Where ‘The Jersey Devil Lurks’

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I wish I could have found a full-color image of this painting. Unfortunately, the original was lost years ago, and this black-and-white is all I could get. In the original, the prevailing color scheme is a rather sinister yellow. I saw a color photo of it many, many years ago in Life Magazine, and never forgot it. I think I must have been ten years old or less.

If you’ve never passed through the Jersey Devil’s home territory, the New Jersey Pine Barrens, I can tell you there’s no other place quite like it. Technological progress left it behind early in the 19th century, the local economy shriveled up, most of the people moved away, and their towns, homes, and factories fell into ruin. The region is known for its odd place names–Ongs Hat, Double Trouble, Speedwell–and its sandy tracks that may or may not accommodate your car and may or may not lead somewhere, or nowhere. A part of it features large vistas of stunted pines that plays tricks on your eyes. You’d swear, from your vantage point on the road, that the pines were full-size. And then a child comes walking through them, and you startle because you think you’re seeing a giant little girl.

All in all, it’s just the kind of country the Jersey Devil would choose to live in, if it lives at all. No one knows. There’s only belief or disbelief.

But when you find yourself alone on one of those deserted, feeble imitations of a road, disbelief is a little harder to come by.

About leeduigon

I have lived in Metuchen, NJ, all my life. I have been married to my wife Patricia since 1977. I am a former newspaper editor and reporter. I was also the owner-operator of my own small business for several years. I wrote various novels and short stories published during 1980s and 1990s. I am a long-time student of judo and Japanese swordsmanship (kenjutsu). I also play chess, basketball, and military and sports simulations. View all posts by leeduigon

18 responses to “Where ‘The Jersey Devil Lurks’

  • Erlene

    wow, that is bizarre. another rather odd thing is the way the internet? this computer? or something?? keeps moving your articles from primary, social, advertising and back again. never know where I will find you

  • Linda Sorci

    What an eerie photo. I’m certainly glad this isn’t in Lintum Forest!

  • marlene

    I had no idea. Visited friends in the Pines, construction worker his wife and children. They had a beautiful spread, with acres of grass framed by woods full of trees, like a border. The school was about 25 minutes away. The place was beautiful and they loved it there. So much privacy – and, strangely, no mosquitoes. Go figure.

  • Marge Hofknecht

    My mom was born in 1921 and when she was around nine years old she, my uncles, and my grandparents were driving around in the pine barrens when their car broke down. Grand Pop got out to see what’s wrong with the engine. In a very short time they were surrounded by a bunch of rough-looking characters whose language was barely recognizable, to my mother, to the English tongue. She told me she was scared out of her wits – they carried guns and were looking in at her and my grandmother and uncles with unsmiling, grim-looking faces. These were “pineys” as she called them – Jersey’s version of hillbillies, I suppose. I think one or two of them, though, helped Grand Pop get the car going. Mom was so relieved when they could get away from them.

    • leeduigon

      Some of the Pineys were descended from Indians, and some from the German mercenaries hired by the British to fight against the patriots in the Revolutionary War. It took some generations, isolated as they were, for their English to catch up to everybody else’s.

      I can see as how that would have made for an alarming experience.

  • thewhiterabbit2016

    That Jersey Devil story would make for good campfire lore at summer camps. I’m surprised someone hasn’t started a brand for their product labeled a Jersey Devil.

    • leeduigon

      Well, they did start a pro hockey team…

      • thewhiterabbit2016

        I didn’t know that. Shows how much I follow sports (I do attend Razorback football games occasionally so I can call the Hogs – great fun!).

        • Marge Hofknecht

          That’s funny. Besides the hockey team, I’m sure some items bear the J. D. Name or image. Perhaps some local company? I don’t know but I know that we all in Kensington knew the legends and like to scare ourselves with the telling thereof. Another legend (more urban than country) was about the Pitcairn family and what sort of weird goings on happened at their residence. I forget where their home is located but the family is connected to the Swedenborgian religion.

  • Gary

    What is the entire saying, leading into “The Jersey Devil Lurks… “ there’s more to it that was on the original picture, something like “ Where the mist meets the darkness of the pines, the Jersey Devil Lurks” or something like that ..

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