Published Saturday, October 31, 2009
By Jeff Bishop
The Newnan Times-Herald
Of course, many others say that's "hogwash." In fact, many local residents claim to know the so-called "Booger" personally. "I know him. His daddy owns a wrecker business," said one local resident who wished to remain unidentified. "I was in law enforcement at the time the first reports came in, and I knew it was him. Everybody did."
He said the Belt Road Booger started out as a prank. But many people took the tale very seriously. The headline of the Aug. 9, 1979, issue of the Newnan Times-Herald read, "Strange Creature Seen Here." "Move over, Sasquatch, Bigfoot, the Abominable Snowman and the Loch Ness Monster -- make room for the Belt Road Booger!" the story announced.
The "creature" was initially spotted on Belt Road near the intersection of West Washington Street. "It was dark. It stands about five feet tall. It's big across the chest. Its eyes look like diamonds at night when you shine a light on them," was how one local woman described the "monster." The creature was reported to have "a face like a monkey and a long bushy tail." But it was just a local boy in a gorilla costume, our informant tells us. "He later became a guard and went into law enforcement, himself," said the informant.
"But at the time, I guess the funniest thing that happened was there was a lady out hanging clothes on a clothes line. And this boy took a half-eaten apple and threw it at her. She wound up finding that apple and calling the police." In fact the Times-Herald reported that the creature was "alleged to have eaten the inside of an apple, leaving only the peeling, and to have bitten a hunk out of an ear of corn."
"At the Kmart warehouse he jumped on the fence gate to scare a security guard out there," said the informant. "It was all in good fun, but there came a time when a stop had to be put to it." He said local people really enjoyed the series of pranks, however, and basked in the wave of publicity it generated in the late 1970s. "There was a store that did some taxidermy work around Arnco, and they mounted an old thing and labeled it the Belt Road Booger," said the informant.
"That was 30 years ago." The boy "came from a good family," but later got into some legal troubles, the informant said. Attempts to reach the man apparently once known as the Belt Road Booger were unsuccessful. We were told he also had a brief career as the "Lizard Man" in South Carolina. "I thought everyone that was in Newnan High at that time knew who the Booger was," said one poster to the Times-Herald Web site.
"Seems like yesterday," remembered Joe Perry. "Man, what happened to our small town? Our kids are grown now, but they know the Booger legend." Some still aren't convinced that it was all just a prank. "My dad saw a Booger when he was little, that was way before '79, in East Newnan," said a poster identifying herself only as "Paige."
"He also said it was hairy and ran off on two feet. It came out of a barn that they would play in. It ran by him out the door and he never saw it again." Years later, in the 1980s, in the same yard, "my family members were all on the front porch; it was dusk, dark, and they saw a hairy 5-foot something standing next to a wall... it jumped straight up onto the wall and was gone. It was never seen in East Newnan again."
Another woman who also wished to remain unidentified said that she doesn't care what anyone says -- she has seen something unexplainable prowling the streets of Coweta County, and it most definitely was not a child in a costume. "I was just reading online about some kind of creature being sighted in the Newnan area over the years," said the woman, who has the initials A.W.
"I thought for a long time I was crazy, because about three years ago I saw something huge on Hwy. 16 around the Poplar Road area," she said. "After reading the descriptions people were giving, mine is very similar," said A.W. "It was about 8 feet tall and covered in black, shaggy, coarse-looking hair, with a flat face, and huge, sharp-looking teeth, and big glowing yellowish eyes. "If I had any drawing ability at all I could draw it out perfectly," she said, since the image has been seared into her brain. "I can close my eyes and still see it," said A.W. "I was driving towards Senoia, and as I was coming up a hill I saw what I thought were yellow lights, or a headlight, maybe. And it moved from the left side of the wooded area to the middle of the road.
"As I got closer, I realized that it was some kind of animal -- and no, it was not a bear." A.W. said she slowed down her vehicle and drove past the creature. "I was so close to it, it could have reached out and touched my car," she said. "It looked to be big enough to flip my car over!" A.W. said she is certain about what she saw, and it wasn't human.
"I am not crazy, I have been in church all my life and always thought people seeing things like this had fallen off their rocker or something, but after reading this article, I know now that I am not the only one who is telling the truth." So while many people claim that the Belt Road Booger was nothing more than a short-term prank devised by a boy looking for some cheap thrills -- a boy who was fortunate enough to own a gorilla costume -- the legend of the Belt Road Booger definitely lives on.