Social media post, comments of Watertown ‘Owl Man’ a historic hoot

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WATERTOWN — The history-themed Facebook page “Nostalgic Watertown NY” is being lit up by comments following a post about the city’s “Owl Man.”

There are comments of surprise and remembrance:

“I remember this. I went to Cooper school. It was the talk of the North side, scary.” — Deborah Jenne

“I lived there, never heard this.”— Eileen Phillips

There are also several questions posted. A sampling:

“Was he ever caught?” — Glenn Curry

“I still would like to know specific years. I may have been a victim. Worked at the show and walked home alone after 10 every nite.” — Paula Chamberlain

“What kind of owl was the Owl Man?” — John Horbacz

“This is very interesting. Are you getting all this from the Watertown Times?” — Barbara Ann Devine. (“Partially,” the page administrator claimed, and “victims.”)

We have answers. But no solving of the “Owl Man” mystery.

The first report the Watertown Daily Times recorded of “Owl Man” was on Jan. 30, 1960. “Boys Take Off Like Birds on Seeing Owl Man,” the headline said.

“A man hooting like an owl was sought by police at 9:10 Friday night after he chased two 10-year-old boys walking home from the North High school ice skating rink,” the story reported. “One boy who ran four blocks to his home told Patrolman Gordon W. Rowland that the man, his hands fashioned in the shape of claws, came hooting out of the shadows as they crossed a field near school.”

The suspect was wearing a black leather jacket and engineer’s boots.

The next evening, a police department “prowl car” escorted a group of children home from the rink. There were no reports of Owl Man.

But by mid-February, Owl Man sightings had returned.

A WDT headline of Feb. 13, 1960 said he was “Seen As Full Moon Lights Up City.”

Two boys, ages 11 and 12, “reported a shadowy figure lurking in the light of the full moon. The man ran behind houses on Burchard Street when the boys attempted a closer look.”

The story continued, “Police were called on the theory that the intruder was the nocturnal figure who is said to effect talons and a weird headdress in order to frighten children with his hooting noises.”

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