|By Bob Weaver|
The Braxton County monster has turned 60.
Sixty years ago in Flatwoods WV, where the sighting happened, the sleepy village's
main establishment was the Stockart Funeral Home, known for burying farm families
outside of Sutton.
The alien-like monster reportedly landed and ambled across a field to be spotted by a family and their friends.
Today, Flatwoods is the recognized geographic center of West Virginia and home to numerous I-79
motels, truck stops and eating establishments.
The monster continues to have a life of legend, originally perpetuated by Weston sci-fi
writer Gray Barker, who is one of the most fascinating people I have met.
the sci-fi myth about "men in black" and created dozens if not hundreds of made-up tales
about flying saucers for his "Saucerian Review."
Barker, whose body of work can be found in the Harrison County Library, frequently appeared on "Long John's" radio show of weirdness, WOR in New York, but in between helped operate the old Ellis Drive-in movie near Weston.
He was a tall, lank man, whose upper body bent downward, with thick magnifying glasses enhancing his buldging eyes, a sight unto himself even before he spoke.
Barker somehow made a living promoting the weird and making people believe it. Most of the time I think he convinced himself he believed it.
TV and movie screen writers have made a fortune on Gray Barker, while he barely survived himself. I met him about 1975 in Buckhannon, where he was trying to operate the local run-down movie house, sell popcorn and copies of his old publications.
Dianne and I would go to the movie in his establishment, but without fail the sound would go out or the projector would break down. I would go to the lobby and visit with him.
I was his fan from listening to him on late night radio WOR in New York, the 1950's. "Those were the good days," he said.
I asked him of he believed in flying saucers. "Like goat milk," he said, whatever that meant.
The Braxton Moster, however, was not his creation, but he managed to capitalize on the event
Here is an excerpt about the monster, whose full details you may
acquire by purchasing Goldenseal Magazine.
See UFO'S ONCE SPOTTED OVER CALHOUN - Famous Braxton UFO Sighting 60 Years Ago
The Legend of the Flatwoods Monster
By Buddy Griffin
As the dog days of summer gradually give way to the crisp chill of autumn,
September 12 might
seem to be just another typical day. For me, the date tickles at the back of my mind,
like a teasing
memory. Then I recall an eerie significance attached to this date, when an event
almost too bizarre
to be real rocked the small town of Flatwoods in central West Virginia.
September 12, 2002, marks the 50th anniversary of the reported sighting of an alien
the hills of Braxton County. Some dismissed it as a hoax, but those who were
actually there at the
time have a different perspective. The event has had a profound impact. As a result
Flatwoods would earn the nickname "Home of the Green Monster." The frightening
tale would be
told time and again by those who witnessed the event, and friends and neighbors
would speak of
it in whispers. The story would live on, passed down through the generations and
of the oral folklore that is so unique to our mountain culture and heritage.
I was five years old when I first learned about the Flatwoods Monster, also known as
Braxton County Monster, the Phantom of Flatwoods, or simply the Green Monster. It
experience that was burned forever into my mind.
During the early 1950's, my family and I lived in Summersville, and I loved to go on
with my dad and other relatives. On one of these fishing expeditions late one
summer, we spent
most of the morning fishing up and down the Elk River, just above Sutton, in Braxton
Tired and hungry, we retreated to a local restaurant for lunch. This restaurant was
located at the
"Y" intersection of routes 4 and 19, about half-a-mile south of downtown Sutton. We
seated in a booth near the window, and had just finished ordering our food. We were
small talk with the waitress when she looked at me and commented, "You'd better
look out, or
that monster will get you."
Why would someone offer that kind of "helpful" advice to a five-year-old kid? Her
nonetheless, had the desired effect, and I felt the blood drain from my face in terror.
I looked to
my father for reassurance, or a conspiratorial wink, or a smile indicating that the
kidding. But there were none!
An uncomfortable silence fell over the afternoon dining crowd, and the room took on
the stale air
of a funeral parlor. In quiet, hushed tones, conversations slowly resumed. My young
up bits and pieces of dialogue laced with words such as "fireball," "spaceship," "red
"10-feet tall." My heart thumped painfully against my thin chest when I heard the
phrase, "Eat you
Apparently, the fear in my heart was communicated clearly on my face. A burly
around our booth and commented, "Don't worry about the monster getting you, kid.
it before it gets near enough to grab you." The diners around us erupted into gales of
laughter that reverberated around the room for a good two minutes. I looked
questioningly at my
father, still hoping for some form of reassurance, and he began to explain.
Recently, some people in the nearby community of Flatwoods had an unusual
experience, he said.
A fireball, it seems, had fallen from the sky. A few residents witnessed this
phenomenon and had
gone to investigate. When they got there, they discovered a hideous monstrosity
with fiery red
eyes. Some of the search team reportedly were overwhelmed by a highly noxious
odor and ran
for their lives. My father finished by saying that he wouldn't let the monster get
I felt a little better, but my once-strong interest in bass fishing was now completely
by a nagging fear of monsters. My thoughts strayed, and I felt a desperate urge to
the mountain to the safety and comfort of home.
That episode in the restaurant left an impression on me so intense, that still today I
and fascinated by the Green Monster.
You can read the rest of this article in the Fall 2002 issue of Goldenseal, available in
bookstores, libraries or direct from Goldenseal.