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OddWA #32 - The Atomic Man

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On August 30, 1976 a workplace accident at the Hanford Plutonium Finishing Plant exposed plantworker Harold McCluskey to what should have been a lethal dose of radioactive material. His radiation level was so high McCluskey set off Geiger counters fifty feet away, earning him the nickname "The Atomic Man." Miraculously, he was treated and survived for years, though his life had new challenges: Some of Harold’s friends and fellow church members were uneasy around him and avoided him, some going so far as to request he not visit their homes. McCluskey eventually died of heart disease in 1987.
CK


OddWA #31 - Slew Foot

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(Click to enlarge) Washington has always been a hotbed of Bigfoot sightings, even before we legalized cannabis. Records and databases list hundreds of Bigfoot sightings in the Evergreen State over the years, so it’s tricky choosing something suitably epic. In my book, the clear winner is the famed sightings in Bossburg, Washington from 1969 and 1970.

Starting on November 24th, several groups of locals ran across a multitude of tracks crisscrossing the countryside near the Columbia River. One foot appeared to be deformed, so it was dubbed Slew Foot.  The tracks caused a sensation that attracted experts and enthusiasts from near and far, including Roger Patterson – famed cameraman of the controversial Patterson Film that kicked off the modern Bigfoot phenomenon. Patterson, a pair of zoologists, a local tracker, a Himalayan explorer, a wealthy financier and others became embroiled in a story filled with action, intrigue and hanging slabs of meat meant to entice the shy mystery hominid. …

OddWA #30 - The Singing Barber

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Sometimes a couple stories merge and the result just sticks. One classic chestnut from Seattle's Pike Place Market involves a woman who would sing customers to sleep in her barber shop, then lighten their wallets. She met her demise after falling through the floor of her shop, though Market patrons sometimes claim to hear her singing to this day. A little digging turns up a "true" story of a woman who did fall through the floor at Pike Place, though she wasn't a barber and she didn't rob her customers. That seems to stem from a different story. But the tale of the Singing Barber has taken on a life of its own -- and the tale is a firm fixture with "ghost tours" of Seattle.
CK

OddWA #29 – The Soap Lake Sighting

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Two cars making their way from Grand Coulee to Soap Lake both stalled and stopped in their tracks on December 7th, 1957. Eight witnesses described watching a large, fiery UFO fly over the vicinity. Strangely, the dome lights reportedly came on in both cars as the craft flew overhead. Sounds like some hot-rodding alien teenagers could use a good talking to, by golly. CK

OddWA #28 - Grave Robber Rescue

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When times got tough during the Great Depression a lot of people improvised extra income by working outside the normal boundaries of the law and societal norms. Bootlegging was common, but other crimes also saw an increase in those desperate times. A strange example of one crime meeting another happened in December of 1932 when two Seattle grave robbers digging into a fresh grave unearthed a woman who had been buried alive by her underworld compatriots. She was apparently fine, if somewhat disoriented. It seems neither party was eager to take the matter to the police. CK

OddWA #27 - Everett's Phantom Trolley

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A compilation of local spooky stories from the early 1950’s tells of a motorist who dodged an oncoming car with one headlight during a snow storm late one night in downtown Everett. As it passed, the driver realized it was actually a trolley. The thing is, no trolleys had operated in the city for decades. It’s nice to know there might be decent mass transit in the afterlife.
CK

OddWA #26 - The Wild Man of The Wynoochie

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The recent sentencing of Colton Harris Moore, a.k.a. The Barefoot Bandit reminded me of something. Whether he knows it or not, the Barefoot Bandit is part of a tradition in Washington State. Our history is full of outlaws who go a bit feral living outside the boundaries of civilization. The forests of Washington seem to attract all manner of troubled souls. Some who grew up on or near the Olympic Peninsula might remember stories of “trip-wire vets” after the Vietnam War. Even hiking the backwoods of Kitsap County, I would sometimes stumble across a crude lean-to, tent or shelter on occasion. If one left the occupants alone everything would be fine.
That was the case with the most infamous “Wild Man,” John Turnow, a.k.a. the Wild Man of The Wynoochie. At some point, the huge man stopped participating in civilized life and started to haunt the woods of Grays Harbor County. He sometimes watched logging operations from the edge of the woods but seemed harmless enough.

Then,…