Tag Archives: animal

Three-foot-high, Solid, and White

Context: The informant is a family friend who relates a story that he heard from an associate he met when he lived in the Philippines. I know the informant personally and have no reason to doubt that his telling of the story is accurate. The story was told to the informant in District 2, Barangay Gamu Centro, Isabela Province, Luzon, The Philippines in November, 2014. The language in which the story was told to him is in English.

Text: 

Me: Have you heard of any strange or supernatural stories in your life?

Informant: Yes, I have. So, uhh, the last person in the world I would have suspected to, um, tell me a story of that sort is a very good friend of mine, let’s, uh, call him Kay. Kay grew up in a working class family near, uh, the docks in Liverpool. His father and uncles worked in a factory nearby. And, uh, Liverpool is actually the Beatles hometown, and as a teenager he told me that he used to occasionally catch their act at the Cavern Club.

Me: When and where did you meet Kay?

Informant: I met him in, umm, let’s see here, uhh, I believe it was 2014. He was our landlord in the small village on the island of Luzon in the northern Philippines. We lived there for, uhh, a year in a tidy little cottage behind Kay and his wife’s house.

Kay met and married his wife in Dubai, let’s call her, um, Jay. Kay then quit his job as a power plant engineer for the Saudi Arabian national oil company, and, uh, they moved to Jay’s home village in the Philippines to take life easy.

Kay was a big man, a real tough man, who had worked in the murderous heat of the Saudi oil fields for about, uhh, 25 years from what I recall. It’s hot in the Philippines, too, and when we first met him, Kay was dressed in his daily uniform of, um, a pair of loose shorts and flip flops. I remember how *chuckle* Kay bragged that he hadn’t worn a shirt in ten years, and I *chuckle* I never saw Kay in a shirt once during that year we lived in his house.

Me: So what was the story that Kay told you?

Informant: I’ll get to that, but first you have to know that, uh, there was nothing fancy about Kay. He was a westerner, and, um, he prided himself on being tough, belligerent, outspoken, and being able to design and build anything he could imagine in his wonderfully creative mind. You can imagine my surprise, when he told us this story:

Jay, Kay’s Filipina wife, was, um, how should I say it, somewhat superstitious. She wouldn’t wear red when lightning prowled about during the typhoon season, and, uh, undoubtedly had all the supernatural fears and phobias typical of her neighbors. Kay didn’t fear anything, but he loved Jay and wasn’t too surprised when one day she told him about, get at this, the chicken.

Me: The chicken?!

Informant: The chicken! First it was Jay, and then it was their teenage daughter, let’s, uhh, call her May. They both saw it. Not an ordinary chicken, mind you. They had each seen a three-foot-high chicken walk through their house, out the kitchen door and disappear. A three-foot-high white chicken. *chuckle* It didn’t make a sound, didn’t look right or left, just walked from the veranda, through the sitting room, into the kitchen, out the door, then disappeared.

And, um, this didn’t happen just once, mind you. The chicken showed up from time to time, no special time a matter of fact. Not on Christmas or a birthday! First, Jay and May saw it independently; Jay saw it when May was at school, and then, uhh, Jay saw it when May and her sister-in-law were out back scrubbing clothes in the wash tub. But then, Jay and May *chuckle* saw it together at the same time! A three-foot white chicken calmly walking through their house. 

Kay didn’t see it! He didn’t believe in it! But he just went along with it so as to not make waves with his wife and daughter. Let them see whatever they want to see was the way Kay handled it.  He was totally accustomed to the often unusual beliefs of his friends and relatives in the village.

But that all changed the day Kay was in the house alone, tinkering with the ever problematic air conditioner in the, uhh, sitting room. He turned away to grab a screwdriver or wrench from his tool box, and there it was: A three-foot-high, solid, white chicken strolling through the sitting room not ten feet away! The chicken didn’t make a sound, didn’t look right or left. It just, uhh, sauntered into the kitchen and out the door to the yard. Kay didn’t believe it, but there it was. All of his experience working big power projects in Saudi Arabia and Indonesia, all his drinking and brawling before he met Jay, all his settling down to his farm and taxi business in the Philippines. None explained the three-foot chicken!

Kay didn’t tell Jay and May about it at first. He dismissed the whole thing, until it *chuckle* happened again! Again! And Again! Finally, he had to admit it to Jay and May. They just nodded. They understood. As they said, that’s just the way things happen in the rural Philippines! *laughs*

And after a while, the chicken, uhh, didn’t come back. Kay and Jay and May were all glad about that. Kay especially because the three-foot white chicken was the one thing in his life he never figured out.

Now I, uhh, left out one tiny little detail. Very recently before the sightings of the supernaturally large chicken, Kay’s brother unfortunately passed away. Maybe, just maybe, those dots can be connected!

Thoughts: The story told is an example of a memorate. The informant related a supernatural occurrence as it was told to him by a close friend. The informant also originally wrote down the story to preserve it. I am further protecting the integrity of the story by recording it in the USC Digital Folklore Archives. The story illustrates how supernatural events are perceived differently by persons of different cultures. For example, the wife and the daughter (Filipinos) easily accepted the supernatural events, while the husband and father (Westerner) initially rejected it. The informant told me that this doesn’t suggest that the wife and daughter are not intelligent or perfectly capable individuals. They are simply a product of their rural Filipino culture. The informant himself is at a loss to determine the veracity of the story, and so am I. Furthermore, the informant has no reason to doubt the integrity of the friend who told him this story because he knew the storyteller to be honest and forthright. This is an example of how our credulity is heavily influenced by our personal relationships.

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.

El Chupacabra in the Fog

Folklore Piece

“So my story… Um… It’s the myth of The Chupacabra by MK. When I was… When I was, let’s say 10 years old, my eldest cousin, one of my elder cousins, um came in one christmas and shared that he had witnessed something in the fog in my grandparents house. Imagine an old red house in the middle of the farm. Outside of their house, which was a quintessential farmhouse out in the country in Corcoran california, which, side note is best known for the Cochran Prison that houses Charles Manson. Charlie Manson? Charles Manson. Anyways, so Cochran. And he went outside and came back in and claimed that he saw lying on the side of the road, a Chupacabra. Now, if anyone is familiar with El Chupacabra knows that it’s basically a mythical creature, um, and he claims in his heart that it wasn’t a wolf, it wasn’t a coyote, it wasn’t a possum. It was all those things put together as one. And he came in and he scared us. We actually went outside to try and find it. And it was miraculously gone. OK? This animal that wasn’t supposed to be there in the first place. He claims he saw. And it was scary for us because we knew it wasn’t true, but at the same time the myth of The Chupacabra lived on. Because every year, or every time we would be out there, and it was just a little bit foggy and there was a full moon, we would hear this animal that was said not to exist, which was said not to exist, but we knew in our hearts that it did. And I do honestly think it’s true. I think he saw something that wasn’t, it wasn’t, like I said it wasn’t a wolf or a mountain lion, it wasn’t any of those things. In my heart I believe that it was true, because when we went out to go find it, it was gone. This animal that he had seen. So there it is, the myth of The Chupacabra, and we still talk about it to this day.”

 

Context: When I asked the participant if she had any stories to tell, she told me immediately. “Oh, yeah, but I’m sure you already know about The Chupacabra.” I pressured her a bit more to tell me her version of it, and it ended up being the story above; not on the origin of El Chupacabra, or particularly any action by El Chupacabra, but just a possible sighting. She likes this piece of folklore because she says she “doesn’t generally consider [herself] to believe in this sort of thing, but I do.” And that, if anything it’s a “fun story that shows how crazy my family and I are.”

 

Personal Analysis: Legend sightings are prevalent throughout the world. Be it alien sightings, ghosts, demons, Bigfoot, Loch Ness, or Leprechauns. What’s interesting about these stories is that the person experiencing the sighting doesn’t often actually interact with the entity; they’re other-worldly both in that they do not take a typical earthly form but also that they can not be interacted with along the same plane as the informant.

Take this story, as an example. The participants cousin saw this animal-like thing through the fog, and it laid motionless on the side of the road. Despite not having interacted with it, he is certain it was El Chupacabra. His certainty also impacted the participant and her family; they believed the story despite never having seen it, simply because her cousin saw it through the fog for a split second.


I believe this is because these legends are constantly reinforced to the point that they create confirmation biases. Everyone in California has heard of El Chupacabra, similar to how everyone in Scotland has heard of the Loch Ness. If one might not have, they probably would not see the objects they see as anything but what they actually are: perhaps roadkill, a rock and a stick, a funny looking shadow. Instead, they take their previously conceived notions about these legends and projected them onto their sightings to confirm them as the creature.

A Dog Walks into a Forest…

Folk Piece:

Who far could a dog walk into a forest?

Halfway because after that he’s walking out.

Background information

“Well, this is the first riddle my dad ever gave me. Uh, you know, I enjoy word play and I think it’s just a light switch that makes people’s heads really turn a bit. Riddles are just a fun way to get a conversation started sometimes, and yeah, I don’t know, it’s just fun seeing people try and figure it out”

Context

“Well, uh, like I said it’s the first riddle my dad ever gave me. We’d often toss riddles at each other back and forth – well, like, once I was older. And uh, yeah, I’m not sure where this one came from before my Dad, but I know my Grandfather also enjoyed word play, so if I had to guess it would be from him. Now I have a bunch of them I ask people if they ever come up. ” Sure enough, this riddle came up when exactly that was happening. I’d asked a group of friends if they had any good riddles or jokes, and two of my friends went back and forth with them. This was the first one that was mentioned.

Analysis

When I first heard the informant tell this riddle in the group, I had no idea it was an actually important riddle to him. At the time, I was just jotting the riddles down as they were told back and forth between this participant and another. I guess it would make sense, though, that his favorite riddle would come first.

This would be an example of a true riddle as are most of the riddles the informant would be talking about. Those that have a traditional question and answer, that can be guess based on clues hidden in the riddle itself. I believe this participant does it, however, to test an acquaintances intelligence. Not that he expects the other person to guess it correctly, but I think he expects them to enjoy it because of how clever it is. This participant definitely values his intellect and the intellect of his friends, so that would make sense.

 

“Heard it from the horse’s mouth”

I was talking with my friend and I said that I needed to hear a fact straight from the person who said it, and then she said something like, “yeah, you have to hear it from the horse’s mouth.” I inquired what she meant by this, where she had heard it from, etc. This is what she told me.

Informant: “My mom says, ‘I heard it straight from the horse’s mouth’ and that means that you heard it from the person who said it, so it’s authentic.”

Collector: “Do you know why it’s specifically a horse?”

Informant: “I don’t know, but she did grow up around a lot of horses. She grew up on a cattle ranch. And they all rode horses around.”

Collector: “So do you think this is specific to farmer culture or rancher people, rather than city folk?”

Informant: “I think so because you tend to… your language is dependent on your surroundings. You use analogies based on where you live, or on the things that you know”

The informant didn’t know much more about the origins of the proverb, but after some basic online search, I found that thefreedictionary.com offers the following explanation: “this expression alludes to examining a horse’s teeth todetermine its age and hence its worth. [1920s]” As my informant mentioned, this expression probably originated from a culture that was accustomed to being around horses, so its relevance in the future might be questionable.