My Older Legacy Literary Blog

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

A Trip to Boggy Creek in Texarkana, Arkansas

 A friend of mine named Hal I went to high school with is a lawyer in Shreveport, Louisiana, and he and I and his little brother and another good friend wanted to see what the real Boggy Creek was in Arkansas, infamous from the film “Legend of Boggy Creek” and “Return to Boggy Creek.”  Twenty years ago we were all in Shreveport at the time so it wouldn’t be that far of a trip into Arkansas to see it.  We took a van there and I worked nights as a computer operator down in Baton Rouge so I was on a different time schedule at the time, just up there for a visit. 

 There apparently really was a Boggy Creek there, as a sort of apocryphal legend.  We were not sure if we would see a southern Bigfoot but the creek was really there.  We drove up there and got to Texarkana, Arkansas.  .It also happened to be near the birthplace of famed Ragtime composer Scott Joplin (1867-1917).  My friend Hal and I both played a lot of piano (I grew up playing ragtime myself and ended up going to music school in Piano Performance) and we wanted to see any mention of Joplin, any historical markers that might be in town.  We found a large mural painted in the middle of town against a building commemorating Scott Joplin.  We went around the corner and there was an old wooden building and there was an historical marker there stating that that place was the Elementary school of Scott Joplin.  .Now that that was complete, we all drove onward.  

I mentioned to the guys that in both movies that Boggy Creek was a very large river.  One of us said that he heard that the legend of this monster was to scare locals and was really believed in certain locales of Arkansas gentry.  We drove to a small store to get something to eat, and we all bought chips, candy bars, drinks.  Everything we bought there was rotted and fetid. I kept wondering why the store owners seemed so excited that we were buying their stuff. 

Then we get to a certain point in the highway.  There is a sign that says “Boggy Creek.”  We parked the van.  We got out.  It was a veritable trickle of a creek.  You could literally jump over this creek with one hop.  Maybe we had gotten so far north that we had gotten towards the source of the creek.  There was no sighting of the monster either.  .In Louisiana heading into Mississippi there is a swamp called Honey Island.  They have a legend there about an actual boggy creek type monster. 

 There is a Honey Island Swamp Tour that has been going on for years.  There is also a Loup Garou Legend, a sort of werewolf.  There was a great episode of that with Darrin McGavin in the Night Stalker.  Other than that, Louisiana does not have any other legends of monstrocity except for racketeering governors.  

.Speaking of local filmings, I often wonder that when they filmed the first silent Tarzan movie in Abbeville, Louisiana in 1918, in the swamp, whether Edgar Rice Burroughs actually travelled there during the filming.  I have an old copy of the silent film.  I have seen several photos of Burroughs on the sets of various movies. 

 Abbeville is in the middle of nowhere, Louisiana.  Down in the swamps 150 miles east of New Orleans, and far below Lafayette, Louisiana.  Deep in Cajun country.  A learned friend of mine said that a mummy movie was ‘set’ in a New Orleans swamp between Hammond, Louisiana and New Orleans, but wasn’t actually filmed there.  

.Burroughs was born in 1875, was in the US Cavalry when they were on horseback in the wild west, and later lived in Chicago and had a wife and new family, tried to make a living from everything from Vacuum Cleaner salesman (like Lovecraft who rewrote a vacuum cleaner manual but still was not hired by the company he sought a job at) to selling pencils at a little stall in the city. He failed at everything. Dozens of jobs.  

Then he read a pulp and thought he could do that. He wrote “Under the Moons of Mars” under the name “Norman Bean” and then Tarzan for the pulps, and the rest is history. 

 I have a typed letter from him on Edgar Rice Burroughs stationary, written while he was staying in Hawaii and addressed to his daughter.  A few months from the date of that letter he witnessed the Japanese planes as he was playing tennis, as they were flying over him on their way to Pearl Harbor. 

 He was a war correspondent during WWII.  He died in his sleep one night after reading a comic book.

No comments:

Post a Comment