Thursday, February 6, 2014

Jersey Devil

With a college located right off of Jimmy Leeds Road, it seems fitting to talk about the Leeds Devil, more popularly known as the Jersey Devil. Everyone in New Jersey knows the name. A creature said to roam the very forests like the one our campus resides, the Jersey Devil is said to call the Pine Barrens its home. 
Everyone hears some variation of the story how the devil came to be, but I’ll tell you my favorite one (it's also the story on Weird New Jersey): Deborah Leeds (more commonly known as Mother Leeds, as you can see here) was pregnant with her 13th child.  Her husband, Japhet Leeds, was a drunk and didn’t help care for the other 12 children.  Exasperated, Deborah Leeds allegedly declared, “Make this one the Devil,” during her pregnancy. During her time, Deborah Leeds was accused of being a pagan or even a witch.  So the story goes that after she gave birth to her 13th child in her home, the normal looking baby boy that was delivered turned into a monster with bat-like wings, a forked tail, claws, and hooved feet.  The Jersey Devil then allegedly killed most of his family and flew up the chimney into the forest. 
To this day people report signs of the Jersey Devil (as seen here).  Over 2,000 witnesses has report happenings such as weird noises coming from the woods, unidentifiable animal tracks, and even dead livestock and pets. 
This story is still pretty outlandish, so why do so many people believe it? Because people are prideful but where they live or what they identify with, and what state is more prideful of where they live than New Jersey? Maybe Texas, but Jersey would at least be a close second. We take so much pride in our Jersey Shore and Bruce Springsteen and pork roll.  The Jersey Devil is just another one of our claim-to-fame’s.  We embrace it not only because it’s weird, but because we feel like it’s a part of us.
Believing in the Jersey Devil is like when a track runner wears a Q-ray bracelet: It can’t hurt my chances of running well, so why not wear a Q-ray bracelet? Hearing a screech in the night and telling your friends it’s the Jersey Devil isn’t going to hurt anyone and it will be funny, so why not believe?

I don’t think the Jersey Devil is real but I want him to be. But I may be a little biased since Deborah Leeds is my great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandmother. If you scroll down to Revay here you'll see my name, Rebecca Revay.

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