Creepy Local Legends

| 10/27/2009 5:27:12 PM

Tags: urban legends, Haloween, October,

Urban legend: n (1979), an often lurid story or anecdote that is based on hearsay and widely circulated as true; often called urban myth.

CindyMurphyBlog.jpgThe term “urban legend” may have been coined in 1979, but these kinds of tales have been in existence since man began storytelling. Many of them may have a basis of truth, but it’s so far buried in embellishments as the story is circulated that it’s hard to distinguish fact from fiction. Some of these stories are now termed “folklore.” Others are so engrained in our history that they’re considered accurate accounts of actual events.

An odd story I heard recently made me ponder what makes a good urban legend, and how they get started.

This spring a local man purchased two pigs, a male and female. He never penned them, neither did he feed them, turning them loose to run wild and forage on their own instead. This has been going on for three or four years – every spring he buys two pigs, and turns them loose for the season. No one quite knows why, or what he does with them – whether he catches them in the fall, and takes them to slaughter, or if they are still left to roam the woods, neighboring farms, and property of other residents in the area.

There were nine pigs total this summer – the boar, sow, and their seven piglets. They’ve been charging through the area and leaving in their wake a swath of destruction likened to “a snow plow run amok” in farming fields and residents’ yards. As the pigs root for food they’ve created networks of ruts more than a foot deep. The neighbors have been “terrorized.” My boss, who told me the story, has a friend who is one of victims of the feral pigs. Not only has her yard been destroyed, but her dog, “Honey Bear,” has been chased by the boar.

The pig owner has been cited and fined numerous times in past years by Animal Control; this year was no exception, although it doesn’t seem to have any effect. In fact, he reportedly told the Animal Control officer that he didn’t care what happened to the pigs, and to do with them what they wanted. Since then, four of the young ones have been caught in large catch-and-release Havahart traps.

michelle house
11/8/2009 8:28:14 PM

I will just remember not to go near any melon patches. LOL, my grands (oldest is almost 10) already knows some, thanks to his older cousins. LOL

cindy murphy
11/2/2009 9:40:29 PM

Ah, but now you have, Michelle. And so have I. I wonder if next time I go walking in the woods around Saugatuck Dunes, if I'll be wishing I hadn't! Urban legends have a way of creeping up on you...the stories, that is, not necessarily the things they're about.

michelle house
11/2/2009 1:41:16 PM

Cindy, LOL. I love urban legends, I have never heard of Melon Heads, thank goodness.

cindy murphy
10/30/2009 5:39:38 AM

Too funny, Dave....although I'd bet the Black Grabber's "victim" didn't think so at the time! I wonder if Black Grabber stories were some of the tales that Vickie heard those dark scary nights spent in Arkansas? Thanks for the morning smile! (Oh, and I couldn't resist - I did an Internet search. Though nothing came up about the "Black Grabber", there are plenty of "Ankle Grabber" and "Leg Grabber" stories floating around out there. Arkansas or not, I guess none of us are safe!)

nebraska dave
10/29/2009 8:51:05 PM

Cindy, I remember one time in my youthful days a bunch of testosterone filled guys decided to take a deliverance (dueling banjoes in background) canoe trip down the Mulbury river in Arkansas. One of the guys was fairly new to the group. We began telling the story of the black grabber that lived in the woods along the Mulbury river that lay on the ground waiting for a unsuspecting person to come by at which time it would reach up and grab the leg of the person and drag them off never to be seen again. (still hearing banjoes in the background). As the trip passed into the second and third day the story became greatly enhanced and more scary. Our friend listened with wide eyes as each night around the camp fire we embellished the story. About the fourth day into the trip, our young friend stepped out of his tent yawning at the break of dawn and toddled off to the woods edge to accomplish what every man does when he first awakes. The next thing we saw was a streak coming from the woods shouting "Black Grabber!! Black Grabber!! Black Grabber!!" It seems that a thorny black vine had attached itself to his pant leg and as he walked back to camp it began tugging on the pant leg, making rusling noises as it hooked on sprouting trees and tugged even harder on the pant leg. The look of sheer terror on this young man's face was a Kodak picture moment for sure. So if you ever hear of the Black Grabber in the Arkansas woods, I just might have been a part of starting the story.

cindy murphy
10/28/2009 12:14:05 PM

Don't think your safe, Vickie, just because the Ohio Melon Heads are on the other side of the border, and your spooky childhood stories took place in Arkansas. Based on the mention in one of your blogs of Romeo, Michigan, I think I probably grew up in the general area where you now reside. I grew up with stories of Dunn's tomb, Winkler's Mill, the ghost of the Octagon House, and the haunting of the old cememtary at the corner of Mound Rd and 28 Mile, (maybe it was 26 Mile?). In highschool, it was a dare to drive slowly down the dirt road, and past the cemetary. If you're ever in that area, just remember not to stop the car. But if you do, for heaven's sake, don't get out of it!!! Sherry, the title "The Beans of Egypt, Maine" sounded vaguely familar, so I did a two-minute Internet drill. After reading just one sentence of the summary, I recognized it as a book I read about a decade ago. I just may have to revisit that old haunt!

sherry 'woodswoman'
10/28/2009 9:42:12 AM

Nice Cindy ~ Your description of the children reminds me of Carolyn Chute's book, back in the 1970's...I believe. "The Beans of Egypt, Maine".

10/28/2009 1:30:38 AM

Cindy, For some reason I couldn't sleep and I'm reading this in the middle of the night. So all the creepy stories told to me as a kid now come back. We told a lot when we went to Arkansas in the summer -it was a little scarrier at night there with total darkness and no street lights. Well now I'm just glad I live in Michigan because I had no idea that Ohio melon heads were that bad. Oh I may never go there again! Now just to be able to go back to sleep. vickie

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