Posted by: Craig Woolheater on October 24th, 2006
Has the Awful returned to Berkshire & Richford?
Written by H.P. Albarelli Jr.
The County Courier (VT)
Thursday, 19 October 2006
In 1925, renowned horror writer H.P. Lovecraft secretly traveled to Richford and Berkshire to investigate a strange phenomenon that was occurring in the two towns. Lovecraft had been visiting friends in southern Vermont when he first learned about odd sightings in Richford.
Locals there were terribly afraid of a beast they had dubbed "the Awful." First spotted atop the Boright building at the corner of Main and River streets early one evening around dusk, the Awful, according to records of old, was a winged creature that resembled "a very large Griffin-like creature with grayish wings that each spanned ten-feet." The creature possessed "a serpent like tail that equaled its wing length" and "huge claws that could easily grip a milk can’s girth."
Three men, workers at a local sawmill, were walking across the Main Street bridge when they spotted the Awful perched on the building’s rooftop staring menacingly down at them. One of the men was so petrified he suffered a heart attack on the spot and had to be carried home. For weeks afterward his wife and children woke up in the middle of the night to hear him screaming in his sleep.
Two weeks later the Awful was seen flying about 50-feet above a Berkshire field near Lost Nation road. The creature it was said clutched a small, wailing infant in its gnarled claws, but most likely it was a small animal of some sort, a sheep perhaps. Over the next several weeks, numerous farmers around Richford and Berkshire reported seeing the Awful flying over their fields. Farm wife Oella Hopkins was hanging wash out to dry in her yard when see looked up to see what her dog was fiercely barking at. Following the dog’s nervous glare she saw the Awful perched on her porch roof gazing down at her. Terribly frightened, she ran into her house and hid under her bed, refusing to come out for hours. A year after the Awful was first spotted, sightings dwindled to a few each month. After 3 years, they stopped completely.
When H.P. Lovecraft returned to southern Vermont from Richford he told friends he was convinced that the Richford locals he had interviewed were "not in the least mistaken about what they had witnessed." Lovecraft later wrote, "The Awful became ample sustenance for my imagination" and "over time the creature became the basis for many of my own fictional inventions." In 1927 Lovecraft wrote, "entering Vermont for the first time there is a sense of mystic revivification." He continued, "Something in the contours, something in the setting, has the power to touch deep viol-strings of feeling which are ancestral if one be young and personal if one be old."
A couple of weeks ago, one of Richford’s more solid citizens, a person who does not want to be identified in this article because "people would think I’ve gone out of my mind," reported seeing "an unbelievable looking winged monster." The "thing swooped down from nowhere and plucked a huge black crow" from the upper branches of a tall pine tree. "I didn’t believe my eyes," said this person, "but when the thing circled my house…well, then there was no denying it."
Was it the Awful? "I remember my grandfather once talking about that thing, but I thought it was just a story, a tall folk yarn," said the person. And now? "What I saw was no yarn. Yarns don’t fly and stories don’t look like that. What I saw was real. And I hope to high heaven I never see it again."
What the heck was the Awful?