Bigfoot Was My Father

The word had spread like locusts in Moses’s neighborhood. It even made the local news. A few seemingly normal individuals made claims of having actually glimpsed the mythical, the strange, the other-worldly. A farmer stood before television cameras telling the community that he’d seen it with his own two eyes, wandering a worn path near his cornfield. A school teacher followed a week later, assuring all who’d listen that she, too, had a run-in with this forgotten relic of evolution. Others came forward as well; respectable people, each and every one, claiming their own encounter with the beast of many names. Sasquatch. Yeti. The Abominable Snowman. But back in the summer of 1977, we all took to calling the legend Bigfoot.

Some witnesses even carried plaster castings to their all-important news conferences. These plaster castings of massive footprints put a fear in those of us who were young enough to believe such a creature could—and probably did—exist in the woods near our homes. And there was little doubt these beasts had a taste for human flesh and blood.

A walk through the back forty now promised carnage to those too slow to outrun an almost-certain encounter. Dares were issued. Goosebumps mingled with adrenaline as the brave ones took up the challenge.

Finally, the day came; I saw the beastly devil with my own two eyes. It hid among the tall grass, crouching low to the ground, doing its absolute best to go undetected, expecting a quick and easy snack.

What I actually saw, though, turned out to be nothing more than a tree stump. But in my ten-year-old mind, that tree stump had long hairy arms and legs, black soulless eyes filled with hunger and hatred, and a notion for tasting blood.

My blood!

I bolted toward the house, every so often tossing glances over my shoulder, certain I’d see the tell-tale loping gait of a monster in fast pursuit.

I saw nothing, though—nothing but trees and weeds and clear blue sky.

Breathless and filled with the rush of having just cheated death, I told my tale of facing the Devil himself to my sister, my brothers, and to a few friends. Eventually the story made its way to my father’s ears.

“No such thing, son,” Dad assured me, certain in his pronouncement.

We wandered back to the scene of my epic showdown with the hairy vision from hell, discovering in its place the afore-mentioned tree stump. The lack of footprints or any other form of irrefutable evidence gave weight to my father’s assumption that Bigfoot does not exist—at least not in our woods.

Then it showed itself, that sparkle of mischief in Dad’s eyes.

“Come on,” he said. “Let’s have a little fun with this.”

We wandered back to the house, excited at the possibilities of what dad had in mind.

A quick search of the closet produced a fur coat; a brown, long-haired thing that ran the length of a person’s body.

Dad slipped into the coat, hunched beneath it, his head hidden. “This will work,” he announced.

Work for what? we kids all wondered.

Dad grabbed his Polaroid camera and the fur coat, and made for the back forty again with us kids in tow.

Just around the bend, near where I swore I’d seen the real monster, my dad donned the coat, drifted into the tall grass and brush, and crouched low to the ground. Two pictures were produced that day; pictures illustrating a large brown hairy thing hiding in the grass.

“Oh my gosh!” my sister’s friend Susan exclaimed upon viewing the evidence. “I am never going out there again.”

We let her believe the lie for a day or two—if I remember correctly.

Others saw the pictures, too, and were given varying versions of how Bigfoot happened to be captured on film.

We always revealed the truth of the matter; we never left a soul to believe the hoax. It was Candid Camera or MTV’s Punk’d on a smaller scale. To us kids, it smacked of pure genius!

The story faded over the years, recalled from time to time with a laugh, a shake of the head, and a fond smile.

My father passed away in May 2012 after suffering a massive heart attack. Since his passing, I find myself pondering those long-forgotten memories with greater frequency. I guess there’s some truth to the idea that a person never truly dies as long as there’s somebody around to remember the little things.

Thanks for the memories, Dad.