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FW: [UL] The Choccolocco Monster: Jokester reveals 32-year-old pr ank

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  • A.J. Wright
    fyi...aj wright // ajwright@uab.edu ... From: Brian Chapman [mailto:wt046@victoria.tc.ca] Sent: Wednesday, October 31, 2001 2:25 PM To: urban legends Subject:
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 1, 2001
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      fyi...aj wright // ajwright@...

      -----Original Message-----
      From: Brian Chapman [mailto:wt046@...]
      Sent: Wednesday, October 31, 2001 2:25 PM
      To: urban legends
      Subject: [UL] The Choccolocco Monster: Jokester reveals 32-year-old
      prank


      http://www.annistonstar.com/news/2001/as-calhoun-1031-mcreamer-1j30w5112.htm

      Anniston Star [Alabama] | 31 Oct 2001

      The Choccolocco Monster: Jokester reveals 32-year-old prank

      By Matthew Creamer
      Star Staff Writer

      He suspected something was wrong when the oncoming truck slowed up
      sooner than expected. He knew something was wrong when the rifle
      blasted again and again into the warm night.

      When the shots rang out, Neal Williamson was standing on the side of
      Choccolocco Road, draped in a white sheet and holding a cow skull
      above his head. He was doing a little dance, which, when combined with
      the outfit, made him the Choccolocco Monster, the chimera that haunted
      these backwoods for days more than three decades ago.

      It was only the fourth time Williamson, then a 15-year-old jokester,
      had pulled this particular prank, prowling overgrown roadsides until
      some approaching headlights etched out his bizarre silhouette just as
      he rushed off into the woods. Word of a shaggy beast had nevertheless
      spread all the way to Talladega and Birmingham, drawing the curious
      and their itchy trigger fingers to this sleepy community.

      It was all done for laughs, a cheap way to beat the boredom of those
      slow Alabama weekends. But, now, Williamson and two friends who had
      tagged along were under fire, a spotlight from the truck sweeping
      through the trees.

      By the second shot he was off, and whatever rush he got from giving
      chills to passersby must have been magnified a hundredfold as he raced
      through the woods, across a pasture, and then into a barbwire fence.

      The shooter, whose shots all missed, was never identified.

      "To this day," Williamson said recently, "I don't know who it was and
      I didn't care. But that was the last appearance that monster made."

      In an interview at his Nances Creek home last week, Williamson, now
      48, drove a stake through the heart of Calhoun County's version of the
      Sasquatch legend. He described how the extended practical joke began
      and how it ended, and laughed as he recalled how a little media
      attention turned the joke into frenzy unseen before or since in these
      quiet parts.

      The interview ended a myth that no one seemed to believe in anyway. At
      the time, most Choccolocco residents were pretty sure the monster was
      really just a cow or a bear. These days, locals just raise an eyebrow,
      shake their heads or laugh deeply when that dead memory is brought
      back to life.

      Though the truth's cold fingers unravel this already threadbare tale,
      it leaves behind an amusing swatch of a story of a few people who
      shuddered at the glimpse of a strange figure and the many more who
      came from far and wide to shoot it dead.

      "I knowed it was a booger."

      Margaret Teague was driving to her Choccolocco home from work at
      Cleburne County Hospital one night in May 1969 when she saw what she
      thought was a monster.

      It was late, and the way home took her over the secluded Iron City
      Cutoff. She saw it sitting on its hind legs on the edge on the woods.
      She would later tell the county sheriff as well as The Star that the
      monster had a huge head and was hairy. She said the hair prevented her
      from telling whether it had paws or hooves; she exclaimed only "Oh,
      Lordy, Lordy, what a head."

      Mrs. Teague, who died several years ago, was one of at least eight
      people who said they saw a monster during those late spring weeks. A
      composite portrait of the monster developed, and then evolved as the
      days went by. At first, it was gray or black and about the size of the
      cow with a hump and large teeth. Then it had stringy white and black
      hair that obscured many of its features.

      At least three newspaper articles, all of which quoted people who
      doubted the existence of the monster, helped to drum up interest. By
      early June, cars from other counties were roaming the backwoods, their
      drivers taking potshots at anything that moved in the night.

      "People came with flashlights and guns and different things," said
      Beverly Graham, a teenager during this time. "That scared me."

      Aside from fear, whether generated by the creature or the
      trigger-happy visitors, there was anger. You could practically smell
      the reporter's notebook burning when a Mrs. Bobby Murphy warned those
      who were unloading their weapons near her farm.

      "But I'll tell you one thing, if one of our cows or bulls is shot, and
      we can find out who it is, somebody is going to pay dear," she told
      The Star.

      Mrs. Murphy said she thought the monster was in reality a beaver or a
      cow or a bull, a skepticism echoed by many in the area.

      But as for the believers, no matter which of them saw it, they were
      dead-certain it was a monster, and not a member of the local wildlife.
      Mrs. Teague was certain her eyes weren't fooling with her.

      "And, oh Lordy, they weren't, for I knowed it was the booger," she
      told The Star. "I turned the car around in the middle of the road to
      get another look, and it (the car) got caught in a ditch I just knowed
      the booger had me for sure."

      "You just had to create your own fun."

      His parents asleep, Neal Williamson jacked his family's old 1950 Ford,
      which he didn't have a license to drive, and started cruising down the
      backroads of Choccolocco. He was bored, just driving around, and
      realized that in the backseat there was a cow skull he'd found.

      And so, the Choccolocco Monster was born.

      He'd put on a long black coat, raise the skull up, and do a dance.
      That, and a little bit of timing, was all there was to it.

      "I'd wait," he said, "until somebody come around the road there, and
      I'd run out and don't let them get a good look at me. When they'd let
      off the gas, I'd run up back in the woods."

      He did it just four times before the hail of bullets put an end to the
      creature. But so far, it's the most famous of pranks in a lifetime of
      joking that includes locking a cow in the hallway of his high school,
      as well as a number of stunts that could get him in trouble if word
      got out.

      Williamson, who works for Southwire, talks about all the joking with a
      mischievous glint in his eye. He's unapologetic and says he liked to
      give people a fright just to relieve his own boredom and have a little
      fun.

      "Back then, you didn't have nothing to do really," he said. "You
      didn't have computers.
      You just had to create your own fun. And that was fun until that last
      appearance."

      His wife, Glenda, on the other hand, feels a little sorry for the
      victims.

      "His wife apologizes for him," she said. "Please don't be angry with
      him."

      Looking for snakes

      When told recently that the Choccolocco Monster had been in fact a kid
      playing a joke, few in the community were surprised. Some were
      hard-pressed to dredge up the memory of the episode, and those who
      could recalled it as overblown.

      "We thought it was a cow," said Georgia Calhoun, president of the
      Choccolocco Heritage Society. "It was the outsiders who was all so
      interested in a monster."

      One woman who did doubt Williamson's story was Demarest Teague,
      Margaret's older sister. Though Demarest never saw what Margaret did,
      she vividly remembers the terror that arose in her sister. Margaret
      would never travel down the Iron City Cutoff alone again.

      Upon hearing how Williamson created the monster, Demarest was
      skeptical, asking how it could be a teenager when whatever Margaret
      saw was so big and hairy. As an explanation for the monster, Demarest
      suggested another legend -an old man rumored to have wandered off into
      those woods, reappearing to give people a fright.

      By the end of the interview she seemed anything but convinced. But,
      she allowed, "I guess if he says he did it, he did it."

      To Williamson, a lot of what you see depends upon what you want to
      see.

      "It's just like snakes," he said. "You go hunt snakes, you'll find
      snakes. You don't hunt them you ain't gonna find them. You get to
      looking around for them, man, you're gonna find one before it's over
      with."

      While his account can be neither verified nor disproved, one thing is
      certain: On the edge of a summer when a man would first walk on the
      moon, some folks in the eastern part of Calhoun County feared there
      was a monster in the woods.




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