Uncle Dewey and the Bigfoot

Dewey porch

Me—with my Uncle Dewey (in 1968) in Camden, Arkansas. Aunt Clara is behind the screen door, inside. My uncle’s hunting dog “Dewey” (he named the dog after himself) is in the middle. The dog was not along at the time my uncle encountered the creature.

 Camden, Arkansas

Dewey Greeson had lived in Arkansas all his life. Married to my Grandma Ina’s sister, Clara, Dewey loved hunting and fishing. He preferred the more isolated reaches of the woods, if he could get there. Usually accompanied by a friend during deer season, he would set off into the wilds and thickets, not to return until he had “bagged a good one.” One minor distinction Camden has in regards to where it is located, is that it is less than a hundred miles from Fouke—where the “Fouke Monster” sightings took place, and of which 1972’s Legend of Boggy Creek was based on. In addition, Camden lies southeast from Ouachita National Forest, where Bigfoot sightings have been taking place for decades. As it has been a generally-accepted “working theory” among researchers over the years that Bigfoot creatures “may migrate,” one might expect one or two of them to have passed through the Camden area at one time or another.

Illustration-Fouk

Illustration of a hunter encountering the “Boggy Creek” Bigfoot creature of Fouke, Arkansas.

“Dewey saw one of those things,” Clara said, looking over to her sister Ina, who was sitting on the couch. Grandma Ina and I had traveled down to Camden from St. Louis in late summer 1976. We had stopped off in Little Rock to see relatives and then onto Hot Springs to rest up a night. My grandmother was taking a much-needed rest break from all the poltergeist activity that was happening at her St. Ann, Missouri home at the time. Once in Camden, there wasn’t much to do except sit inside the house and talk. Aunt Clara was being dead serious when she made the remark about Uncle Dewey seeing a “Bigfoot.” She had never been one to “make up stories.” In fact, I don’t remember her having any kind of a sense of humor? Neither she—nor my Uncle Dewey. Raised in Arkadelphia (about 50 miles north from Camden), Clara never drifted far from home. While her other siblings moved on to larger communities like Little Rock, she would remain happily in Camden for the remainder of her life.

clara3

Aunt Clara and me–in 1968.
(Camden, Arkansas)

Clara and Ina had not seen each other since their husbands had passed away—Dewey in 1975 (the year before our visit), and Hank in 1974 (one year before Dewey). I found myself always intrigued by stories of Bigfoot creatures. Shortly before our trip to Camden I decided to stroll across the parking lot behind my Grandma Ina’s haunted St. Ann home (just south of Lambert Field Airport in St. Louis County) to see a new Bigfoot documentary hosted by actor Peter Graves; The Mysterious Monsters—which was showing at the St. Ann Cinema (adjacent to the St. Ann Drive-In). The movie opened in August of 1976 (see original ad). I didn’t envision at the time I saw it that my Aunt Clara would have a Bigfoot story of her own to tell. We even had one in Missouri once—a Bigfoot. It was nicknamed “MoMo” (i.e. “Missouri Monster”). First reported in 1971 (90 miles north of St. Louis), sightings of the creature continued into the ensuing years. Then—in early 1973, UFO reports suddenly began popping up in nearby Piedmont, Missouri (130 miles south of St. Louis). I remember the Piedmont phenomenon quite well, as a neighbor friend’s father owned a small hunting cabin down there at the time all this “UFO business” was going on. He would sometimes take kids from the neighborhood down with him on weekends to help out fixing his cabin up. For some reason, I never seemed to be around on these occasions (so I never got invited). When the neighborhood kids returned, bragging about their own experiences of seeing these same strange lights in the Piedmont skies, I couldn’t help but feel a little bit “cheated.” Because the Piedmont reports and St. Louis-area “MoMo” sightings overlapped at certain points, some believe the two might have been connected? This theory is nothing new. The proposed “Bigfoot-Alien” connection has been floating around for years. No one as of yet has been able to prove it though.

piedmontufo

1970’s Piedmont UFO scare and MoMo—the Missouri Monster. Two stories that wouldn’t go away. Were they connected?

While no known UFO sightings were ever reported in regards to any of the Arkansas Bigfoot sightings, widespread reports involving each started flooding out of rural parts of Pennsylvania in late 1973, suggesting the two may indeed be related after all? Was Bigfoot really a “space alien” (as the supermarket tabloids were postulating)? Or was Bigfoot some kind of  “extraterrestrial pet” that often came along for the ride? Whatever the case, the debate continues. I remembered Legend of Boggy Creek (1972) more than anything else. Unlike The Mysterious Monsters it profiled an incident that had taken place not far from where my Aunt Clara then-currently lived. Because I knew Camden was close to Fouke I happened to bring up the subject. That’s when Aunt Clara mentioned Dewey’s encounter. “He was way far back in the hills…near some train tracks or something,” my aunt said. “They (Dewey and a hunting buddy) were tracking a deer they spotted. They were closing in on it and were about to come out of the woods into a clearing. That’s when they saw it.”

graduation

Me and Grandma Ina, as we looked one year after our visit to Camden. I was graduating from high school in St. Louis. Photo taken at my parent’s University City home in June of 1977.

According to Dewey, Clara said the creature was “very tall and very hairy.” Dewey said it “didn’t appear to be doing much, just meandering about.” Clara was steadfast that Dewey was not joking when he told her this. “He said that it was like an ‘ape man,’ walking upright on both legs the whole time,” Clara said. “They watched it for a little while, before it finally moved off and was gone.” So was Dewey’s white-tailed deer. Clara said he returned that night, empty handed and highly agitated by the whole affair. When he tried telling people about it, he soon discovered they wouldn’t believe him, even “mocking him.” Humiliated and angry, Clara said Dewey finally gave up talking about it and never mentioned it again.

map ark234Interestingly, just four months before Dewey died, a young Camden man was on his way home from work. It was dark at the time. He was in a sharp turn on the road, when his headlights hit something “strange,” crossing the blacktop ahead of him. His description (though vague), matched closely with what Dewey said he’d seen–“a giant hairy animal, like a man but not a man…walking on two legs.” The young man had never known my aunt or uncle personally, but was certain of what he’d seen for himself that night on the road. “Whatever you want to call it, I saw it. It was real. And it was here…in Camden.”

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