Germans don't have the corner on the market where odd tales are concerned. Norwegians have their fair share of legends, many involving trolls. No, not those adorable, mop top Norfin Trolls America has come to love. These are terrifying trolls, examples for naughty children.
My introduction to Troll Kjerringa (Troll Woman, the Troll of Hate), Tusselader (Nuisance Trolls) and Tobi-Tri-Fot came from a scary little 1979 self-published book, Trolls-Trolls-Trolls by one Art "Grandpa" Stavig that I picked up in a thrift store in Gladstone, OR. Grandpa, who was based out of Seattle, had quite a workshop and was a craftsman of all sorts of creepy creatures. When not tinkering, he traveled to local schools and libraries scaring the bejeezus out of little kids (you should see the photos filled with horrified expressions). The full effect is probably lost without the puppets and costumes, but this will have to suffice.
(Wooden-Legged Tobi, the Barn Troll)
Most of the people in Norway readily agreed that Tobi-Tre-Fot, the Barn Troll, was just about the meanest troll in the land. Other trolls, as a rule, waited for a person to have a moment of carelessness before they moved in to make mischief, and even then, they tried to make it look like an accident had happened, but NOT Tobi-Tre-Fot! Tobi didn't care what people thought nor was he concerned that anyone would learn that it was HE that kicked them–and kicking people was what the really liked to do!
Tobi was so mean that one day in the forest he cut off his OWN leg and put a wooden leg in its place: he believed that he could deliver a more painful kick with a wooden leg. Now hen this troll kicked someone, he practically kicked them into the middle of next week! If that person turned around to see who kicked him, he never saw Tobi, for he was already behind him ready to give him another kick!
When Grandpa told us this story, I asked him, "Grandpa, did Tobi-Tre-Fot kick children too?"
Grandpa answered, "Yes, he often did; hat is, he sometimes kicked the mischievous and naughty ones."
But Grandpa, didn't you say that Tobi was real mean himself?"
Yes, I did."
Did he kick the nice children, too?"
No, he didn't. You must understand, he didn't LIKE any children! He just stayed away from the nice children; he wanted NOTHING to do with them, but he kicked the naughty ones because he became jealous of them. Tobi was very proud to consider himself the meanest creature in the country and when he saw a youngster get pretty nasty, he was afraid that if he didn't do something about it, the brat would grow up to be MEANER THAN HE WAS! When that happened, Tobi would conceal himself behind a door, and when that certain younger came through that door: WWWWWHHHHaaammmmm!
Tobi-Tre-Fot made his home in the farmer's barn. When he chose to visit a certain farm and entered the barn, he expected to find an empty stall to live in while he was there. Most farmers knew this: for this reason they usually built their barns large enough to have more stalls than they neede. Of course, some farmers were stubborn. They were the kind that built the barn to please themselves–NOT Tobi-Tre-Fot! They weren't going to let and TROLL tell THEM how to arrange their stalls! Well, they had no trouble until that sad day that Tobi-Tre-Fot came to call!
Tobi didn't like what he saw. And to prove he didn't like it, he quickly threw all of the farmer's harnesses, bridles and saddles out of the barn window; then he untied all the animals to run loose and get into mischief. Then he took a station behind the barn door–waiting, waiting, waiting for someone to come through that door that he could kick the daylights out of!
Grandpa told us he didn't exactly believe the story of the Barn Troll, but we couldn't help but notice that there was always an empty stall in his barn–even after he came to South Dakota! None of us asked him why.
Lesson of Tobi-Tre-Fot:
CURB A VICIOUS TEMPER. DON'T INTRUDE ON OTHER'S RIGHTS, BUT DEFEND YOUR OWN