USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘basement’
Customs
Legends

Camp Basement

K is a freshman majoring in psychology who attended the same camp almost every summer before college. The campers were told this story in the basement where the events occurred at nighttime to explain why one wall is newer than the rest.

“The camp used to be a homestead, around 1812, and the family who lived there was part of the underground railroad. The escaped slaves were hidden in the basement of the house, and one night confederate soldiers showed up to confiscate the slaves and punish the family for helping. As soon as the father opened the door, he was shot in the face, and the soldiers continued to kill everyone else in the family. When they reached the basement, they decided not to kill the escaped slaves – a mother and child – but rather make them suffer. They barricaded the two in the basement behind a new wall. It’s said that at nighttime you can still hear the child scratching the wall.”

K’s story encompasses many ghost story motifs, such as the wrongful deaths of those involved and the liminal space of the basement. It is also a lesson to young campers, both not to go out at night and not to go in the basement, and helps them to feel more connected to camp through the knowledge of it’s history.

Legends
Narrative

Duke Family Haunted Basement

The informant details the story of her aunt’s haunted basement.  The basement is located in Vermont.  The informant details that this story has been shared through her relatives and friends.  The urban legend of the haunted basement goes as follows:

A woman was down in her basement doing laundry one, calm summer night.  As the woman was doing her laundry she suddenly hear a really loud, deep maniacal sounding laugh.  The laugh roared, “MUAHAHAHAHAHA, MUAHAHAHAHA,” much similar to a cartoon villain laugh.  The woman nervously yelled to her older brother, “Tommy, stop fooling around!” The woman thought her brother was playing an old trick on her, but the laughing continued and the brother didn’t respond.  Once more the laugh rang out: “MUAHAHAHAHAHA, MUAHAHAHAHAHA.”  The woman now utterly frightened rushed upstairs, yelling for people, but there was no one in the house.  She decided to run straight to the beach outside of the house and the whole family was at the beach.  To this day it is believed that the basement is haunted with whatever creature had that the maniacal laugh.

Images of stereotypical scary movies popped into my head when I hear this story.  A woman, alone, is completing a simple innocent task such as laundry.  A scary villain arriving to create havoc and instil fear in the woman and the woman finally deciding to leave the place and get help.  Luckily in this story the woman escapes free, unlike most scary movies.  I think this story captures the listener’s interest as most people can relate to instances of hearing something and wondering if what is heard is real.

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