Boston's Worst Hour. Boston's Finest Hour.
I read some criticism by physician turned U.S. Congressman turned perennial presidential hopeful Ron Paul concerning the handling of the tragic events that unfolded during the Boston Marathon. Apparently, Dr. Paul believes that public transportation, and the city in general, should not have been shut down when the location of the surviving suspect was narrowed to the Watertown suburb. His delicate Libertarian sensibilities were rocked when residents were asked to stay in their homes for their own safety, local businesses were asked to close, and police went door-to-door to find the perpetrator. Really, Dr. Paul? Are you serious?
Boston has certainly had its share of tragedy; Albert DeSalvo's murderous 1960s adventure as The Boston Strangler comes to mind as a relatively recent example. And whether he alone was responsible for the deaths of all thirteen women is a moot point in the context of that tragedy. Going way back, we have the blood and war of Revolutionary times and all that transpired. Several others have occurred in between, of course, but the events of April 15, 2013 are among the most spectacular and tragic. Agencies at all levels worked seamlessly to ensure public safety. Emergency and medical personnel saved lives. Three innocent people with their lives ahead of them were dead. A police officer had been gunned-down in cold blood. No one knew, exactly, what the situation was or if more carnage was just around the corner. We now know that the two suspects' next stop, had their plan not been thwarted in Boston, was to continue their reign of death and dismemberment in Manhattan. Yet, the good doctor is upset because law enforcement made it temporarily impossible for residents to go to Walmart or hail a taxi to get there. On behalf of the people of Boston, please allow me to cordially relay this message to you, Ron Paul: You're an idiot!
Thank you for allowing me to vent; I feel much better now.
New England Cryptozoology: Three Men and a "Baby Moose"
New England is no stranger to the strange. Ghosts? Yes, they've certainly kept me busy all these years. UFOs? Our corner of the country is definitely a hot spot. How about Cryptids? "What? Say that again?" Crytozoology can be described in highbrow, scientific, but totally boring terms such as "The study of unknown creatures...". Forget that. I much prefer monster hunting!
We New Englanders are more than happy to embrace our witches and ghosts. We welcome our strange friends in the sky with open arms. But dinosaur-like lake dwellers and smelly, hair-covered bipeds? Nah, they're other peoples' problem! How inconvenient! How dirty! "They'll pee in our water!". They'll poop in our woods!". "Let them stay in Alaska!". "Keep them in Montana!". Sorry folks, but it's too late; they're already here. There goes the neighborhood...
It's sometimes difficult for us to see past Fenway Park and Logan International Airport, but New England encompasses much more than Boston. And that "much more" is a lot of wilderness: The Green Mountains in Vermont, White Mountains in New Hampshire, much of Central and Western Massachusetts, and practically the entire state of Maine. Throw in the sparsely-populated areas of Connecticut and Rhode Island, and you've got a lot of nothing. Granted, extremely scenic and beautiful "nothing", but nothing just the same. And if you knew you were 'monasteriense non grata' and wanted to avoid the torches, pitchforks and cellphone cameras of the local townsfolk, where would you hide? My guess is that only a few miles from one of the largest, most densely-populated metropolitan areas of the country would not be your location of choice. All of which makes this strange tale even more, well...strange...
On the night of April 21, 1977, three men, Bill Bartlett, Andy Brodie and Mike Mazzacca, had their creepy brush with cryptozoological infamy. Around 10:30, driving along Farm Street in Dover, Massachusetts, only fifteen miles outside of Boston, they spotted the creature that still has New Englanders talking more than 30 years later, and remains just as much a mystery: The Dover Demon.
The size of a large dog, the men saw the 'thing' walking along the roadside in the headlights of their car. Described as being pink/gray in color, having a hairless, spindly, humanoid body, huge head, large eyes that glowed orange in the headlights, long, thin fingers and walking upright, it quickly scurried away over some rocks and into the nearby woods. That should be the end of our story. Maybe just a known animal? A raccoon with mange? Perhaps even a small child? But no, that's not quite the end...
It's now midnight, and less than two hours have passed since Bill, Andy and Mike spotted our unusual friend. John Baxter is walking down Farm Street towards his home. And walking towards him? The same creature seen by the others. Needless to say, John wasted no time on pleasantries, and got the hell out of there. The following evening, on April 22, it was again seen by two other people, this time on Springdale Avenue, closer to the center of town. It then disappeared, never to be seen again.
So, what was it? As with most mysteries in cryptozoology, we'll probably never know. And, as with most cryptids, shyness seemed to be its dominant personality trait. This one just happened to find itself a little closer to civilization and, perhaps, that was not by choice. Its described physical appearance is very similar to that of the 'classic' gray alien: small body, large head disproportionate to that body, large eyes, gray in color, long fingers. Very much like the alien in the movie E.T. Maybe it was trying to find its way home; by some accounts it did seem lost and confused. Did the movie influence what the witnesses believed they saw? Sounds logical, except for the glaring fact: this was 1977, and Spielberg wouldn't release E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial until 1982. The sightings were extensively researched by New England cryptozoologist Loren Coleman, who named the creature, the name which has stuck to this day.
And what about the "moose" mentioned in the title? Credit that to skeptic Marvin Kottmeyer. He decided what was seen was nothing more than a baby moose. A moose with fingers. A moose that walked upright on two legs.
No, we will probably never know what The Dover Demon was. But we can be fairly certain what it was not.
Until next month...
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