For years I've heard stories of the Proctor Valley Monster. Proctor Valley is northeast of Otay Lakes. Some say it's a deranged cow and others say it's San Diego's version of Bigfoot. Can you shed some light on this truth or legend?
— Roger the Inquirer, the net
La Jolla has its Munchkins, Old Town has its ghosts, and East County has its Proctor Valley Monster. The old PVM seems to be a textbook urban legend — or rural legend, in this case. It has all the classic symptoms: teenagers, lovers' lane, mysterious deaths, and the clincher, "I never saw him, but my neighbor's babysitter's sister saw him."
PVM stories go back at least to the '60s, probably earlier. One version involves two teens who get a flat tire while driving through Proctor Valley late at night. The guy pulls to the side of the road under a tree, gets out to look at the damage, his girlfriend locks the doors, and the next thing she hears is a scraping on the roof of the car. When cops rescue her in the morning, she learns that the scraping sound was her date's fingernails. He's hanging by his feet from a tree branch, with big, animal-like footprints around the car. A thinly disguised version of the time-honored hook-on-the-door-handle story.
What the Proctor Valley Monster looks like is a matter of debate. One person claims to have seen a huge flying beast of some sort. In the 1970s, a local radio DJ organized a nighttime monster hunt; he gathered thousands of teens in the area and later reported that they had seen something like an oddly built bovine. Ensuing publicity is probably responsible for the persistence of the "disarranged cow" story.
But Bigfoot? Well, aside from the fact that every rural area seems to demand its own elusive, legendary humanoid, the Procter Valley Bigfoot story might be a combination of the PVM and Alpine's Zoobies. The Zoobie story also begins in the early '70s.
A local psychiatrist who once lived in Alpine quite seriously claims to have seen a Bigfoot-type creature in the hills near his house. The doctor has shied from publicity, saying he wants to write his own book on the events; but third-hand accounts say he described a 6- or 7-foot-tall, hairy creature accompanied by two similar critters. He made a plaster cast of a footprint 16 inches long and 8 inches wide. He also related many strange happenings and sounds around his home. Park rangers and other investigators could never confirm the sightings, but plenty of campers, area residents, and even a sheriff's deputy claim to have seen some large, hairy thing tromping the hills of Alpine. One investigator into Bigfoot phenomena notes that the nearby Viejas Indians have a legend of a similar creature that guards its burial grounds. Until the doctor writes his book, this is about all we'll know.
Whatever the Zoobies prove to be, the Proctor Valley Monster is undoubtedly just a scary fabrication. But maybe I shouldn't say that. Well-known urban legend expert Jan Harold Brunvand says myth-debunkers are very unpopular people. We don't want fathead experts spoiling our fun. The stories are great to listen to and even more fun to tell, especially with our own embellishments. And we've always loved them. Consider this ancient urban legend, presented as fact in a number of contemporary books in the time of ancient Rome. It seems a guy invented some kind of bendable, unbreakable glass. He showed it to Caesar, thinking he'd be showered with gold and maybe become assistant emperor for coming up with something that would improve everyone's life. Instead Caesar had him killed. Flexible glass would be more valuable than gold, was Caesar's reasoning; his kingdom would be worthless. Substitute the 100-mile-per-gallon carburetor for the glass and General Motors (in cahoots with the oil companies) for Caesar, and you have the popular 20th-century urban legend about the carburetor breakthrough that's being withheld from us by corporate greed. Guess we're still as suspicious of big shots as we were a couple of thousand years ago.
Urban Legend Gets More Mileage
I was bothered by the quip made about the 100-mpg carburetor being an urban legend. There IS such a device in existence. Whether or not one will get 100 mpg, I can't say. But improving mileage by 25% is nothing to laugh at.... I've attached the [Internet] links, and I strongly suggest, oh "knower of all things," that you do some serious reading.... I can vouch for the integrity of the company. My boyfriend recently purchased the manual instructing how to build a device called a "Brown's Gas Machine." He built it, and it works!!!! It's a [welding] torch that uses water for fuel and is capable of welding glass, brick, quartz, aluminum, cast iron, and titanium. It can fuse dissimilar compounds, such as brick to iron, and can vaporize diamonds.... You're laggin', Matt. Had to call you on this one.
— Little Lady Pirate, the net
I hope you realize, while your boyfriend is vaporizing your jewelry and welding the lawn furniture to your patio, he's messing with hydrogen and oxygen gases. Has he blown the place up yet? Well, it will give you something to look forward to. I'm not sure how the Brown's Gas thing proves that the 100-mpg carburetor exists. But that's what keeps urban legends alive. And of course if the tale sticks around for enough decades, some car company actually will develop a 100-mpg carburetor, then you can say, "See, I told you so." Anyway, Brown's Gas (hydrogen and oxygen electrolyzed out of water, then recombined) will weld some things. No big surprise there. But most of the claims made for how hot it will get are apparently bunk, according to welding cognoscenti. Of course, there are always the true believers. The website's other idea of running your car on hydrogen extracted from water using old beer cans has some explosive charm. Though the competing GEET engine claims to run on any liquid, including Pepsi or urine or mango juice. Does the 100-mpg carburetor exist? Check it out: http://www.eagle-research.com.
Dear Mr. Alice:
You recently mentioned the "urban legend" of a 200-mpg carburetor. [Enclosed] is an article from the September 1953 issue of Cars magazine, giving quite a bit of detail on the legendary carburetor, aspects of which were patented from 1928-36 in both the U.S. and Canada.... The least true portion of most legends about great automotive inventions is that the big auto companies bought up the inventions and suppressed them. I can think of several other inventions that were simply ignored to death....
-- Niel Lynch, Escondido
The article's author interviews Charles Nelson Pogue, Montreal automotive engineer, said to have invented a 200-mpg carburetor. The Pogue carb is one of the gizmos that started all the urban legends. The prickly inventor was less than candid with the writer and finally booted him out of his shop, after implying that he'd suffered everything from rude treatment by the U.S. government to death threats from people he wouldn't name ever since he invented the thing. Pogue's carb preheated the gas, vaporized it, and sucked in only the vapors to be mixed with air and ignited. Unburned fuel was recycled through the system. The result was remarkable mileage -- at least 200 per Imperial gallon (1.2 American gallons) according to news articles and tech magazines, and in driver testimonials.
The irritable Mr. Pogue ran his own car for ten years with his mighty carb but refused to divulge his mileage to the reporter. He did say that he had never claimed his carb would get 200 miles per gallon "or even half of that," declaring all such numbers "violently distorted by newspapermen and magazine writers." The invention faded away, he said, because of wartime disruptions in materials and distribution and general lack of cooperation from "government officials" with a lot of oil stock. No Pogue carbs exist today, but the 1953 article contains detailed schematics showing how it operated.