The Tampa Tribune from Tampa, Florida on November 14, 1976 · 71
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The Tampa Tribune from Tampa, Florida · 71

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Sunday, November 14, 1976
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71
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earch Fot Yeti ...Some Doubt But Legends Don't Die Easily BY FRED THOMAS Tribune Staff Writer Leon Woodard thinks he knows how to trap an 800-pound, 9-foot-tall half-ape, half-human, possibly mythical creature with yellow or red eyes, known by most as the yeti. Woodard built a yeti trap two months ago. Outside his old trailer home near Fort Myers, not too far from two power plants and not too far from the Everglades, Woodard hung a gallon jug of water from a scraggly 'pine tree. He set a Budweiser bottle upside down atop a stick next to the tree, and placed an apple on the bottle. Woodard believes yeti like apples. "They're vegetarians," he says. A LARGE MIRROR hangs from a branch, and Woodard has aimed his car lights at the mirror. If he hears a yeti, he will flick on the lights, and in the mirror he will see the yeti, perhaps munching on the apple or guzzling a quick Swig of water. Then, he says, he will shoot the yeti. But Woodard, 53, has not yet seen a yeti in his mirror; nor has he shot one. But several other people have, they say. To no avail. That's because yeti are immune to gunshot, according to those who have taken potshots at things they say are yeti. "I shot one once with a .22-caliber rifle," asserts Richard Davis, 24, a car salesman for a Fort Myers Lincoln-Mercury dealership. "It made a slight groaning noise." Then it walked off. "MY DADDY shot him seven times with a .22," says Chucky Chaney, a 12-year-old who lives near Leon Woodard. "You could hear the bullets go thump, thump, thump. I know he hit him." "You can't shoot a yeti," says L. Frank Hudson, a St. Petersburg man who heads the three-year-old "Yeti Investigating Society." i Hudson has spent years researching the yeti, and has collected various bits of information on the creature. Hudgon claims to be a yeti authority, and says he plans to lead an expedition to the area near Fort Myers to search out the yeti. YOU CAN'T shoot a yeti, Hudson explains, because "they'll vanish right before your eyes." . Vanish? How can something vanish that never existed in the first place? skeptics ask. To most scientists, such as Dr. Cur- -NEWSMAKERS 82- Fashion Show Features Nude The fashion show featuring creations by Vancouver, Canada, designer Christopher Ryan on independent television station CKVU shocked some viewers, and delighted others. Midway through a dance number, a model untied the straps of her blue knee-length evening ' gown, let it drop to the floor and danced in the nude under flashing colored. lights. CKVU telephone operators said that after the Friday night show about 30 people called to complain. Most objected because they had children watching the show. Producer Clem Chappie said the nude dance was not intended to shock people. "The idea of the nude dancer came up with his (Ryan's) style of fashions, which don't need underwear," Chappie said. Ryan's clothes take big notice of a person's skin. "My experience is that Vancouver viewers are used to this type of thing," Chappie said. . In the past 22 months, Frank White of Little Rock has traveled 142,000 miles around the world promoting Arkansas. His worst problem, he says, isn't the recession or the energy crisis it's the "Arkie image." Just the mere mention of Arkansas, he says, seems to conjure up visions of the Beverly Hillbillies, moonshiners, racism and "slow-talking ignorant, intolerant people who gun down outsiders. When I went to the board of directors of the National Association of State Development Agencies for the first time, the Virginia representative said, jokingly, 'I'm glad to see you're wearing shoes today.' I get that everywhere." The wife of country-western singer Merle Haggard has filed for dissolution of the couple's 11-year marriage. The petition, filed with the Kern County clerk in Bakersfield, Calif. Friday by Bonnie Owens Haggard, cited irreconcilable differences. The couple was married in 1965. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., met briefly yesterday i Rome with Italian Foreign Minister Ar-naldo Forlani. Kennedy was accompanied by his foreign affairs counselor, Robert Hunter, but the content of the talks was not disclosed. Sen. Edward W. Brooke, R-Ma., has won the latest round in his fifht' to avoid turning over his confidential -ff -n r IAMP4 TRIBUNE-TIMES And Classified Section F Sunday, Nov. 14, 1976 tis Wienker, a University of South Florida physical anthropologist, the yeti is an earth-bound flying saucer. Flying saucers do not exist in scientific circles because there is no proof that there are such things. That several people have seen flying saucers and yeti, for that matter doesn't mean they have seen saucers or yeti. It means, Wienker says, they have seen SOMETHING. THERE AIN'T SUCH an animal," Wienker says. "The chances of there being an' animal like this are more remote than the possibility of Henry Kissinger walking into my office." FOR SEVERAL hundred years, people have written and spoken of an ape-man creature. Cultures in Tibet originally named the beast "yeti," and its Americanized name is the "abominable snowman." "Yeti," to the Sherpas, who live in the Himalayas, translates as "something worse than horrible." Indians in the Northwest U.S. primarily in Oregon and Washington have spoken of the ape-man, which they dubbed "Sasquatch" and "Bigfoot," the latter because of the monstrous tracks it reportedly left in the snow and soft ground some as long as 20 inches. t Sir Edmund Hillary, one of the two explorers who first reached the top of Mt. Everest, was commissioned by the World Book Encyclopedia to stalk yeti in the Himalayas. He did not find one. But in 1913, Chinese explorers wounded a strange beast near Potang, in the mountainous region of Sukiand. The yeti or what was believed to be a yeti lived only a few months before dying, and scientists were unable to determine exactly what it was. IN THE UNITED States, claims Robert W. Morgan, a yeti-investigator from Miami, people have sighted yeti in Wmm Madelyn Murray O'Haire ...wants Atheist Sabbath diaries to his wife's attorneys in a divorce suit. State Supreme C,ourt Justice Benjamin Kaplan denied in Boston a request Friday to force the senator to turn over the diaries. The ruling upholds an order by Middlesex Probate Judge Lawrence T. Per-era, who said last month the records are confidential. They include an appointment calendar listing some official meetings. The senator and his wife, Remigia, are suing each other for divorce on grounds of mental cruelty. Madalyn Murray O'Hair, self-styled "Madonna Madalyn" of the American Atheist Church, has declared Thursday to be the sabbath day of American Atheists. O'Hair said in a news release in Austin, Tex., Friday atheists should demand of their employers that work schedules be arranged so they can celebrate the sabbath on Thursdays. "With one out of four Americans being in atheist ranks, this should entirely disrupt all of our industries," she said. She also demanded schools be closed on Thursdays and said she will campaign for "Thursday Blue Laws" to close retail business in states which require Sunday closings. Katharine Hepburn said yesterday that because she broke an ankle she would have to cancel, for the first time in her career, performances of a stage play in which she stars. Miss Hepburn said she ran-down a small hill on the grounds of her home Friday and twisted her ankle when she struck a rock. She said she would cancel at least two performances of "A Matter of Gravity" at the Ahmanson Theater in the Los Angeles Music Center scheduled for last night and today. , 4 mmmmmm 31 states. Hudson, the St. Petersburg researcher, says yeti have been sighted in all 48 continental states. But the Himalayas, the Florida Everglades and the Pacific Northwest those, apparently, are the areas most densely populated with yeti. Or with people who say ,they have seen yeti. . The yeti is not firmly entrenched in Florida history. In fact, it would seem that the first yeti moved to the state shortly before August, 1971, when a Miami man claimed he knew of a "Skunk Ape" living in the Big Cypress Swamp. Since that first reported sighting, the yeti's subtropical tribe has increased a thousandfold. During the past five years, yetis or near relatives have been spotted loitering near a Fort Lauderdale trailer park (where a woman fed a baby one a plate of lettuce, peaches, tomatoes and raw hamburger, only to be repaid with a scratched leg when the youngster heard its mangy mother call), lingering along roadsides in various parts of the Everglades, and climbing barbed wire fences near Fort Myers.. FOR SEVERAL WEEKS in , late . 1973, strange ape-like beings were reported roaming around north of Tampa, leaping out of roadside trees and startling motorists. The sightings ended after an 18-year-old boy was arrested in Tarpon Springs, wearing an ape suit. Since 1971, a whole though disputed body of Indian yeti-lore has bloomed, although the first reaction of the chairman of the Florida Seminole tribes was to tell yeti-curious reporters, "I've never heard of anything like it in any of our legends." The Florida yeti has been hunted by police, highway patrolmen, amateur archaeologists and rabies control officers all futilely. The state chapter of the Simian Society of America once went on record as doubting the beasts' existence but asking the governor to ban shooting of them, just in case. "It seems we get one of these wild goose chases every year," complained a state trooper in 1974, during an unsuccessful search for the 8-foot-tall animal that jumped in front of a car in the Everglades. This year, most of the reports are emanating from the Fort Myers area, where the stories are chilling the warm Everglades nights. ALTHOUGH THE yeti's physical characteristics range in the reports from slightly smaller than man-sized to enormous, there are uncanny similarities in most of the sightings. Chucky Chaney, the 12-year-old Flo-ridian who claims to have seen the yeti at least twice, says the creature has claws. Woodard agrees; three inches long, he says. Floridians who believe in the yeti know the beast as "skunk ape" because of the foul odor it purportedly emits. "It definitely smells like sulfur," says Richard Davis. "The smell is like sulfur, but stronger," says Woodard. It "smells like a barrel of skunk mixed with manure," says yeti-investigator Hudson. "It sure stunk," says Chucky Chaney. Those who have seen the yeti say it's unlike anything else. "It's something not man something not animal," Davis says. It walks on two legs, towers over most men, and has matted fur except on its face which is smooth. Maybe. Davis, who reports two encounters, says the yeti had a beard. The yeti, Davis elaborates, seldom makes any vocal noise, although when it does, it's a "loud, low bellowing like somebody is being murdered." TWENTY YEARS AGO, data processor and explorer Robert W. Morgan saw a yeti in Mason County, Washington, he says. "When you see something unusual, you equate it to something you know. It was a man-like gorilla, but now I know it definitely was not a gorilla," he says. In 1971, he spotted another one in Washington, and in 1975 saw yet another. He tracked the last one, and collected two and a half gallons of its droppings, which he keeps today in a freezer. After analyzing the stuff, Morgan is confident the yeti is omnivorous that isit'll eat just about anything. Morgan, who spent this past weekend in the Everglades hunting the yeti, has led six expeditions into the wilds in search of the elusive creature.? ' ' (Two of the expeditions, he says, were for the National Wildlife Federation, a Washington, D.C., outfit a relationship that apparently ended testily. Says a spokesman for the Wildlife Federation:. "We do not wish' our name associated with him. The federation severed all connection with Mr. Robert Morgan in August, 1974." Why the group disowned. Morgan, the spokesman wouldn't say.). Despite his Florida yeti hunts, Morgan doubts that the creature exists in Florida. "There hasn't been the evidence that it is here in Florida. A lot you hear is hokey nonsense," Morgan says. ' "BUT SOMETHING now is happening in Florida," he adds. "Indians in the Everglades are talking about it, and they're a pretty quiet bunch. Something is down there." v Richard Davis, the car salesman, owns a nice home in an undeveloped area of Fort Myers. But his experience with the yeti has led to his embarrassment, he says. - In Davis's mind is an image so strongly burned that he will never forget it, he says. The scene: 2 a.m. Monday, Feb. 3, 1975. The night air chilled the area, creating a silence so intense, Davis remembers, you could hear yourself breathe. "Wj HEARD A loud pounding noise near the bedroom window," Davis says. "It woke my wife and I up." Floodlights surround their isolated home, a security measure. "I flipped on the spotlights," he continues, "and got a gun because I thought it was a prowler. Shane, my dog, was barking. She was scared. "Then I saw it. "It was about 8-foot-tall, had a flat face. Refined features. It's something not man, something not animal." The eyes were reddish in color, behind slit-ted openings in the face, he says. Shane, his German shepherd, "turned into a big baby. She hasn't been right since she saw him." AFTER THAT incident, Davis bought a purebred shepherd, which he named Quen. About a week after the first sighting, he says, the beast (or a brethren of the f.rst) appeared again. "I heard it, but didn't know it was the skunk-ape," he says. He promptly rolled over and fell asleep. The next morning, Davis flinched with horror: blood covered most of his patio, and Quen lay silent and still in the yard. "Her tail was ripped off right at the root," he says. "We took her to the vet, and they operated on her." But it never healed, and she developed what Davis calls a "cancer" on her rear end. He thinks it was caused by some malignant substance on the skin of the beast. , Chucky Chaney Stands In .-it's designed to catch a few Wj U y iiifiMmirn ntwiin - t ,t -i Mufrrtr 'l"n mmm Richard Davis Sketched The Creature ..It's something not man, something not Finally, Quen had to be put to sleep, says Bob Roberts, of the Miracle Mile Animal Clinic, in Fort Myers. Roberts was attending the dog, and knows the case. "Actually, the dog kept biting at the wound, and it just wouldn't heal," he says. Davis drew illustrations of the beast. The limbs, covered with hair, are those of a human. The face carries human features, and looks vaguely like Ernest Hemingway. "I don't drink," Leon Woodard says. Woodard, the builder of the yeti trap, has been accused of hitting the bottle by those who do not believe in the yeti, he says. Not only does Woodard say he's seen the yeti, but his wife, Betty, and their three children have seen it, he says. "His eyes glow bright yellow that's the first thing you see," he says. Fearsome appearance or not, though, the creature doesn't really bother Woodard. "It's not never offered to harm anyone," he says. BUT IT DID bother his former next-door neighbor, Mike Peek (Chucky Chaney's father), and Peek pumped it full of .22 bullets. Seven of them, according to Leon and Chucky. Peek has Leon Woodard's Yeti Trdp beast murphing or guzzling He Saw animal' moved, and could not be reached for comment. The yeti was sighted in October, "and terrified the children," says Betty Woodard. "Now we didn't tell the children about this thing because we didn't want them scared. They didn't know anything about it, but my son Sammy saw it it looked right into the bathroom window." Woodard not only could see it, he could smell it, he says. "I grabbed a baseball bat, and stayed real still, because if you run, they'll come after you." Woodard talks very- seriously when he speaks of the yeti. "He curved toward me, and stopped about 20 feet from the trailer," he says. "I just stood there, and he turned and left." BY THIS TIME, Peek and a friend, Leon Rodriguez, started after the thing. Peek shot it seven times, using hollow-point, .22-caliber bullets, Woodard says. A few nights later, Betty Woodard had a few pounds of potato peelings; she set them outside and summarily forgot about them. She set them atop an old rusty automobile near their trailer. 'They were gone the next morning," she says, her eyes widening. "There's no creature that could have gotten to them except the skunk ape. I know that's what it was." Dr. Curtis Wienker wants to capture a yeti -alive or dead -probably more than do Leon Woodard, L. Frank Hudson, Richard Davis (who really would like to see one up close), Robert W. Morgan (who now lives in Miami), and this Tribune reporter, who spent two days of on-the-scene tracking last week. Wienker wants to capture a yeti even a small, undernourished one would be fine, he says more than the others because, he says, if he ever had one, he'd get rich. WHEN WIENKER lays aside his skeptical jokes and seriously discusses the yeti, he refers to the scientific method, which requires that evidence must be present to prove something exists. "There's absolutely not one shred of hard evidence of the creature," he says. "All I want is a bone now that's something we can talk about." Wienker explains there is only one monkey-type creature, now inhabiting South America, that is nocturnal. "But has anyone seen a yeti during the day?" he asks. "Isn't it funny that anytime anyone sees a yeti, it's at night?" But adds Wienker: "I don't dispute that they might have seen something or THOUGHT they saw something. To see things in the dark is a normal human reaction." . h The yeti's existence is disputed. But two things about it are certain: People make jokes about it. And most of them are bad. Q: What is furry and rolls in money? A: J. Paul Yeti. Q: Who sang "Indian Love Song"? A: Jeannette MacDonald and Nelson Yeti. Q: Who had shapely but furry legs? A:YetidrabIe. ' u . V .j

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