Come on Little Devil

bobtober15

Today I had planned to post pictures from our 1991 Hallowe’en Party on Washington Street in Muncie, but life sort of got in the way this week and they didn’t get scanned. Watch for that post next week (gods willing and the creek don’t rise).

When we were younger, one of our favorite haunts was Hobbitland. We camped there frequently, in all seasons, but especially once true autumn rolled around. Hobbitland and October were made for one another.

If you look up Hobbitland online, you’re likely to run across this description:

LaFontaine: Mississinewa Reservoir Forest: Hobbitland: Legend says it is inhabited by evil little hobbits (or demons) who guard the devil worshipers. It is said if you drive back to where it is and turn off your car and get out you can see the hobbits coming after you. They carry lights or its their eyes, that you can see coming after you.

First of all, I don’t think the writer of this is in danger of being mistaken for a wordsmith any time soon.

Secondly, they’re sort of mixing up their Urban Legends, tossing ’em all in a pot and giving ’em a good stir.

hobbitland

Brent and I spent a fair amount of time in those particular woods, along with a laundry list of compadres. One such night, round about All Hallow’s Eve 1985, we were camped along the Mississinewa River eating strips of deer liver we skewered onto whittled tree limbs and cooked over an open campfire.

We drank cheap whiskey, cheap beer, and even cheaper wine, smoking Marlboro cigarettes and Backwoods cigars and swapping ghost stories until dawn and then some. We were still raw from the loss of David Farr a few months before and us all gathering there in that spot of haunted woodlands was cathartic for the lot of us.

Brent’s story that night was one I knew well, and he enjoyed telling it. It was as much a Converse Urban Legend as a Hobbitland one. It essentially boiled down to a story told by the Converse old guard, by way of the Dennison clan I believe, of how they’d been out this way and caught something unnatural. But far from just catching it, they’d caged it.

We were told that the natives in these parts, the Twatwa, or Myaamia as they called themselves, communed with an ancient race of tiny creatures that lived in what we would come to call Hobbitland. These creatures resembled reptiles but walked on hind legs and had long barbed tails and beards of sorts. Standing 6-8 inches in height, they were said to be ‘little devils’… and supposedly, for a time, one was kept in a birdcage, sitting on a workbench in an old garage down by Fox Lake.

This was before our time of course, but Brent told the story with fervor. I’ve long since forgotten where the story originated, whether Brent collected it from his grandpa, Dick Slaughter, or it made its way to us through our pal Robert, but Brent liked to chew on that one, tell of how the ‘little devil’ promised granted wishes and wealth to whomever set it free.

That was the part Brent generally changed from time to time, of its escape or it being killed when a wish didn’t come true. But that wasn’t the point.

Urban legends are just that. They get stretched and twisted and manipulated all around, but there’s usually just enough facts sprinkled in to make one wonder if maybe, just maybe, there might be some truth to it after all.

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