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One Family Has Heavy Hand in Tale of the Loch Ness Monster

Sandy Gray's sighting made press; then his brother took a photo
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 27, 2020 4:00 PM CST

(Newser) – You know the Loch Ness Monster, but it's unlikely you know the Gray family. In a lengthy piece for Narratively, Paul Brown rectifies that. He takes readers back nearly a century to May 1933, when a sighting of the beast in the loch's black waters was for the first time reported beyond the immediate vicinity. In fact, it was the Aberdeen Press and Journal's report on what Alexander "Sandy" Gray saw that gave birth to the name "Loch Ness Monster." Gray, then a bus driver in his early 30s, was regarded as an expert fisherman who since his teens had experienced strange sightings and occurrences on the loch, but the big one came when he was driving his route and spied a large, dark-colored creature sailing along the water's surface; he tried to match its speed but couldn't. Then he announced he would try to capture it.

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As Brown explains, he made a single attempt involving a special custom-made tackle involving a barrel, strong wire and hooks, and dogfish and skate as bait. His thinking was that if the monster went after the bait, the barrel would be pulled down and then resurface, indicating that there was something huge there. The bait went untouched. That might be the end of the Gray family's story (months later a London businessman's report of a sighting "eclips[ed] Sandy's sighting ... more or less erasing Sandy from subsequent retellings of the monster story"), but Sandy had a younger brother, Hughie, who on Sundays took walks with his long-exposure box camera in tow. On Nov. 12, 1933, he saw it, and snapped five photos, but doubted he managed to capture the scene, so much so he left the film undeveloped for three weeks—and when he got around to it, one shot had come out: of "an indistinct, blurry gray object." It was a sensation. (Read the full story to learn what came next.)

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