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Folk Beliefs
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CryBaby Bridge

“I first heard this story in my senior year of high school. I took a class on ghost stories and we were required to research local haunted places… anyway, I ended up finding this story called the “Crybaby Bridge.” I read about this story online, but it’s apparently from Oklahoma. It’s this town in Oklahoma called Catoosa. Apparently in Catoosa, there is a collapsed, abandoned bridge that is said to be haunted.

The legend basically goes as follows: there was a young woman and her baby traveling in a horse drawn carriage across this bridge many many years ago. There was a thunderstorm and suddenly, the lightning scared the horse and it overturned the carriage, causing the baby and the mother to fall into the water below. The mother survived, but she could not find her baby. She could only hear the baby crying, but never found it. Basically, the woman haunts this bridge because she is looking for her baby. You can supposedly hear the baby crying if you’re near the bridge or crossing the bridge or whatever.

When you encounter the bridge, before you cross it, you’re supposed to turn your car off, get out of the car, and shout “we found your baby!” Then you quickly get back into the car. Supposedly, handprints will appear on the window because this woman is coming to get her baby from you. You’ll hear the baby cry.

It’s similar to a Bloody Mary kind of thing, I guess. Honestly it sounds pretty scary to me. I considered doing it with my friends because we were interested in this story. We were going to plan a trip and go find this bridge in Catoosa, but we totally chickened out.

While I was researching this, I found that basically every state has its own “crybaby bridge” story. In Oklahoma, there are seven different “crybaby bridge” stories all slight variations from one another. It seemed to be the most common among midwestern states and some southern states, but there’s a pretty similar story in so many states, leading me to think that this might not be true. I really think it’s just an urban legend.

I think they have this story to warn children not to do things: go on a collapsed bridge, play by the water by themselves, or mess around in places where they shouldn’t be.

I watched a video on YouTube of someone doing the “we found your baby” thing by the bridge and in the video handprints supposedly appeared. So maybe the story is true?

Honestly, I don’t really think it’s true because it’s such a common story across America. Stories like this are out there for a reason, you know? I don’t think there’s a horse drawn carriage because it just seems too old to be kept around. It just sounds very artificial. There are some modern versions of it where a car is driven off a bridge, which sound more realistic maybe because it’s modern and recent. I personally believe in ghosts, so the story is appealing for me to believe in, but I honestly don’t know if it’s true. Maybe one day I’ll have to try it and then I’ll know. Honestly, some things like this are better left alone. There’s some weird shit in Oklahoma.”

Collector’s thoughts:

I personally think this Oklahoman urban legend is extremely interesting. It really encapsulates many common ghost story themes. First of all, it is about a female ghost looking for her dead child, reminding me very much of the story of La Llorona. I think this is a common theme in horror stories: women and children. Also, I think that the fact there are different versions of this bridge story in so many states also makes me think of La Llorona.

It also really reminds me of Bloody Mary because there’s the same sort of ritualistic ghost summoning involved. I think all these different ghost stories are connected in some sort of way and they must be drawn from some sort of truth or some supernatural experience.

I ended up looking at the videos of the crybaby bridge on YouTube and they were terrifying and honestly pretty convincing. I wonder if at one of these bridges the lady really does show up. It’s really interesting that this story comes from so many different states and towns. I wonder where the story started and I wonder why so many different states have this story. It would be extremely interesting to trace this story and see where it originated and which abandoned bridge it actually came from. I personally had never heard this story before, leading me to think that it came from the south or the Midwest. I also think in history many bridges are considered haunted. If you think about it, bridges are pretty liminal places because they are suspended in midair. I think there is a history of haunted bridges in America, which is probably where this story originally came from.

 

 

 

 

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Narrative

Merton College Library Ghost

 

“In my second year at Oxford University, I visited the Merton College Library. Walking through the library so late at night, I remembered the famous story about the Merton College library ghost. That night I didn’t see the ghost, but I still left the library with a spooky feeling inside of me.

So anyway, late in the evening, I went to borrow a book in this library. This was a different library than the one I would normally go to. I went to Lincoln College so normally I would go to that library, but they didn’t have the book. The philosophy department didn’t have it either so I had to go to this library late at night because I really needed to write an essay.

Merton College is nearly 800 years old, so it’s a very spooky old place to go to just because it’s so ancient and eerie. There is so much history in all the old buildings.

Basically the legend says there’s a ghost who haunts the library. He has been seen by a number of people and he walks the halls of the library late at night. Many years ago, they raised the floor of the library by 10-12 inches, nearly a foot… um, so as a result the ghost walks at the level of the original floor. So the ghost is 10 inches shorter than he should be. It’s kind of funny actually because people see a really short ghost if they end up seeing him. Some think he’s walking on his knees or kneeling on the ground, but he’s actually walking at the original height of the building. He’s apparently locked in time and space, so he walks at the level of the old library floor.

The funny part is that below the library there is the grand dining hall. It’s kind of like the dining halls in Harry Potter, just to paint a picture, so it’s really large and grand. Anyway, they say that if you’re in the dining hall and you look up, you might see the ghost’s feet walking through the ceiling. It’s honestly kind of funny if you think about it.

I’m not sure if it’s an evil ghost or a friendly ghost, but I don’t think he does any harm.

He’s supposed to be the ghost of a man named Francis Windebank, a royalist soldier who was executed a long time ago on the college grounds. I don’t know that much about him, but I do know that this was a very famous ghost on campus.

I do sometimes believe in ghosts. I think it’s an interesting story because the ghost is locked in time and trapped on a specific level. He’s not really in our world yet is at the same time.

He’s in our world because we can see him, but he’s not in our world because he’s dead. He’s in the other world because he’s walking on the level of the ceiling of when he died so he’s really interesting because he’s in a different time and space. I find this the most interesting part of this story.

I don’t know if I believe in the ghost, but I still think it’s an intriguing story and an important part of Oxford University history. There are lot of different ghost stories and famous ghosts on the Oxford Campus because it’s such an old place.

I think that libraries are often haunted because people go there late at night and alone. People are tired and there’s not many people there so they might see things. Libraries are old and lonely places, maybe explaining why there are so many instances with ghosts in libraries and people seeing ghosts in libraries.”

Collector’s thoughts:

I think this story is a really unique and different from other ghost stories because of how the ghost is locked in time and space. I wonder why the ghost walks on the old level of the library and if most ghosts are locked in the specific time and location of where they died. It would also be really interesting to trace this particular ghost story and others from the Oxford University campus.

I think libraries, again, are very liminal, creepy places and that is why they tend to be so haunted. I think this story is interesting because there is also an element of humor to the ghost: seeing the feet on the ceiling is something that the students at Oxford find funny. I think these different ghost traditions on campuses bring a community closer together and help people connect in certain ways. I am sure there are numerous famous ghosts and ghost stories that only Oxford students know and that plays a role in being part of their community.

Overall, this ghost story seems like more than an urban legend because you can research Francis Windebank and find out his story, possibly tracing it back to this ghost story. This ghost story just seems more plausible than others because there is a name for the ghost and a history; rather than just a vague story about a person.

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