|By Jack Cawthon 2002|
I must admit when I first heard about the Mothman of Pt. Pleasant, a huge man-like winged creature with burning red eyes and which is now the subject of a major motion picture starring Richard Gere, I was a bit skeptical. For one thing, before becoming a moth there must be a caterpillar. Wouldn't someone have noticed a six-foot cocoon hanging from a tree or spotted a similar sized caterpillar crawling over the ground? It is such obvious matters of fact that we trained journalists are always searching out.
West Virginia is a good locale for us to practice our craft and to write our crafty stories. The state has always been a hotbed of unexplained happenings such as the Flatwoods, Braxton County monster of the 50s, the Mothman of the 60s, the Berkeley Springs castle ghost of the ages, numerous Elvis sightings, and the most bizarre phenomenon of all, the West Virginia Legislature.
But I have always dwelt in the twilight zone around the dark borders of the Tri-Holler region of Big Puf and its environs, although some people have had the audacity to question even that reality. To those doubters, I can only say I have experienced more than my share of reality and I have found it highly over rated, a major factor why I retreated into journalism.
After all, it was a newspaper that dubbed the Pt. Pleasant sightings "The Mothman." You didn't hear the natives calling it that. They just called it a "great big bird." There is certainly a very major difference in a bird and a moth, which leads me to believe that we had another reporter who was new to the state, possibly a flatlander, who didn't know a moth from a 747.
But trust me, folks. I am a native. I know my moths and I am no fly-by-night writer of tall tales. I worked with the late great Jim Comstock and his West Virginia Hillbilly and you know that Jim would never have treated such a major story lightly.
In my search for the truth, which sometimes is as elusive as the Mothman, I approached unimpeachable sources, although I must admit that a couple of them had been impeached over some silly matter regarding public funds, but in my estimation that made them even more trustworthy for upholding a long established custom and which certainly proved they had accountability in the best Enron tradition.
I found that the Tri-Holler region comprised of Big Puf, Little Wheeze and Blue Tick cricks had been the site of numerous big bird-like sightings as well as numerous dumps of old Maytags and various other household refuse.
When I came before a public assembly in a civic hall in Big Puf which somewhat resembled the New England town hall meeting but which carried the prestigious distinction of licensing by the ABC in Charleston I met with a wide assortment of people who had seen unexplained phenomena. I tended to disregard those who had seen flying elephants regardless of color as elephants certainly aren't native to any part of the state with which I am familiar.
However, my ears did perk up when I heard Homer Bob Pratlow, who as you know is an aspiring writer who never learned to read so as to keep himself free of the taint of plagiarism, express his belief that the "big bird" was foretold in the Good Book.
According to Homer Bob there would be a "gray speckled bird" descend from Heaven and he said "any ejet knowed that was a prophecy of the coming of our own Senator Byrd. He was gray speckled when he run for office," Homer Bob explained, "and if'n he can walk on water he can flit around on wings. Why there was them angels who was always appearing back in them olden days. Maybe Senator Byrd was just trying out his wings to get used to 'em afore he goes permanent."
Then, Arley Cleeter, who is the resident intellectual, tried to explain to Homer Bob that Senator Byrd wasn't spelled B-I-R-D and that the Bible spoke of a GREAT speckled bird, not a GRAY speckled one. Arley had made a grave mistake. First, he is an outsider, and, second, he attended college. With two strikes against him his respectability was far from untarnished.
Homer Bob was quick to counter that "them writers of the Good Book didn't know English too good and everyone knowed they spelt by ear." There was a round of applause and several other rounds of a different nature and as far as the natives were concerned the mystery of Pt. Pleasant, as well as the mysteries of the ages, had been solved.
As for myself, I still felt a bit doubtful. No, not that Senator Byrd couldn't walk on water or that he couldn't fly around on angel wings. I just don't think he has glowing red eyes else some smart TV reporter would have picked up on that angle.