Yesterday’s post of a remembered story told and retold in days gone by put me on a roll of recalling other stories from the past. So at the suggestion of my sister, I’m sharing this scary story from our childhood.
It was told by our grandfather to his visiting grandchildren when we were noisy or misbehaving.
Nothing pleased my Granddaddy Trousdale more than “picking” at his grandchildren. There was one ghost-like story he told us if we became too loud or rambunctious inside the house. He would call out to us, "Quieten’ down now. I think I hear Old Bloody Bones rattling around upstairs," from his chair chair in front of the coal-burning fireplace.
Note: I might add here that going upstairs, which was not a part of the living space but where things were stored, was off limits to children. I remember being allowed there only a few times, and always accompanied by an adult. It was a place of trunks and treasures, and I so wanted to explore it but never had that opportunity.
All of us would come running to his side, our little faces fixed on his old and wrinkled face with rapt attention. Amazingly, we would settle down and not a sound would now be heard from the previously noisy crew.
“I hear Old Bloody Bones on the first step. Do you hear him?”
He had our attention, even though we had heard this story many times and knew that it was just a story and we really had nothing to fear.
“Now he’s on the second step. He’s dragging a chain behind him.”
“He’s coming on down and the blood is dripping on the steps. Can you hear it? Drip, drip, drip.”
He encouraged us to move in closer to him, sensing that we were becoming a bit scared, or at least pretending to be
“He’s on the landing now. Drip, drip, he coming on down. Now he’s in the dining room. Hear that chain rattling? He’s coming closer. Hear the door squeaking? He’s in the room with us. Now he’s behind you. BOO.”
At that point there would be squeals of both fear and delight from us, as Grandaddy pulled us near, all the while laughing like crazy.”
“Were you scared,” he would ask.
“Oh yes, Grandaddy, we were scared, but tell us the story again. Tell us about old Bloody Bones again.”
“No, that’s enough for now. Run on and play but keep that racket down or Lela will come out of the kitchen and paddle you with her big old wooden spoon.”
We would then scamper away, perhaps fearing the wrath of our maiden aunt who lived with our grandparents more than we feared Old Bloody Bones.
If parents/grandparents told such scary tales to children today, would they likely be hauled in by the authorities and accused of warping young minds? At the least, it wouldn't be deemed healthy. But as youngsters, we relished hearing these old stories, which in my father’s family were numerous!
As I was thinking about Old Bloody Bones this morning, I got to wondering if this was something “made up” by my grandfather, or did it descend from some ancient folklore passed down through the generations.
A quick Google search gave me my answer from Wikipedia:
“Bloody Bones is a boogeyman feared by children, and is sometimes called Rawhead and Bloody-Bones, Tommy Rawhead, or Rawhead. The term was used "to awe children, and keep them in subjection", as recorded by John Locke in 1693. The stories originated in Great Britain where they were particularly common in Lancashire and Yorkshire, and spread to North America, where the stories were common in the Southern USA. The Oxford English Dictionary cites 1550 as the earliest written appearance as "Hobgoblin, Rawhed, and Bloody-bone".
“ Bloody-Bones is usually said to live near ponds, but according to Ruth Tongue in Somerset Folklore, "lived in a dark cupboard, usually under the stairs. If you were heroic enough to peep through a crack you would get a glimpse of the dreadful, crouching creature, with blood running down his face, seated waiting on a pile of raw bones that had belonged to children who told lies or said bad words.”
Granny Sue's News and Review a blog, reports one source that credits Celtic folklore as the story's origin, as well as several other possibilities.
So at least now I know this was a story passed down through the generations. My grandfather's probably heard the story from his father, and so on back to the first Trousdale, John, who came to America between 1730-35, from Ulster Province (now Northern) Ireland. The family came from Scotland, and previous to that, Scarborough, England.
|Benjamin and Pearly Trousdale, my grandparents. This photo was probably taken in the 1930s.|