January 01, 2012

The Fragrant Haircut of Fort Warren

During November and December I feel compelled to write about the holidays, so my posts are usually about food and festive traditions. I'm sad to see December end, but I do feel liberated to write about weird and creepy things again. Yay!

I acquired a few new folklore books over the holidays, including Jay Schmidt's Fort Warren: New England's Most Historic Civil War Site. Tony gave it to me for Christmas, and when I opened it I immediately found this bizarre tale.

During the Civil War, the First Corps of Cadets was stationed at Fort Warren on George's Island in Boston Harbor. They were relatively isolated out there, but one day a cadet got leave to go into Boston.

Fort Warren today - photo courtesy Tony!

One of the first things he did in the city was get a fresh haircut. The barber gave him the works, and finished off his hair with a fragrant, oily pomade.

When he returned to Fort Warren, the other cadets teased him about how nice his hair smelled. (I guess they were jealous). The cadet ignored them and fell fast asleep in his bunk.

His sleep was not restful, unfortunately. He was tormented by a terrible dream that mosquitoes were buzzing around his head. He tossed and turned, but he couldn't escape the nightmare.

I might have nightmares too if I slept here...

When the cadet finally woke up he was horrified to find that all of his hair was gone! The oily pomade's delightful fragrance had attracted the rats who lived in the fort's walls, and they devoured his delicious smelling hair while he slept. Their gnawing had filled his dream as the buzzing of mosquitoes.

And you know what? To make matters worse, his hair never grew back.

The most famous spooky tale about Fort Warren is the lady in black, but I think this one is pretty good too.

Happy 2012!

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