Recently, I read Joshua Blu Buhs' book Bigfoot: The Life and Times of a Legend. It was published in 2009, but I just became aware of it. There follow some comments I made to a correspondent who is a BF believer:
The Buhs book is not without its flaws. It is rife with a lot of pompous sociological analysis that seems off the mark to me. He also show his ignorance by lumping True and Argosy, which in their heyday were good and respected magazines, with the trashy "men's adventure" mags of the same era.
A few things I learned from the book:
John W. Burns, who coined the term "Sasquatch" and first publicized them to the outside world, believed the Sasquatch were Indians, primitive and brutal but fully human. Some Indian accounts of the 1930s describe the Sasquatch as conversing with them in their native dialects. Before the 1950s, the image seemed much more "cave man" than "ape."
I have to wonder if William Roe's account of his sighting of a female Sasquatch on Mica Mountain wasn't instrumental in creating the new image of the Sasquatch as a sort of bipedal gorilla. I know that John Green first thought of the Sasquatch as Indians but later changed to the idea they were apes. Roe's account was, I would have to admit, rather plausible. It was undramatic, included a number of details and on the face of it was very convincing. However, the drawing prepared by his daughter of the animal he saw is really very implausible--an ape with several human features--boobs and bipedalism. The creature has arms reaching almost past the knees, which is very odd for a biped. Even the (probably) semi-arboreal Australopithecines had shorter arms than that. The first fully bipedal, fully terrestrial primate is our probable ancestor, the nearly human Homo erectus. In his limb and bodily proportions he seems to have been nearly identical to us moderns.
I strongly suspect that an illustration of the Roe sighting by the eminent artist Mort Kunstler for an article in True by Ivan Sanderson was the inspiration for the costume Roger Patterson used for his film. The behavior of the creature in the Patterson-Gimlin film mimics that of the critter Roe described almost exactly. [The drawing by Roe's daughter suggested the creature had rather short body hair, rather like a smooth-haired dog. The breasts on Roe's creature were rather shapely and attractive by human standards. Kunster made her considerably shaggier and gave her big, pendulous, shaggy boobs, just like the thing in Patterson's film.]
I also found it interesting that Bernard Heuvelmans, who can be said to have founded the science of Cryptozoology and was nothing if not sympathetic to the matter of mystery beasts, immediately rejected the Patterson film as a fake. Also, that Ivan Sanderson could be somewhat mendacious about presenting evidence.
A few things I didn't know prior to reading Buhs' book: Men had been making fake giant tracks in the Northwest since the 1920s. It seems to have been a common prank. Ray Wallace almost certainly made the 1958 tracks in Bluff Creek, for instance. I had always thought the Bossburg, Washington, "Cripple Foot" tracks were a cogent argument in favor of the existence of BFs. However, they were evidently fakes made by Ivan Marx. Likewise, I learned that dermatoglyphs (I think that's the term) that Grover Krantz set so much store by can be easily faked.
I was discussing this with my friend Dave Workman, who still writes for Gun World. He has been an outdoor writer in the Pacific Northwest his entire adult life and has known just about all the luminaries in the "Bigfoot pantheon"--Roger Patterson, Grover Krantz, Rene Dahinden, Peter Byrne, John Green et al. I was giving him all the reasons why I had gone from believer to skeptic. He said, "Maybe so, but I interviewed an awful lot of people who had had the shit scared out of them by something!" A little grist for your mill.