USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘bathroom ghost’
general
Legends
Narrative

La Llorona: A Hispanic Woman in White Tale

The Folklore:

E: What is the story that you wanted to tell me about?

A: What I’m about to tell you is the story of how a popular ghost phenomenon came to be.  So there was once this woman who had gotten so distraught at her husband’s infidelity that she drowned her children. Realizing what she had done, she began to be consumed by regret. Eventually the woman took her own life in the same manner in which she took her children’s.

E: There are a plethora of woman in white ghost stories worldwide, are there any qualities specific to La Llorona?

A: This is a woman in a white who hunts children. Children as seen as having a more keen sense for the supernatural. Also, if she’s got you as her target and you hear her sound far away that means she’s close. The same is applicable in the reversed case.

E: Typically in what context does the story get brought up?

A: Usually it’s brought up by children and family events or just in any social situation.

E: How did you first hear about this?

A: My cousins were actually the first people to tell me about this woman in white. Two of my cousins said as they were driving down a dark road one night when they were children out of the window they saw a woman very vividly, she was in a white dress standing on the side of the road. They asked their parents if they saw what the children had seen but they said that no idea what the children were even talking about.

Context:

This is the transcribed conversation I had with a friend of mine as we shared ghost stories from our cultures. My friend is of Latino origin. He grew up in Texas and was still very close to Mexican culture. 

Analysis:

This is an interesting twist on the woman in white story. Though her origin story has been seen before I don’t think I’ve heard of an instance in which the woman only hunted children. In addition I think the auditory component to the story adds symbolic meaning in the sense that danger can be anywhere. It’s a precautionary tale to instill within kids that yeah going out at night alone is maybe not the best idea.

 

Game
Legends
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Bloody Mary

Transcription: “We played Bloody Mary at sleepovers. I was told to go into the bathroom, close the door, turn off the lights, close my eyes, and say her Bloody Mary three times. When you opened your eyes, you were supposed to see her. If she liked you, you were safe. If she she didn’t like you, she would claw your eyes out. When I was younger, I would always open the door and then turn off the lights before leaving the bathroom because I was scared of being in the dark bathroom for even a second. I also would be careful not to even think the name Bloody Mary when I was in the bathroom because I didn’t want to accidentally summon her.”

For another version of this folklore, see “Bloody Mary.” Supernatural. The CW. 11 Oct. 2005. Television.

Bloody Mary is both a game and a ritual. Like all games, Blood Mary has rules. Participants must close themselves in a dark bathroom and say her name three times. If the rules are not followed correctly, Bloody Mary will not appear. By repeating the game at sleepovers, it becomes ritualistic. Blood Mary is a ritual since it has a specific time and space. This version of the ritual takes place in the space of a bathroom and at night time. The rules can also be read as ritualistic. For example, the repetition of Mary’s name can be considered a chant used to summon the supernatural.

My informant was a child when she learned about Bloody Mary. She heard about the game from other young girls and played the game at a sleepover. A sleepover, as a coming together of girls, provides an opportunity to share values. The premise of a vengeful spirit heightens fear to reinforce behavior. By spreading both the legend and acting out the game/ritual, the girls become their own cultural reinforcement of good behavior. In order to survive Bloody Mary, you had to be good, which creates a distinction between being a good girl versus a bad girl.

I would argue that one of the reasons Bloody Mary takes place in the bathroom is because it is a place in which we are vulnerable and exposed. The ritual is performed in the dark to inhibit a reliance on our most important sense. Overall, the game is designed to unsettle the participant by placing them in an ambiguous space.

 

general
Initiations
Legends

The Ghost of Lawrence Hall at Asheville School

 

The Ghost of Lawrence Hall

My boyfriend went to boarding school at The Asheville School in Asheville, North Carolina. He was born in Boone, North Carolina and grew up there. He knows a few ghost stories that have been passed down over time at his school. The school has been around for over 100 years and has a romantic, isolated setting. He told me this story a few weeks ago:

JH: “When I was in high school, one of the older kids told me this story about the hallway that I lived in my senior year. So, back in the 20s, my high school, The Asheville School in North Carolina was an all boys school. One of the dormitories called Lawrence Hall had three floors of all boys with 24 rooms in each hallway. Now, at the end of each hallway was a faculty apartment where young faculty members and their families would live. Legend has it, that on the third floor, which was the top floor, there was a faculty apartment and in it lived a young biology teacher and her husband, who was a soccer coach. There was also an African American janitor that would clean all three halls day and night. He would get paid to clean the hallways and clean the bathrooms. The dormitory bathrooms are next to the faculty apartments. So, most of the time he would just clean during the day when he was supposed to. However, he started coming around at odd hours, especially when the biology teacher’s husband was away. The kids on the third floor started believing that the janitor was having an affair with the biology teacher, which was a big taboo back then and would have been preposterous.

So there was this attic in the roof that has been a part of the building forever and practically no one ever goes there. The attic stairs are right next to the faculty apartment. The janitor had been working on the third floor a lot and cleaning up the attic and what not. And one night, it was about 2 am, when some students swore that they heard crashing, sounds of a fight and then screaming. No one thought too much of it though and it blew over the next morning. Once it came to be the afternoon, people figured out that they had no idea where the janitor was. He just never showed up to work that day. Eventually, a person went up to the attic to see if he was in there. And he was. He was dead in the attic.  It looked like he was trying to stack something up on a shelf in the attic, and it had fallen down, smashed his head and broken his neck. But of course, the question always remains, is that actually what happened? Or did the biology teacher’s husband kill him and put him up there and set up the scene? It was never fully looked into and it was reported as an accident.

            So now it is believed that the ghost of the janitor haunts the place, especially the attic and the third floor. There were a lot of odd squeaking sounds, people complained that doors were closing and that there were sounds of the bathroom being cleaned very late at night. When they turned the third floor of Lawrence Hall into a girl’s hallway, it got a lot freakier. Especially, when girls are out between 2 and 4:30 in the morning, they just get really freaked out. They say that there is a lot of activity going on in the bathroom and that they are too scared to use the bathroom late at night. They say that if you are up around 4 am, you can sometimes hear the sound of someone knocking on the walls and on the doors of every room. Ten years before I got to Asheville School, this one girl was convinced that this older man who was a security guard, opened her door at 3:30 in the morning and watched her while she was sleeping. She was absolutely convinced that he was staring at her. Either she was dreaming or it was someone actually there. To this day no one knows. And that’s most of the story that I’ve heard.”

JH’s Interpertation:

“If the janitor really is haunting the building, I think it is because he was actually murdered and that it was not an accident.  Everyone just assumed that it was an accident and took the couple’s word for it rather than investigating and finding out what truly happened. Pertaining to the fact that it became a girl’s hallway, I think there is a lot of unrequited love on the janitor’s end and a feeling of not fitting in. If he did have this affair, he would be looking for a lover again. And, since he couldn’t find his original lady, he would go for the next best thing—one of the young girls who lives in the third floor of Lawrence Hall. So, in essence, he is still haunting the building to find either the same or a new true love again.”

My Interpretation of his story:

 This story falls into the legend category, because the events may or may not be true. I think there are a few reasons why the janitor ghost still haunts Lawrence Hall. First, I think that the ghost wants to avenge the man who killed him. But since the man is no longer living at Asheville School, he has decided to just act as a “poltergeist” to those who live happily on the third floor. He wants to show the living that he is still angry and upset about what unjustly happened to him. We have talked a lot about ghosts who come back to avenge the living or who have “unfinished business” on Earth and I think that this is one such example of a ghost coming back to Earth to finish business that he couldn’t complete before his death.

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