I'm also a big fan of the unexplained.

I have a book that is falling apart because I have lent it out to so many people. The name of it is "Appalachian Ghost Stories and Other Tales". Relatively cheap on Amazon.com

http://www.amazon.com/Appalachian-Ghost-Stories-Other-Tales/dp/0870122037

Like I said, I have lent the book out to several people and all have enjoyed it. Most of the stories are local to a handful of counties in West Virginia. I highly recommend that you read it.

Employee No. 3699 said...

Just read the synopsis for the book, sounds really interesting.

Avitable said...

And now you're a big imaginationless Republican.

:P

Teri said...

Aw, man. Nothing cool like that ever happened in My-jammy. I wonder why it's always the rural, "hillbilly" areas, hmmmmm?

Love you, Biatch! ;-)

P.S. - Avitable, "imaginationless Republican" is a bit redundant, isn't it? :-)

RiverPoet said...

I think it's natural to be drawn to these stories and to wonder if they're real or not. But I just find I can't believe them. I'm one of those boring people who needs to see it to know it isn't just another hoax to make money off of the rest of us.

I'm not saying there isn't paranormal activity that we can't understand; I just want to see it for myself. Hubby, on the other hand, believes...

Peace - D

Not Afraid to Use It said...

LOL Avitable!!! ROFLMFAO

Okay, that aside--how wonderful to read that and have a connection with your dad. I am SURE he was at your shoulder. And I bet Chip would agree with me.

A Free Man said...

I listened to this BBC Radio podcast the other day about the sort of pervasiveness of "monster" reports - the yeti, sasquatch, bigfoot, etc. Basically you find them all over the world. (Growing up in Florida, we had the swamp ape).

But kudos to the West Virginians - you've got a horse of a different color up there!

Molly's Mom said...

We don't have anything really cool and paranormal in Michigan that I know of. There used to be a story in my hometown that Al Capone's girlfriend haunted the cemetery she was buried in, but that's about it.

Ok, Where Was I? said...

I too am a fan of the unexplained. Unless it's dark outside. Then I have to run to my room and sleep facing the door b/c I get freaked out and somehow that will protect me.

I didn't know anything about The Mothman Prophecies until the movie, but I thought that story was pretty damn good.

Coal Miner's Granddaughter said...

Bucky - I remember that book! I nearly wore out the copy at the Library! My favorite story was the one of the skeleton hand at the base of a tree and the hand would make the tree branches scratch at the house window. SPOOKY!

Employee #3699 - It is. Fascinating!

Avitable - HA! Smartass Democrat-lovin', Commie... :)

Teri - Dude! You've got drag queens! And nearly-nekid sunbathers! And cruise ships! And... oh, I give up.

RiverPoet - Hubby and I understand each other!

NATUI - Don't encourage Avitable! Don't feed him, either! And Chip? I would love to take him to Flatwoods and have him "read" the witnesses. It would be fascinating!

A Free Man - Hey, we know how to do the monster up right!

Molly's Mom - OK, I was going to prove you wrong. I looked in my paranormal America book, looked up Michigan, convinced I would find something cool about Michigan. Um, no. Sorry, hon.

OK, Where Was I? - Right there with you, hon! You should read the book, too. John Keel is one paranoid man.

Donna said...

I love strange and creepy things ... until it gets dark out *shiver*

Coal Miner's Granddaughter said...

Donna - Hee hee!

Kelli said...

Hey! Have you heard of Mamie Thurman from Logan Co. WV? She was a woman who was brutally murdered back in the 30's I think it was. Anyway, this occured in Holden, WV on #22 Mine Road. If you go to this certain spot (it's on an UPHILL incline) and put your car in neutral...IT WILL PULL UP HILL. SWEAR TO GOD...IT'S THE TRUTH. If you want to research this just type in Mamie Thurman or #22 Mine Road in your yahoo search engine and you will get TONS of links to people testifying to this. It's really creepy. I found this blog by accident while searching for something else and just thought I would tell you about this 'cause you might be interested. PS. i am a 30 something living in Southern WV, too. What part of WV are you from? Just curious.

Coal Miner's Granddaughter said...

Kelli - I haven't heard of that spot but I know there was a similar "mystery spot" like that here in Georgia. Cumming, to be exact. But, the spot is now part of a strip mall and no longer exists. *Sniff* I'm originally from South Charleston and have been living in Georgia for 15 years.