USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘Folk creature’
general
Legends
Narrative

Tailypo Horror Story

Informant:

J, a 22-year-old, Caucasian male who grew up in San Francisco, California until he turned 16. He now lives in Boise, Idaho. He spent his summers at summer camp with his friends.

Background info:

During summer camps, counselors and children would sit around a firepit at night and tell stories. While some of these were positive, most of them would be told with the aim of scaring people. This is one of the stories told to J during one of these sessions.

Context:

This was told amongst a group of friends sitting in a circle around a firepit late at night, slightly intoxicated, telling each other their favorite scary stories they heard as children.

Main piece:

“Okay… so there’s this guy who lives in the mountains all alone. His life is simple and quiet… This guy… he keeps three dogs with him for hunting and tracking, but… one winter… there is a huge shortage of game… As his storages begin running out, he spends all day looking for food with his dogs and his rifle. One day, as he’s looking for dinner, he shoots a rabbit and shares it with his dogs. Obviously, he’s still hungry. He’s like six foot – one eighty… He continues his hunt until he finds some strange tracks he’s never seen before, three long claws… This dude’s starving, so he follows them late into the night. Eventually, the tracks go cold… The guy looks around…, frantically looking for new tracks, knowing he won’t see another animal for a while… As he’s looking around, he sees something stalking on the branches of a nearby tree… BAM!… He shoots it… He begins looking around for the animal but cannot find it. He eventually gives up, as it is getting late, and decides to head back empty-handed. As he begins to lay down, he notices that one of his dogs brought something back with them – the tail of the animal! He boils it into a stew and enjoys the reward of a long day before falling into a deep slumber… *Chittering, clawing, and scratching noises*… The guy slowly awakens to the noises to see the creature at the foot of his bed. In an otherworldly voice, the man hears it demand its ‘tailypo’. The dogs begin to growl and chase the creature back into the woods and the man passes out… He wakes again in the morning, thinking it was nothing more than a dream… One of the dogs is missing. He spends the day searching for it, but as night falls again, he gives up and tries to catch up on sleep from the night before… *Chittering, clawing, and scratching noises*… The man JUMPS awake to find the creature at the side of his bed now, demanding more aggressively that the man return its ‘tailypo’. His dogs again chase after the creature and the man, terrified, eventually falls asleep. When he wakens, he realizes that this was no dream… Two of his dogs are now missing, and he knows the creature will return this night. He begins fortifying his cabin and sits up all day and night with his gun and his last dog at his side… *Chittering, clawing, and scratching noises*… The dog jumps to its feet and runs after the noise, barking… *Barking, cut short*… *Chittering, clawing, and scratching noises*… The man shakingly aims his gun at the door… The window near his bed shatters. BAM! The man fires his weapon accidentally. As he frantically tries to reload his rifle, the creature leaps upon him. Eye to eye, the beast once again demands the return of his ‘tailypo’… As the sun rises, the man is flayed beyond recognition. To this day, on the darkest of nights, the creature can still be heard whispering for its ‘tailypo’… *Chittering, clawing, and scratching noises*…”

Thoughts:

As I read back through this transcript, I wish it could better capture the feeling of this piece. As far as ‘scary’ stories go, this piece was among one of the best I’ve ever heard. It was exhilarating, and the ambiance of the environment in which it was told played into it with the cold, quiet, dark night with the flames casting shadows around us. I think the story was interesting coming from J, as he was raised in San Francisco, nowhere near the woody area described in the story. However, because it was told during summer camps, I believe it made it even more terrifying at the time (due to being told to children unfamiliar with their environment). There are many stories in which events happen in sets of three. The number of dogs, the number of times the creature visits the man, and the number of claws the creature had are all sets of three. The sound effects that J used during the story really made it come alive, which is why I believe most recounts of live stories like this do not capture the actual experience of the story.

Legends

Menehune

Context: This legend was performed in an apartment to an audience of 3 people.

Background: The informant is from Hawaii, where this is a common legend.

“Menehune are mischievous little creatures who will go around and steal objects. If something goes missing in Hawaii, we’ll blame it on the Menehune. “

This legend probably is a convenient excuse for those who easily lose things.

general
Legends
Narrative

The Legend of Kurupi

Abstract:

This piece is about a legend from Paraguay called Kurupi who has a long penis and uses it to impregnate girls while they sleep.

Main Piece:

“T: So my dad’s from Paraguay, and here I am, this was maybe five or six years ago. And I’m just walking around in this village place we were just passing through. And all of the sudden, I see this really weird looking statue, it’s made out of wood and not really tall… maybe four feet high. But it’s basically this really creepy looking dude with… a really long downstairs region. Basically, he had very long genitalia that was wrapped around his waist and I was very confused. I asked my father what is this? Why? I thought it was some kind of joke or something. Like some weird tourist gift thing and I was confused. But then my father told me it was some kind of creature from the jungle. I was very confused, but then I googled it the next day and was like “wow this is a real thing.” So apparently what this thing is called is Kurupi. Basically what he is, is this evil guy in the jungle who had… basically he was the king of the jungle, he had dominion over the lands. But he also happened to have a very long penis [laughter]. And basically it had the capability of going inside someone’s house while he was on the outside. So the legend goes that women when they were sleeping in bed could be impregnated during their sleep! By this guy. And sometimes it was used by adulterous women to excuse illegitimate children and their cheating. Also used as a tale to scare young girls because it would say you know if you’re doing bad this guy will impregnate you in your sleep and basically this guy was also used as a possible explanation for some disappearances of young women for his own purposes. But basically yeah, it was a curious piece of my own culture that I found out.”

Context:

The informant is a 19 year old student from USC who has lived in many different places growing up. His father is from Paraguay and his mother is from Lebanon. His family currently resides in Washington DC, but he is not a full citizen yet. He grew up living in Bolivia, Paraguay, and the United States, moving around due to his father’s job. He views himself as an American, but values his cultural background as well.

Analysis:

I think the informant touched on how this legend can be seen in society and the underlying views on females it brings out in Paraguayan culture. The fact that the creature is literally raping girls in the story, and is still viewed as a revered “king of the jungle” already shows how the gender dynamics in Paraguay are set up. Though it is humorous that the creature has a long penis, the idea that he takes girls for his own pleasure is disturbing as well. I thought it was interesting that the informant brought up the fact that adulterous women use him as an excuse for when they become pregnant. This was interesting because in the story the females are being raped – almost like it is preferable to an adulterous woman.

For another version and more information of this story, visit these links:

http://folklore.usc.edu/?p=37051

http://www.native-languages.org/guarani-legends.htm

https://paranormalhub.org/kurupi/

Childhood
Folk Beliefs
Narrative

El Raton Perez- A variation of the Tooth Fairy – Myth

Piece: “I remember el Raton Perez, basically it’s the Argentinian equivalent of the tooth fairy. It’s basically a fucking sewer rat, I’m just saying sewer rat out of spite, but that was the base of it, you put your tooth under your pillow and he takes it and leaves you money.”

Background information: The informant is a very comedic student with an Argentinian background. Although he resides in the US, he strongly identifies with his Argentinian roots.

Context: This is a myth that he heard as a kid. Instead of knowing the tooth fairy as the “tooth fairy”, he came to know it as el “Raton Perez”, which translates to “Perez the Rat”

Personal Analysis: I was first introduced to the “tooth fairy” by my parents. Being of Hispanic descent, the “tooth fairy” was first introduced to me as “El raton de los dientes” which translates to “The teeth Rat” more or less, the tooth fairy, even though it’s not an actual fairy. I’ve never heard the Argentinian version of the tooth fairy so I was especially intrigued to hear a common last name given to the rat. (Perez) The use of a last name is unique to the Argentinian adaptation because most Latin American countries classify the “tooth fairy” as just, and only that. No specific identity is used.

 

 

Folk Beliefs
Legends
Narrative

Demon Dog story

Below is a supernatural story told to me by a classmate whose family hails from the Mexican state of Michoacán, the subject of the story being her grandmother at a young age encountering an evil supernatural entity, possibly a demon, with her siblings.

For the sake of convenience, I have identified the interviewer in the following interaction as ‘Q’, and the subject as ‘A.’

The story was told as follows:

Q. Let’s hear a ghost story.

A. So In Mexico, my grandma told me this story- my grandma was born in Mexico. Um, my grandma told me that at a certain time, so you had to cross this river to get back, but her and her brothers and sisters, they would go and get fruit. But like, you had to cross the river- it was a long way. So you basically had to leave early to get back before sunset and you have to cross this river 

If you were to cross it before sunset you would see a dog, but it was like a demon dog. And it would turn its head and look back at you and like turn its head upside down

She said one time, her and her sisters, they were fighting. They were fighting over a banana. And the sun had already set, and the oldest sister was all like, if y’all stop fighting and we all stay quiet and be calm, the dog won’t come.

But because her and her sister were fighting over a banana, the dog ended up appearing. Like, she said that they saw the dog, and uh, the only way they could outrun him was to like, swim in the river. So they had to swim in the river. The dog ended up catching up to them, but by the time he did, they were already like, in their house. And what they had to do was all like, get together, under a table, and just like apologize to each other and like hug each other.

So once all of them, basically like, were good, the dog- they just stopped hearing the barking. 

Q. What part of Mexico was this in?

A. Michoacan 

What stands out about this story is its similarity to many classic tales in utilizing supernatural elements to form a moral or some kind of concluding lesson.

Whether the incident happened or not is not the matter. What does matter is the scenario of a grandmother giving her granddaughter a story involving the escape and overcoming of assailing evil forces by the power of familial love, something that could only have been accomplished if each of the family set aside their qualms and focused on the issue at hand rather than continue to fight.

 

Such small, personal tales demonstrate the power of narrative in illustrating lessons for successive generations in a manner that can be properly understood and perceived in a child’s eyes, hence the presence of a monster (the demon dog).

Folk Beliefs
Legends
Magic
Narrative

The Domovoi

Background:

My informant is a twenty-one year old USC student; she’s studying human biology and is currently applying to medical school. She was born in Macedonia, and immigrated to the Long Beach, CA with her mother and stepfather at the age of five. Her father still lives and works as a doctor in Macedonia, and my informant visits each summer. She speaks the language fluently.

Performance:

“My grandparents always had a bunch of stories, that were like, supposed to make me do their bidding (laughs) but my grandmother had this story about a little house elf called a Domovoi. It’s spelled — (she struggles to spell it, and I tell her I’ll look it up later) Okay, but yeah, these little house elves would like, live in your house and protects it and neatens up at night. But if you were bad — like, made a mess, broke stuff, tracked dirt in — he’d get angry and start making scary noises all over the house. I remember once I broke a vase or something and that night while I was trying to sleep there was this thumping on my door and I remember being so fucking scared because I’d pissed off this elf and I thought he was going to like, murder me or something. I was a lot more careful around the house after that.”

Thoughts:

This seems to be a classic example of adults using folklore to control and discipline children. This household beast shares a lot in common with characters from other cultural traditions, like brownies, hobgoblins, and even the Roman concept of a household god. The adults use the creature as an incentive for children to respect their home and keep things neat — in other words, to prevent them from adding to their parent’s workload.

Folk Beliefs
Legends

The Rougaroo

According to the informant, the Rougaroo is a folkloric creature who wanders Louisiana looking to attack children who have not fulfilled their Catholic duties.


 

What’s the Rougaroo

BW: I will tell you what’s known in the deep bayous of Lousianna is the Rougaroo. The Rougaroo is a creole mythological creature based off a bunch of different characters. Characters from African folklore, catholic folklore and Native American follore. The Rougaroo is essentially a werewolf that wanders around the dark quiet swamps of Southern Louisiana.

How did you hear of the Rougaroo?

BW: My mother used to tell me this story–about how when she was a little kid, her grandmother would talk about the Rougaroo coming to the little kids that didn’t fulfill their Lenten promises… It’s an indescribably terrifying creature. It’s faceless, uncanny. A very dark way of making kids eat fish on Fridays and stuff.

Your mother is from Lousiana?

BW: Yes, she is from LaFourche, Lousiana. L-A-F-O-U-R-C-H-E.


Interestingly, the legend of the  Rougaroo is not native to Lousiana, but is a creature of European folklore. Specifically, French. However, it has traveled with high French population that lives in French Louisiana. Most likely a factor of historical colonization, what is now “French Lousiana” was originally colonized by France as “New France”. Since then, although the land is in the continental United States, there still exists some French demographics and culture. Therefore, the “Rougaroo” is a French invention (to scare the earlier generations into subscribing to Catholic practices) that spread to Louisiana through colonization of the 17th and 18th centuries.

general
Narrative
Tales /märchen

Sidehill Gougers

The informant is my mother, who was born and raised in North Vancouver, Canada. She has two older brothers, and both of her parents immigrated from the United Kingdom when they were adults. She worked in accounting until she retired at the age of 50. She is widowed and has two children: myself and my brother, who has Cerebral Palsy.

This is a story her father used to tell her to explain the ridges in the sides of hills in England.

“So, when I was 15, I went to England with dad, and my girlfriend Laurie came with us. And when we were driving along through England, it was all these various hills, and they all had sort of…what looks like rings going around the hills. Um, and I said to dad, “What causes those rings?” And dad goes, “Sidehill gougers.”

And I went, “What?” And he said, “Sidehill gougers. Haven’t you ever heard of Sidehill gougers?” And I said, “No..?” And he said, “Oh, of course you have.” And I said no. “Oh, well I’ll just have to tell you all about Sidehill gougers, then. Okay, so, Sidehill gougers are this unusual animal that are born with one side of their legs shorter than the other side. And as a consequence, they can only go one direction up a hill. And they go around and around the hill and as they climb up the hill, they eat their way up and as they get older and older and older. And then they die right at the top and that’s how the hill starts to grow up.”

Of course, my father’s story was a little more elaborate and went on for a lot longer. And occasionally, most Sidehill gougers have shorter right legs than left legs and are always going around the same direction. Occasionally, though, there’s a Sidehill gouger that may be born with shorter left legs than right legs, and then he’s going the opposite direction from all the rest of them and he ends up bumping into them and causing a big havoc. But a Sidehill gouger’s life is going around, and that’s what makes the rings on the hills is these Sidehill gougers as they make their way up slowly up the mountain as they’re aging, they eat their way up and as they slowly climb their way to the top of the hill, the Sidehill gougers.

I said, “Well what happens when they get to the top?” “Well, that’s where they die, isn’t it?”

And then the generation of Sidehill gougers continues. And the predominant ones are right head leg—right leg short side gougers, and left—and I believed him. I believed this story.”

Do you know if he learned that from someone else or if he made it up?

“I don’t know where he learned it from. I’m probably sure that someone would have told him but he was very good at making up stories as well. And he always did like to…he was a bit theatrical, so of course when he told this story it was very elaborate and very long, and very intricate on the whole lifespan of Sidehill gougers and how they developed.

And of course because of the elaborateness of the story I’ve quite shortened it, um, I believed the whole story and was asking him questions, and he was giving me answers you know, “Oh, are they all born with short right legs?” “No, some of them are born with short left legs and they have to walk the other way, and they cause all kinds of havoc. But they end up dying out in the long run because there aren’t as many of them.” So it was a big long process.”

Analysis:

The Sidehill gouger interests me because as a folkloric creature, it has a fairly small impact on humans in their everyday lives. Unlike fairies or leprechauns or other such creatures, all the Sidehill gouger does is walk around hills in circles. As a result, it seems more as though they are used to explain unusual geographic features, in this particular case, the ridges on British hills. I would be interested in collecting different versions of this piece of folklore to see if they have a larger roles in other contexts.

Folk Beliefs

The Beast of Bray Road

Interview with informant:

“Okay: Beast of Bray Road. It’s like, I think it’s more in the UP of Wisconsin, I don’t think it’s as far south as me, but like, it’s basically like a werewolf story in which like if you go down Bray Road at midnight or whatever and certain conditions are met, like I think it has to be in like October, November, like on a misty night or whatever and if you go down Bray Road, and if you flash your headlights three times then there’s like a wolf thing that stands on the side of the road. Like sort of one of those ghost stories. Like combine ghost stories with a regular werewolf myth and, you know, that like many people have seen it and taken sketches or whatever, like it stands like a man but it has the body of a wolf. So there’s Bray Road. I don’t know if it’s ever attacked people or if you just see it as you go by and go ‘Oh my God, there’s a wolf. We’re going to die.'”

Any number of ways this folk creature could have come to be. Perhaps there was a wolf once, or a frightening-looking man, or just someone thinking they’d seen either of those things or some combination of the two. Story gets spread around, people start daring each other to look for it, the rule of three gets thrown in there and presto: Bray Road has its very own Beast. Most people probably don’t take it very seriously, but some do, and the rest have no problem sharing their knowledge of it with each other.

Annotation: Airing on Animal Planet, the faux-documentary horror series Lost Tapes features found footage-style accounts of people encountering cryptozoological creatures. The penultimate episode of the show that aired in November of 2010, a militia group encounters with the Beast of Bray Road.

Folk Beliefs

The Hodag

In western Wisconsin lives the Hodag, a creature of folk legend native to Stephen’s Point that the informant described as their version of Bigfoot, but more evocative of a mongoose-like creature. It lives in the woods, and people frequently report sightings.

The informant claims most people don’t truly believe in the Hodag, treating it more as a tongue-in-cheek part of the culture. I suspect folk proliferation of the creature thrives largely due to the way the informant told me it bolsters the local tourism industry, with the Hodag plastered all over merchandise and used to entice outsiders to give the town a closer look and, by proxy, help out their business. Informant seemed dismissive of the local superstition, but still amused by it, as most Wisconsin natives probably are.

A bit of independent research revealed the Hodag is actually most closely associated with Rhinelander, Wisconsin, where it was “discovered.” That the informant didn’t know exactly where the creature is most popular despite living in Wisconsin indicates that general awareness of the creature greatly diminishes the farther out of Rhinelander one travels. I suspect it started out as some sort of hoax and proliferated from there, with locals becoming attached to the first accounts of the creature’s existence.

[geolocation]