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.
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.