Text (local legend):
“My parents and grandparents always told us to beware of a man carrying a crocus sac because he might come and take us away.”
A is 50 years old and from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. His entire immediate family is from there as well born and raised. He currently lives in Texas and has lived there for 20 years.
A: “I was pre-teen back then so probably around 7 to 12 and back then y’know we played outside a lot and kind of had free reign so I would play down at my grandmothers house with my cousins and to make sure y’know we didn’t stray too far like maybe two to three blocks from our house they would tell us this old tale to make sure we were at least within shouting distance when they called us.”
Q: “So this was a commonly used warning story to make sure you all were close to home?”
A: “Well all of the kids knew the story as our parents told us growing up if you weren’t on your best behavior, or if you strayed too far from home our parents would tell us this as kind of a scare tactic.”
Q: “Who were these people really that kids thought would take them away?”
A: “It was the 70’s so you rarely saw women working outside the house back then, it was always a guy of working age probably between 20 and 40 carrying that sack and it was pretty big sack so we believed that they could carry little kids away back then. This was the deep south in the around 1970s so it was pre-backpack (laughs) they would really just use it to like carry tools in or maybe carry some lunch in.”
The text is a legend as it consists of a localized traditional narrative formed from historical and societal norms of the time. While the 1970s was a time for progress as more women were increasingly joining the workforce, During this period, however, it was rare for women to work outside of the house as this was reflective of traditional gender norms. With that said, it may seem intuitive that in this narrative, the alleged Crocus monster was simply working men carrying sacs associated with their outdoor work field used to carry dry goods during work or travel. As described by my informant, the sacs that children believed to belong to the Crocus monster was large enough to fit a small child increasing the fear factor of children who were being told this story. This was told primarily by adults to their children in an attempt to discourage them from straying too far from home and to keep them obedient. This is representative of the challenges in the African American community that shaped the ways in which parents approached raising their children. African American parents were heavily influenced by social, economic, employment, and other factors that disadvantaged the community. For this reason, there was a stronger emphasis on discipline and authority when it came to raising children as the emphasis was on instilling “good behavior” in their children. This is a prime example of Valk’s idea that legends can have a function of teleological orientation occurring when humans wander from their daily practices or routines into alien territory.