It’s out of the ordinary for me to post twice in one day, but I’m compelled to do so by the passing of a friend I’d never met. I’ll already published today’s post when I learned the news. Linda S. Godfrey was a Wisconsin journalist. She’s known for her many books on paranormal and weird subjects. She was the reporter who first took “the beast of Bray Road” seriously. I only discovered her after we’d moved from Wisconsin, although we didn’t live far from her in those days. Fascinated by her work on the beast, I contacted her with some information I’d read and we opened a very occasional exchange of stories. She was my very first Twitter follower, and she published one of my true stories (anonymously, by request) in one of her books.
I know that academically-inclined folks are dismissive of her work, suggesting she was credulous. I always looked at it differently—Linda was willing to listen to people. Yes, she probably talked to some people with mental issues, but here’s a true secret—all people have mental issues. Although I never met her in person I had the sense from her writing that she didn’t simply accept what others told her, but she was willing to consider it. I remember visiting Rutger’s University library while I was an adjunct there, to find a difficult-to-locate reference for her. I mailed her a photocopy of what I’d found. As I say, we never met, and we only corresponded once in a great while.
Seeing that her blog hadn’t been updated for some time (so this is related, you see, to my earlier post), I began to wonder if she was well. Like most of us born to write, I knew it was unusual for her not to post. Not knowing her personally, I didn’t think it polite to ask. I’ve read several of her books, some of them highlighted on this blog. Often dismissed as “only a cryptozoologist,” my sense is that Linda was hounded by the need to know the truth. Yes, the world is a mysterious place—it’s not nearly as well understood as we’re often confidently told that it is. Some of us simply can’t rest without finding out for ourselves. Linda earned a reputation as an expert on werewolves—many suggest the beast of Bray Road was some such creature. She recognized the tie-in to folklore but she also knew that monsters always, always cross borders. Linda is missed already, and it’s about time I caught up on some of her latest books, for I’m compelled to believe she now knows.