Dear John: The Sister Lakes monster chasePublished 9:40pm Thursday, May 31, 2012
“I grew up on Sister Lakes (1975-’90) and I never heard this story (Sister Lakes monster). Tell me more.”
Joe Scapino via Facebook
Here’s some of what I wrote for Horizons published Feb. 23, 2007:
Beatlemania wasn’t the only craze to consume Cass County in the summer of 1964.
Besides infatuation with four mop tops from Liverpool, there was also the frenzy for a furry fellow, the fabled Sister Lakes monster.
Before monster madness subsided, merchants creatively cashed in on national curiosity aimed at the lake resort belt north of Dowagiac and south of Keeler in Van Buren County.
Harvey’s in Dowagiac sold monster-hunting kits for $7.95 that included a light, a net, a baseball bat, a mallet and a stake.
Reid’s Drive-Inn at Sister Lakes introduced a monster sandwich and monster brew.
At the time, farfetched as it seems, it was an evening’s entertainment to load the family into the car and creep up and down rural roads.
Excitement of encountering this elusive hairy Hulk tramping through a swamp in Silver Creek Township in northwest Cass County mingled with trepidation that left some glancing over their shoulders in the gathering gloom.
Most people took monster mania in stride and had fun with it, but the June sightings not only set off a swarm of reporters and curiosity-seekers, but also heavily-armed hunters with big deer rifles.
“It’s getting mighty dangerous with 3,000 strangers prowling about at night with guns,” Sheriff Robert “Bud” Dool of Cassopolis said.
The more newspapers and radio reports trumpeted Sasquatch sightings, the more carloads could be spotted cruising the Dewey Lake area at night.
The Cass County Sheriff’s Office had to set up roadblocks to divert traffic snarls.
Deputies devoted the whole summer to stakeouts of a nine-foot, 500-pound creature.
In the Thursday, June 11, edition, headlined across the bottom of the front page, “Daily News goes on monster hunt with Cass County sheriff’s men,”Staff Writer Dave Schultz gave a first-person account.
“I went on a monster hunt with the Cass County Sheriff’s Department last night,” Schultz wrote, “but the only monsters I could find were the people who distracted searching operations by volunteering to help.
“From the size of the armaments hunters brought with them, I thought this was war.
“The police who were supposed to do the hunting ended up politely telling hundreds of people they didn’t need any more help and to please keep moving so that the road wouldn’t be congested.”
The mystery chronicled from ABC to the Chicago Tribune endures to this day.
John will answer your question if you email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tags: Dear John