Free Falling

Say it isn’t so. Bigfoot, that lovable American version of the Abominable Snowman, is dead.

Actually, as reported by MSNBC News on its Technology and Science Web page Dec. 8, the man behind the Bigfoot legend passed away quietly Nov. 26 at the age of 84.

According to family members, Ray L. Wallace was the man who invented Bigfoot using a pair of 16-inch, feet-shaped carvings and a grainy 16-millimeter film.

“The reality is, Bigfoot just died,” said his son, Michael.

The story begins in August 1958, when a bulldozer operator who worked for Wallace’s construction company in Humboldt County, Calif., found the huge footprints circling then leading away from his rig.

The local newspaper in Eureka coined the term “Bigfoot” in a front page story about the phenomenon, according to MSNBC. Apparently, Wallace and his brother, Wilbur, went stomping around the countryside in feet carved by a friend.

Before the pair executed the hoax in 1958, there was no popular American version of the Abominable Snowman, though Indian folklore of the Northwest includes a similar creature, the Yeti.

I remember being fascinated by Bigfoot. In fact, I think nearly every research paper I wrote in my high school career was on the alleged monster.

I recall listening to Wichita’s KFH radio one afternoon when a Bigfoot expert was being interviewed. He played a tape recording of the creature’s sounds, and he talked about the stench that surrounded the hairy beast.

I’ve seen the so-called “Patterson film” of the big guy walking through the woods, seemingly oblivious to the camera. Once again, the family reports Wallace’s hand in creating the hoax.

Of course, not everyone is buying the Wallace family story. There are those who steadfastly believe at least some of the evidence of giant primates roaming the Northwest remains.

I should hope so. If we all stop believing in Bigfoot, what will be next, Santa Claus?

* * *

I hadn’t attended a KCAC basketball game in quite a while, and after my experience at the Dec. 5 contest between Tabor College and Sterling College, it might be quite a while before I go again.

I’m still not sure if what transpired was typical. I hope not. But, even granting the events of that evening were rare, I can’t help but think some changes need to be made.

First, the sportsmanship displayed between fans of the opposing sides was appalling. It was unfortunate that many members of the high school boys’ basketball team were in attendance to witness the name calling, rude gesturing and insult hurling that went on during the sporting competition between two colleges that claim to be Christian.

Yes, basketball is an emotional game. And, yes, it is still the king of sports in Hillsboro. But, I have two friends of the family who have died of cancer in the past year and one who is very ill with the disease.

Basketball somehow doesn’t seem all that important.

Second, it seems to me a college that boasts in radio commercials on a Christian station in Wichita that it is looking for the leaders of the future needs to do some soul searching about the type of leading its faculty and staff are doing in the here and now.

When a city policeman feels the need to call for backup to ensure his own safety at a ballgame where he appears to be simply trying to keep the crowd in order, a problem clearly exists and needs to be addressed.

The responsibility of visiting crowd control should fall clearly on the athletic director and coaches of the visiting school.

Finally, the game of basketball has become less a contest of skill and finesse and more a 40-minute wrestling match where only the strong survive.

I heard several complaints from Bluejay backers after Sterling won the hard-fought match that poor officiating cost Tabor the game.

Listen people, I’m a TC fan with two degrees from Hillsboro’s institution of higher learning and a fair amount of basketball coaching experience. I’ve followed the game for many years at many levels. Only once can I recall when I truly believed officiating decided the outcome of a game.

What cost Tabor College the contest Dec. 5 was an inability to stop the penetration of the Sterling College guards in the second half. It’s just that simple.

And, while I would agree that the more unruly fans were from Sterling, the Tabor team was the one that seemed to lose its composure on the floor.

I also believe that today’s officials, while clearly allowing rougher play at all levels, are only responding to the wishes of the coaches, who would rather see players duke it out than see officials clean it up.

I honestly don’t know how officials at the collegiate level decide when it is time to call a foul. It seems random to me. But, then, most of the basketball I watch is at the high school level, where, thank goodness, the state still has some ability to control the level of sportsmanship through rules and guidelines.

I used to think high school basketball was rough. I have a new perspective now.

* * *

Is it just me, or does the new Goessel water tower look like a giant standing version of that Nerf football that has a shaft attached to it? The bottom even flares out, just like the toy.

Driving through Marion County the other night, I was musing about how many different shapes and colors of water towers we have in a fairly small area. No two are alike, except maybe a couple of rural water district towers.

* * *

Allow me to chime in on a recent reader’s idea of turning the former AMPI building into a jail. If the city is still planning to relocate its emergency services operation to that area, the jail would be a natural.

I’m not talking about a maximum security prison, just a county annex or perhaps a minimum security facility.

Think about it. We came mighty close to a brawl at a sporting event recently. If even a fourth of all the fans in the gym were to be arrested, where would they all be held?

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