THE JERSEY DEVIL CONTINUED...
The Devil eventually began to enjoy the status of local legend, (and even became the state's "official demon" in the 1930's). Tales of his beginnings filled the conversations of pubs and churches alike. The most common folktale relates that the Jersey Devil is the ghoulish offspring of one Mrs. Leeds, who, in 1735 - after hearing she was pregnant with her 13th offspring - was overheard to say "it might just as well be a devil as a child." Devil it was so the story goes, and the infant flew directly from womb to the swamps. Obviously, this version of the story ignores claims of the Devil's pre-1735 debut; EGB's can reach their own conclusions.
Descriptions of the Devil range from a "flying lion" to "an eagle with four legs" and everything in-between, but one attribute that does not change from report to report is the Devil's ghostly call -- a combination howl and whistle. When harassing the good people of New Jersey, the Devil eats livestock, attempts to steal children, and scares the bejezus out of everyone, often leaving behind cloven footprints to corroborate the stories of startled victims.
Evidence of the existence of the New Jersey Devil may not be convincingly concrete, but the fact that all reports originate in the same general region over the course of 400 years does lend a bit of veracity to the phenomena. Today, the Jersey Devil is generally dismissed as a colorful legend, but reports of the beast still trinkle in from time to time -- the latest sighting made by a park ranger in 1990. Perhaps I'll do some camping in the Jersey pine barrens on my way down to Philadelphia this spring -- Benjamin Franklin's ghost is reportedly harassing tourists again.
Dr. Egon Spengler
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