Mothman and the Mind of an Impressionable Youngster

By: Rod Washington

My fiancee standing next to the Mothman statue in Point Pleasant, WV image credit: Tina Lambert

Back when I was around nine years old, with my impressionable mind, I became interested in the subject of the unknown, like ghost stories, monsters like bigfoot and the Loch Ness monster, and, oh yes, UFOs.

My elementary school in Lynwood, California had a library and I started checking out books from there as well as the local library branch. I was reading them in my free time, that parent appropriated time between doing my homework and bedtime. One of those books that I tried to sneak in a read before my 10:00 bedtime was brand new and had just arrived at my town’s main library, “The Mothman Prophecies by John Keel, 1975.”

Impressionable Youngster

The idea of a man-sized flying creature that resembled a weird giant black bat, mixed with a man and a moth, with glowing red eyes kind of freaked me out and made me rethink my nighttime excursions into the backyard.


A Part of West Virginia Folklore

Mothman was a humanoid creature reportedly seen in the Point Pleasant area from November 15, 1966, to December 15, 1967. The first newspaper report was published in the Point Pleasant Register, dated November 16, 1966, titled “Couples See Man-Sized Bird … Creature … Something”. The national press soon picked up the reports and helped spread the story across the United States.

The first known incident, as noted in Keel’s book, happened on November 15, 1966, when two young couples from Point Pleasant—Roger and Linda Scarberry, and Steve and Mary Mallette—told police they saw a large grey creature whose eyes “glowed red” when the car’s headlights picked it up. They described it as a “large flying man with a ten-foot wingspan.”

image credit: Rebecca Jo Bigham

The creature followed their car as they drove to a location just outside of town that was known as “the TNT area“, which was the site of a former World War II munitions plant.

As I read further into the book, Keel speculated a supernatural connection due to events leading up to the tragic collapse of the Silver Bridge in Point Pleasant.

Before John Keel’s The Mothman Prophecies popularized the topic, The Mothman was originally introduced to a wide audience by Gray Barker in 1970.

There were many television shows that touch on the subject of the unknown over the decades presented episodes about the creature.

The book was later adapted into a 2002 film, starring Richard Gere.

Point Pleasant hosts an annual festival devoted to the Mothman legend.

Mothman and the Mind of an Impressionable Youngster

Further reading:


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October 26, 2021 7:41 pm

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