It's sleepy summertime in South Carolina, the living is easy, the cotton is high and, as seems to happen every few years, there has been another apparent sighting of the weird.
It was nine years ago in Lee county that reports of the Lizard Man, purported to be a 7-foot-tall green creature with three fingers, red eyes and snakelike scales, enlivened a hot summer.
Now residents of this Orangeburg county community are abuzz about reports 14-year-old Jackie Hutto saw an 8-foot hairy man, believed to be a "Bigfoot", tugging on a dog pen.Some don't believe it.
Then there's Art Dent, who owns Dog City Paint and Body Shop and has already put up an 8-foot sign reading "Bigfoot Welcome Center" with an airbrushed rendering of the legendary creature.
Hutto is sticking to his story. His older brother, David, backs him up. Other residents are upset the media ran the story! "I think it's a bunch of baloney," Darlene Riley said. I have about 10 kids in this house who are scared to go out and play."
If a hairy creature is rummaging through town, nobody bothered to tell the local authorities. "We never got a call about that.
That was handled through the press," said Robert Keith, a county sheriff's department spokesman. The only call the department received was from someone who had read news accounts and wondered if the creature was in custody, he said. Dent said he planned to take out his hunting dogs to find the hairy man. "We don't want to hurt him, we want to feed him." Dent said. "He had to try and eat those dogs because if he went in a restaurant he would get thrown out."
The Lizard Man brought international attention to Bishopville after a man said the creature chased his car at speeds of 40 mph along a rural road. There were several other purported sightings and law officers found three-toed tracks in the dirt. The local bumper sticker, T-shirt and cap makers also made some money that summer.
Back in 1977, Harold Berry of Saluda county and Leonard Gromoske of Fort Mill found large , barefoot footprints on their properties within a week of each other. Again people flocked to see the tracks but Berry said he believed it was a hoax.
The Lizard Man eventually passed out of the news.
But that summer The (Columbia) State Paper , while skeptical he existed, said people should let him be. "Consider the positive." the newspaper editorial said, "The red-eyed reptile has transformed the dullness of a steamy summer into a raconteurs delight."
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