Not So Scary Anymore

By Eugene Iacovelli
October 25, 2001

Katie Reing

Does anyone remember the song, “If I only had a brain”? No, not what your drunken friend said at the party the other night, but the song from the movie “The Wizard of Oz.” The comical portrayal of the scarecrow without a brain is quite amusing, but where did the concept of a scarecrow originate?

The earliest known fact written about a scarecrow is in 1592. The scarecrow was designed to scare away crows that would feast on farmland. The scarecrow was nothing more than the clothes of an adult stuffed with hay then propped upon a large cross. The scarecrow would be placed in the middle of a field to keep away the hungry crows.

Some Christian farmers used the scarecrow in the 16th century as a symbol of the crucifixion of Christ. Crows can be disastrous to farms, so the frightening depiction of a person nailed to a cross was enough to terrify the birds away from the precious crops. Farmers of today rarely use the traditional scarecrow. There are many new devices that are used to keep away all sorts of birds. Today farmers use electronic devices, such as pop up balloons that are triggered by a motion detector.

The scarecrow will forever be immortalized with the movie “The Wizard of Oz” and its popularity around Halloween, but the scarecrow lives on in folk art as well. It is still famous among those in arts and crafts and those farmers interested in keeping in touch with their past.

The scarecrow also goes by several other names in different places through out history. In the play “Merry Wives of Windsor” by William Shakespeare, written in1597, the scarecrow appears as “Jack A Lent.” In Berkshire, Isle of Wight, he is fitted with a hat and stick and is known as “Hodmedod.” Last but not least, in the small town of Potato Fields, just outside of London, the scarecrow will answer only to “Tattie Bogies.”

There is no longer any use for the old time scarecrow on farms, but the scarecrow has become an American icon that still makes appearances from time to time.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Eugene Iacovelli

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Special Project

Title IX Redefined Website

Produced by Cabrini Communication
Class of 2024

Listen Up

Season 2, Episode 3: Celebrating Cabrini and Digging into its Past


Scroll to Top
Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap