The Lake Franklin Pierce alligator is a myth in the making. Today, just a joke but tomorrow and for generations to come, a lake monster! How does a lake monster myth start? In this case, most of us that live on Lake Franklin Pierce in Antrim New Hampshire found out about our alligator when we read the headline in the local free newspaper, “The Villager”. The June 11,2009 edition got our attention with the headline, “Possible Alligator Spied in Pierce Lake“.
The article went on to tell the tale of Ray and Richard Grimard. They were fishing from the deck of the local hydro electric plant when they spotted an alligator. Despite the doubts of Dave Walsh a Fish and Game Conservation Officer, the rumor of an alligator in “our” lake spread like wildfire in the lake community. I can see the hydro plant from the dock of my lake cabin. I often see Ray and Richard and others fishing from the deck of the plant. It should be noted the “plant” is a small white building that appears to have seen better days. It’s about the size of a trailer home. I usually kayak by and often wave at the guys fishing.
In the days after the article came out people were joking, “any sign of that gator?” was a common joke. Fishermen were told to use “chicken” for bait and to go out and get a bigger rod. Children were teased with “look out for that gator!” when swimming. More than one sibling got revenge on another sibling by swimming underwater, pinching, and then laughing at the result. Still ominous signs were seen when some mothers decided it would be a good idea to tell their smaller children not to go near the lake without an adult because “the gator will get you”. As one mom said “well it’s works better than just nagging. They are scared of an alligator!” Historically, many “monsters” served to keep children from wandering where they shouldn’t. Swamps, wells and the woods are populated by monsters waiting so snatch small children Now Franklin Pierce Lake has a “monster” just waiting to snap up any unattended children.
As summer has gone on, the alligator rumor hasn’t died down. I heard someone fishing on the hydro plant deck speaking loudly to a person in a kayak about “that’s just where I saw the alligator!” People have reported loud splashes and odd movements in the water (my guess is an otter). Once we know that we can possibly see an alligator, our eyes eagerly search for one.
Time will tell if the Franklin Pierce alligator makes it through the winter. An alligator is just too much fun to give up easily. But as time goes on, what will the Franklin Pierce alligator become? Just a story, or will it morph into a mythical being seen only rarely and photographed through only a fuzzy lens? Lake Champlain has “Champy”. Franklin Pierce lake seems ready for “Frankie” a monster of our own.