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REAL LIFE MONSTERS & FAIRIES?

The Mothman (statue above) was reportedly first sighted on November 12, 1966. A group of five men were preparing a grave in a cemetery near Clendenin, West Virginia when they reportedly saw a "brown human shape with wings" soaring from behind trees and flying over their heads. The sighting was not made public until later, and the first sighting reported in the media occurred three days later.

On November 15, two young married couples from Point Pleasant, Roger and Linda Scarberry and Steve and Mary Mallette, were on a late night drive in the Scarberrys' car. They were passing the West Virginia Ordnance Works, an abandoned World War II TNT factory, about seven miles North, when they noticed two red lights in the shadows by an old generator plant near the factory gate. They stopped the car, and were startled to discover that the lights were actually the glowing red eyes of a large animal, "shaped like a man, but bigger, maybe six and a half or seven feet tall, with big wings folded against its back," according to Roger Scarberry. Terrified, they drove toward Route 62, where the creature chased them.

Going down the exit road, they saw the creature standing on a nearby ridge. It spread its wings and flew alongside their car to the city limits. They drove to the Mason County courthouse to alert Deputy Millard Halstead, who later said "I've known these kids all their lives. They'd never been in any trouble and they were really scared that night. I took them seriously." He followed Roger Scarberry's car back to the TNT factory, but found no sign of the strange creature. According to the book Alien Animals, by Janet and Colin Bord, a poltergeist attack on the Scarberry home occurred later that night, during which the creature was seen several times.

The following night, on November 16, several armed townspeople combed the area around the TNT plant for signs of Mothman. Mr and Mrs Raymond Wamsley and Mrs Marcella Bennett with baby daughter Teena in tow were in a car enroute to visit friends, Mr and Mrs Ralph Thomas, who lived in a bungalow among the "igloos" (concrete dome-shaped dynamite storage structures erected during WWII) near the TNT plant. The igloos were now empty, some owned by the county, some by companies intending to use them for storage. They were headed back to their car when a figure appeared behind their parked car. Mrs Bennett said it seemed like it had been lying down, slowly rising up from the ground, large and gray, with glowing red eyes. While Wamsley phoned the police, the creature walked onto the porch and peered in at them through the window.

On November 24, four people saw the creature flying over the TNT area. On the morning of November 25, Thomas Ury, who was driving along Route 62, just north of the TNT, claimed to have seen the creature standing in a field, and then spread its wings and flew alongside his car as he sped toward the Point Pleasant sheriff's office.

On November 26, Mrs Ruth Foster of Charleston, West Virginia reportedly saw Mothman standing on her front lawn, but the creature was gone by the time her brother-in-law went out to look. On the morning of November 27, it apparently pursued a young woman near Mason, West Virginia, and was reported again in St. Albans the same night, by two children.

A Mothman sighting was again reported on January 11, 1967, and several other times that same year. Fewer sightings of the Mothman were reported after the collapse of the Silver Bridge, when 46 people died. The Silver Bridge, so named for its aluminum paint, was an eyebar chain suspension bridge that connected the cities of Point Pleasant, West Virginia and Gallipolis, Ohio over the Ohio River. It was built in 1928 and collapsed on December 15, 1967; investigation of the wreckage pointed to the failure of a single eye-bar in a suspension chain due to a small manufacturing flaw.

Reports of sightings similar to the Mothman occasionally appear in different parts of the world. Most recently in the small town of Kerrville, Texas at a local university located next to a cemetery. Many locals refer to the monster as Tooden which is the pet name of James Earlson, a mass murderer who slaughtered 36 men on July 25th of 1902. Witnesses of Tooden have developed a very strong fear of weather, particularly of rain and thunder.

The Cottingley Fairies refers to a series of five photographs taken by Elsie Wright and Frances Griffiths, two young cousins living in Cottingley, near Bradford, England, depicting the two in various activities with supposed fairies. In 1917, when the first two photos were taken, Elsie was 16 years old and Frances was 10.

Elsie was the daughter of Arthur Wright, one of the earliest qualified electrical engineers. She borrowed her father's quarter plate camera and took photos in the beck behind the family house. When Mr. Wright, upon developing the plates, saw fairies in the pictures, he considered them fake. After the taking of the second picture, he banned Elsie from using the camera again. Her mother, Polly, however was convinced of their authenticity.

In 1918 in the week before the end of the First World War, Frances sent a letter to a Johanna Parvin, a friend in South Africa, where she had lived most of her life. Dated 9 November 1918, it ran:

"Dear Joe [Johanna], I hope you are quite well. I wrote a letter before, only I lost it or it got mislaid. Do you play with Elsie and Nora Biddles? I am learning French, Geometry, Cookery and Algebra at school now. Dad came home from France the other week after being there ten months, and we all think the war will be over in a few days. We are going to get our flags to hang upstairs in our bedroom. I am sending two photos, both of me, one of me in a bathing costume in our back yard, Uncle Arthur took that, while the other is me with some fairies up the beck, Elsie took that one. Rosebud is as fat as ever and I have made her some new clothes. How are Teddy and dolly? Elsie and I are very friendly with the beck Fairies." On the back of the photograph Frances wrote "It is funny I never used to see them in Africa. It must be too hot for them there."

The matter first became public in the summer of 1919 when Polly Wright went to a meeting at the Theosophical Society in Bradford. She was interested in the occult, having had some experiences of astral projection and memories of past lives herself. The lecture that night was on `fairy life' and Polly mentioned to the person sitting next to her that fairy prints had been taken by her daughter and niece. The result of this conversation was that two rough prints came to the notice of Theosophists at the Harrogate conference in the autumn and thence to a leading Theosophist, Edward Gardner, by early 1920. Gardner's immediate impulse after seeing the fairy pictures was to clarify the prints.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle had been commissioned by the Strand Magazine to write an article on fairies for their Christmas issue, to be published at the end of November 1920. He was preparing this in June when he heard of the two fairy prints in circulation and eventually made contact with Gardner and borrowed copies.

He showed the prints to Sir Oliver Lodge, a pioneer psychical researcher, who thought them to be fakes, perhaps involving a troupe of dancers masquerading as fairies. One fairy authority told him that the hairstyles of the sprites were too 'Parisienne' for his liking. Lodge also passed them on to a clairvoyant for psychometric impressions.

Conan Doyle dispatched Gardner to Cottingley in July. Gardner reported that the whole Wright family seemed honest and totally respectable. Conan Doyle and Gardner decided that if further fairy photographs were taken then the matter would be put firmly beyond question. Gardner journeyed north in August with cameras and 20 photographic plates to leave with Elsie and Frances hoping to persuade them to take more photographs. Only in this way, he felt, could it be proved that the fairies were genuine.

Meanwhile, the Strand article was completed, featuring the two sharpened prints, and Conan Doyle sailed for Australia and a lecture tour to spread the gospel of Spiritualism. He left his colleagues to face the public reactions to the fairy business.

That issue of the Strand sold out within days of publication at the end of November. Reaction was vigorous, especially from critics.

The Cottingley 'fairy' pictures provoked heated argument.[citation needed] To Sir Arthur Conan Doyle they were the long-awaited proof of the existence of spirits–but to many people they were just clever fakes. In the school holidays of August 1920, Frances Griffiths was asked to come by train to Cottingley from Scarborough, where she had gone to live with her mother and father after the First World War. Aunt Polly had written to say that Edward Gardner would be travelling up from London with new cameras so that the cousins might have further opportunities of taking fairy photographs to add to the two they took in 1917.

Edward Gardner came from London to Bradford by train and took the tram out to Cottingley Bar, three miles away. He had brought with him two cameras and two dozen secretly marked photographic plates.

The cousins remained evasive about the authenticity of the pictures for most of their lives, at times claiming they were forgeries, and at other times leaving it to the individual to decide. In 1981, in an interview by Joe Cooper for the magazine The Unexplained, the cousins stated that the photos were fake; they had held up cut-outs with tacks. Frances Griffiths, however, continued to maintain until her death in July, 1986 (Elsie died in April, 1988) that they did see fairies and that the fifth photograph, which showed fairies in a sunbath, was genuine.