Click here to read author’s notes on the hurricane that starts Chapter 1 in A Good Place.
Gratitude: Two stories about a wonderful word.
Gratitude: It’s a word that rolls off the tongue. To read more
No matter where you go, every culture has bogeymen stories to scare their children.
In the following scene from A Good Place, Eliza Moore tells her children of the “Hobyahs,” fictional monsters that lived in the Louisiana swamps.
What brought this passage to mind was a book I’m reading, Black Elk Speaks. It is the autobiography of a Lakota Sioux chief. He relates, “Lakota parents induced good behavior in their children by telling them the “Wasichus” (white men) would get them ‘if they didn’t behave.’ ” (page 12)
I’m reminded of my K-12 school principal years. Parents would sometimes introduce me to a new preschooler/KG student with, “See that man. If you don’t behave, he’ll paddle your butt.” I didn’t appreciate that one bit!
As I say, every tribe has a bogeyman: The Irish have the “Little People,” the Swahili have their “Bush Devils,” and my piney woods ancestors had the “Hobyahs.”
What were the ones you heard stories about in “your culture”? Comment below.
Passage from A Good Place Chapter 36 pages 234-235.
Teenager Mayo Moore narrates his mother’s story to his younger sister Colleen. Mayo’s dad, Joe Moore, is off fighting in the Civil War.
Colleen’s favorite story was about the Hobyahs. Here’s how
Momma’d tell it:
“Once deep in the swamp there lived an old man, his wife,
and their tiny daughter.”
“What was her name?” my sister would ask.
“Why, if I remember right, it was Colleen. Also much deeper in the swamp—lived the Hobyahs.”
“What’d they look like?”
“Well, they were little green monsters with big red eyes.”
“It sounds like how Daddy described those little people to
me,” I said.
She thumped me. “This is my story. You be quiet now.” Then
she stared at me. “I thought you were too big for these stories?”
“I am. I’m just trying to keep you straight.”
She continued. “Anyway, the Hobyahs would come creeping
up each night to the house saying, ‘Tear down the house. Tie up
the old man. Tie up the old woman, and we’ll take the little girl.’”
Colleen’s eyes widened, and she’d slide further underneath
the quilt. Momma smiled, “But Little Dog Turpie, who belonged
to the family, heard the Hobyahs creeping up, and barked and
barked and barked, and the Hobyahs ran back to the swamp.”
There were numerous variations to the story that Momma
would add or change each time. On this night, as the story ended,
I barked like a dog. Colleen screamed, “It’s the Hobyahs.”
Momma put her arm around my sister. “No, it can’t be, ’cause
Little Dog Turpie ran them away years ago, and they’ve never
My sister asked, “Can the Hobyahs bother us?”
“No way, this house is protected from them.”
“What about those little people?”
“They can’t bother us either—they’re way across the ocean.”
Colleen had one more question. “Are there Hobyahs where
“No way, Little Dog Turpie ran them way further than that.
And besides, Hobyahs don’t like the noise of guns.”
“I sure miss Daddy.”
“So do I. He told me to kiss you every night, so here it is.”
She kissed my sister’s forehead. “Good night.”
We each went to bed to our own dreams—of Colleen’s
hobyahs, little people, dogs, family, and the swamps. However,
my dreams were not filled with any of those.
I dreamed about guns firing and wondered where my daddy was tonight.