Tag Archives: Folk creature

Rosie the School Mascot – Legend


A is a sophomore at USC studying Screenwriting. A was born in Canada but moved to the United States when A was 10. The below text is a legend at A’s elementary school and, according to A, was the origin of how the school is decorated.


A’s elementary school has a fox as a mascot and they circulated a story about how they had gotten a fox as a mascot. “Why did they choose Rosie the Fox? This is why, this is the story we heard from teachers and friends but it was never confirmed by the school.” Basically, decades before, while a teacher was taking her kids out for recess, they found an injured fox lying in a ditch near campus. The kids all pleaded with the teacher to treat the fox, and they ended up taking it to school (principal or nurse’s office). They gave the fox a splint and eventually nursed it back to health (A did specify that the fox did not bite). Over the course of days, all the students got super attached tot he fox and named it Rosie, after the school’s name.

It got to the point where the fox was very tame. When the leg healed, they released it and all the kids were super sad about it. But, after that point, the fox would always come back. At recess, kids would see it standing on the side of the woods watching them play at recess. Eventually, obviously, the fox died and the school ended up naming the mascot after the fox in order to carry on the legacy of Rosie. A’s elementary now has a lot of culture surrounding Rosie. During A’s time there, they even had a whole festival or day surrounding Rosie.


The above narrative is a story that is highly probable, so much so that the school themselves indulge in it as if it was truth even though it has never been proven legitimately. A specifies that it has not been proven historically, and perhaps there may never be a way to prove it, but here is an example of folk history secluded to a school. The contemporary setting of the narrative makes the story an urban legend, however the deep belief with which the school puts in Rose the Fox makes the truth of her existence inconsequential. In my opinion, even if the school did find out Rosie wasn’t actually real, it wouldn’t matter. She became a legend ingrained as almost fact for the school, therefore what they think happened matters more than the unknown of what actually happened. Furthermore, being good to nature, kind to all creatures, and community are values upheld and respected in schools. Not only is Rosie the fox a heartwarming story to tell young students, but an example of how to behave at school. Rosie’s story provides an almost-forbidden rule broken by the school itself; letting an injured fox’s leg heal. It almost gives the audience room to make mistakes, using something as sutble as a fox to encourage breaking rules for kindness. Here is another reason why it doesn’t matter if the legend of Rosie is true or not.

Tahoe Tessie

Background: The informant frequently visited Lake Tahoe growing up. She knows a lot about the Lake itself and told me she’d heard this legend.

SD: So this is the story of Tahoe Tessie, uh, named after Nessie which is, uh, the more colloquial name for the Loch Ness Monster, they like to call–I don’t know who they is in this scenario–the people of the Loch, I guess, like to call her, I believe it’s a woman, I believe that the Loch Ness Monster is a female according to the lore. But yeah, so it’s Tahoe Tessie, it’s Lake Tahoe, the supposed monster that lives in Lake Tahoe, I would assume it’s akin to the Loch Ness Monster–kind of a vague, dinosaur-esque crypted. No one has confirmed a sighting, I don’t believe that anyone actually believes in it, uh, but the lake is one of the like deepest lakes in California, uh, or the US I think, uh, there’s an underwater forest, all that good stuff.

Me: And how did you hear about Tahoe Tessie?

SD: I don’t know, actually. I think it’s just, you go somewhere a fair amount, you pick up the lore. Who knows which time I picked it up?

Me: Do you think many people believe in Tahoe Tessie?

SD: Uh, I really don’t. I think it’s just more people making fun of the Loch Ness Monster, uh, and making their own thing out of Lake Tahoe. But I think it’s a legend, so maybe I do think some people think it’s true.

Context: This piece was collected during an in person conversation.

Thoughts: It’s interesting that a very tourist attraction like Lake Tahoe has developed their own legend, and the informant–being a tourist–picked it up on one of her trips there so it’s not just a legend perpetuated by the people that live or are from there. This legend is passed on as perhaps a way to entice people to visit and make it even more of a tourist destination. It builds on the idea that it could be true and would exist in our own world. Since the informant said there have not been any confirmed sightings, I wonder if people have memorates that they perhaps told others and it caught on that way. It makes me think about what would be considered an official sighting if this idea is believed by some people. Or maybe it was a creation simply for the tourism industry, in which case Tahoe Tessie would be fakelore. This is an example of cryptozoology.

For another version of this legend, see History.com’s page on the Loch Ness Monster: https://www.history.com/topics/folklore/loch-ness-monster

Folktale Creature: The Squonk

Main Piece: 

“He’s just sad and ugly and I love him. Oh boy, so, the squonk is basically this kind of urban legend, like cryptid creature that’s certainly meant to explain like those weird noises hunters hear in the night. And the thing is that the squonk cries a lot because he’s ugly, and that’s what those weird noises are. And that’s it. He just cries a lot because he’s ugly and no one wants to be the squonk.”


My informant had a strong personal connection to the squonk that was mostly based on finding the concept delightful. She is from an entirely different area than the squonk, which supposedly exists in Pennsylvania. My informant discovered the concept online, but does not recall exactly where. As mentioned above, she says it is meant to explain strange sounds hunters hear that sound like crying.


Folklore is normally emblematic of the culture in which it exists. For example, modern American folklore tends to have an emphasis on the future and the brightness at the end of the tunnel- proverbs such as “all’s well that ends well” or “the ends justify the means.” Americans tend to have an emphasis on happiness and hope to the exclusion of other sentiments. It’s interesting, then, that there’s this specifically Pennsylvanian creature that is so unbearably and irredeemably ugly that all it does is cries. This kind of hopelessness is not normally emblematic of American folklore. Two possible explanations fit within the framework of America as a mostly hopeful folk group. First, this could be a bizarre way of putting down the other. The hunter is not the one crying in the woods because they’re ugly- it’s the noise possibly frightening them that is. Second, this could be an example of an unconsciously counter-hegemonic folk belief. The majority of America is full of blind hopeful folklore, but we believe in a creature that lives in the woods and cries because of how depressed it is over its hideousness.

The Hodag


This story came from lumberjack camps In Northern Wisconsin. The Hodag was first reported in the late 1800s, and since has become a figure representative of the region surrounding its supposed place of origin. During my informant’s youth, the town just north of him, Rhinelander, used the Hodag as its symbol, also acting as the high school mascot there. They even have a huge country music festival called the Hodag.


The informant, my grandfather, says that the Hodag is an important piece of lore to everyone in North Wisconsin. So much so, that my grandparents had their first kiss at the Hodag music festival, and my grandpa’s band played there. Early accounts of the Hodag were even published in the local newspapers, so it’s an important and ever-present aspect of the culture there.

Main Piece:

“So the Hodag is this weird creature that has like a frog kind of head, a fat, squat lizards body, with bulldog-like legs, with big horns protruding out of its head and down its back, and a big horn at the end of its tail, so it was a weird-looking thing. So there were–it was supposed to roam the north woods of Wisconsin, and probably where the story came from was in the lumberjack camps in Northern Wisconsin. Um, one guy–I don’t know his name–it’s said that he actually caught a hodag and burned it. And they published a picture with ashes and a pile of horns. Some people believed that, but to make it really convincing they actually made a taxidermy one and toured it as a sideshow with the circus. When the Smithsonian sent someone to verify it, the guy who created it admitted it was false. Later I was doing some research as the director of Marathon County Historical Museum and reading through some old papers from the 1890s, and there were a couple articles I found really interesting. One claimed that “all kinds of mischief” was going on in the lumberjack camps in Northern Wisconsin, North of Rhinelander. I don’t remember much detail, but there was a bunch of chaos in the camps and the lumberjacks thought there was Hodag in the woods near them. And the other instance, there was a lumberjack that disappeared in the woods and it was blamed on the hodag–they said it ate him.”


Following some more digging, I was able to find out that the Hodag is believed to have come about as a response to the abusive treatment of animals, especially oxen, in lumber camps (Kearney). This seems reasonable because it was not the only terrifying beast to have originated from such camps. As a giant lumberjack, early Paul Bunyan stories also often featured the Hodag. What I find particularly interesting, however, is how this manifestation of abuse and cruelty made its way into the hearts and minds of so many locals in the area. Although it may have sprung from cruelty, the fact that the Hodag once made it into state and even national news headlines completely transformed it. When it had been seen by the nation, outsiders began to think of Rhinelander as the home of the Hodag, thereby associating the two. Because the legend of the creature had been scaled up, it grew from its original representation of cruelty to become a symbol of pride for the locals of the area.

For More on the Hodag and Other North American Beasts:

Kearney, Luke Sylvester (1928). The Hodag and Other Tales of the Logging Camps. Madison, WI. pp. 9–17.


Main Piece: Menehune is categorized as a mischievous small people. They are like dwarves but not really. They are just small people who live hidden in the valleys of Hawaii. They were there before the settlers and they made the roads, buildings, and ponds. They especially made the waterfalls and streams that connect to the ocean. They’re in a lot of children’s books and are like figures for kids to look up to as hard workers who work at night. I’ve heard them being used as tricksters who mess with visitors if they don’t behave.

Context: The informant is a current freshman at USC. She lived in Hawaii until she graduated high school. Growing up there, she learned all about the customs and folklore of Hawaii.

Thoughts: I like the concept of having a figure to look up to especially since it promotes hard work. It also reflects the respect for the land as well, which I think more people should definitely have. Their secondary role as a trickster also plays as a rule maker for tourists so that they do not go out wandering at night. 

For More information see, “The Menehune of Hawaii – Ancient Race or Fictional Fairytale?” by April Holloway

Holloway, April. “The Menehune of Hawaii – Ancient Race or Fictional Fairytale?” Ancient Origins, Ancient Origins, 11 June 2014, www.ancient-origins.net/myths-legends/menhune-hawaii-ancient-race-or-fictional-fairytale-001741.