A Halloween Tale Revisited

Yesterday’s weather….wind…rain…leaves flying about….on the anniversary of Hurricane Sandy no less…it wasn’t fit for man nor either of our beasts.

This time of year, October running down, the barrenness of November bearing down…reminded me of a tale I once told.

An old man, with a plug of chaw in his cheek and a couple of teeth still hangin in there, told this to me one time.

Is it true? Who knows? But it IS late October in the home of the Jersey Devil…


No one is really quite sure when the noises started in that house.

Or even when they stopped.

They do know that, however, people often times would go into the old house, and curiously, were never seen again.

There was that guy hired to fix the roof.

The roof got fixed… but he was never seen again.

Then there was that salesman who stopped by once, right after dinner, and was never seen again.

Well, they did find his shoe.

Then, late one Sunday, that…that was when the preacher fellow dropped in.

Years later, some kids would find a charred Bible with the name Reverend John Southford neatly written in the top right corner of the first page. That was his name, I think.

No one ever saw him again to ask him.

Ah, yes…the preacher. That’s pretty much when all the stories really got started.

The noises – (screams?) – were loud that night. ‘Least that’s what people say now. You know how memory can be.

But right after that was when the children started to tell the stories late at night, at sleepovers and around campfires and such.

They would huddle under their blankets with their flash lights on and tell these stories…

Stories about how a witch lived up there in the house, stirring up her witch’s brew.

Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn, and caldron bubble..

Stories about how one stormy night (kind of like this one – MK) that blew the leaves around, the owner of the house had caught the Jersey Devil itself and kept it chained up in that lighted room.

The children would say how the Jersey Devil hated the light and would cry out (scream?) every time the little chain was pulled to light the bare, yellow bulb.

The owner usually did that just to throw a rabbit or some dead field mice in for the Devil to munch on.

Others said it was Mrs. Jane Leeds herself – the mother of the Jersey Devil as that story goes, wailing at the thought of what she brought into the world.

The Pine Barrens folk know when it comes their way,
Slowly and quietly stalking.
But human beings are not it’s prey;
when the Jersey Devil goes walking.
Small animals hide in their holes away;
And ‘Hush, oh, hush!’ the campers say,
when the Jersey Devil goes walking.

No one is really quite sure what the noises were in that house.

Some say they still hear them, especially late in October (like now – MK), when the air is crisp, the ground fog is rising and the leaves rustle in the trees.

They claim they hear this wail (scream?), or hooves on hardwood floors, and it make the hair on the back of their scalp stand on end and their steps quicken to some place warmer and more well-lighted.

But it’s all just a story.



You decide.

© Mark V. Krajnak | JerseyStyle Photography | All Rights Reserved 2020

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