Saturday, December 07, 2002

Bigfoot is dead?

Long live Bigfoot!

While I have maintained an active interest in Bigfoot news and lore for some years now, I have never been one to argue either for or against the actual existence of such a beast. With the recent passing of Bigfoot hoaxer Ray Wallace, and the posthumous assertion by his son that bigfoot accompanied his father to the grave ("The reality is, Bigfoot just died. . ."), I feel a need to speak up on behalf of the big hairy guy who has been haunting our imaginations if not our woods for millennia.

Ray Wallace may have introduced the hairy man to the modern world back in 1958 with his good natured pranks as Mark Chorvinsky states:

"The fact is there was no Bigfoot in popular consciousness before 1958. America got its own monster, its own Abominable Snowman, thanks to Ray Wallace,"Mark Chorvinsky, editor of Strange Magazine, told The Seattle Times.

The fact remains, however, that Bigfoot and his kind have roamed the landscapes of mythology (and, perhaps, reality) for as long as we have been walking upright. As wild man and animal person he has lurked at the fringes of cultures around the world. Certainly the native peoples of North America knew him under many names, Sasquatch the most recognizable. They have known him in China for a very long time as the Yeren and in Australia he is called Yowie. He answers to Alma in Russia and, of course, Yeti in the Himalayan ranges.

In the Pacific Northwest, where Mr. Wallace's family claim their loved one "created" big foot, the "creature" that would one day acquire that name thanks to Mr. Wallace was making news long before 1958. In 1884 a mysterious ape-like creature (either a young Sasquatch, a chimpanzee or a complete fabrication depending upon whom you get the story from) was captured by railroad workers in British Columbia and later named Jacko. 1924 saw the infamous Ape Canyon attack, in which a group of miners were allegedly terrorized by a group of ape like creatures near Mt. St. Helens.

Even now reports of sightings, encounters and mysterious footprints continuing to accumulate around the globe. I'm sure they will continue to do so in spite of and because of people like Ray Wallace.

And what are we to make of these stories? What we will, I suppose. I tend to think that if and when the Bigfoot mystery is ever solved, we will pull that wild man from the woods and find that he looks a lot like the recently departed Mr. Wallace, after all, and a lot like you and me.

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