The Oneida oral tradition is filled with wonderful tales from our Elders which knit generations together through stories. Whether scary, interesting, or amusing, these stories strengthen bonds between people in a community. From the seemingly mundane to the overly dramatic, storytellers have their own style, reflected in their words, the pace of their stories, and the drama they infuse in every description. Barbara Wood (by permission of Shirl Oatman [both Turtle Clan]) recalled the following story :
My uncle, Melvin George, used to walk to Vernon to get groceries and things. I remember this very plain. He used to walk over there and probably had something to drink first. He went one night and was very upset when he came back. On his walk, all of a sudden he looked up and saw this cow. It was like a cow with no head. It went across the road. When he got back, he said that he was scared. Everyone said, “You know you get into things when you get over there.” He said, “No, I wasn’t drinking. I saw that for sure.” He saw it on Townline Road, near the chapel over at Vernon. I remember him telling the story many times. We’d be sitting around and he’d say, “A lot of people thought I was drunk, but I had nothing to drink that night. I got close to it and the cow went across the road with no head on it.” He said when he came back to the house he was scared. He was scared stiff because he didn’t know what happened. Maybe he did see it. The Thurston farm had cows down there in the pasture, and my mother said he probably saw one of those. When we were kids, every time we went down there, we’d think about the cow with no head. So it was kind of scary. Still to this day, when I go on that road I think about the cow with no head. He might have seen it, or maybe not. He talked about it many times. I actually think he saw a cow with no head. A cow with no head, that’s kind of scary, isn’t it?