There is a Yeti in the back of everyone’s mind; only the blessed are not haunted by it. ~ old sherpa saying

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Ray Wallace, Mark Chorvinsky: A Look Back

More than ten years ago or so, when I was in the folklore graduate program at the University of Oregon, I made copies of any references to Bigfoot that I came across in the archives. I just found in my files notes about a field work project done by a student in the 1970s where Ray Wallace (April 21, 1918 − November 26, 2002) is mentioned. I have the original paper somewhere, but can't seem to find it; when I do, I'll post more about this.

Wallace of course was the man who "killed Bigfoot" -- upon Wallace's death,it was revealed he faked giant BF footprints and family members ran around in BF costumes. This, according to much of media and the uber-skeptic, "proved" that there was no such thing as Bigfoot; it was all just Ray Wallace, having a huge joke on the rest of us. But according to some accounts, Wallace had researched Bigfoot quite a bit in his day. He collected tales of Bigfoot from many sources, including many Native American Bigfoot tales. There is a reference in a student folklore field research paper to an informant named Kenny Spencer of Toledo, Oregon, who:

read in his forestry book at Pacific Lutheran University that Tom Slick (oil millionaire and Bigfoot researcher) and Ray Wallace were classed as authorities on Bigfoot as they have done more research on Bigfoot than anyone in the world. (Layton)

According to this report, Wallace:
bought a diary from an old miner’s grandson in Eureka, California (Joe Ellison) that tells about three, giant-sized, hairy people that used to attack Indians and the miners in 1849. (Layton)

Wallace was clearly aware of Bigfoot tales, and was interested enough to collect them. It seems that at that time and in that area, at least, Wallace had a reputation for knowing about Bigfoot, enough to get him mentioned as someone who has done “more research on Bigfoot than anyone in the world.”

Linda Layton’s student report contains several short tales told by Wallace about Bigfoot sightings, encounters and captures.

Wallace's contributions to Bigfoot research were ignored by almost all in the field, according to the late Fortean writer and Strange magazine publisher Mark Chorvinsky, who passed away in 2005. In a 1994 article for Strange, Chorvinsky wonders why this was, and asks if the photo (shown here) was of a real Bigfoot, or a "guy in a suit." Wallace had sent the photo to Strange editor Mark Opsasnick; Wallace would not reveal the name of the person who took the photograph:
Here is a picture of a female Big Foot... I bought it, the negative, from a photographer who was up near Mt. St. Helens in March taking pictures when he saw this giant sized female sitting on a log asleep as she was so heavy with a baby inside of her that she could not move very fast, he said she would have [been] easy to capture while sleeping on this log on an old abandon[ed] loading site where they loaded out logs several years ago. He said she was just sitting out in the warm sun and went to sleep."

As to Wallace's contributions to Bigfoot research, Chorvinsky cites Opsasnick:
Bigfoot expert Mark Opsasnick, author of The Bigfoot Digest, opines that, "If one does objective research into the origin of Bigfoot, it is obvious that the role Wallace played in the creation and development of Bigfoot cannot be ignored. He was there when the term 'Bigfoot' originated in 1958 as an important player in the case surrounding Jerry Crew, and Roger Patterson consulted with him repeatedly. This is a fact ignored by the contemporary Bigfoot investigators." Opsasnick concludes that, "It is quite conceivable that if there had been no Ray Wallace, there would be no Bigfoot as we know it today.

Sources: Layton, Linda: July 18, 1971, Randall Mills Folklore Archives, University of Oregon

Mark Chorvinsky,New Bigfoot Photo Investigation, Strange Magazine, 1994

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