Windham Life and Times – November 30, 2018

Just for Fun!

The Derry Fairy

You’ll be glad to know that this is the last time I will be writing about fairies, however, I could not leave the subject without relating the story of the “Derry fairy.” If you’re ever looking for a fun book, check our Weird New England, by Joseph Citro, which is loaded with weird tales of the supernatural and the just plain strange. Before moving on to the Derry fairy, I have to confess about a story of alien abduction that terrified me as a child. This was especially true, since I once observed a UFO, moving straight up into the sky from Sandy’s Bowling Alley parking lot.  In evaluating the story of the Derry fairy, you have to wonder if it was really an alien siting of some kind.

Betty and Barney Hill with their dog Delsey.

Betty and Barney Hill were a couple that claimed they were abducted by aliens while travelling in the White Mountains, on September 20, 1961. Their ordeal was recorded in John Fuller’s best selling book, The Interrupted Journey, Two Lost Hours Aboard a Flying Saucer (1965). Theirs was the first widely reported case of alien abduction in the United States. The Hills lived in Portsmouth NH where he worked for the postal service and she was a social worker.

The Hills were returning from a vacation in Niagara Falls when they saw a bright light in the sky on Route 3 in Twin Mountain, so they stopped the car to take a closer look and to walk their dog. Betty looking through binoculars saw an odd shaped craft with flashing lights. The Hills returned to the road and as they travelled slowly through Franconia Notch near the Old Man of the Mountain they saw that the craft was moving closer. Then it was hovering 80 to 100 feet over the Hill’s 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air causing Barney to stop the car in the middle of the highway.  As they tried to escape, they heard buzzing noises which put them in a altered state of consciousness. They travelled nearly 30 miles but had no recollection of doing so. They made a sudden unplanned turned and their path was blocked by a fiery orb. They arrived at their home around dawn and started to experience odd impulses and sensations. There were shiny concentric circles on the car’s trunk that gave off magnetic pulses. Betty began to have vivid dreams of the encounter where the details of the abduction became known. They also described that they had experienced missing time. Under hypnosis, they remembered the encounter and how they were brought aboard the craft and physically examined by the aliens.

Descriptions of “little green men” date back to the twelfth century in the Green Children of the Woolpit. In 1899, there was a story published in the Atlanta Constitution about a little green skinned alien in a tale called the Green Boy from Hurrah. The first reference of little green men being extraterrestrials is found in the Daily Kennebec Journal in 1910 where they were described as Martians. “Green aliens soon came to commonly portray extraterrestrials and adorned the covers of many of the 1920’s to 1950’s pulp fiction magazines with pictures of Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon battling green monsters.”

This is what we know about the Derry fairy, according to Joseph Citro: “Perhaps the crowned king of ugliness was a bewildering little gargoyle spotted in Derry, New Hampshire on December 15, 1956. A man was harvesting  Christmas trees in the woods when suddenly he looked up and saw something looking back at him silently. Whatever it was stood about two feet tall, and seemed neither human nor animal. Its green skin was wrinkled and looked like the folds of elephant hide. The high dome of his head supported floppy ears comparable to those of a bloodhound. Tiny holes bred into the skull where the nose should be, and its eyes were covered with what appeared to be a protective film. Its arms and legs were short, ending with stump hands and toeless feet” The witness was “Alfred Horne who lived on Berry Road in Derry in the 1940’s and 1950’s. He says he watched the miniature mystery for a good twenty minutes. Then, realizing no one would believe his odd tale, he decided to capture it as proof. When he lunged at the creature, it let out a terrifying screeching that the witness, rather than the beast, ran away in fear.” If you would like to learn more about the Derry fairy, you can watch the 30 minute video produced by GreyStar Paranormal Institute. It features the Derry historian Richard Holmes, as well as, a paranormal investigation in the woods.

So do you think Mr. Horne fabricated the story? Well, in 1981, a creature, almost identical to the one described by Alfred Horne, was spotted by five boys in Arnold Pennsylvania. One of the boys named Chris tried to capture it but it escaped. There was a full police investigation and all of the boys stories and descriptions matched exactly. Fate Magazine, published a story about the incident in May of 1982. It was entitled The Little Green Man Who Got Away.

 

Windham Life and Times – November 23, 2018

Whittier Homestead Haverhill MA

Well, as I’ve researched this subject, I have felt like I was on Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, and its appropriate that I now come full circle back to the beginning. John Greenleaf Whittier was a poet and author who lived in the nearby town of Haverhill. He is one of the most important observers of early 19th century New England and it inhabitants. He broke from the Puritan’s ideals, seeing them as dull and gray while exhibiting a grimness of which he had no desire to be associated. He like Thoreau, rejected the emphasis on the pursuit of heaven and saw the incredible richness and beauty of natural world at hand.

It is from Whittier that we have the best glimpse of the Scotch-Irish and their way of life in southern New Hampshire. In fact, his first poem was published in Robert Dinsmoor’s book of poetry. He was also a keen observer of the Native American and saw them as a lost people who once had inhabited the natural Eden of America.  Therefore, it was incredible to find, in his Prose Works, Volume II, a chapter about New England fairies, entitled, Charms and Fairy Faith.

 

Up the airy mountain,

Down the rushy glen,

We dare not go a hunting

For fear of little men.

Wee folk, good folk,

Trooping all together;

Green jacket, red cap,

Gray cock’s feather.”  ALLINGHAM

 

“…In our cities and large towns children nowadays pass through the opening acts of life’s marvelous drama with as little manifestation of wonder and surprise as the Indian does through the streets of a civilized city which he has entered for the first time. Yet nature sooner or later vindicates her mysteries; voices from the unseen penetrate the din of civilization….”

“But in the green valley of rural New England there are children yet; boys and girls are still to be found not quite overtaken by the march of the mind. There, too, are huskings, and apple bees, and quilting parties, and huge old fireplaces piled with crackling walnut, flinging its rosy light over happy countenances of youth and scarcely less happy age. If it be true according to Cornelius Agrippa, ‘a wood fire doth drive away dark spirits,’ it is nevertheless, also true that around it the simple superstitions of our ancestors still love to linger; and there the half-sportful, half-serious charms of which I have spoken are oftenest resorted to…”

“Fairy faith is, we may safely say, now dead everywhere,—buried, indeed,—for the mad painter Blake saw the funeral of the last of  the little people, and an irreverent English bishop has sung their requiem. It never had much hold upon the Yankee mind, our superstitions being mostly of the sterner and less poetical kind. The Irish Presbyterians who settled New Hampshire about the year 1720 brought indeed with them, among other strange matters, potatoes and fairies; but while the former took root and flourished among us, the latter died out, after lingering a few years in a very melancholy and disconsolate way, looking back to their green turf dances, moonlight revels, and cheerful nestling around the shealing fires of Ireland. The last that has been heard of them was some forty or fifty years ago in a tavern house in S——, New Hampshire…”

“It is a curious fact that the Indians had some notion of a race of beings corresponding in many respects to the English fairies. Schoolcraft describes them as small creatures in human shape, inhabiting rocks, crags, and romantic dells, and delighting especially in points of land jutting into lakes and rivers and which were covered with pine trees,  (The exact description of the dwelling place of Tsiennetto.) They were called Puckweedjinees, —little vanishers.”

“In a poetical point of view it is regretted that our ancestors did not think it worth their while to hand down to us more of the simple and beautiful traditions and beliefs of the ‘heathen round about’ them. Some hints of them we glean from the writings of the missionary Mayhew and the curious little book of Roger Williams. Especially would one like to know more of that domestic demon, Wetuomanit, who presided over household affairs, assisted the young squaw in her first essay at wigwam-keeping, gave timely note of danger, and kept evil spirits at a distance—a kind of new-world brownie, gentle and useful…”

“Not far from my place of residence are ruins of a mill, in a narrow ravine fringed with trees. Some forty years ago the mill was supposed to be haunted; and horse-shoes, in consequence, were nailed over its doors. One worthy man, whose business lay beyond the mill, was afraid to pass by it alone; and his wife, who was less fearful of supernatural annoyance, used to accompany him. The little old white-coated miller, who there ground corn and wheat for his neighbors, whenever he made a particularly early visit to his mill, used to hear it in full operation,—the water-wheel dashing bravely, and the old rickety building clattering to the jar of stones. Yet the moment his hand touched the latch or his foot the threshold all was hushed save the melancholy drip of water from the dam or the low gurgle of the small stream eddying amidst the willow roots and mossy stones in the ravine below.”

“… The strange facts of natural history, and sweet mysteries of flowers and forests, and hills and waters, will profitably take the place of the fairy lore of the past, and poetry and romance still hold their accustomed seats of the circle of home, without bringing them the evil spirits of credulity and untruth. Truth should be the first lesson of the child and the last aspiration of manhood…”

In an odd coincidence, I had decided to write about Whittier last week, and this weekend I had a need to travel to Newton NH. My navigation took me through an obscure corner of Haverhill, that I’ve never been to before, on the New Hampshire border, and low and behold, there was the Whittier homestead.