I believe I suggested that part two of my monster tale would include something about how the movie made my students believe I was a liar. Guess I lied. This is part three. Here’s how that came about.
Charles B. Pierce brought his crew to my hometown, Fouke, Arkansas, to record for posterity (and to make a bit of money) the stories about the Fouke Monster that had been circulating for the past few years.
He didn’t have a very big budget. Make that a very small budget, actually. He did some bartering and bargaining, as I understand it, and figured out how to get this movie made. He had a great deal of help from some locals, but nobody was more helpful to him than J.E. (Smokey) Crabtree. In later years, the relationship between the two men deteriorated dramatically, but that is another story, and not mine to tell. I would refer you to books Smokey has written if you want his story.
One of the coolest things about how the movie was made was that Smokey let Pierce rig up his welding truck as a light source for night time scenes.
I remember the night Charles Pierce called my mother. We heard only her side of the conversation, of course. I was visiting with my folks while Bill was at work.
Daddy and I began to get the feeling Mother was in the middle of an unusual phone call. It was frustrating trying to figure out what was going on.
Daddy had turned down the television so we could listen in. The call lasted perhaps five minutes, and toward the end Mother began to say things like, “No, sir. No, I don’t think I’d be interested.” Finally Pierce gave up and Mother hung up. She turned to us with a look reminiscent of the one she’d worn the day she saw her creature.
“He wanted me to play myself in his movie and I just don’t feel comfortable with that. People made fun of me enough when it happened. I don’t want to go through that again.” After all this time, I sort of wish she’d done it. I’d have a lasting memory of Mother, and of Daddy and his hounds. Oh, sure, we laugh at the movie, but it would still be fun to see them on film.
Years later I became a teacher, most of the time having a self-contained special education class. My students tended to be labeled Learning Disabled, and in my first school they were like many others who didn’t get referred for testing but who would also have been far enough below grade level to be LD labeled. The difference? Kids who were trouble-makers got referred; quiet ones did not.
Just before Spring Break all teaching goes to pot. The kids want a break, the teachers want a break. So I decided to give us all a break and have a movie afternoon. I brought a copy of The Legend of Boggy Creek, we popped popcorn and brought in soft drinks, and the class of 9-13-year-olds settled down for a treat they had never experienced in school before. (I’m happy to say they had a number of positive “firsts” while I was there.)
I gave them a bit of background about the movie – how and why it came to be made. And then I started the tape. Five minutes in…there were whoops and squeals and cackles. Fifteen minutes in, and they were both scared and unbelieving. By then I had started a running commentary they simply couldn’t wrap their minds around:
“See this guy lighting a cigarette? He used to be my bus driver.”
And this place where Travis is camping by the water and it looks like it’s in the middle of nowhere? It’s right down in front of his nice brick house, and we used to go camping right there sometimes.
See where they are showing the dogs not chasing anything but acting scared instead? Well, that was supposed to be about what my mother saw, but she wouldn’t do it. So they changed the story.”
See this guy, and that guy there? Well, he’s in prison for killing him.”
My daddy hunts all over those woods. Duck hunting, deer hunting, coon hunting. He can find his way around in the dark and come out of the woods anywhere he wants to.
We had to watch it again the next day, just because of all my interruptions and their responses. I loved it.
But they still didn’t believe me…not really.