So, this morning I had a lovely chat with the guy who wrote a couple of stories about the werewolf that supposedly lives out at, aptly named, Werewolf Spring, in Montgomery Bell State Park. It appears that this is a campfire story told by a lot of Boy Scout leaders and then passed along by teenagers eager to have a reason their dates should cuddle up next to them in the dark out in the creepy woods.
The way the story is mostly told now is that there was a circus train derailment right after the Civil War and the Werewolf of Borneo escaped into the surrounding woods. Dude was able to debunk this because the suspect train tracks weren’t there then (too young). I was like “And there aren’t wolves in Borneo, so how could there be werewolves,” but he had a good explanation, because one of his readers sent him a letter telling him that people in the area used to use “x of Borneo” to just mean any “exotic” non-white cultural thingy. Or presumably non-white. Anything people wanted to other, they made an “x of Borneo.” In other words, had Lovecraft lived in Dickson County, every story of his would be about how the something of Borneo ruined it for everyone with their Elder Gods worship.
Then we talked a little about whether some folklorist should get out there right now and study this moment (I say “yes!”) because it appears that the Werewolf kind of occupies the same mythic ecological niche as the White Screamer of White Bluff (and in fact, the werewolf is sometimes described as having light hair) and as the White Screamer stories become less prevalent, the werewolf stories are becoming more so.
But most interesting is that he said he found some tentative evidence that the werewolf legends went back as far as Montgomery Bell and were somewhat associated with him. He didn’t know if people thought Bell was a werewolf or if he might have mistreated someone he owned who came back to haunt the land as a werewolf or what.
But that’s really, really cool.
Anyway, it made me happy until Josh Ritter ruined it. Ha, ha, ha. Lord, this day.