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Nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, nah PIGMAN!
A couple years ago, on my blog New England Folklore, I posted about the Pigman of Northfield, Vermont. It was one of my more popular posts, but I didn't think I had much more to say about this porcine creature of the night.
However, while poking around on the web recently I found some more Pigman stories. I usually try to cite books or other traditional sources for my blog for credibility's sake, but even though the Pigman stories are just on message boards, they are too good to resist. I like to think of these as good campfire stories, but the campfire is my computer. (If you're not up to speed on the Pigman, you can read my original post here.)
The newer version of the Pigman story claims that way back in 1951 the Pigman was just a normal teen boy named Sam Harris. On October 30th, the night before Halloween, Sam set out with some eggs and toilet paper to cause trouble and vandalize his neighbors' houses. It was a tradition for the local teens. You see, in Sam's hometown of Northfield October 30th was called Picket Night, and it was the designated night for mischief.
Unfortunately, Sam never returned. His concerned parents called the police and hundreds of volunteers searched the woods around Northfield, but they found nothing. Sam Harris was never seen again.
But something else was seen that gloomy autumn, something disturbing: a hideous humanoid with the head of a pig. The creature was seen lurking in the woods at night, particularly in an area called the Devil's Washbowl, where he terrorized teenagers in parked cars. The rumor began to spread that this monster was really Sam Harris, and that he had given himself to Satan. People said he ate the raw entrails of pigs, and wore the head of one over his own.
Sam's family and friends were outraged at the rumors, and a local historian wrote an article debunking them in the local newspaper. She disappeared shortly after it was published. Her body was found several years later in the Devil's Washbowl with the words "Picket Night" carved in her skull.
One morning in 1954, Sam's mother told a neighbor that Sam had come to her house the previous night. He had dragged a pile of pig entrails across the porch floor as a gift for her, and squealed with feral glee at the bloody organs before disappearing into the darkness. His eyes were like an animal's. Thirteen days later, Mrs. Harris committed suicide by throwing herself into a neighbor's pig pen, where the hungry swine devoured her.
Ever since, the Pigman has roamed through the dark woods around Northfield. The creature has been blamed for many animal deaths and several human disappearances, but has never been caught.
There's the new Pigman story. It's entirely possible this tale is just being spread by one person on message boards across the web, but there are some things about it that I find interesting.
As I've mentioned before, the nights around Halloween often have different names in different areas. I find it interesting that October 30th is called Picket Night in this story, which seems like it could refer to a real tradition in Northfield. If you know anything about Picket Night, please leave a comment—I'd love to know more!
It's also significant that the Pigman lurks around the Devil's Washbowl. Areas named after the Devil tend to accumulate legends about supernatural happenings.
Finally, there seems to be some implicit message about men and women in this story. Sam Harris begins the story as mischievous teen, and then devolves from boy prankster all the way to a hideous man-beast that lives outside of society and eats raw flesh. The female historian who tries to defend his reputation and symbolically reclaim him as human meets a horrible fate, while poor Mrs. Harris is destroyed by the realization that her son really is an animal who has resisted all her years of mothering. I don't think it's true, but the message seems to be that men are wild, and women are doomed in their attempts to civilize them. It sounds like a great topic for someone's Master's dissertation!
Quail Bell Food for Thought: What similar folk tale(s) do we have in Washington, D.C., Maryland, and/or Virginia? How do we treat the night before Halloween? And why the heck is The Quail Bell Crew asking you about this a month after the holiday?
***This post was written by Peter Mulse for New England Folklore, where it originally appeared, and was re-published with permission.***