Dover, MA Legend

Kara: Hi I’m Kara Larmie, I’m 22 years over and I’m from Dover, Massachusetts and umm I’m a senior at USC. So here is my story. It is a story of the Dover Demon, which is a ummm, creature that everyone in Dover, the very very small town outside of Boston that I grew up in knows about and umm apparently it’s a like monkey-like creature, with four legs and like beating, glowing, umm like yellow eyes and its like black and furry like a monkey kind of thing. Umm… and kind of large, like the size of a dog, like a big dog. So people, everyone knows about it, like there’s like T-shirts of it at the Dover market and stuff, umm I don’t really know why. But people in other towns know about it too. And it’s apparently like just this weird unknown creature that people have seen since, I think like the ‘70s. I think that’s when the first sighting of it was and numerous sightings of it were. And people have said that they saw it probably like two or three years ago. I think that was the last time someone said they saw it. But it only comes out at night and its only been seen in these like two particular areas, one in the center of town where there’s like an old railroad track that doesn’t get used anymore. And umm, the other is over by the high school on this like really private road that like leads to the high school, near the edge of a different town.

Isabel: So these spots are the known spots where it would be, if you were to see it?

Kara: Yeah. Those are the only places its been seen.

Isabel: And so you know what it looks like? You’ve seen pictures of the creature?

Kara: Yes, umm… but umm yeah everyone knows what it looks like. Like I think if you googled it you could find pictures of it. Like the Dover market sells T-Shirts of it, they say like ‘The Dover Demon’ on it with a picture of what it supposedly looks like. No one has actually taken a picture of it, people have just described it. And I’ve seen like a uhhh newspaper article from like the ‘70s that had like a drawing of what it could look like from the person that saw it.

Isabel: And is it supposed to haunt you? Is it bad luck if you see it? Is there any meaning behind a sighting?

Kara: I am not sure if there is meaning, but its just weird that people still say they’ve seen this one creature since the ‘70s and that it would still be alive and living around Dover.

Isabel: So it is not a species, it’s one animal that roams Dover?

Kara: It is one thing people keep saying they have seen around our town.

Isabel: Are the areas in which it appears…

Kara: They are really wooded areas.

Isabel: Are they scary or sketchy areas?

Kara: Nooo… they are more just like abandoned in a sense.

Isabel: And do people actually believe that this demon exists? Do you believe it is out there in Dover?

Kara: Yes people believe it.

Isabel: Do you believe it?

Kara: (hesitation) Nooo… I think it’s probably like a dog or something weird. I think they are probably seeing something, I mean I don’t think people make it up. They see something but its probably just some animal. (Laugh) I don’t know.

Isabel: But because it’s characterized as a demon, is it considered evil?

Kara: Hmmm, yeah I guess… I think it’s a demon because its eyes apparently are like these beaming, really really brightly ummm… what’s the word, like piercing kind of eyes. Ummm it makes it looks like a demon. And it’s also black so it like looks scary but I don’t think there’s any myth behind it, like if you see it it’s bad.

Isabel: And if you’re from Dover, and I were to refer to the Dover Demon, everyone would know what I was talking about?

Kara: Yeah, everyone would know.

Isabel: Even older generations or younger generations?

Kara: Yeah.

Isabel: Even the towns next to yours know the Dover Demon?

Kara: Yeah. Yeah, for sure. People have talked about it who live in like Medfield or something.

Isabel: What do you think this story is saying about living in Dover?

Kara: I think its, uhhh… its like a traditional or ummm like a tradition… I mean something that has been known for many generations. It’s kind of a towny thing to know about. Like, I don’t know, people that have lived in Dover for a long time know about it, its not like a new thing. Like my older babysitter told me about it when I was younger.

Isabel: That’s when you first heard about it?

Kara: Yeah, when I was like seven or so. And then I’ve obviously heard it since, just in random conversation, but it’s not a huge thing, like its not hugely publicized or talked about that that much I would say.

Isabel: Do people go out looking for it?

Kara: People definitely made ventures to look for it in the ‘70s I think. I don’t think they really do anymore. But there was like numerous sightings back then. I guess around the same railroad track, only at night, but yeah multiple people said they saw it.

Kara’s description of the Dover Demon is a strong example of a local legend. There is the element of truth and plausibility that perpetuates the belief in the creature, even for those who have not actually seen it. Additionally, the legend relies on trust. Individuals within Dover trust their fellow citizens’ accounts of the demon and thus, the beliefs of the town are based on the citizens’ confidence in those individual witnesses. Furthermore, there is a numinous element to the belief in the Dover Demon, specifically pertaining to the physical description of the creature. The demon’s “piercing eyes” and mysterious nocturnal appearances add a spectral component to the belief. There is also multiplicity within this legend. As Kara discussed, popular culture in Dover has adopted this legendary figure by producing T-shirts and sketches of the creature. Since the 1970s, the Dover Demon has become apart of the town’s identity.

Consequently, the local legend has preserved a sense of community within Dover. The town’s perpetuation of this legend evidently unites its population. All the ‘true’ locals know about the demon and most believe it is still roaming the abandoned railroad track and high school road. Kara poignantly claimed that the belief provided a sense of tradition for her town, thus becoming a vehicle of unification for Dover’s occupants. Investigating this legend reveals the town’s effort to continue stories from their past, creating an identity that links all the generations of Dover together, through their knowledge and belief in the creature.