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Friday, May 6, 2016

Summer hunt for haunts gives chase to legends

Monday, July 2, 2007

Edna Collings Covered Bridge at Clinton Falls
Summer time -- dusk comes late as lightening bugs begin their nightly ritual of flicking their taillights off and on. The wind gently rustles the leaves on the trees as shadows fall and an occasional cloud obscures the moon as it begins its ascent into the silky sky. And kids are on the hunt for haunts.

It's ten o'clock and a carload of teenage boys head for the Edna Collings covered bridge.

Not sure where they are going, one boy calls home for directions. A reluctant parent feels the stirring of a vague memory of going on similar summer jaunts, and tells them how to find the bridge.

The boys find the gravel road leading to the old historic structure and head down the lane. They see the bridge ahead, covered in dark shadows, spooky but still alluring. They all know the legend of Edna Collings and the bridge. The car enters the portal of the bridge, rolls to the center of it and the driver shuts off the car engine. He honks three times and they all wait. Atmosphere in the car is tense. Excited they hold their breaths listening and continue to wait. Nothing happens.

Disappointed they drive off the bridge and park to the side of the structure climbing underneath to explore the streambed. It's well past dusk but the moon is bright as they watch for shadows and wait for a cold spot to pop up. Yet, they see nothing but the blink of lightening bugs and the nearly silent soar of night birds. An owl hoots in a nearby tree and the wind continues to rustle among the leaves and ripple the stream. A pair of headlights glow in the distance, spooking them and the group clamors back up the bank to the car.

As they reach the edge of the bridge, they tense and hurry a little more. As they approach the back of their vehicle they stop in their tracks. One boy mutters "Oh my God, look at that." They crowd around the back of the car staring in disbelief. It is covered in gravel dust and scattered across the trunk are small handprints which look as if someone or something was trying to climb into the car through the back window.

Thankfully, they live in the age of modern technology, cell phones pop out and the click and flash of photos quickly take place. The realization of what they are seeing sinks in. Thoroughly spooked they jump inside the auto and drive away.

Once in the safety of car and away from the bridge, they review their photographs and see the tiny handprints across the car and up the back window. The driver of the car hurries back toward the main road and the seemingly bright lights of town. The adrenal rush from earlier has gone, now the possibility of what they have experienced begins to sink in.

By the time they reach their respected homes, they will be excited all over again. Parents upon hearing the story, knowingly smile and attribute the experience to overactive imaginations. After all, many of them have had similar experiences. Reassured, the boys are grateful for the safety of home and the warmth of their beds.

By morning the excitement returns. They know it wasn't an overactive imagination. They were there. They saw the prints. Upon reviewing the photos from the night before two of the boys surmise that they can see marks that look like little hands in the gravel dust. Yes, the photos are little blurry but still they were there. There is a smugness in having had the experience and surviving it. And, a sense of wonder.

That evening cell phones begin to ring, one of the group has heard the rumor of a bigfoot sighting. Right here in Putnam County. It's not the first sighting but it reinforces what one of the boys believes he may have seen in the woods near his home.

A plan emerges, a bigfoot hunt is on for the evening. Lawn chairs, coolers filled with soda and water and bags of chips and munchies get tossed into the back of cars. The hunters converge on a lonely wooded spot on the property of one of the boys parents. They dig a campfire pit, load it with logs and lit the fire. Lawn chairs are unfolded. They settle in and the wait begins anew.

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