Julius E "Smokey" Crabtree
In this post I want to pay tribute to a person who is quite prominent in the Bigfoot community and a really neat man. I found out yesterday that Smokey Crabtree passed away at the age of 89. Anybody whose anybody in the Bigfoot community knows who Smokey Crabtree is. I want to express my heart felt condolence to his family. He will be sorely missed.
Julius E. ”Smokey” Crabtree was born April 22 1927 and raised in Fouke, Arkansas. As a youth he roamed the Sulphur River Bottoms trapping, hunting and fishing the miles and miles of swampland. At sixteen he enlisted into the U.S. Navy become a shipyard welder. During his time in the military, Smokey took up boxing and fought in the Golden Glove tournament in San Francisco, California in 1944. At nineteen he volunteered for the Merchant Marines and by the age of twenty-three he was married and the father of three children. The family moved back to Fouke and built a home in the country; he continued to follow pipeline work as a welder. Smokey welded the very first joint of 48-inch pipe laid on the 800-mile line of the Alaska oil pipeline stretching across the barren ice country from Prudhoe Bay to Valdez. Smokey has worked in 18 foreign countries and almost every state in the United States.
In 1972 Charles B Pierce came to Fouke to film the now historic movie “The Legend of Boggy Creek”. Because of his expert knowledge of the Sulphur River and the bottoms and the fact that his son Lynn actually saw the Fouke monster, Smokey was hired as a wildlife guide and consultant for the filming. Smokey later became the go to person on the Fouke monster. Smokey became a leading speaker at Bigfoot and Cryptozoology conferences and festivals. Even during his busy life, Smokey found time to write three books. His books: "Smokey and the Fouke Monster", "Too Close to the Mirror", and "The Man behind the Legend", which are still in print and make for some excellent reading.
Reflecting back, if I were to pick a particular moment when I got bitten by the legend tripping bug, it would probably be when I first saw the “The Legend of Boggy Creek”. This movie really changed where I focused my interests, and changed my life. I can remember the first time I saw the movie. The first time was in 1974 at a local drive-in theater in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.After the previews were shown, the movie started, and what was the first thing that came on the screen? “This is a true story.” I remembered the movie poster and thought, “Holy cow, there is a real hairy monster walking around out there!” Then the terrifying scream rang through the drive-in. I stared wide-eyed at the movie screen, at the image of a young boy running through a huge field, and thought, “Oh my god, this thing eats little boys!”
I remember how I felt when, in the final scene of The Legend of Boggy Creek, they stated, “Yes, he’s still out there.” Of course, the more I thought about it, the more scared I got. Mr. Pierce did what nobody else has done; he made a simple documentary-style movie that made you feel like you were right there next to those people being terrorized by that unknown animal.
I always wanted to meet Smokey and I even had it on my bucket list. On October 2015, my dream came true when I finally got to meet him at the 3rd annual Boggy Creek festival. I was excited when I was invited to speak about legend tripping. I know this sounds cheesy but I consider Fouke my Graceland. I remember how excited I got when I first saw him walk into the conference hall. I immediately jumped up and ran over to him. I introduced myself to him and he shuck my hand. He motioned for me to sit down next to him. He giggled as I told him that it was one of my dreams to finally meet him. As I talked to him, mostly about Florida, I could detect behind that twinkle in his eye, a man who lived his exciting and adventures life to the fullest. Smokey will be fondly missed and always remembered.