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Legends
Narrative

The White Lady of Durand-Eastman Park

“I know a story from back in Rochester that everyone told about the white lady. Years and years ago, I guess in the 1800s some time, there was a woman who supposedly lived in the area where Durand-Eastman Park is now.  And she had a daughter and her daughter disappeared and she was convinced that somebody had murdered her daughter, a farmer that lived nearby. So she would search with her two German Shepards over and over and over again but she never found her daughter or any trace of her daughter. So, the story is that she jumped off a cliff and died and her dogs did the same because they missed her so much, and that her and her dogs roam Durand-Eastman Park to this day. And if you, because there was a road up there where when you were younger it was the make-out point, you would go up there and hang out in a car. If you hang out on the side of Durand-Eastman Park it’s been rumored to say that she will find you, she’ll be on top of your car, and she’ll try to get in and kill the guy cause she hates all men, because she believes her daughter was raped and murdered by a man.”

 

DL heard this story when she was growing up in Rochester, New York. She thinks she heard it from one of her friends in grade school. She said she does not necessarily believe in this story, but she does not deny all ghost belief. She said that she doesn’t know how she feels, but “something has to happen to our spirits when we die.”  This is an example of a legend because it occurs in the real world but its truth is unknown.

This story has many common motifs of ghost stories. One motif evident is the idea of a ghostly mother. Many times, ghosts are mothers who wander the living world searching for their children or trying to take care of them. In this story, the ghost is looking for her daughter. The motif of unfinished business is also present. The mother never found her daughter while she was alive, so she came back after her death to continue search for them. The most notable motif in this story is the motif of revenge. The woman believes the male farmer that lived near to them raped and murdered her daughter, so in the afterlife she seeks revenge on men. The story says that she gets inside of cars parked near Durand-Eastman Park where couples hang out to exact revenge on the men inside of them. She wants revenge against all living men for what one man did to her daughter while she was alive. The fact that her nickname is the white lady parallels Japanese ghost beliefs; Japanese ghosts, or Yurei, wear all-white clothing.

This story was probably used as a fun way to scare the teenagers in the area who would spend time in Durand-Eastman Park. It also serves as somewhat of a warning that teenagers trying to take advantage of “make-out point” should be careful of what they may find. In a more general sense, the story can be taken as a reminder to men that they need to respect women. A man disrespected the ghost’s daughter, and for that, all men must pay. The white lady is said to protect women in the park from men who try to harm them.

general
Legends
Narrative

Ghost Neighbor in King Country

“My friend Sarah, she used to live in this town called King Country, it’s right near Valencia. It’s in Santa Clarita, which is like one of the most haunted places in California. Anyway she used to live in this like, pretty big house with her little sister and her parents, and they had these like weird next-door neighbors. They were like this old couple, and the one girl’s name was Diana. She was like this old woman that was kind of crazy and like had, her husband was weird too. But she like oddly became obsessed with Sarah’s family. Like found ways to break into their house to like, try to like invite them over and when like, the mom would be gone, Sarah’s mom didn’t want them staying at home anymore because like, or by themselves because this girl would come around the back. She’d knock on the front door and they wouldn’t answer, and then she would come around the back to their house and bang on the window and be like “I SEE YOU, I SEE YOU, OPEN UP THIS DOOR!” And like, I know, creepy. She would try to like, take their…not like steal their stuff but like take their jewelry and invite Sarah and Hannah, her little sister, into her house a lot. Um, and like try to just…she was just really really weird and it kind of started freaking them out and Sarah’s mom was like, “you’re not allowed over their house anymore and she’s not allowed over here.” So anyway like, a couple months later like after she’s been weird and everything’s gone crazy. She uh, she goes and they see a bunch of ambulances at the house and they don’t know what’s going on. The husband died, and that was you know really sad. But then it just became the crazy old lady doing more crazy things now that her husband was dead. And then a couple months later she passed away. There were more ambulances and everything. Then one night, before anyone moved into that house, it was like completely vacant and everything. Sarah could swear that she would see lights on. But then, you know her mom was like no you’re crazy, whatever. And there was one day and I was over this day. It was really freaking scary. I wanna say we were like 7 or 8. Um… (sigh) We were outside playing and all of a sudden we saw the garage light turn on in this house that had been vacant for like a really long time. The garage light turned on and we all stopped and were like that’s really creepy. We had also known how weird this lady was. So then we were like whatever, but then we hear music start and we like kind of see shadows, cause you know how in some garages there are like those windows that you can like see into people’s garages. So we hear music start and we see shadows dancing, which was really freaking creepy. And so we’re all like oh my God oh my God oh my God. Then we went over and went to go peek in a window, but it all stopped and went black. So then we started running away, and as we were running down the street, um, Sarah felt something push her. And turned to us and was like, “you guys why did you just push me?” And we were like “Sarah we didn’t we’re right next to you!” And she had a huge handprint on her back of somebody who like pushed her. Not even joking this is like a true story. Terrified the crap out of me. We went home and told her mom and her mom freaked out. Here her daughter had this huge handprint on her back and we heard footsteps behind us but we thought it was just us because it was three kids running down the street. But then Sarah got pushed and there was a huge mark on her back.”

 

GG actually experienced this story for herself, so that gives it a unique point of view. GG does not totally believe in ghosts, but she does admit she has had some experiences that make her question her disbelief. She told the story with passion and intensity in her hand movements, leading me to believe that this story is very real to her. This story would count as a legend because it occurred in the real world but its truth is unknown.

This story has several common motifs of ghost stories. It includes a ghostly light. GG said that her friend Sarah often saw a garage light turn on in the vacant house after the two old neighbors passed away. She also explains that, as they got closer to the house, the light that was on went out. Lights are a common motif throughout ghost stories in almost all cultures. Another motif in this story is the big, haunted house. GG explains that the neighborhood Sarah lived in was one of the most haunted places in the city, and the houses were big and scary. Haunted houses are a common element in ghost stories. One more motif in this story is ghost hands or handprints. The ghost supposedly pushes the girl away and leaves a handprint on her back. The fact that the ghost left a mark seems like it would be indisputable evidence.

GG puts the story into context by beginning the story with an explanation of why the old lady was strange. By telling me that she was a creepy neighbor before her death, it helps explain why she may have been creepy in the afterlife. The woman may be exacting revenge on the little kids for disturbing them in the afterlife by going on her property. She said the music and dancing stop when they get closer. The ghost could be upset that they interrupted them and got her revenge by pushing them away. This story is important to GG because it helped form her childhood beliefs of the afterlife.

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