Wednesday, August 4, 2010


The night of July 27, 1981, Tom Deal felt terrible. He’d played softball with a local Chicago team that afternoon. All his team had needed to win was for the other team to make one more out. Then a batter on the other team hit a fly ball—straight to Deal. It should have been an easy catch. But the ball bounced off Deal’s glove. The other team went on to score five runs. They won the game—all because Deal had flubbed the catch. That night he went to sleep brooding about the missed catch. The next morning, he woke to the sound of a baby crying. Deal and his wife, Lorri, looked out their bedroom window. Just across the way was another apartment building. On the third floor, ten-month-old Jennifer Deul was crying. The Incredible Catch Unfortunately, her babysitter was asleep. As Deal and Lorri watched, little Jennifer worked open the screen door. Then she crept out toward the edge of the balcony. What if she tried to crawl under the railing? Deal threw on a bathrobe. He raced to the other apartment building and pushed the buzzer on the door of the third-floor apartment. There was no answer. Deal could still hear Jennifer crying, so he ran out to the corner and looked up. Both of Jennifer’s feet were under the railing! When Jennifer fell, head-over- heels toward the ground, Tom Deal was waiting below. As the baby bounced off the second floor railing bar, Deal dove forward and caught her under one armpit. Tom Deal had made the most important catch of his life! Americans call it Bigfoot, Canadians call it Sasquatch, and the Sherpas of Nepal call it Yeti. All agree it’s huge and hairy, part animal and part human. Hundreds of people swear they’ve seen these creatures. But many other people don’t believe they exist at all. Native Americans tell stories of human-like creatures roaming the land before white people came to North America. Early settlers in northern California have seen them. There have also been reports of Bigfoot sightings in Ohio and Florida. In China, there are reports of a hairy “wild man.” In Russia, people claim to have seen the “Snow Person.” Here’s a typical story of a sighting. This one happened on March 18, 1987, in British Columbia, Canada. A seven-man oil crew was working in the wilderness when four of the crew saw a monster. They claimed it stood about 7 feet tall and weighed about 400 pounds. “The thing looked more like a man than an animal,” said one of the workers, Myles Jack. The monster crouched down and watched the men. Then it circled the worksite. Jack said, “It looked like we were in his territory and he was checking us out. He seemed really curious.” Another worker, Bryan Mestdagh, said, “I’ve seen a documentary on the Sasquatch. I’d have to say that what we saw was absolutely identical.” Another famous sighting was in 1958. It took place near the town of Willow Creek, in northern California. Jerry Crew, a bulldozer operator, was working there with a road-building crew. On the morning of August 27, Crew noticed footprints in the dirt near his bulldozer. Figuring they were bear tracks, he climbed onto the bulldozer and looked down. Now he could see that the tracks approached the bulldozer, made a circle around it and went off into the forest. The prints were larger than anything he’d ever seen. Crew jumped down from the bulldozer. He compared one of his own feet to one of the prints—and broke out in goose bumps. The prints were enormous. Crew showed the prints to his foreman, Wilbur Wallace. The foreman had a story of his own. He said that he’d also seen the huge prints. Crew made a plaster-of-Paris cast of one of the prints and took it into town. Soon dozens of news stories were written about Crew’s discovery. In 2002, when Wilbur Wallace died, his family revealed a secret. Wilbur had made an enormous foot out of wood. He’d taken it to the worksite and laid down the tracks Crew had found. The whole Bigfoot sighting in Willow Creek was a fake! But are all the sightings fakes? Many argue that the big tracks are made by bears. They say the bears have simply overstepped their front paw mark. And others insist that sightings prove nothing. Eyewitness accounts are often unreliable, they point out. This has been proven again and again in law courts. No fossils of Bigfoot have been found. But fossils do not form in wet, acidic soil. The Pacific Northwest, where Bigfoot is said to roam, has wet, acidic soil. Some well-respected scientists believe Bigfoot could be real. Jane Goodall, famous for studying chimpanzees in Africa, is certain that Bigfoot exists. Another scientist is Jeff Meidrum, from Idaho State University. He says every Bigfoot sighting can’t be dismissed as a fake. He also thinks that some of the footprints seem to be real. A few samples of Bigfoot’s hair have been found. These hair samples can’t be matched to any known animal. In 2000, a huge plaster cast of a Bigfoot creature was made from a muddy impression discovered near a pond. Several scientists were impressed by the cast. Jeff Meldrum said that if the cast is a fake, it is a masterpiece. Daris Swindler, a professor from the University of Washington, didn’t believe in Bigfoot’s existence. But when he saw the plaster cast, he, too, was impressed. He said it would be difficult to fake. So perhaps Bigfoot does exist. Until bones or a body are found, however, we cannot know for sure.


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