Merely exposing the
truth behind a longtime hoax won't ensure that it ends. The man who helped
insert Bigfoot into the American mind has died, and his family has gone
public with the hoax he and his brother Wilbur perpetrated. Not that exposure
will have any effect on the legends.
Ray Wallace of Centralia, Wash., died at the age of 86. In 1958 he and
Wilbur carved the first lot of sets of big feet, strapped them to boots
and began planting Bigfoot prints around the Northwest, relatives say
- as Wallace himself said during his lifetime.
Its not as though stories of large creatures have ever been scarce. Indian
tribes, pioneers and more modern rural dwellers have long told folk talesof
out sized animals. The idea of an apelike creature - Bigfoot, Sasquatch-was
around before Wallace put his foot into things.
But he focused the spotlight on the mythical creature. He not only provided
"footprints" , he filmed a famous " sighting " of
the hairy biped- who apparently was great aunt Elna in a gorilla suit,
a relative said.
The story took on a life of its own. The brothers' relatively feeble attempts
to put the record straight were flattened beneath a steamroller that was
the lucrative Bigfoot industry. Believing can be profitable. But believing
doesn't make it true It doesn't produce scientific evidence, doesn't make
the Wallace's' hoax real. The brothers may have kicked off the Bigfoot
craze, but they can't have been the only practical jokers out there.
Bigfoot sightings promote other Bigfoot sightings for two reasons: the
power of suggestion and the fact that a good hoax inspires imitation.
The Wallace family wants to be rid of this pseudo-mystery now that both
brothers have died. Whatever happens, its virtually certain that the legend
will live.....well, if not forever then perhaps as long as there is a
buck to be made.
Copyright The Times
Reporter Sunday January 5, 2003 New Philadelphia, Ohio
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