Author Archive
Legends
Narrative

The Washington Pavilion Maintenance Ghost

Background: My informant was young Caucasian man who was born and raised in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. He currently attends the University of Sioux Falls for Biology and History.

Main Piece: This story originates from the youth of Sioux Falls during the early 2000s. Washington High School used to be near downtown Sioux Falls. However, in 1992, a new school area was build near Sertoma Avenue on the east side of town where new developments were being built. As such, the old high school was going to be rebuilt as an Arts pavilion, where today it is used for the local science museum, local play/musical productions, and even movies. It is called the Washington Pavilion. However, in the early 2000s, many kids and young adults began discussing the story of the maintenance worker that supposedly died during the time of renovation. They say he worked on the elevators and potentially fell down the shaft while working. Because of this, they say that his ghost haunts the elevator at any given time of day. Considering how large the pavilion is, it is very easy for you to get lost, or find yourself in long empty hallways. The informant doesn’t really believe in it, but it was fun for him to talk about during his middle school days. It is in their opinion that this is mainly just to freak people out in the elevator. They said that elevators are a place where people are already vulnerable, because they can fail at any time and kill the occupants.

Performance Context: According to my informant, the informant’s mom was an aficionado of the occult, so she would tell her son (the informant) stories like this.

My Thoughts: I think it is interesting because elevators are another scene as the informant mentions that are of vulnerability. It is similar to the bathroom in the horror genre at large as a place that symbolically is confined and intimate. In an elevator, the occupants have very little control over the mechanism and it is often the source of inspiration for many different horror genres. The easiest example that comes to mine is the film Devil, which tells the story of a group of people who are trapped within an elevator as one by one they are killed, making them believe that it is one of the members inside. In the end, however, it turns out the Devil themselves is acting out the crime. Even so, the idea that you could be stuck in a small confined space with little control of the situation and the horror stories that you hear about people who get stuck in elevators in terrifying for many, including myself.

Humor
Legends

The Sioux Falls Bikini Lady

Background: My informant was a young adult who was born in the Watertown and raised in the nearby city of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, one of the larger metropolitan areas of the Midwest and the largest city in South Dakota. He continued to live there for the last 20 years and is very much a Sioux Falls resident.

Main Piece: My informant told me about a well-known urban legend in the Sioux Falls area known as the Sioux Falls Bikini Lady. She is this mysterious woman that frequents the downtown area and runs up and down the streets doing exercise while in a bikini. It is somewhat of a landmark of the city and its culture, because despite the common cold weather, she continues to do this. It is of such fame that many people engage with this local legend by creating websites, twitter accounts and taking photographs. No one really knows why she does it as she doesn’t explain it herself publicly, but it is something that has spread throughout the town, to the point of becoming common hearsay and rumor.

Performance Context: According to my informant, he learned about the story from someone on the bus. He said he could be mistaken, but he isn’t sure. The story seems to be one that comes around the community through rumor and speculation.

My Thoughts: I think it is interesting because it talks a lot about how we look for interesting stories not only in old tales, but in the people around us. We often talk about how our communities build and how they are constructed, and a large part of that is the stories that connect us with one another. We look for not only the strange and the potentially dangerous through the unknown or the creepy, like the house on the hill. We also look for it in our everyday lives and in everyday objects. When we see something that is just a bit off, but yet so normal, we like to imagine what gives it that quirk. When we can’t find out, we begin to discuss it with others, forming conspiracy and theory. This kind of thing can cross generations. What will happen when she passes? Will someone take on the mantle of SF Bikini Lady? It remains to be seen, but these types of things are the precedents for traditions. What if one day there was a SF Bikini Lady 4K run with everyone dressing in bikinis? That would be amazing to see happen.

Legends

The 1973 Gitchie Manitou Murders

Background: My informant was young Caucasian man who was born and raised in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. He currently attends the University of Sioux Falls for Biology and History.

Main Piece: My informant told me about the famous 1973 Gitchie Manitou Murders. This story is the story of a young group of teenagers who went to Gitchie Manitou State Preserve in Lyon Country, Iowa. The teenagers were all killed, save for one, who was raped and provided testimony to put the alleged behind bars for life. Back in 1973, these teenagers from Sioux Falls, went camping at Gitchie Manitou, when they were approached by a group of three men who proceeded to kill them using shotguns from their trucks. They then kidnapped one of the girls, brought her to their farm and raped her before driving her home. All the while, they were impersonating themselves as narcotics officers claiming that this was within their rights as officers. Later, a real trooper drove the young woman around until she identified the farm and the truck they had been using. This has spawned a novel by her called “Gitchie Girl” that was released in 2016. It is still a hot topic amongst teenagers and has spawned numerous stories about the ghosts of those that died on that fateful night.

Performance Context: According to my informant, this story is common hearsay, mostly because it is something that was horrific that happened in the town’s history.

My Thoughts: I think it is interesting because it tells us that our ghost stories don’t just come from past crimes, they also come from various historical events that happen even as recent as in the early 70s. We continue to make folklore and even find ways to reflect on the dead through stories about their potential spirits. Although most people will dismiss it, it is probably told very often to children who are camping late at night, as this happened during a camping incident.

Contagious
Folk Beliefs
Legends
Magic
Narrative

The Wendigo

Background: My informant was a American who has lived across the country and has learned a lot of stories about other people through her travels.She is currently a student at the University of Southern California studying game design.

Main Piece: The Wendigo is a Native American story of a cannibal evil spirit. It is an animal-human hybrid that had white skin pulled hard over its bones so that you can see the skeleton. It’s eyes are pushed all the way back so they looked deep. It’s nails would go through its skin, making it bloody. It would eat people. They would explain it, when they would go crazy in the Native American camps, they would lose their minds and try to eat other people. The Windigo was tied to greed. If you got too greedy, you would become a Windigo.

Performance Context: According to my informant, it’s an old folklore that she knew growing up because she was interested in Native American culture. She might have heard it from one of the Native American camps that she visited while growing up when she was doing her own research.

My Thoughts: I think it is interesting because it talks a lot about how cultures apply value to virtue and “sin” (to use a Christian idea). The idea that greed can cause one to lose one’s one mind and succumb to a disease that robs you of your humanity as a marker that lust for money and things are not only deplorable, but by nature they are unnatural and condemnable. This is an interesting idea and strongly suggests the ideals of the Native American culture, esp. of the tribes where this story is prominent and/or originates.

Digital
Legends
Narrative

Russian Sleep Experiment

Background: My informant was a American who has lived across the country and has learned a lot of stories about other people through her travels.She is currently a student at the University of Southern California studying game design.

Main Piece: The Russian Sleep Experiment is a story about how they were trying to figure out in a perhaps-WWII era the effects of sleep deprevation on their soldiers. They put a group of soldiers in a room with a porthole. Then, they poured in gas that keeps them awake into the room. For a while, it goes normal, up to a week without any real observable effects. At this time, the mics stop responding and the researchers are only able to look into the room via the viewport.  However, the porthole gets covered some sort of liquid. The researchers attempt to talk to the subjects, but they get no response, at first. They end up turning off the gas and opening up the door. Inside, there are only a small group of the subjects left alive. The rest have been disembowled with blood everywhere, the same liquid on the porthole. The one that are still alive had portions of their body missing, and some of them had their own skin ripped off. Evidence suggested that there were no markings of teeth, and it is suggested that the portions of them missing were by hand. The subjects alive begin shouting and panicking, asking the scientists to turn the gas back on.

They become hysterical as they were screaming to put the gas back on. The scientists tried restraining them, but like in a superhero story, they threw one of the researchers across the room, as if a ridiculous strong superhuman.  Eventually, they wrangle down the subjects. They tried to inject them with morphine, 10x normal dose, did nothing. They try to operate on them, they were immune to sedatives. They put them under anesthetics, his heart stops, and in the autopsy, they discover their is triple the amount of oxygen in the blood of the first subject. The second person had his vocal cords ripped, and wanted to be operated without anesthetic. The doctors operating on the subjects said it’s medically impossible for them to still be alive. Once they were finished, the patient wanted to write a message. When they let them write their message it just said “keep cutting”. Afterwards, only two subjects were left alive. The scientists began to monitor the position of the two that live and noticed that the EEG would hard line several times. They were suffering from repeated brain death at various times.

Then the story ends “really stupidly”, according to the informant. One of the soldiers kills themselves, the other broke out. When they caught the other, the scientists asks what they are. The remaining soldier goes on a rant saying “We are you, we are the madness within you, we are what you hide from at night.” The End. To the informant, this last part makes the story seem the most absurd and unworthy of redemption. The informant said it was “stupid as fuck” and it just another example of stupid internet stories run wild.  “It’s just a lot of gore.”

Performance Context: According to my informant, someone linked it through the internet because they said they thought she was Russian.

My Thoughts: I think it is interesting because it another example of creepy pasta that is on the internet of these strange twisted stories that almost seem to have no evidence, and yet is compelling enough that people read anyways. It makes you question whether the insanity of the story is of value or rather the insanity of its construction at all.

Digital
Folk Beliefs
Legends
Magic
Narrative

Anansi Goat Man

Background: My informant was a American who has lived across the country and has learned a lot of stories about other people through her travels.She is currently a student at the University of Southern California studying game design.

Main Piece: My informant told me a story known as the “Anasi Goat Man”. It is a very long form “creepy pasta” (internet horror story) about a group of young teenagers who go out campiong in the woods of Alabama. Throughout the story, the children encounter the smell of ozone, a copper-like smell, that indicates that the Anasi Goat Man is in their presence. At first, the kids are unaware of the creature and search their RV for an electrical malfunction. One of the kids owns a cabin in that area as well where they also own some pigs. They find that the pigs have been ripped up and eaten, which freaks out and scares all of the group. They also see the visage of a man in the woods, although they only see his back. They also begin to hear a “gibbering” from the woods that changes in volume and comes from all around throughout most of the rest of the story. They discover that he is a man with the head of a goat, who gets into groups by disguising itself like a Wendigo, before hunting the group members. The original group started out as 12, but the number dwindles down to 8. Towards the end of the story, they bar themselves into a larger cabin owned by one of the friends cousin. There they barricade themselves in and arm themselves with weapons and wait out the night. Throughout the night, something keeps approaching the door screaming to be let in, banging on the door. Meanwhile the gibbering continues to fade in and out throughout the rest of the night and the smell of copper turns to the smell of blood. Morning comes and the children leave the place. The storyteller who is recounting the tale, however, ends the story by talking about one of the friends who came to them two days after the event. Two days after the strange event in the woods, one of the friends had been nodding off to sleep, when he caught one girl walking out of the bathroom and begin sleeping in the middle of the room as everyone else was. Out of curiosity, he counted the members of the room, and there were one too many. The rest of the night he could not sleep and watched this one girl, even as they left. He was too scared to act against her because he thought the creature might kill all of them, or in their fear, they might use the guns on one another. As he kept his eye on her as they left the campsite, at one point, she slipped away and went into the forest.

It’s supposedly from an account from an actual person, but the informant says that it probably is just because people want to be scared or want to feel like they have had some sort of supernatural event. It doesn’t seem to be much more than an urban legend to her. She doesn’t buy into most urban legends or ghost “crap”.

Performance Context: According to the informant, she read it in an old book before she looked it up online.

My Thoughts: I think it is interesting because it is an example of a much longer form narrative that forms a series of internet ghost stories. There is also special attention made towards making it seem as if an actual account, to not only immerse the reader in its possibility, but also I believe to fall into the recent trend of stories that are from first person youth perspectives such as Cloverfield and other such “found footage” stories.

Folk Beliefs
Legends

The Ghost Girl of Siquijor Cebu

Background: My informant was a Filipino immigrant who came to America when she was 12. She was born and raised in Manila before coming to America, her father seeking out new opportunities. She then got married and moved to Sioux Falls, South Dakota and currently works as a Denial Analyst for the Sanford Health Network, the largest hospital network in the Siouxland area.

Main Piece: My informant told me a story about a young girl that her mother told her about. In the small town of Siquijor Cebu, there was a girl who was a very unhappy girl. When my informant’s mother was a young girl, the girl hanged herself on a tree. When she was growing up, people would say that you should never walk pass the tree when it gets dark out. They say if you do, you will hear the girl crying to this day. These kinds of stories are very commonplace in the area, because there are a lot of people that are said to be crazy. The area is known as the Visayas. It is one of the three major groups of islands of the Philippines, being in the center. According to my informant, people that are not Visayans often refer to the area as a place of witches and mythical creatures because of some of the more remote places where strange things are said to occur. However, what most people view this as is the idea that even if it cannot be proven, we are made aware that there are forces beyond our control. Ghost stories and other supernatural tellings are quite common because of this. The informant says that people now probably don’t believe in this anymore, but maybe that they still remain cautious of that kind of thing, in the case that it is true. Witches putting curses on you, and voodoo stories were quite common when my informant was growing up, and maybe that has changed, but perhaps not. After all, they still believe in injuries and afflictions that only faith healers can heal.

Performance Context: According to my informant, the story originates from her mother, who is from Siquijor Cebu.

My Thoughts: I think it is interesting because it talks a lot about the idea of vengeful spirits. This is a quite common motif in stories throughout the world and the idea that some things cannot be explained is quite common in the fiction of every culture. There is also the strong idea that is shown here and shown in the reaction of many people to many stories that we fear their power. That if we cannot say for certain that they are not true or that they hold no weight, we remain wary, just in case. It’s that just in case that makes these kinds of stories all the more interesting.

Folk Beliefs
Folk medicine

The Faith Healers of the Philippines

Background: My informant was a Filipino immigrant who came to America when she was 12. She was born and raised in Manila before coming to America, her father seeking out new opportunities. She then got married and moved to Sioux Falls, South Dakota and currently works as a Denial Analyst for the Sanford Health Network, the largest hospital network in the Siouxland area.

Main Piece: My informant told me about the faith healers of the Philippines. The faith healers come in various types and not all of them are referred to as faith healers. Usually, they are locals that the people depend on and trust to know how to heal bones and cure ailments using traditional means. There were hospitals around, but many people chose not to use them because of the cost. If you could get by using a faith healer, you would. It could be for anything as severe as a fracture to as simple as a tummy ache. The faith healers to my informant were the primary source of healing when she was growing up, despite hospital care being available.  My informant was sent to them because of her walking disability often, as she had a condition that prevented her from being able to run. The faith healers were usually older wise men, but sometimes women. The way you would know about a faith healer or where they were was through word of mouth. There were no regulated or official posting about their services. If you wanted to know about them, you had to talk to the community. Most of them gained their practice through their ancestors. Grandmas and grandpas that the methods were passed down through from one generation to another. Generally, they would use oil and herbs, but other types of traditional healers include spiritual healers and mediums. My informant had personal experience mostly with healers that used herbs. When that didn’t work, her parents would sometimes take her to places where spiritual healers were or places they thought an image of the Virgin Mary or Lord Jesus Christ has presented a miracle at, and where people were healing others at. The crowd at this places were often so enormous that often her family never even got close enough that they could “hope for a miracle”.

Performance Context: According to my informant, my informant was sent to the faith healers fairly frequently due to a childhood condition that was not a normal or emergency circumstance. There was really only one main faith healer in her community, although they could have been anyone and there were definitely many throughout the area.

My Thoughts: I think it is interesting because it talks a lot about how even though we rely on science for medicine, there is always this part of healing that is tied to the spirit and towards traditional or spiritual arts. It also remains as part of our cultures to provide a way for those who are less fortunate to give back to the community through a passed down set of skills. In addition, it shows how the influence of Christianity has an impact on the traditional and spiritual healing techniques of the indigenous people, as it remains a strong sign of salvation and hope for many in my informant’s area.

Customs
Folk Beliefs
Game
Legends
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Spook Road

Background: My informant was young Caucasian man who was born and raised in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. He currently attends the University of Sioux Falls for Biology and History.

Main Piece: My informant made me aware of a historical location known as Spook Road, that exists just outside of the small town of Brandon, SD. Brandon is a suburb of the Sioux Falls Metropolitan area. In this area, there is a county road that is known as Spook Road to local residents. This is because there are many accounts of supernatural events occuring within this location. The most famous has to do with a ritual that many young people take, especially during Halloween. The idea is that there once was a girl there who hung herself on a bridge. What one is supposed to do is, during the middle of the night, you and your friends get in a car and drive down spook road between the main road and the highway. On the way through, you should pass over a series of bridges. You should count the bridges as you cross them going on way, turn around, and then do the same on the way back.  You should count 5 bridges on your way, one-way. However, it is said that if on your way back, you count 4 bridges, you should be very scared. There are various reports of strange happenings on this very long, very narrow road. However, this story has created strong cultural ties for the people. The road is long and narrow, so there have been many attempts to fix it and improve the road, to reduce traffic accidents. However, many in the community have slowed down this progress even to a halt, petitioning to protect the “historical landmark”. The informant also says that there are also old reports of witchcraft happening in the area, though they do not know how accurate or likely this is.

Performance Context: According to the informant, this road is particularly famous in Sioux Falls, especially since many Brandon youth visit the main city. The relative closeness to the main city means Brandon folklore is often spread through hearsay and most people know about Spook Road as a result.

My Thoughts: I think it is interesting because it has gone from being a spooky story to a sort of rite of passage of many of the youth. There is a ritualistic action that many take upon themselves due to the relative ease of access to the story and also the challenge it seems to prod at. It is also something that is very easy to drag your friends into on a cold Halloween night, where everyone is out trying to have a good time.

Folk Beliefs
Legends
Narrative

The Mothman

Background: My informant was a American who has lived across the country and has learned a lot of stories about other people through her travels.She is currently a student at the University of Southern California studying game design.

 

Main Piece: The Mothman is a man with wings and red eyes that shows up on this very specific highway near Pittsburgh. It scares people because they can see it in their rear view mirror. It’s similar to Sasquatch. It comes from a story from West Virginia wherein a bridge collapsed  killing dozens of people. It is said that before the bridge collapsed, and before other events both there, in Pittsburgh, and even in the world, the people saw premonition in the form of the Mothman. The Mothman is a sort of boogeyman that everyone talks about and blames, although the informant does not believe in it. It is as common as Sasquatch in the area, but is about as believable.

Performance Context: According to my informant, the story was heard by her while she lived there as it is a fairly common folk story about the mysterious creature. It is much like most other forms of cryptozoology.

My Thoughts: I think it is interesting because this touches upon this idea of cryptozoology, strange animals and animal-like creatures that may or may not purportedly exist. There is also a strong connection with prophecy and premonition with this and other stories. If we see something strange, there must be a reason. It must be some sort of experiment, or some sort of a sign. We start to attribute theorized motifs to the creature and further describe and explain its existence. It is really interesting from the perspective that we are encapsulating our fear of the unknown as well as our loose explanations of nature, which many feel is not meant to be conquered as humans do, in the form of folklore through these creatures.

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