USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘melon heads’
Legends
Narrative

Melon Heads of Connecticut

Context:

The informant – my dad, RS – is a white man in his early 50s, born and raised in Cheshire, Connecticut, but living in South Florida now. He was raised Catholic on a farm with two siblings. He’s skeptical of the supernatural for the most part, but is pretty familiar with a lot of the Connecticut’s many ghost stories. The following conversation took place in person during a larger conversation in which he told me a number of his favorite Connecticut ghost stories. It was, for the most, part a classic storytelling situation, but at times felt more like a sharing of childhood memories than the dramatic performance of a ghost story.

Me: Are there any other Connecticut legends that you can recall?

 

RS: Ummm… well, everyone always used to talk about the Melon Heads. There were a few roads we called the Melon Head Roads where they supposedly lived. I think people used to say that they were escaped mental patients who inbred with each other for generations, so now they have these big heads, too big for their bodies. Or maybe they were just mountain people who inbred, and the mental patients were from another story. I don’t know, there were a few stories about who they were, but they were all supposed to have these big melon heads and were supposed to violent, crazy cannibals.

Me: Do you remember who you heard this story from?

RS: Oh I’m not sure, everyone knew about the Melon Heads. It was probably my brother.

Me: What do you make of the story? Why did it stick with you?

RS: It didn’t stick with me that much. But when talking about Connecticut ghost stories, that’s one of the first ones that comes to mind. I don’t think much of the story… I’m sure it’s just something kids made up to spook each other out.

 

Analysis:

While I think that it’s likely that the story was made up for kids to scare each other, I find it interesting that this legend revolves around escaped mental patients and inbreeding. There are a number of large asylums in Connecticut, so it makes sense that the story would involve escaped mental patients. Further, it’s likely that this story originated around a time where these asylums were being shut down and mental illness was in its early stages of moderate de-stigmatization, resulting in rumors of escaped inbreeding mental patients among curious and scared children.

 

Folk Beliefs
general
Legends

The Hunt for the Melonheads

Description

“There’s this really interesting thing about St. Joseph, MI, this thing about Bridgeman, the neighboring city. So, there’s this, uh, story about the “melonheads.” There’s this Cook Nuclear Plant between the cities, which is one of the only ones in the area. Very high restricted, obviously because there’s nuclear shit in there. Very, very high security. There’s this rumor, this old story, that way back in the 50s or something there was an acid leak from the plant and this acid leak affected a bunch of people from Bridgeman, where it demented their heads. The people became outcasts, aka the “melonheads,” they went to live amongst the woods.

So, what people do is that they go on hunts for the melonheads. It’s this fun thing that teenagers do, and I’ve never been, but I’ve been asked to go. They go to the depths of the Cook plant. You’re supposed to turn off your car with your lights on. You’re supposed to howl in the night. Apparently, the melonheads will come to your car and kill you. People swear they’ve seen the melonheads. Usually, people tell this story when they’re attempting to be “scary” or share creepy stories. It was told to me when I was hanging out with my other friends, drinking beer and hanging out outside somewhere. Everyone thought it would be great fun to hunt for them, but I didn’t want to go, so we didn’t.”

Context

The informant would hear of this story when engaging with other teenagers, back when the informant was a teenager. Typically, this story would be shared when teenagers gathered in groups and the informant first heard of it when their friends attempted to get the informant to partake in the “hunt.”

Analysis

Like most stories that teenagers tell each other, I believe something like this would be used as perhaps a sort of group “initiation,” or something to use to scare each other. It feels like a Michigan-specific Bloody Mary story, something teenagers would do when they are bored or want to see who is the bravest. I engaged in many such games when I was younger, sort of playing “chicken” with these weird stories and legends. I would also make a guess that the idea of the melonheads was created as a way to possibly ward people off from visiting the nuclear plant.

 

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