Thursday, October 8, 2015

Terrifying Tales: The Tailypo

“At night when the moon shines and wind blows, you can hear a voice say: Tailypo, tailypo, now I’ve got my tailypo.”

Tailypo is a North American folktale with roots both in Appalachia and the South. There are countless versions of this story.

Johanna and Paul Galdone's version.
Most versions include, an old man or hermit that lives in a small log cabin in an isolated area--the woods or near a swamp. He has three hunting dogs named, Uno, Ino and Cumptico-Calico.

It was late in autumn and the old man had not had much luck with his hunting. He prepared a meager meal of one thin rabbit for himself and his dogs.

Heading for bed he spots a strange cat-like creature enter his cabin through a crack in the floor.

It is fat with a dark coat of fur. Its tail is large and bushy. The man still hungry grabs a hatchet and chases the strange creature. He chops off its tail and it leaves the cabin the way it entered--screaming.

The old man then cooks the tail and eats it—it tastes so good he does not share it with his dogs. He then goes off to bed. Within the hour, he awakens to the sound of a loud thumping. He then hears something scratching on the cabin wall.

A shrill voice says, “Tailypo, tailypo, who has my tailypo?”

He calls his dogs, “Here, here, here” and opens the cabin’s door. Chaos ensues with the dogs barking wildly, trying to follow the creature up the wall of the cabin. Their barking became faint as they chased the creature into the swamp.

When the dogs return, Uno is not with them—the man is unconcerned for his dogs often hunt on their own-- he returns to his bed as he hears the other two dogs settle down on the porch.

Around midnight he is awakened once more by a loud thump.

This time the scratching sound is at the back of his cabin—near where he lay. It sounded like the wood was being shredded and torn away fiercely.

For the second time he hears, “Tailypo, tailypo, who has my tailypo?” His dogs rush around the side of the cabin barking and growling. He gets up in time to see just Cumptico-Calico chase the dark figure back into the swamp.

When Cumptico-Calico doesn’t return-- the man reassures himself that Calico like the other two dogs was hungry and had found something else to hunt—exhausted the man goes back to bed.

Just before dawn he is awakened for the third time. Now the thumping is at the foot of his bed and he once more hears the scratching. He watches as his covers are pulled off. Frightened, the man dares not look anymore.

He feels the creature jump on the bed and then it poked him with its sharp claws as it walked up his body.

It then demanded loudly, “Tailypo, tailypo where is my tailypo?” The man unable to move looked up into its gleaming yellow eyes.

Several days later, a neighbor found the old man’s bed shredded to pieces with random bones laying about. His dogs were never seen again.

They say when the moon shines bright, one can hear way off in the swamp, “Tailypo, tailypo, now I have my tailypo.”

Here is a link that lists several versions of this folktale.

One favorite version of this story is presented in Johanna Galdone’s picture book entitled, The Tailypo: A Ghost Story. Her tale leaves so much to the reader’s imagination that it actually is one of the scariest versions.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The Removal of Black Aggie, Part ll

Black Aggie statue.
In Part l of this post here, several legends are shared that resulted in the Black Aggie statue being removed from the grave it marked in Druid Ridge Cemetery. Large numbers of people entering this Cemetery in Pikesville, Maryland at night illegally plus ongoing vandalism spurred its removal.

The Agnus Family donated it to the Smithsonian in the 1960s. They are related to the general whose grave displayed the Black Aggie statue.

The following is just one of the many scary legends that were told about this statue—which spurred its removal.

Three teens were sitting on a slope overlooking Druid Ridge Cemetery in the 1950s. They were there because they had heard rumors about one marble grave marker dubbed—Black Aggie.

One boy in the group, Nathan had heard the stories from his mother so he was regaling the other two with what he knew.

“At first glance Black Aggie looks harmless-- but her angelic face is deceiving for she has a demonic nature. They say it’s her eyes-- during the day they are pale and blank but at night they turn fiercely red and glowing.”

The other male in the group, a boy by the name Josh laughed. “So she is a statue that gives you an evil eye. Come on you don’t actually believe that?”

Nathan placed on the defensive stated, “It is not just an evil eye, witnesses state when you look directly into Aggie’s eyes you go blind.”

They say she is a particular threat to males. She hates them because of the way she died.”

Josh’s girlfriend asked, “How did she die?”

Nathan relishing his role continued, “My mother told me she was left at the altar. She then died of a broken heart.”

Josh laughed again. “This is all hogwash. Has anyone witnessed her red eyes or evil nature?”

Nathan worried he was losing face, got up off the grass. “It’s getting cold, time to leave.”

Josh ran down the hill. “Not until we visit Black Aggie.”

Nathan reluctantly showed the other two the way to the statue. It was located in the oldest part of the cemetery—Black Aggie sat with her arms stretched out and a shroud draped over her—in the shadow of an ancient oak.

Josh moved in close, “So this is Evil Aggie?”

As a chill ran down Nathan’s back, he glanced around and nodded yes. “It is cold and late, let’s go.”

Josh reached out and poked the statue. He quipped, “So many men to blind and so little time.”

Nathan now nervous but not wanting to show it feigned boredom. “Hey, you’ve seen her—now let’s go.”

Josh ignored Nathan and stepped up onto the base of the statue, he then jumped into her lap. “You go, I want to visit with Aggie for awhile.”

He leaned back against one of the statue’s arms and dangled his legs over the other. His date looked up at him, “You shouldn’t do that, it is disrespectful.”

A cold chill slammed into the center of Nathan’s gut. Frightened now, he said, “this isn’t funny.” When Josh once more ignored him he shouted, “Get down, let’s go, I mean it.”

Josh looked over at the other two teens. “You are chickens. You should go, I don’t feel like hanging out anymore.”

Nathan grabbed Josh's girlfriend by the hand and escorted her out of the cemetery.

The next morning she called Nathan. “Josh’s mom called me this morning—she is in a panic because he didn’t come home last night.”

Nathan blew it off, “He is just trying to freak everyone out.” But several hours later when Josh still had not made an appearance the two teens met back at the entrance to the cemetery.

When they came within sight of Black Aggie Josh’s girlfriend sighed in relief, “There he is, still in her lap.”

Nathan shouted Josh’s name but he did not respond. As the two drew near they found it odd he didn’t acknowledge their presence. Nathan then reached out and touched Josh’s arm.

Josh moved slightly, “Is that you guys?”

Nathan said, “It’s us, why didn’t you go home last night?”

Josh turned to them and they drew back in horror as they looked upon his face. His eyes were coated white—he was blind.

“I couldn’t find my way . . . and she wouldn’t let me go.” He held up one of his arms and there the other two teens saw dark purple and blue marks in the shape of Black Aggie’s five stone fingers.

More legends are shared in Part l The Removal of Black Aggie, here.

The Removal of Black Aggie, Part l

The name Black Aggie was given to a statue that originally sat in Druid Ridge Cemetery in Pikesville, Maryland. It marked the grave of General Felix Agnus.

Black Aggie in Druid Ridge Cemetery
This statue, dramatic in appearance, is an unauthorized replica of a statue sculpted by Saint-Gaudens in 1891—called Grief. It depicts a seated somber figure that wears a shroud.

This statue was placed in Druid Ridge in 1926. Soon after several scary legends were attributed to it.

The main legend stated that if someone dared to spend the night sitting on the lap of Black Aggie they would encounter the ghost buried there.

Another legend stated that all the ghosts in this cemetery would gather together at this statue once a year.

Other tales stated that grass would not grow in the areas where the statue’s shadow rested during the day. A more startling claim was the statue’s eyes would glow red at night and that Black Aggie would physically move.

These legends that were told and retold attracted unwanted attention. Many people broke into Druid Ridge Cemetery at night and the statue was frequently vandalized.

Fed up, the Agnus family donated the statue to the Smithsonian in 1967, however its original base remains at the General’s grave.

Today Black Aggie is displayed in the courtyard behind the National Courts Building in Lafayette Square in Washington D.C.

In Washington D.C.
Ironically, another grave statue that is located at Green Mount Cemetery in Montpelier, Vermont has inherited the legends that originally surrounded Black Aggie.

In Part ll of The Removal of Black Aggie, one story that inspired the interest that surrounds this statue is shared.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Portland’s Pittock Mansion

Many residents and tourists drive up the hill to this historic Oregon mansion. Its front gardens offer a wonderful panoramic view of the city.

View of Portland from Pittock Mansion.
The 16, 000 square foot sandstone mansion was completed in 1914. It was built using all local materials.

Architect Edward T. Foulkes designed it. Foulkes esthetic was unusual for the time.

Pittock Mansion
The mansion is an interesting mix of square stonewalls and a circular interior. The mansion’s rooms are built off a central grand staircase like spokes from a wheel.

Foulkes included many of the most up to date features in the mansion. He included a dumbwaiter to lift food to the upstairs bedrooms.

Instead of bells to call servants Foulkes had an internal phone system installed and he situated the house so the airflow would cool the interior without the use of ceiling fans.

A powerful central vacuum system was also installed throughout the home.

One unique feature on the entryway ceiling was placed there at the request of Mrs. Georgiana Pittock. The visitor can see foil lining this ceiling—this foil reflects Mrs. Pittock’s frugal pioneer beginnings--she had saved the foil from her tea containers for years.

Georgiana Pittock
Henry and Georgiana Pittock were not the typical upper-class wealthy couple of the time. They believed in public service.

Georgiana helped found the Ladies Relief Society in 1867. This group established a Children’s Home, which helped Portland’s needy children. She also helped establish the Martha Washington Home for single working women.

Her love of flowers was the birth of Portland’s annual Rose festival. Her husband often led the parade.

Henry Pittock
Henry Pittock was responsible for bringing modern innovations to several industries in the Pacific Northwest. He was a newspaper editor, publisher and wood/paper magnet. He made The Oregonian a daily newspaper.

He founded the Mazamas climbing club and was a member of the first expedition to climb Mt. Hood.

The Pittock Mansion was completed after the couple’s 58th wedding anniversary. Georgiana lived in the home for only four years until her death in 1918. Henry died a year later in 1919.

It stayed in the family for the next three generations until 1958. It then fell into disrepair.

The mansion was bought by the City of Portland in 1964 and restored to its original glory by public funds and public labor.

In 1965, the mansion was opened to the public—tours are offered—it wasn’t long before people began to believe that Georgiana and Henry haunt their beloved home.

Odd activity has been noted throughout the mansion.

A boyhood picture of Henry seems to move from place to place. It is kept on a bedroom mantle but witnesses’ state that after seeing it in this spot it moved to a different location, within minutes.

Tour guides have seen a figure standing in various ground floor rooms as they open the mansion in the mornings.

Many visitors have reported smelling fresh roses—Georgiana’s favorite flower—when there are no fresh flowers in the mansion.

Others have heard boot footfalls walking in and out of the rear entrance and another volunteer found a heavy window on the first stair landing shut and latched when it had been opened earlier that day to cool the mansion.

One woman was viewing a selection of pictures in the basement when she felt someone watching her. She turned to see the figure of an elderly woman wearing outdated clothes standing next to her.

This woman then vanished as she watched.