Fouke Monster Film Does Good BY DEBRA HALE Associated press Writer FOUKE, Ark (AP) —
He’s as tall as Wilt Chamberlain, almost as fast as a cheetah and as heavy as a gorilla. He has bushy hair, red eyes, a three-toed foot and a voice like a peacock’s. He is the legendary Fouke Monster, the main character in the movie “The Legend of Boggy Creek” starring Keith Crabree, Willie Smith and other residents of this southwest Arkansas community. Crabtree, who portrayed the monster, no longer lives in Fouke. Although the first recorded sight of the monster dates back to 1954, Smith, who plays himself in the movie and who provided the description of the monster, said his 75-year-old sister saw the creature when she was 10. it was not until last summer, though, that the Film Productions of Texarkana turned the legend into a moneymaking movie filmed in Fouke and nearby Texarkana. Producer-director Charles Pierce originally had planned to call the documentary film “Tracking the Fouke Monster.’’
The movie is called a documentary because, as its actual title suggests, the monster subject is treated as a legend. One year after the movie premiered residents of this small community, population .506. are beginning to realize that the movie could have bolstered the town’s economy if they only had acted sooner. “The people here in Fouke have missed the boat by not taking advantage of the publicity we have received and expanded on the monster theme.” said Mayor J.D. Larey of Fouke. “A novelty shop might have been the thing to bring in more money from tourists. But the people here just didn’t realize what they had when the iron was hot.”
Laney . a retired Air Force officer, noted, however, that such profits would not have had a lasting effect. One man who was involved in financial arrangements for the movie shared Larey’s opinion. “None of us dreamed that the darned thing would make the money that it did,” he said. “The man who made the movie had never made a movie in his life They guy who backed the movie had never backed a movie in his life. The people who acted in the movie had never acted before in their lives. I don’t think you could have foreseen anything like this. Laney said he receives several long-distance telephone calls and from three to 12 letters a day about the monster. Much of the mail is addressed directly to the mayor or to other city officials, but some of its is addressed to the Fouke Monster. Larey said the Post Office had decided to forward him all such mail. One such letter addressed to the “Boggy Creek Monster, Fouke. Ark.” was from a child saying she thought his movie was neat. One was to a City Official. And was from a member of the volunteer fire department in Martinsburg, W. Va The man inquired about the monster’s habitat, size and identity. The fireman said he also would “like to have some picutres of the monster. He promised to keep the information “confidential.”
Fouke residents say it is not unusual for a tourist to stop in their town to hunt for the creature in the swamp along Roggy Creek. One customer in the Boggy Creek Cafe, for example, recently said he had seen a man wandering through the swamps the previous day with a knife. The customer said the man told him he was hunting for the monster and that he had just spotted the creature’s claw print on the side of a tree trunk. “I just laughed at him.” the customer said as he drank a cup of coffee “He got mad.” Larey said, three Green Berets from Virginia recently telephoned him to ask if they could look for the monster during their leaves. Larey said he advised the men to wait until after deer hunting season. “I was afraid the game warden would pick them up.” he laughed.
The Miller County sheriff’s office does, in fact, forbid hunters to take guns into the woods to look for the monster except during deer season. They say this limits the possibility of a hunter’s shooting a human mistakenly thought to be the Fouke Monster. On Fouke’s main street, but still not far from Boggy Creek, is the Boggy Creek Cafe, owned and operated by Mr. and Mrs. Bill Williams. The cafe is one of two Businesses in Fouke that have capitalized on the monster. In addition to the regular menu items, a hungry customer can choose such items as the “Boggy Creek Breakfast,” a “Three-toed Sandwich” and a waffle and ice cream dessert called the “Boggy Creek Delight.” Money clips, cards, key chains, bumper stickers and ash trays with “Home of the Fouke Monster” written on them are sold behind the counter. The jukebox offers a Bobby Picket rendition of “Monster Mash.” The cafe also stock a reproduced souvenir print of what some persons say is the monster’s foot. The souvenir, autographed by Smith and Crabtree, is considerably smaller than the monster’s foot—which Smith said is 5 inches wide and 14 inches long. Mrs. Williams said 20 to 25 tourists stop by the small restaurant daily She said she never had seen the monster, but wanted to see it. “I believe there’s something out there. From the way the people I have talked to described it. Smith walked into the cafe. He saw a reporter, his eyes brightened and he started talking. Insisting that the monster was a vegetarian. Smith said he had seen it several times near his house along Boggy Creek. “First time I saw him was back in 1955. I though he was a man. I shot at him 15 times with an Army rifle, but missed him,” Smith said. “Next time he came up behind the house throwing rocks at my dog,” Smith added. “So. I shot through the brush and missed him again. ‘’The third time my wife and I were watching TV when I heard him. He slapped my dog across the porch into the screen door.” Again. Smith’s aim wasn’t too good; he said his shots missed the monster , which is said to run about 45 miles per hour . Smith said some other Fouke residents had heard the monster about two weeks ago, but that the creature didn’t sound like a peacock this time. “He was roaring and cutting up and sounded like a crazy man,”
21 Aug 1973, Tue • Page 2