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During the early ’70s, the Goatman saga (“The Legend of Goatman,” 9/18) entered our paste-and-crayon lives at Glassmanor Elementary School in Oxon Hill, Md. Everyone in Ms. Tempkin’s second-grade classroom had an older brother or sister who knew of a “friend of a friend” who had been attacked by the hoofed monster. Rumor had it that Goatman resided underneath a one-lane bridge located near the ballfields at Tucker Road Recreation Center.
Attending an evening game of Little League baseball meant a return trip in the dark through the wooded area surrounding the rickety old bridge. My older brothers, wielding their bats, would taunt the Goatman as they leaned out the windows of our family’s Volkswagen bus. My mother, so incredibly accepting of their teenage theatrics, would stop the vehicle and turn off the headlights. As she went through the motions of trying to restart that seemingly stalled engine, a back-seat pair of frightened second-graders would nervously peer into the woods for an unwelcome glimpse of the dreaded Goatman. Inevitably, scratching sounds made by the dirty fingernails of the older boys in the front seats would be mistaken for you-know-who trying to claw his way inside for a feast. The screams that erupted from our tiny mouths would certainly have scared the creature away.
It was wonderful…and we fell for it every time.
A few years later, the woods were cleared, the bridge torn down, and the road widened. Sadly, the urban legend of Goatman disappeared from our playground conversations. He was replaced by such unworthy successors as Old Man Jones (who stalked the woods between Glassmanor and Birchwood City) and the absurd Bunnyman, an escapee from St. Elizabeths who chased after cars wearing a rabbit costume.