Linda Godfrey’s blog identifies her as an author and investigator of strange creatures and now in I Know What I Saw: Modern-Day Encounters with Monsters of New Urban Legend and Ancient Lore, her 18th book on such sightings as the Wernersville Dog Woman, Killer Clowns, The Red-Eyed Monster of Rusk County, Wisconsin, The Hillsboro Hairless Thing and the Goat Man of Roswell, New Mexico.
Godfrey, a journalist, never intended to become an expert on urban legends, ghostly tales and creatures half human and half animal or whatever—there are so many different things that she categorizes them in her book with chapter titles like “Haunts of the Werewolf,” “Phantom Quadrupeds,” “Other Nonconformist Canines” and “I Saw Bigfoot.”
It all began in 1991 when Godfrey, a local interest reporter at The Week, a weekly county newspaper in Delavan, Wisconsin, was listening to similar stories told by sober locals about the frequent sightings of what they described as a large wolf walking—and sometimes running on its hind legs, devouring large amounts of road kill on Bray Road.
“I was trying to keep an open mind,” says Godfrey, who was seriously skeptical.
But when she kept hearing the same story—or relatively the same story—repeatedly from everyday type of reliable people, she began to reconsider, wondering what they really were seeing. Could it be a wolf that could, like trained dogs, walk up right like humans? Her first book, Beast of Bray Road, Godfrey shared results from her investigation and gained her national attention.
“It’s easier to record encounters than understand them,” says Godfrey who has become more open to believing that there are other-worldly things as well as real. “There’s a good chance that what we call monsters are actually unknown and unidentified natural creatures that have learned to be very elusive. After all, the people who report monsters come from all demographics. They are police officers, businesspeople, teachers, housewives, doctors—they’re from all walks of life. Sometimes they are too traumatized to talk about it or report it.”
Many of Godfrey’s stories reflect her geographic location—she still lives in Wisconsin. But she travels all over the country to follow up on sightings. They not only cross state lines but also timelines—many of the creatures she hears about today have their beginnings in legends hundreds of years ago.
If you have a sighting you’d like to report, she’d like you to email her at email@example.com says Godfrey, noting as a journalist, she’d like both facts as well as the feelings and emotions engendered by encounter.
“Provide as much information as possible including date, time of day, weather, lighting conditions,” she says, citing a long list of what she’d like to know. These include physical characteristics as well as any thoughts or emotions that occurred when a person made a sighting, how they felt afterward, whether they observed the creature leave the scene, any interactions with the creature, whether, after the sighting, the person returned to check for evidence such as footprints or hair and such. And for those who can draw, a sketch would be great. Those reporting sightings should know that Godfrey keeps all the information she gathers confidential unless she has permission to reveal it.
“For those who do go looking for these creatures or who have encounters, Godfrey is both reassuring and cautioning.
“We need to take care,” she says. “As we would of any wild thing.”
What: Reading, Q&A and signing with Linda Godfrey
When: Thursday, July 25 at 7:00 PM
Where: The Book Cellar, 4736-38 N Lincoln Ave Chicago, IL
Fyi: (773) 293-2665; bookcellarinc.com