Log Cabin Chronicles

Some thoughts on Monster Lust


It must be spring. The poplars are in leaf, the fall-planted spinach is ready to eat, the roads are full of potholes, and people are already seeing lake monsters.

Friends, let's assume you believe in Memphre, our very own Lake Memphremagog monster. Please keep in mind we are discussing a serious serpent here: 50 feet long, head like a horse, slick as an eel, and able to move at high speed down through the centuries.

Memphre has been "seen" and reported -- sometimes excitedly, often reluctantly -- by all sorts of folks.

On September 17, 1854, Ralph Merry of Magog, Quebec, wrote "that Indians would not go into this lake because they said there were great serpents or aligators in it. Some people think they were right."

Barbara Malloy of Newport, Vermont, has thought they were right since 5 p.m. on August 12, 1983, the day when she says she and her two daughters saw something humping along through the water near Horseneck Island. "My God!" she shrieked. "It must be that thing!"

Since that day Mrs. Malloy has been a believer. No, that's not emphatic enough. She is a Serious True Believer. Not only that, she has been certified as the First Female Dracontologist in North America.

The honor was conferred by Jacques Boisvert of Magog, the region's legendary scuba diver and founder-president-Head Dracontologist of the International Dracontology Society of Lake Memphremagog [memphre@login.net].

Boisvert, a highly experienced frogman who has logged more hours at the bottom of the lake than any other person on earth, has had a lot of fun over the years promoting the legend of Memphre.

He hasn't seen Memphre, he admits, but he has seen sedimentary evidence of its passing, so to speak.

"I always dive with a compass, so I don't cross my own path unintentionally," he said. "I can't explain what stirs up the bottom..."

I'll tell you what our dragon master has seen at the bottom of Beautiful Waters -- the slowly settling afterglow of Monster Lust.

Yes, friends, this may enrage the Internet censors but we are talking here of sex. The birds do it, the bees do it, we do it, and monsters do it. Or else there wouldn't be any more monsters. And then where would the Chambers of Commerce be?

To the best of my knowledge no other writer has dealt with this aspect of monster behavior, so please remember you read it here first in cyberspace.

Need more proof?

Again, in 1854, the very late Henry Wadleigh said he saw "one of the great serpents of Magog...long as a skiff, large as a good-sized mill log...his head was large enough to take in a man, and he held it out of the water about two feet."

In 1891 William Watts reported seeing a "curious-looking monster...its head was elevated about three feet above the water and its body appeared about 25 or 30 feet long.";

While on a second honeymoon in 1939, Dr. Stephen Huff and his wife Ruth said they saw a "snake-like fish...about 30 feet in length...the head was shaped somewhat like a dragon's head."

And in 1986 Vic and Rita Fortin spied a creature "16-24 feet long...its head stuck out of the water three or four feet high...and it was five to six feet wide." It was, said Vic, his third sighting of Memphre.

Mrs. Malloy, who doesn't always take non-believers lightly, is at a loss why so many are skeptical, if not downright anti-lake monster. Some have voiced doubts because they don't understand how an air breather can survive under the ice, once the lake is frozen solid for 30 wind-whipped international miles.

Well, there's the fabled cavern under Owls Head mountain, and the air-filled tunnels connecting Lake Memphremagog with all the other lakes in the Vermont/Quebec region....

Unlike Mrs. Malloy, who believes Memphre is a Friendly Monster, one local wag suggested that Memphre is scoffing up far too many lake trout and perch. He reckoned that at 50 feet long and 2000 pounds the monster eats a ton of game fish each week. At $3 a pound, that's more than $300,000 worth of food a year, or as he put it "one hell of a lot of fish to support one local monster."

Boisvert doesn't see it that way. He suggests that Memphre is a "benthic feeder" and lives off tiny worms and other mud-burrowing creatures.

There it is, friends. Down through the centuries all sorts of folks have said they saw something out there in the lake. If lake monsters exist they have to eat to survive and breed regularly to perpetuate the species. Which brings us to thoughts of spring and love...

The next time you venture out on Lake Memphremagog, consider this possibility: right below the keel of your pleasure craft two 50-foot-long, horse-head sea serpents, slick as eels and horny as rabbits, are locked in the throes of Monster Lust, doing their thing. It does give you pause to ponder.



Copyright © 1996 John Mahoney / Log Cabin Chronicles/5.96