Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Snallygaster Sightings

Every few years, someone reports a sighting of this creature, though the descriptions are often very different. Here's one of the earlier ones, written with tongue firmly in cheek:

Frederic, The News, July 25, 1934

Snallygaster Story Is Revived At Middletown

Baltimore, July 23

Excessive heat of the current summer, it is feared by many residents of Middletown, Md., is hatching snallygaster eggs with loud and startling reports.

A dispatch from Middletown states: "Residents of Pleasant Walk, in the northern section of Middletown Valley, have been much excited during the past week over the identity of a large, strange bird which was shot and killed by Edward Lewis.

"Some of the persons who saw the bird expressed the belief that it is the offspring of the dreaded snallygaster which appeared in this section in November , 1932, despite the fact that scientists claim it requires from twenty to twenty-five years for a snallygaster egg to hatch. Those who believe that the young monster is a small snallygaster claim that the unusual heat of the present summer caused one of the eggs to hatch prematurely.

"According to Mr. Lewis, he had been missing chickens from his flock for some time and kept a watch out for the bird, which was four and one-half feet tall and measured six feet from tip to tip of wing. Its bill was four inches long and the claws at least four inches in length. The bird had speckled feathers.

"Mr. Lewis also stated that even after the bird had been shot and badly wounded, it made an attempt to attack one of his children, and it was necessary to fire a second shot to save the child from the clutches of the monster."

The snallygaster which terrified the Middletown Valley in November 1932 met its end when, attracted by the fumes arising from a 2500-gallon illicit liquor vat in the Frog Hollow section of Washington County, it lost control of its wings and dropped into the mash.

Prohibition agents who raided the still a few days after the accident occurred reported finding the monster in cold death. The mash had eaten practically all the flesh from the beast, only the skeleton remaining.

It now appears, however, that the monster laid several eggs before its fall. And it is believed in some quarters that the exceptionally warm weather of the past two months has caused of these eggs to hatch about twenty years ahead of its time.

When last seen alive in November 1932, the senior snallygaster was wearing water-wings and riding a bicycle, giving vent to strange cries as it pedaled its way over mountain roads.

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