Driving South from Abilene to San Antonio, TX, the Talegaters encounter The Black Eyed Children and are visited by The Snallygaster! The Black Eyed Children are a relatively recent phenomenon only dating back to 1996. A local journalist named Brian Bethel claimed that children with completely blackened eyes aggressively insisted he let them into his car but needed permission before entering similar to vampires. The sensation he received from these children were described as “a soul-wracking fear.” Ever since, many testimonies and CreepyPastas have sprouted across the internet with similar encounters, some even claiming the children had bird feet.
The Snallygaster is not a Texas Legend, but one that began in Fredrick, Maryland. folklorist, Ed Okonowicz wrote the following description: "The creature has been described as having a very long wingspan, claws with sharp talons made of hot glowing metal. A long, pointed beak, and a third red, blazing eye in the middle of its forehead." Though the Snallygaster began making American headlines in the early 1920’s, their legend crossed the pond with German immigrants in the early 18th century, continuing in Pennsylvania Dutch communities. The word itself stems from the German term, “Schnellegeister,” meaning “quick ghost.”
Sarah Cooper voices Snally Fields, the Snallygaster in this episode. Sarah is the chief curator and founder of The American Snallygaster Museum in Fredrick, MD. You can follow her and stay updated with the museum, events, and all things Snallygaster by following her on Instagram, @americansnallygastermuseum. She also co-hosts the podcast, Manic Pixie Dream Ghouls, so give them a listem!
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Give us a follow on Instagram @thetalegatepodcast. Tell us stories of your own encounters & any local legends you would like us to explore, or reach out if you would fancy a guest spot on our show or would like to feature us on yours by shooting an email to TheTalegatePodcast@gmail.com!
See you later, Talegaters!
"Snally Field" played by Sarah Cooper
“Cheese Head” played by Aaron Sherry
“Florida Man” played by Harrison Foreman
"Talegate Theme" by Mat Jones
Written by Harrison Foreman
Edited by Aaron Sherry
THE TALEGATE PODCAST
The Snallygaster (ft Sarah Cooper)
PART ONE: INTRODUCTION
FLORIDA MAN: Howdy folks, and welcome to The Talegate!
CHEESEHEAD: For those of you just joining us, we’re on a roadtrip across America to uncover the mysteries behind tall tales, fairy tales, folktales, fishtales, & urban legends, one interview at a time.
FM: We inherited a truck from our late Granny May and discovered that the crystal hanging off the rearview mirror was more than decorative. It’s a Dowsing Pendulum leading us to the good folks behind the tales we all grew up with.
CH: We accidentally stole a canopic jar belonging to the mummy of Pharaoh Ay, who placed a death curse on us. But fret not, Talegaters, because we have reunited the jar with the others before the blood moon and therefore...
FM: We broke the Mummy’s Curse.
CH: No bones about it.
FM: Yea, mostly just organs. And with that, I’m Harrison, the Florida Man.
CH: And I’m Aaron the Cheesehead. We’re passing through the city of Abilene, TX, also known as “The Friendly Frontier.” Our journey on I-20 has come to an end, as we’re now on our way back down to I-10. Oh, gosh darnit.
FM: What’s wrong, man?
CH: Jesus Mary Joseph, I think we got turned around because my GPS lost signal again. I was supposed to turn onto the US-87 exit but I think I got turned around. Think I’m gonna pull into this gas station real quick.
FM: Good call. [Truck noise] How’s about we ask them local fellas on the sidewalk yonder for directions?
CH: Local fellas? You mean those children, there?
FM: Well, it’s that or wait on your GPS to work itself out. Maybe we’ll pass more cell towers or one of them weird tree towers.
CH: Tree towers?
FM: Yea, you know, man. Them super obvious phone towers poorly disguised as trees? Like that one right there!
CH: That’s not a real tree??! Oh hey, those children are walking up to the car.
KIDS: We’re lost.
CH: One sec, little buddies. [rolls down window] Hey there, so we got a little mixed up here. Do you tiny people happen to know where exactly we ... whoa!
FM: What is it?
CH: It’s just ... I suddenly feel like death.
KIDS: Can you give us a ride?
CH: Whoa. Hey, you kids have something serious going on with your eyes. They’re solid black!
FM: Y’all related to Wes Borland or what?
KIDS: Wes Borland? We need a ride. Can you let us in?
CH: As much as I am in a total state of shock and terror, I’m with the creepy kids on this one. Wes Borland?
FM: Yea, you know, guitarist and back-up vocalist for Limp Bizkit? Always wore contacts that completely blacked his eyes out?
CH: Kinda rings a bell. Not sure if I’m more scared of these eerily insistent children or your well of knowledge pertaining to Limp Bizkit.
FM: They’re from Jacksonville, Florida. Of course I know about ‘em. JAX (say this a few times to insert into the episode where I accidentally said LAX)
FM: More likely than not though, I think they gots the grade-four hyphema.
CH: Grade four? They look more like grade 1st or 2nd to me.
FM: Yea, but don’t most 1st and 2nd graders wear like, light up shoes, spider-man shirts, and shit? What’s with their clothes being all antiquated and junk?
CH: Good question. Hey you weird little kids, what’s up with your antiquated outfits.
KIDS: Give us a ride!
CH: Okay okay, geez.
FM: What? Hell no. Foot down, Cheesehead. Foot down!
CH: But just look at them with their cute Donald-Duck looking outfits, synchronized voices, and eyes like bottomless pits injecting an overwhelming sense of dread into my very soul! How can you say no?
FM: I just said “no” like four times. Use any one of ’em as a model. Think of our track record here.
FM: Pulled over to give a fella a ride in Algiers, LA. Turned out to be the Devil.
CH: Okay, okay.
FM: Just a few days ago: White Rock Lake. Picked up a hitchhiker that turned out to be a ghost of a drowned girl.
CH: Okay, okay, okay.
FM: Right now with these kids in the “Donald-Duck looking outfits, synchronized voices, and eyes like bottomless pits injecting an overwhelming sense of dread into your very soul”?
CH: Okay Okay Okay Okay. But we can’t just leave them outside like that. I mean, they’re children for crying out loud-- oh wow, nevermind. They’ve already moved on to that van over there.
KIDS: We’re lost. Can you give us a ride?
FM: Are we really that boring?
DRIVER: Well sure I can! Hop on in, punkins!
CH: Oh, the driver let them in, will you look at that?
FM: Well, I’ll be. They seem to be driving off peacefully enough ...
[Woman’s scream, car crash sound effect]
CH: Or not, uftda
FM: So I’m doin’ some research on my phone here and apparently them kids back there are from a relatively recent phenomenon called “The Black Eyed ...”
FM: “Children.” Black-eyed children. According to reports, they appear as normal children in everywhichway besides their eyeballs, which are said to be completely blackened and void. They been reported to be between 6 and 16 years old and sometimes wear outdated clothing. On rare occasions, they were said to have bird talons for feet. You got a better look at them kids. They have any bird talons?
CH: Ah no, I don’t think so.
FM: One thing they all have in common is their tendency to ask to come into your home or car followed by an unshakable sense of dread.
CH: I think I’d still prefer all that over the Black Eyed Peas. But, to your point, I definitely was awash in some deep dread the moment those children arrived. What were they even doing here in Abilene, Texas?
FM: Abilene seems to be the point of origin for these Black Eyed Children. One of the earliest and most credible sources of these creepyass kids dates back from 1996, from a man named Brian Bethel who worked as a local journalist. He described the sensation as “a soul-wracking fear.”
CH: And why would a journalist want to lie? I mean what could he even hope to gain from the instant fame he would receive from such a captivating supernatural narrative?
FM: Exactly. Bethel claims two children approached his car asking for a ride. The oldest claimed they needed a ride to the movies, but he noted that the time of their film they were wanting to see would have been nearly over, making the whole ordeal super suspicious. Feeling increasingly uncomfortable, he moved his gaze away from the children when their eyes became completely blackened and total fear seized his body.
CH: You’d think the kids would just open the door themselves if they wanted a ride so badly. Obviously, they have no sense of stranger-danger or personal boundaries.
FM: I’m tellin’ ya. And Bethel goes on to explain that the children became increasingly impatient with his stalling and admitted that they couldn’t enter through the door unless given permission. Sound familiar?
CH: It sounds like common-courtesy. Also, sounds like that girl from the Let the Right One In. Well, I guess that character wasn’t so much a she/her anymore, more a them/they.
FM: Exactly, which has led many subscribers of the tale to speculate that the Black-Eyed Children are vampires just like Eli from Let the Right One In! And the American remake, Let Me In, which, yanno, weren’t quite so good as the Swedish original. Check out that movie though, top notch stuff.
CH: You know, I’m a redditor. Who definitely doesn’t look at anything dirty by any stretch of the imagination.
FM: Is it like, your Cake Day or something?
CH: Ah no. I bring it up because I frequent the Creepypasta and NoSleep subreddits where stories of the Black-eyed Children are abundant. And these works of fiction cause a ripple of actual, bonafide decades-old testimonies to resurface.
FM: I definitely trust Redditors.
CH: Hey, look at the dowsing pendulum, it’s going haywire! I don’t see those creepy kids anywhere. What the heck, think it could be another cryptid, spirit, or urban legend?
FM: It’s gotta be, if it ain’t them kids.
FM: Wonder what the dowsing pendulum is leading us towards San Antonio for. Know of any cryptids or urban legends from that area?
CH: Indeed I do. Between Houston and San Antonio there’s said to be a Donkey Lady believed to stalk Woman Hollering Creek in Seguin.
FM: Seguin. Hell of a name for a creek. Wait, weren’t there a Donkey Lady in the first Red Dead Redemption?
CH: Yah, what likely started off as a glitch became part of the video game’s canonized folklore, as the skeletal remains of a Donkey Lady appeared in the prequel, Red Dead Redemption 2.
FM: 2 Red 2 Dead 2 Redemption. But before we get down to business, what we drinkin’ today, Cheesehead?
CH: Whyyyy today, we’re drinkin’ a good ol’ Texas favorite....
[Alarmingly loud and sudden overhead swooping sound; thunderous landing; squawk]
SNALLY: Fuck that Texas shit. Today, we’re drinking a good ol’ Maryland favorite... Natty Boe, baby!
CH: Holy Farve, some nightmarish demon-bird just swooped down out of nowhere with murderous talons clinging to a case of beer. Interesting can art though. The beer labels feature the face of some posh gentleman. Kinda looks like the Monopoly Man
FM: Ain’t gonna lie, I thought it was Pringles.
SNALLY: Pringles? Monopoly? Hell no. This shit here is the beloved Maryland standard.
CH: But is it good though?
SNALLY: Wouldn’t fly here out of Frederick with anything less.
FM: Yanno, kinda tastes like PBR.
CH: Definitely tastes like PBR.
SNALLY: Well, Natural Bohemian is now owned by Pabst Brewing Company.
CH: And that’s the Maryland standard?
SNALLY: You know what - I exert myself flying from The Old Line half across America to find you dudes with a complimentary 24 pack of Natty Bohs, and this is the thanks I get? Maybe I should just kill you and cut my losses.
FM: Ah shit, look at her beak! Gots tentacles coming out of ’em like some Lovecraftian Big Bird.
CH: Wowzers, looks like she’s swallowed Davy Jones. And is that... is that a big ol’ pimple between her eyes?
SNALLY: Pimple? It’s a third eye! Know what? Fuck you guys, I’m out of here.
FM: No no no, fly back back, fly back! Hey, We’re sorry ‘bout all that, Miss. Just ain’t never seen a creature like you before.
CH: Yah, my apologies. We were acting like bonafide jerks.
SNALLY: [deep breath] Apologies accepted.
FM: We good?
SNALLY: We good. For now.
CH: And thank you for the free beer! It’s pretty darn kind of you.
SNALLY: I know it is. And you’re welcome.
FM: What brings you all the way to Texas from Maryland?
CH: Why travel all that way here just for us?
SNALLY: Why travel all the way to Texas from Wisconsin?
CH: Touche. So just who the heck are ya anyway?
SNALLY: I’m a Snallygaster, Maryland’s resident cryptid.
FM: Thought that was the Goatman?
SNALLY: He’s there, too, but come on. Goatman or giant dragon-bird with a tentacle beak; Who would you choose to rep your state?
CH: Good point, dragon-bird sounds way cooler. Plus, we already interviewed a goat-man in Lake Worth, so we’re happy to have you on the show.
SNALLY: Exactly. And second, I flew here hoping to catch you on the podcast and promote my new museum! The Snallygaster Museum in Fredrick, MD, curated by the wonderful, beautiful, and fabulous, Sarah Cooper. Some people even say we even sound alike.
CH: Aw, Sarah and her Snallygaster Museum sound lovely.
FM: And shoot yea, we’d love to promote your new museum here on the podcast! So what do we call you anyway? Just Snallygaster, or what?
SNALLY: Snally is fine. Though, for the record, we do have last names based on the locations of our birth. There’s Snally Green, born in the woods, Snally Ride, who lives by the tracks, then you have my family by Surreybrooke Gardens. So you can call me Snally Field.
CH: Hah, your name is Snally Field?
SNALLY: Yea, is that a problem?
CH: I have a feeling you would kill us if it were, so I’m going to stick with “no.”
FM: Good call.
PART 2: LEGEND OF THE SNALLYGASTER
CH: So tell us the legend of the Snallygaster, why doncha? Where did you come from? What’s your story?
SNALLY: While I started making American headlines in the early 1920’s, my name has struck fear in the hearts of peasants and farmers for centuries.
CH: Snally Field?
SNALLY: Well, no, not my name, per se.
CH: Oh, the name, Snallygaster, then?
FM: Well, yea.
SNALLY: Actually no, you bring up a good point though. The name Snallygaster is actually a bastardized mis-pronunciation of the german term, “Schnellegeister,” meaning “quick ghost.”
SNALLY: Yea, my legend traveled here with German immigrants in the early 18th century. Then it caught on and flourished within the Pennsylvania Dutch communities.
FM: How you get the nickname, “Quick Ghost?”
SNALLY: Originally, I just used my wings to mess with people: sending gusts into their open doors and windows to scatter papers, knock over shelves, and things like that. You know, harmless pranks.
CH: Hold the proverbial train, there, missy, because I’m reading here in an article from www.appalachianhistory.net that you were also associated with Prohibition. That your legend reemerged to scare off agents from exploring the woods where moonshiners ran their illegal operations.
Apparently the sound of huge explosions, titanic gusts of wind, and feral screams would erupt out of the forests. Reports of winged creatures, missing people, charred and blood-drained bodies, and even eggs of your offspring the size of barrels started sending people into a panic!
FM: Damn. Like local papers or what?
CH: No, big ones. Baltimore Sun and Washington Post, to name a few. Apparently to alleviate some of the hysteria, the Sun even printed an article declaring the Snallygaster was dead in 1932.
SNALLY: Hah, bunch of idiots. Obviously, I’m very much not dead. Maybe on the inside, but certainly not on the out.
FM: I feel that. Says here that the papers and hysteria grew to the point that the Smithsonian Institute offered a reward for the hide of the Snallygaster for scientific study, similar to how they planned to investigate Gene Shepard’s reportedly captured Hodag of Rhinelander in 1893, forcing old Gene to finally admit it was all a hoax.
CH: Speaking of 1893, that was the same year that future president, Theodore Roosevelt, published a memoir in The Wilderness Hunter to include a tale of a ferocious bi-ped who had a horrible stench and stalked the camps & mines, leaving behind large, “bear-like” footprints. While neither Roosevelt nor his friend Bauman, the huntsman who shared his eye-witness account, directly referred to this unidentified beast as Sasquatch, many speculate that Bigfoot was the culprit behind this gruesome encounter.
CH: Roosevelt was also reported to have considered postponing an expedition in Africa to hunt the legendary Snallygaster around this very same time.
SNALLY: That’s pretty flattering. To think that yours truly, a critically endangered species could have the honor of being murdered and stuffed by Theodore Roosevelt and proudly displayed in New York in the American Museum of Natural History!
CH: That sounds sarcastic.
SNALLY: Because it is.
FM: Roosevelt couldn’t be so bad. He helped Jack and the Newsies fight mean ol’ Pulitzer and Hearst during the Newsboys strike.
FM: In the Disney musical, yea! In real life though, the Newsboys Strike of 1899 was led by a boy named Kid Blink, not Jack, and Theodore Roosevelt pretty much ignored them completely.
CH: Uff da.
FM: So reckon all them reports ‘bout you prowlin’ the hills were really just some ploy by shiners to scare off agents from investigating their illegal operations?
SNALLY: Nah, I really did frequent those woods.
CH: Ya did?
SNALLY: Sure, where else was I supposed to get booze during Prohibition? I don’t exactly fit into a speakeasy. I scared off those nosey badge-toting turds from shutting down the stills of our honest hill folk. Had a good thing going between us. I keep the police off their back, they give me moonshine.
CH: Perfectly symbiotic. Bet you scared them townsfolk and agents real good.
FM: Shit, you got a what... twenty-foot wingspan?
SNALLY: Twenty-five, not to brag.
FM: Well, for y’all folks at home wanting a full description of the lovely lady here, Baltimore Sun, which printed them original newspapers on the beast, did a more recent piece on the Snallygaster. Quoting local folklorist, Ed Okonowicz, regardin’ the creature’s appearance:
The creature has been described as having a very long wingspan, claws with sharp talons made of hot glowing metal. A long, pointed beak, and a third red, blazing eye in the middle of its forehead.
Accordion’ to another fella, you’re described as, "half-reptile, half-bird, sporting a loud snapping metallic beak lined with razor-sharp teeth, and possessing several octopus-like tentacles."
SNALLY: Yep, all true. I got tentacles right here, see?
[disgusting tentacle sound]
FM: Gotta mention it, since we called out Lake Worth Monster for this as well, but how in high heavens, does a half-bird, half reptile, get tentacles. Seriously, do folklorest not know basic math?
CH: To be fair, Floridaman, we don’t either.
FM: Fair ‘nuff.
CH: The freaky-deaky descriptions of you continue. You’ve also been described in the ‘90s book, Spirits of Frederick, by Alyce T. Weinberg, as “dragon-flying, child-and-animal-snatching monster” who “conducted much of its terrorizing at night.”
SNALLY: Children? What the fuck, Alyce! I don’t eat children. Animal children, sure, who doesn’t? But human children?
CH: Yah, they’re sacred!
SNALLY: They’re disgusting.
CH: You meant to say “sacred,” right?
SNALLY: I stand by my word choice. Hardly any meat at all, I may as well eat mayonnaise out of a jar.
FM: Disgusting. Back to my news article by the Baltimore Sun; news ‘bout your feathered, scaly ass took a turn for the weird. Well, weird-er. By the ‘70s, Maryland Police led a search party in Sykesville, MD, for what they referred to as, "a huge, hairy monster." Said monster is what’s known colloquially as “the dwayyo.” Which is apparently a hairy lil son-a-bitch who hatches out of Snallygaster eggs.
CH: Wowzers, so you spawn Bigfoots?
SNALLY: [whispers to self] Fucking kill me now. No! First off, Dwayyo are the Snallygaster’s mortal enemies. Second, Dwayyo are wolf-people, not sasquatch. Third, how in the name of Old Bay Seasoning could I spawn wolf-people? I’m a dragon who’s half reptile, half bird. Have you ever taken a biology course? Was Alyce T. Weinberg your math teacher? Do you even know how evolution works?
CH: Of course I know how evolution works. I’ve been playing Pokémon since Red and Blue, thank you very much.
FM: What was your starter though? Says a lot ‘bout a person,
CH: Charmander, easy. You?
CH: Wow. You think you know a guy...
SNALLY: I just played Yellow because it has all the perks of Red and Blue, but you get Picachu as a familiar.
CH: Get out.
FM: Yep, we’re done here.
SNALLY: Okay. [wings flap to take off]
CH: No no no no, come back, Snally Field!
FM: We’re kiddin’, damn!
SNALLY: Fine. But y’all both rude as fuck.
FM: We get that a lot.
PART 3: SNALLY IN POP CULTURE
CH: Hows about we deviate a short sec and talk about your impact in pop culture?
SNALLY: Love to!
FM: Did you know that the Snallygaster is a featured Beastie in the MetaZoo trading card game?
SNALLY: I sure did. We actually sent out Snallygaster Hunting certificates for anyone on Instagram who pulled the card. Metazoo reps Snallygaster, The Snallygaster Museum reps them.
FM: Damn, that’s awesome! Snallygaster is one of the better cards, too.
SNALLY: Of course, what else would it be.
CH: Much like the Hodag of Rhinelander, who is also a featured Beastie in MetaZoo, you were inducted into J.K. Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them in later editions, doncha know?
FM: Who Newt?
SNALLY: A little late to the game aren't they? Plus, The Snallygaster Museum is pro LGBTQ+. Rowling, not-so-much. So, while I appreciate the cryptid inclusion, it’d be nice if she supported human inclusion, too. Yanno, considering she is one?
FM: Can’t argue that. But, furthermore, you were a kickass monster in Bethesda's definitively less-than-kickass, Fallout ‘76.
SNALLY: If Snallygaster is in it, then it’s kickass as fuck.
SNALLY: AS FUCK.
FM: Okay okay, damn.
CH: You’re also the name of a Baltimore-based punk band.
SNALLY: Glad to hear punk’s not dead.
FM: And you’re the titular inspiration of “Snallygaster,” the Washington D.C. beer-fest; as well as a Blended Whiskey produced by Dragon Distillery.
SNALLY: About that, The Snallygaster Museum actually hosts our very own annual whiskey-tasting, so you boys and your listeners should check us out some time. [feel free to add any extra details]
FM: You don’t exactly have to pull our leg when it comes to drinking, so count us in!
PART 4: THE SNALLYGASTER MUSEUM Q&A
CH: Finally, I did want to address some of the more notable names who backed your legend. The Smithsonian and Theodore Roosevelt, to name a few.
FM: You said the real reason you’re here is to promote The Snallygaster Museum in Frederick, MD. As a fella with a MA in Museum Studies from Johns Hopkins University...
CH: Humble brag.
FM: ... I gotta learn more ‘bout this museum of yours. So where did the whole idea for the Snallygaster Museum begin?
CH: So I just followed you on Instagram @americansnallygastermuseum -- you folks at home, definitely do the same -- but I see here that Sarah has a taxidermied Snallygaster. How could you stand for a museum that has your own people stuffed on display?!
SNALLY: Aren’t you the guys the ones who willfully opened a canopic jar filled with human remains on a previous episode of this podcast?
SNALLY: And don’t human museums frequently display mummies and “Bodies” exhibits on the regular?
CH: Sure do.
SNALLY: Doesn’t matter anyway, because it was the construction of [name of taxidermists; unless your museum is using the taxidermy as evidence, in which case, omit this line].
CH: We’re big ’ol hypocrites and sorry I asked. Next question: When does the museum open and what can guests expect once they enter?
FM: I know you attended Cryptid Con in Kentucky. Got any more Conventions or festivals planned? Or perhaps starting one of your own?
CH: Finally, got any product or media that folks at home can purchase or follow in the meantime?
SNALLY: [Plug websites, Manic Pixie Dream Ghouls podcasts, email, etc.]
PART 5: FAREWELL
SNALLY: Well, it’s been a fun (if not mildly insulting) time with you boys on The Talegate Podcast, but I have a 3 hr flight back to Frederick and tiny tentacled mouths to feed.
CH: Ah geez, hate to see you go so soon. Anything you’d like to tell our listeners?
FM: Speakin’ of followin’, lovin’, and supportin’, be sure to follow us on instagram @thetalegatepodcast for pictures, cast info, updates, and more.
CH: And got any strange tales of your own? Email your stories to TheTalegatePodcast@gmail.com! Also, check out our website, TheTalegatePodcast.com for a full episode library, in depth snow notes, and transcripts!
FM: See You Later, Talegaters!
SNALLY: Thank you all for joining us on the latest episode of The Talegate Podcast! The Snallygaster is played by Sarah Cooper. You can follow her on Instagram @americansnallygastermuseum. [Add any other plugs you wish]
Aaron the Cheesehead is played by Aaron Sherry, you can check him out on his Youtube channel, So Can You, and on Instagram @aaronunabridged. Harrison the Florida Man is played by Harrison Foreman. Theme Song is performed by Mat Jones. This episode is written and edited by Harrison Foreman.