It’s Halloween, so here are some stories about monsters and creatures said to reside around North America. Can you guess which of these are “real”—meaning that they are documented pieces of folklore, if not more—and which one we just totally made up? Answer is at the end of the post.
Wisconsin Grandma Hordes. An old farmers’ tale says that there’s a coven of old witches who emerge from the netherworld in late summer and hide deep in the cornfields of central Nebraska. Although the legend’s popularity peaked in the 1970s, a few sightings of rogue “Grandmas” (so named because the horde is harmless, and the populace has grown affectionate toward their local legend) are still reported each year. They’re usually dismissed as leaning corn stalks and creepy shadows seen by people who wander too far into a cornfield. The locals aren’t taking any chances, however, and each September several small Nebraska towns put on “Grandma Fests” in which the “Grand Children” (kids dressed up as old people) throw rolling pins and fake flowers into cornfields as they ask the Wisconsin Grandma Hordes not to spoil the harvest.
Worcester Tornado. Rumors of a sentient twister have dogged residents of Massachusetts for more than a century. The most famous survivor account came from Worcester native Henry “Hank” Plank in 1887. “We was all in the cellar hiding from the twister,” Plank told the Boston Globe. “I looked out the winder and saw her [the tornado] jump right over top of our pig house. Then I yelled, ‘Ha! You missed, you dumb tornado!’ Then she stopped right in her path and turned back around and she leveled that old pig house. And then as she twirled away she shook her hips back and forth like she was laughing at me! That thing was alive as sure as I’m standing here talking to you.”
Flaming Pink Guy. The legend of the Flaming Pink Guy can be traced back to school lunchrooms in southern Florida in 1978. Students, misunderstanding the warnings they’d heard at home, would tell their friends to stay off the streets at night because of “the Flaming Pink Guy,” a creature seemingly made of glowing pink flames who would kidnap and consume his victims in hellfire. Parents were actually warning of “flaming pink eye,” a condition that was rampant in Florida nightclubs in the fall of 1978.
This piece originally ran in Uncle John’s Fake Facts. Have a spooktacular Halloween!