Tag Archives: folklore

Old Tom

I’m finally back.

This entry is regarding a legend from Eastern Tennessee, that of “Old Tom.”

Tom was said to be a lady’s man during the roaring 1920s. During the time, even in Appalachian regions, speakeasys and bootlegging were common. Tom lived an exciting life, filled with women and drink, however, he had standards. Tom adamantly refused to ever date a married woman. Ever.

One day, Tom met his match. The beauty that turned his head also won his heart and before he knew it, he was in love with her. Her name was lost to time, but for the purpose of the story, we’ll call her Betty. Betty never told Tom she was married, she always said she was single and he never knew until it was too late. She had a jealous husband who caught them at the local lovers’ lane. He stabbed Betty as she sat in Tom’s car and dragged his body into the open, where he proceeded to skin him alive.

She fled and got help while he was focused on Tom. But, by the time help came, Tom’s body was gone. The husband was convicted ans sentenced to prison, Betty survived, but it is argued if she ever fully recovered. Now, it is believed in this same region, Tom still frequents remote “lover’s lane,” spots and turns his wrath on women as often as he can.

He’s supposed to appear normal from a distance, in original garb with an open shirt, but close up, his heart visibly beats in his chest and his body is skeletal.



Stop the Clock!

One of the more curious of Appalachian customs revolves around death customs. Primarily, why were clocks stopped when someone died? Why were mirrors covered?

These traditions, which indeed have roots in Western Europe, are summed up as such:

  • Clocks were covered to avoid bad luck. Sometimes the clock would stop at exactly the time the ill relative would die, or if they were already deceased before the clock stopped, it was believed they foretold death would not only strike again in the house, within the year, but at precisely the time which the clock stopped at.
  • Mirrors were covered as not to confuse the spirit. It is believed that the spirit slowly rose from the body after death, and once fully outside fleshly form, could become trapped in the reflection instead of moving onward towards heaven.

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