Wednesday, May 13, 2020

'Wolfman' in the Backyard: Cleveland County, North Carolina

A girl and her cousin encounter a wolfman or werewolf in their grandfather's backyard in rural North Carolina. It later vanishes without a trace

“I have really enjoyed your Phantoms and Monsters ebooks and blog the last few years. I just finished the most recent book, which had a number of dog and wolf humanoid encounters. I like reading these encounters because it makes me feel better to know that there are others out there who have had encounters with something that they can’t explain. I decided that I would send you my weirdest story, which happened to me as a child. I have seen and felt strange things since then, but this encounter was both the strangest thing that has ever happened to me and, I believe, a catalyst for other unusual things in my life and an interest in them. Several years ago, I sent this encounter to another well-known researcher, but I never heard anything back. I’m not surprised, as it is pretty odd and seems made up, but it did happen. What it was, I have no idea.

When I was a little girl, my Papaw lived in an old farm house in the upper end of Cleveland County, NC. We used to go visit with him every Saturday. My dad, my mom, my baby brother and I, along with usually several of my dad’s brothers, his sister, and their assorted children, would congregate after lunch at Papaws. Us cousins would play together outside and out in the woods, which ran behind my Papaw’s farm and stretched for probably 10 miles to a dirt road, beyond which was an apple orchard and a cattle pasture.

This was the early 80’s in a rural area, back when kids could take off to the woods for hours and it was ok. We would all have dinner together, and then hang out until bedtime for us kids, when we would all head home. At the time, I had just turned 8. My cousin J was 6. My brother and J’s sister were both small toddlers, barely walking. The night in question, J and I and our little siblings were the only kids present at Papaws. He and I had spent the day playing in the woods as usual, and out in the yard where J was trying out his prized brand new skateboard. After supper, we hung out in the back bedroom watching TV until our parents informed us that it was time to go home.

Papaw’s house had a glassed-in porch which also served as a laundry room on the front, right outside the kitchen. This porch, because of the way the lot was laid out and the house was built, was fairly tall and looking out the windows gave you a panoramic and slightly elevated view of the back yard. I would speculate that the porch windows were about 20 feet off the ground, and the backyard sloped away from the porch.

The backyard was lit by two large lights, one which was mounted on a pole to the left of the yard, the other mounted on the side of Papaw’s shop, which was to the right. They were very bright, and each light lit up a fairly large area. The only really shadowy part of the backyard was the area where a large tree stood, casting a shadow that fell between the shop and the greenhouse which was to the far left of the yard. It was under this tree that J had left his skateboard when we stopped playing to eat supper, and he and I decided that we should go out to get it while our parents were still saying their goodbyes in the kitchen.

The wolfman was in the backyard. We saw him at the same time, as soon as we entered the porch. He was man-sized, and he looked exactly like a werewolf from a bad b-movie. He had a shaggy, dark brown wolfman head with long pointed ears and a lighter brown muzzle. His hands were human-like as best I can remember, though they were covered in dark fur and he had long claws. He was wearing a red and black checked flannel shirt and blue jeans. I don’t remember anything about his feet, whether he had shoes or claws, but his legs were straight, like a person’s, not bent backwards like a dog. He was walking back and forth in the yard, almost robot-like or as if he were on a track.

I can’t really describe it well; it was like his legs were moving a little, but not enough to actually count as walking; it was more like he was gliding, but in a jerky way. His body was human in proportion. He would move from the edge of the light near the greenhouse across to the light near the shop, stopping when he reached the end of the illuminated area and turning around in a strange jerky way and gliding back. His eyes were red and glowed some, like one of those laser lights that you use to tease cats, that color and about that level of brightness.

The only time he was out of our sight was when he passed into the shadowed area of the tree. He seemed to be showing off for us, wanting us to see him, or at least that was what it felt like. The feeling that he carried with him was of overwhelming malevolence. I felt like he knew we were there and could see us watching and feel that we were afraid and he was glad. Not sure if that makes sense, but it was what I felt at the time; dread and fear and like he was aware of us and doing what he was doing on purpose to scare us.

Of course, we freaked out and started screaming for our parents. And of course once they all rushed out onto the porch only to hear us hysterical because the wolfman was in the backyard, they said the usual parent things about overactive imagination and too much Scooby Doo. Because, even though he was there walking back and forth right in front of them and we could both see him, none of the adults present could.

I remember pointing and saying “it’s out there!” And being really frustrated because they couldn’t see it. Finally, my Dad, determined to put an end to the nonsense, announced that he was going to go out into the yard and get J’s skateboard from under the tree. We tried to stop him, but he went anyway. At that time, the wolfman was still doing his strange gliding walk back and forth. When my Dad opened the porch door and hit the steps that led from the porch to the yard, he triggered the motion sensor light which was on the corner of the porch awning, lighting up the shadowed tree area.
Just before this happened, the wolfman had stepped into that shadowy area and disappeared from view in the dark; when the light came on, lighting up the tree area. The wolfman was just gone. It was as if he had vanished into thin air, as they say. We never saw him again, though we became mildly obsessed with werewolves for a while after that and started hoarding silver in case we needed to make silver bullets. When you are a child, it is pretty amazing what you can consider normal. We were scared at the time it happened, but it’s like afterwards it didn’t feel completely real because it was so...bizarre...and we sort of made a game out of it.

A few weird things happened to us in the woods after that, but nothing that could be considered paranormal beyond doubt, and nothing like seeing the wolf man.

Years passed, but I always wondered about what we saw that night. My cousin J forgot about it all together; I asked him about it just a few months ago, and he didn’t remember it at all. What really brought it back to my memory was the story in Linda Godfrey’s ‘Real Wolfmen’ about the girl who saw the hitchhiking werewolf wearing clothes. Before that, I’d never seen a serious report of a canine or lupine humanoid wearing clothes in any publication. I don’t often tell anyone about the wolfman we saw, because it sounds so completely crazy. Of course, my parents and J’s parents never for one second believed we saw anything.

I don’t fully know the history of the land around Papaw’s. I know that there were lots of Catawba Indians in that area before colonial times, and that there are several strange formations in that part of the county that people claim are Indian mounds, though none of them seem to be officially recognized as such.

There have been several Bigfoot flaps in that county as well, and there are black panthers there. I have seen both Black and Tan panthers, as has my father and many hunters he knows, though they are not, in my opinion, anything supernatural, just regular animals. I have no idea, to this day, what it was that we saw in the backyard, I find it hard to believe that it was actually a werewolf, but I feel like it was something paranormal. Seeing it caused me to have a lifelong interest in cryptozoology and Fortean phenomenon.

I’ve thought a lot about it, and I sort of feel like John Keel was right when he suggested that there is something out there that messes with us, just because it can. Like maybe something that wanted to be scary, and knew that a stereotypical werewolf would frighten some little kids. I’ve even wondered if it could have been someone dressed in a costume playing a prank, but that wouldn’t explain the weird gliding unnatural way it moved, or the way it was able to disappear so fast, or the fact that apparently five adults couldn’t see it even though two kids could.

Just thought that this might interest you because of the novelty. It sounds so ‘out there’ and frankly made up that I doubt anyone would believe it anyway. I have told maybe four people my entire life about it, including my ex-husband who did not believe me. I have never even mentioned it to my current husband, because it’s just so weird.

I would however be interested to know if anyone else out there has experienced anything similar, either a werewolf type form dressed in clothing, or something that they felt was “something” pretending to be something that it really was not (for whatever reason I feel strongly that this is what was happening). I appreciate you taking the time to read this, and have really enjoyed your work. Good luck with your research." KH



'Winged Cryptids: Humanoids, Monsters & Anomalous Creatures Casebook' is now available in paperback & on Kindle

A review of 'Winged Cryptids: Humanoids, Monsters & Anomalous Creatures Casebook' by Linda Godfrey

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