Posted by: Loren Coleman on January 27th, 2008
Why does that headline looks vaguely familiar? What may be inside of us, almost at a genetic level, that remembers such incidents?
I’m not talking about the Lawndale, Illinois, case of Marlon Lowe being picked up by one of two large birds, then dropped. That took place in Logan County in April of 1977.
Instead, I’m reminded of my sense that there is a new such event due, by reading about an earlier case, highlighted recently by anomalist Scott Maruna. Maruna posted his finding of a copy of an old article about a bird identified as an eagle picking up a boy in 1929 Kentucky.
Maruna compared it to the Lawndale abduction attempt of Marlon Lowe, which I detailed in Mysterious America. Maruna’s reasons were to talk about the legacy of the ridicule of such encounters. But I want to point out something else: The context and the new surprise that such events do occur.
September 24, 1929, Columbian Missourian, Columbia, Missouri.
Mark A. Hall in his 2004 book, Thunderbirds: America’s Living Legends of Giant Birds, wrote about the Kentucky case in a larger context. Hall spends some time in his chapter “Birds That Carry Off People,” sharing contemporary news accounts back to 1866 of such incidents.
As you read through the incidents, you become aware that you are touched by how commonplace such events must have felt in a more rural America.
We often lose our way in such things, as history becomes forgotten. Cryptozoology is focussed on specifics, and in these exercises we must remember others around us look only to what is happening now, without reference to the greater configuration of the times. In the 1920s, Maruna’s article discovery should remind us, it wasn’t out of the norm to read such a news article.
Hall records this context through publishing a passage he discovered was written in 1948:
Some years ago the New York “Herald Tribune” reported in Kentucky a bald eagle lifted a 50-pound [23-kilogram] boy over twenty feet in the air. In Mississippi another eagle was shot, supposedly because the bird, having a 7-foot [2.1-meter] wingspred, flew away with a 50-pound calf. A four-year-old boy was reportedly attacked and lifted off the ground by an eagle in Florida.David Jacobsen, The Affairs of Dame Rumor, NY: Rinehart & Co., 1948: 27-31.
Hall points out that skepticism ran so high for these reports that Nature Magazine in 1936 and Audobon Magazine in 1948 ran articles dismissing “fake eagle stories” and accounts of “super eagles.”
Then Lawndale happened, in 1977, and everyone was shocked, ridicule set in, and it was seen as an odd or weird piece of news.
As Maruna simple finding of this old news article should remind us, within context and with some historical memory, we should be prepared to not be surprised when the next giant bird attack happens.