McCurtain Sunday Gazette, Oklahoma, October 4, 1989
Lukfata Students Question Coach Who Saw "Bigfoot"
|LUKFATA, Oklahoma ----
Once upon a time there was a teacher, a media specialist and a reading enrichment
instructor who came up with this great idea about some high-interest subject
for fifth and sixth graders. It was a long, long time ago. (About three
Looking through the library the children narrowed the subject down to two possibilities: The Bermuda Triangle or Sasquatch, commonly referred to as "Big Foot." (In Southeast Oklahoma, "Big Eddie.") Big Foot was decided to be the topic. And children began to read. And Debbie McGee, the teacher was happy. Jean Johnson, media specialist thought it marvelous all the books were being checked out. Jolly Sands knew reading was getting some more enrichment. And then Idabel High track coach Skippy Smith let Bob West tell the story of an encounter this spring in Little River bottom, and a large, red, hairy creature.
"Boy, this was too good to be true, a real expert on the matter," Ms. McGee said Thursday morning as the troops (fifth and sixth graders) gathered in the media center to hear a live account from Smith. So children listened. And Smith, whose track teams in Idabel have won more state championships than anyone in history, first told the youngsters he was 45-years-old, a career teacher, father, avid hunter, normal and "not crazy." They believed him. So he recounted the story which was released in The McCurtain Gazette by Bob West, and he told the same things again.
"Bet I've had to defend my sanity and tell this a hundred times," he smiled.
When the story about Smith and his companion, Mike Stauter, was over, hands went up and here are some of the questions:
Jennifer Jones: "What were you going to do if it came toward you?"
Philip Smith: "What if it were suddenly beside you?"
Brad Stewart: "Did he resemble the animals in the books?"
Kendall Noah: "Has it killed anybody yet?"
Principal Mike Steele: "How far apart were you and your hunting
partner, Mike Stauter?"
Melissa Ayres: "Could it have been just a person dressed up in
Jenna Westbrook: "How many do you think there were of them. Could
there have been some little ones and that thing was just trying to scare
Hank Costa: "Did you smell it?"
Jared Pole: "Reckon it could climb a tree?"
Principal Steele: "Coach Smith, could you see the possibility of
taking your track pupils into that area and improving their speed by fright?"
The children gave coach Smith a rousing ovation following the short discussion and Ms. McGee discussed the books, which had been read. And a field trip was discussed.
And Smith said he had to get back to Idabel to give a test to some students. And then he said very seriously again, "I'm never going back to that place."
© McCurtain County Sunday Gazette.