We all have, in some form or another, memories of urban legends and the tales that surrounded them tucked away in our collective memory. A creepy manor or a haunted place: it seems an unavoidable allure of the human spirit to pursue these strange and often morbid locations.
At the same time, and in New Jersey especially, we should really examine what kind of legends we perpetuate. With publications such as Weird NJ touting the bizarre and outlandish features of the state, we might have accidentally forgotten to actually separate the weird from the dumb.
We’ve all had an older brother or sister, or a friend who knew someone who knew someone who was friends with someone else that totally got chased by a ghost this one time. Unfortunately, for residents of New Jersey, some of the most common urban legends are some of the stupidest.
Located in Bernard Township, this gnarled black tree sits by itself at the edge of a field next to the road. According to legend, which always seems to be missing specifics for some reason, a farmer at some undetermined point in time killed his family and then hung himself from the tree. Now the tree is cursed and has survived multiple attempts to cut it down and burn it.
Now, the astute reader will observe that the above photo is indeed quite creepy. However, you realize that the above photo has roughly the same amount of filters and effects as your younger sister uses on Instagram. For example, here's a picture of the tree normally:
Now, like meeting someone who edited their Tinder picture, you were in for some disappointment. I actually visited the tree and found that most of the “attempts” to cut it down had apparently amounted to someone sticking a knife into the bark and realizing that was a stupid idea. In a particularly amusing case, a “response” to the Weird NJ article claimed that the tree blasted a man and his friend into the air and broke his ankle.
This is an older urban legend from the late 19th century. Allegedly rabbits were attacking and injuring hunting dogs in revenge for their slain kin. While sounding of something reminiscent of PETA’s wet dream, it doesn’t take a particularly astute reader to notice the 19th century part. As in the period of time where doctors felt washing their hands between patients was optional and Coca Cola actually contained cocaine. Not exactly the century of trusted opinion by any means.
While rabbits occasionally biting someone aren’t unheard of, I’m sure most readers can assume the average rabbit is not the "Watership Down" or "Monty Python and the Holy Grail"-esque killers our grandparents evidently thought they were. Interestingly, directors tried to give killer rabbits their own film in 1972.
This is the most famous urban legend and undoubtedly one of the strangest. Frankly, I’m not sure how someone could explain this in 2016 without bursting into laughter. Did you look at that picture? It’s not a monster; it's the next Disney Pixar mascot.
For those of you unfamiliar with the legend of the Jersey Devil, a Mother Leeds during the early 20th century decided that her 13th child was a bridge too far and declared that it was the devil. Being an obedient child, the baby listened to his mother by apparently turning into a goat with a serpent body that also had wings which then flew out the chimney.
Strangely enough, despite such a malevolent backstory, the New Jersey Devil has never been reported to attack anyone or really seem to do anything. A correspondent of NJ.com, Dave Black, described his “encounter” with the Jersey Devil, stating that it looked like a llama running around in the trees. In a “picture” of the Devil that Black took, it apparently looked something like this:
The Jersey Devil seems to be competing with UFO's for the worst quality pictures taken.