With all the new residential development coming up in Old Town North, new local residents wandering around their home might be surprised to see a sign marking the neighborhood’s very own elusive cryptid: the bizarre goosepigs.
Goosepigs, as the name suggests, are a rumored fusion of pigs and goose, an impossible biological feat said to be accomplished when the pair of species were driven into the fringes of the city by local ordinance.
The source listed on the sign is the 1972 book Pets in Old Alexandria by Dickman and Nicholson, but City Historian Daniel Lee said the story has older roots.
The only known source for the goosepig story is Mary Powell’s The History of Old Alexandria, Virginia, published in 1928. Lee said Powell was codifying older stories she’d heard.
Given that it’s a book from 1928, much of the language in the excerpts, including the section about goosepigs, has its share of racist language.
In Powell’s history, geese and pigs running amok in the street was a lingering issue even years after an Act of General Assembly prohibiting their presence.
A legend preserved by some [Black immigrants] not many generations from their native Africa, and who were full of folk tales, stated that after the manner of the “Pied Piper of Hammelin” they were tolled off to the arch under the canal basin, where they took up their abode. They cross-bred, retaining the legs of the pig and the webbed feet and bill of the goose.
They were said to be very good natured, and if approached diplomaticaly, would assist people in recovering lost property. Occationally youth of the town south to verify this story but were never successful. So after many years the legend of the Goosepigs at Spa Spring died out. It is worth re-counting, however, as an interesting bit of folklore.
Lee said the prohibitions on swine and geese started as early as 1811 in Alexandria, though some bans of pigs in the streets may have started earlier. However, there’s no evidence in the 1811 laws of Alexandria’s miraculous creatures being specifically targeted.
Port City Brewing Company is preparing to re-launch an ale celebrating one of Alexandria’s most enduring mysteries.
Long Black Veil, a black India pale ale, is a spooky black beer inspired by the legend of the Female Stranger.
As the story goes, a young woman had fallen ill on a ship and was brought ashore in 1816. A man never removed her long black veil as he brought her to Gadsby’s Tavern to be treated. The doctor and nurses were sworn to secrecy as they treated her, but after two months, she died in his arms. She was buried at the edge of Old Town, where the grave of the “Female Stranger” remains to this day.
The beer was originally introduced in 2014 to coincide with the anniversary of the death of the Female Stranger. This year, the beer will be introduced at the brewery’s longest night of the year celebration on Saturday, Dec. 21 at the brewery (3950 Wheeler Avenue).
The festivities are scheduled to start around noon, but in a Facebook post Port City said most of the live music and beer tappings will be held in the evening.
“Long Black Veil is jet black with a tan head,” Port City said of the brew. “Piney, citrusy hops burst from the inky depths to mingle with notes of coffee and dark chocolate.”
Photo via Port City Brewing Company/Facebook
Scott Fallon prides himself on being a skeptic — just one that happens to believe in Bigfoot.
Fallon is one of the founders of the Alexandria Cryptozoology and Paranormal Society (ACAPS), a local group dedicated to the exploration of all things inexplicable. He talked with ALXnow shortly after finishing his chupacabra hunt in the jungles of Mexico. He didn’t find any, but Fallon says that doesn’t mean they’re not out there.
Fallon does not come off as the crackpot conspiracy theorist you’d expect when interviewing a Bigfoot specialist. He’s a skeptic — more Scully than Mulder, at least in some respects. He wants to believe, but says he waits to see evidence and makes a decision for himself.
Part of that involves being aware of his own biases, the way someone is more likely to hear “ghost” noises in a house they hear is haunted. At 5 a.m., for instance, Fallon said every noise in the forest sounds like Bigfoot.
“Although we are believers in the paranormal and UFOs, we are the world’s biggest skeptics,” Fallon said. “I don’t believe people at first, I have to see it for myself.”
The group was founded in 2014 and started, as many friendships do, at a bar. Fallon said the crew were regulars at Bilbo Baggins, the long-time Old Town pub at 208 Queen Street.
“I was talking to my wife and I mentioned something about Bigfoot,” Fallon said. “The guy next to me asked a question, then the guy next to him asked him the question.”
The members of ACAPS have different specialties. Fallon founded ACAPS with Chad Umbach — a Ufologist — and was joined by Marc Black, who goes by the moniker Dr. Black and is even more of a skeptic than Fallon.
Fallon’s focus is the paranormal and cryptozoology: examining the veracity of creatures depicted in folklore.
“Bigfoot is the top for me, but the other ones warrant further investigation,” Fallon said. “I am certain that there are bigfoots or sasquatches. When I say abundance, I mean 1,000 [bigfoots]. The Pacific Northwest, it’s so vast and has so much territory, so there are definitely food sources. When you talk to primatologists, they’re talking roughly 3,000. But when you’re talking about over millions of square miles… it’s an elusive creature.”
Fallon has not witnessed a bigfoot firsthand and says that he estimates 75 to 85 percent of reported sightings are fake.
Fallon also said he’s had a few paranormal encounters, like one at a bed and breakfast outside of Harrisonburg, Virginia.
“While I was there at 10 p.m. at night, I was working on my laptop and there were distinct footsteps in the room above me,” Fallon said. “It was footsteps. I was the only one in the house. I looked up the stairs to see if I saw anybody. I did what any other mature responsible adult would do: I ran in my room and pulled the covers over my head. I talked to the bread and breakfast owner and he said ‘did you hear footsteps? We get that all the time.’ That one really scared me.”
“One of the places I definitely believe is haunted is the Carlyle House,” Fallon continued. “It’s had a number of sightings. I’ve talked to people who’ve worked there who swear up and down there are sightings. I believe there’s a significant amount of paranormal activity. I believe there are a lot of paranormal haunted places in Old Town.”
‘Say Yes’ Star Opening Alexandria Salon — “The star of ‘Say Yes to the Dress Atlanta,’ Monte Durham, plans to open a hair salon in Old Town Alexandria, he announced this week. Durham, a resident of Alexandria, plans to call the salon ‘Monte.’ No word yet on an opening date.” [Alexandria Living]
APD Investigates Weekend Crashes — Alexandra police investigated a number of crashes over the weekend, including on the ramp to Telegraph Road from eastbound Duke Street, the intersection of North Beauregard Street and Seminary Road, the intersection of North Patrick Street and Madison Street, and the 500 block of North Columbus Street.
New Waterfront Cafe Under Construction — “Misha’s is moving forward on renovating the space for a second coffeehouse at 6 Prince St., near the waterfront, and that location is expected to have rooftop dining. A total renovation of the property is underway with the roof, floor and some walls being torn down.” [Alexandria Living]
Local Theater Staging Spooky Story — “The Little Theatre of Alexandria (LTA) is staging ‘The Haunting of Hill House’ from Oct. 19 – Nov. 9, 2019. Director Maggie Mumford said she is an absolute nerd about all things Shirley Jackson (novelist), and the novel upon which this play is based is what started that fandom.” [Gazette Packet]
Overheard on the Alexandria Police Scanner — “Scanner: APD responding to S. Pickett Street for a report of a man walking down the road, dribbling a basketball while wearing nothing but a jock strap.” [Twitter]
Nearby: Fire at Belle View Shopping Center — “More than 20 businesses were damaged overnight Sunday into Monday by a four-alarm fire at a shopping center in Fairfax County, Virginia. The fire broke out about midnight in the Belle View Shopping Center, located south of Old Town Alexandria and the Capital Beltway.” [NBC 4, WTOP]
Want a divorce? Have to quit your job? Need to tell your family you crashed your car into the side of the Van Dorn Station Shopping Center?
Sometimes there’s no easy way to break bad news, so don’t. An Alexandrian is offering his services via Craigslist to break the bad news for you.
“Feel the overwhelming sense of relief from not having to be the bearer of bad news!” the man said in the ad. “Give anxiety and panic the boot! Save time and emotional energy! How? Hire me to deliver your bad news.”
According to the ad, potential services include telling a partner that you want to break up, telling a family member that you don’t like them, or telling a creepy dude at the library that you’re not interested in a relationship.
“Long story short, I have a day job where a byproduct is that I end up delivering bad news to people or companies,” the bad news bearer told ALXnow. “I figured that people would be interested in something similar for their personal lives too.”
The bad news bearer asked not to be identified by name, but allowed that he is an Alexandria resident and also a millennial. In theory, he said, the delivery service should function like any other freelance job.
“The gig economy right now seems set on saving people physical labor, but what about a service that saves people emotional labor,” he asked. “It wasn’t that long ago that people were worried about ridesharing services or the dangers of hosting someone in your house for money. Technology is always working to make physical lives easier but I have a feeling we are due for some emotional help and support as well.”
So far, the service has been mainly theoretical. The only bad news the bearer has had to break so far was to someone responding to the ad thinking the bad news bearer was a sex worker.
“This is sort of an experiment,” he said. “So far I have gotten several supportive emails but no official business.”
The rates are negotiable, but the bearer said the general idea is $10 will get someone a bad news text. An involved phone call is $50, and an in-person delivery could cost $100.
“Of course, that depends on the level of bad news, travel time, and the possibility of getting punched in the face,” the bad news bearer said.