Harriet McFeely

Harriet McFeely 

As Julie Andrews sang in “The Sound of Music,” these are a few of my favorite things. Among them are people who have changed my life forever and just plain weird things.

My earliest memory is of Sir Edmund Hillary. He climbed to the “Top of the World,” Mount Everest, in the Himalayan Mountains on May 29, 1953. I remember vividly seeing on television huge footprints stretching ahead of Sir Edmund going up the mountain in deep snow and very frigid temperatures. The locals called them Yeti prints. I saw and believed.

Who would have ever guessed that a scrawny little red-headed girl who weighed 50 pounds at the time would go on to become known as “The Bigfoot Lady” 67 years later? Who knew?

In 1959, I made one of my biggest finds. I found the top of a petrified leg bone later identified as belonging to a woolly mammoth near Red Cloud. From that time on, that 13-pound bone has sat on my coffee table in my living room. Then and there, I decided that I wanted to be an anthropologist.

In 1960, my junior high science teacher, Milton Janicke, became the first person who I felt truly believed in me and encouraged me. That year, our school had a science fair at the Hastings City Auditorium.

At the time, I had read every book in the public library on evolution and Charles Darwin. Mr. Janicke encouraged me to make an exhibit and enter the science fair. To my great surprise, I won a purple ribbon.

Some 57 years later, I found myself back in exactly the same spot in the auditorium hosting my very first Nebraska Bigfoot Conference. Talk about déjà vu.

On Oct. 20, 1967, Roger Patterson and Bob Gimlin made the world famous video of “Patty” (the other Bigfoot Lady) walking down Bluff Creek in California.

Who knew or could have guessed that 50 years later to the day I would walk down Bluff Creek in exactly the same location Patty walked.

That same weekend, I met Bob Gimlin and was invited to his birthday party. While there, I invited him to come to our second Bigfoot Conference in Hastings. Not only did he agree to come, but he brought his world premiere movie, “The Legend of Bigfoot” with him.

In 1972, the very famous movie, “The Legend of Boggy Creek” was made. This movie followed many articles that came out of the Texarkana, Arkansas, newspaper about Smokey Crabtree and his family and their strange adventures in Fouke, Arkansas. Little did I imagine t

hat in the spring of 2013, my late husband, Dick, and I would be invited to Fouke and visit with Smoke 41 years after the film’s release. They would later release an enhanced version of the movie in the spring of 2019, which screened in Texarkana.

The following day I met Smokey’s son, Jay, at the Bigfoot Conference in Fouke. He will be among the guest speakers at this year’s fourth annual Bigfoot Conference April 17-18 at the Hastings City Auditorium.

It was Jay Crabtree’s brother, James Lynne, who first surprised the large Bigfoot featured in the film on the family’s farm in 1965. Smokey, James Lynne and Jay will have come full circle in my life when Jay comes to Hastings 55 years after the family’s initial sighting.

One week ago, I received a terrific gift from Central Community College, Grand Island campus.

The back story here begins in the winter of 1960 when I visited the University of Nebraska Museum in Morrill Hall. I fell in love with the place and decided it was where I wanted to work for the rest of my life. Sadly, that plan never came to fruition.

One of the highlights of my tour was the museum’s collection of prehistoric skulls. In a subsequent visit to the museum, I was disappointed to learn that they had removed the display, and inquired as to what had happened to it. After being told it was probably packed away in boxes and stored, I asked to see the manager to see if he would give them to me for my personal collection. Unfortunately, neither the skulls nor manager were anywhere to be found.

Fast forward to one week ago, when Drafting and Design Instructor Amy Stuart called to tell me that she was making several skulls for me with the college’s 3D printer to display in my Bigfoot Museum! They have since arrived, including a Homo floresiensis, a.k.a. a hobbit. Talk about love at first sight. So, though it took 60 years, I now have a collection of skulls that rivals the display I envied in Lincoln. Good things come to those who wait.

These are the things that will define my Valentine’s Day perspective this year, the loves of my life.

I offer them as proof that if you really want something bad enough and refuse to give up on your dreams, they can become reality.

They sure did for me.


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