Background Information: Informant is 22 year old student in the Southern California area, originally from Southern New Jersey. This piece of folklore has to do with the Sasquatch, or Bigfoot, who is a legendary pseudo-monster humanoid creature who is occasionally said to be sighted in various forests around North America in particular. This legendary creature does not seem to have an obvious task in life, but in my research has been said to appear in the woods and vanish just as fast. My informant claims not to have seen the Sasquatch, but the story was part of her childhood, and connected to her local area, which was densely forested.
Main Piece: My informant is a 22 year old student, originally from the Southern New Jersey area. She was brought up near a relatively densely forested area. At the age of 9, she was told the legend that Bigfoot lived in the woods as follows. Bigfoot, or as they called him, the Sasquatch, was a bipedal monster who lived in the woods and occasionally ate the people who came into the forest at night. He was about ten feet tall and looked like a large man with mid-length brown fur. His feet were ginormous, and the kids often claimed to see one of his footprints. He was said to walk hunched over, and could run on all fours at incredible speeds. He particularly liked to eat children that wandered into the woods. My informant tells me that Bigfoot stories are popular in southern New Jersey as certain areas are densely forested. After hearing this story, she refused to go into the woods for many years and wouldn’t even go if she had someone with her. As an adult, she was curious to explore these woods and she says that she didn’t see anything resembling a Bigfoot, even at night, nor did she expect to. Yet, she doesn’t totally disbelieve the legend, and says that she is still strangely wary when in the woods alone. She also described the Yeti as the “snow-version” of Bigfoot, a kind of sub-species which exists in predominantly snowy regions of Asia, such as the Himalaya mountains.
The legend format plays on suspension of belief. Often the most interesting thing about legends is that they might be true. This legend, popularized amongst children, plays on the local landscape to add credence to its claim. This is common in legends. What is also common is the fluid level of belief. When my informant was a child, she believed in the Sasquatch, whereas as an adult she says that she doesn’t disbelieve it. Likewise, belief in a Sasquatch is much more justified in a heavily forested area than at a beach, and the belief level of the informant changes between her age, and also based on whether or not she is firstly in the woods, and then whether she is there with someone. There is also a sense that the story may act as a warning children to not go into the woods late at night alone, much like the La Llorana legend discourages children in areas with a Spanish influence from wandering around alone at night.
For the Yeti version of the Sasquatch, see here: http://www.livescience.com/25072-yeti-abominable-snowman.html