“Late last night and the night before, tommyknockers, tommyknockers knocking on my door. I wanna go out, don’t know if I can ‘cuz I’m so afraid of the tommyknocker man.”
Like many of the Mother Goose rhymes, the verse about the Tommyknockers is deceptively simple. The origin of the word is difficult to trace. Webster’s Unabridged says Tommyknockers are either (a) tunneling ogres or (b) ghosts which haunt deserted mines or caves. Because ‘tommy’ is an archaic British slang term referring to army rations (leading to the term ‘tommies’ as a word used to identify British conscripts, as in Kipling -‘it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that . . .’) the Oxford Unabridged Dictionary, while not identifying the term itself, at least suggests that Tommyknockers are the ghosts of miners who died of starvation, but still go knocking for food and rescue.
The first verse (‘Late last night and the night before,’ etc.) is common enough for my wife and myself to have heard it as children, although we were raised in different towns, different faiths, and came from different descendants – hers primarily French, mine Scots-Irish.
From the foreword of the book
I realize that The Tommyknockers is at the bottom of most “Stephen King’s best books” list, but I couldn’t put it down. The book is a story of betraying your own kind. It is much more sad than it is scary.
For want of a nail the kingdom was lost — that’s how the catechism goes when you boil it down. In the end you can boil everything down to something similar — or so Roberta Anderson thought much later on. It’s either all an accident… or all fate. Anderson literally stumbled over her destiny in the small town of Haven, Maine, on June 21, 1988. The stumble was the root of the matter; all the rest was nothing but history.
Something was happening in Bobbi Anderson’s idyllic small town of Haven, Maine. Something that gave every man, woman, and child in town powers far beyond ordinary mortals; something that turned the town into a death trap for all outsiders; something that came from a metal object, buried for millennia, that Bobbie accidentally stumbled across. It wasn’t that Bobbi and the other good people of Haven had sold their souls to reap the rewards of the most deadly evil this side of hell. It was more like a diabolical takeover … an invasion of body and soul–and mind…
One of the best parts of this book is the character description of Ruth McCausland! Her “conversation” with Mr. Moran, after his dog bit her, is one of those nuggets of writing that I love about Stephen King! Just pure gold!