USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘Children Ghosts’
Folk Beliefs

The Golden Child

Every April, it is common that Thai people go back to their homes for a big family gathering, as it is Thai New Year holiday. The informant detailed on her personal spiritual encounter back then.

“I went to stay with my uncle after a family gathering night at his place during Song Kran (Thai New Year). His house was in the countryside and quite isolated from the city itself. It was perfect sized for our family of 7.

Our whole family stayed together that night. I couldn’t sleep that well as I kept having nightmares. It was weird as I don’t usually dream at all. I thought it was one off. However, my whole family seemed to have the same problem as we discussed in the morning about our restless night. When I learned my family shared the same sort of dreams. That made me doubt if the whole thing was just a dream anymore.

When I was falling asleep, the doorknob was making so much noise as if someone was trying to get in.  I thought it was my maid (as I usually sleep with her). The door creaked open, but just a bit, not fully open. I was in such state that I couldn’t care less, so I just ignored it. As the night went on, I started hearing noises. It was so much like several kids were giggling and playing catch. I woke up to it for a few times but I didn’t see anything so thought it was just a dream. At some point I even felt someone was trying to pull my cover away. It was a bad night sleep for me.

In the morning, my mother and sister made a complaint that there were kids playing outside her room for the whole night so she couldn’t sleep.  That was when my uncle, the owner of the house, brought us to light – he told us he has this girl in his care, and she was not human.”

I have heard of this story many times, people, usually in the countryside of Thailand, would feed this type of child ghost in return of its protection, depending on how they use it. For example, there was this nurse I met at a hospital and she claimed that she owned one of these ‘golden children’. She also claimed the golden child helped her family protecting the shop (small supermarket her family owned) from bad spirits.

“It was no doubt we were kid by the golden child in his care. At first I was terrified by the thought of being haunted some spirit. But then my uncle pointed out how pitiful these kids must be. Usually, the golden children come from dead babies that didn’t make it through – they didn’t even get any childhood. That is why they wanted some attention. They wanted to play. They wanted some love that they never received.”            

Unlike many other ghosts, the golden children often visit harmlessly; just like other human children- they want attention and care. The idea of having some inhumane visitor is scary for me. I, myself, never encountered anything like this before and would never wish to. But in this case, if I ever got a chance to experience something similar to the informant, the least I could do is to give these children some sympathy.

“Few days later I went to my uncle’s house again and put some children toys on the shrine (they usually have some sort of residential shrine). I hope it brought her some entertainment and she wouldn’t feel as lonely anymore.”

Legends
Narrative

Haunted Middle School

Informant: “I know in the town next to us, there is a middle school and there is a legend that this boy fell into a hole in like the thirties or something and they were pouring cement and he got trapped under the cement and there was like somehow an air passage that he was able to breathe through, through the cement that they poured on top of him. But then he died there, and so now this ghost haunts the school and if you knock on the principal’s door three times, he’ll knock back.”

 

The informant comes from a small town in California. The informant states “there is nothing to do there, it is just a small town and the biggest thing we have is a Walmart.” She said that because the town is small “everybody knows each other, and we kind of grew up together.”

The middle school from the tale is located in Redlands. The informant learned this tale as a child from her mother. The informant’s mother used to live in Redlands and attended this middle school. The informant remembers this tale because “Its just one of things you’re told that you remember when you are a little kid just because it is interesting.”

The informant does believe in ghosts and has had a personal experience with a ghost. When asked, the informant recalled that “the house I grew up in until I was seven was definitely haunted, I saw his ghost multiple times, and it wasn’t just me, my parents saw him. We would go to bed with all of the windows and doors shut and we would wake up and they would all be wide open, you would hear banging on the pipes and whatnot. We found out that the person who lived there before us died in the house. So the ghost was of the guy that died there.” Thus, ghosts are very real to the informant.

According to the informant, some kids will try to knock on the principal’s door to see if they can get the ghost to knock back. Thus, some kids use this legend to go on a legend quest. The story is also rather morbid and represents a fear of death, especially a slow painful death.

Legends
Narrative

Ghost House

Legend

“I didn’t grow up in Detroit. I lived in this small town outside of it.  It was really nice. All those big houses and really rich people.  There was this one family.  Dad was always out working. Two kids. The daughter had married and moved out.  The mom as home all the time and she got really depressed.  I’d met her once and she was very quiet.  I didn’t know it, but she was an alcoholic and eventually she drank herself to death. Her liver failed.  Her son was left alone.  During the summer, the Dad had to work. So he asked a friend of mine if he could look after his son.  My friend agreed, but he didn’t really look after the kid and we had parties in the house.  One day while we were there, we were telling ghost stories and my friend said, ‘I’ve got this weird one to tell you guys’.  A few nights ago, he had been in his room and he fell asleep.  As he was dreaming, he realized that he was outside of his body.  So he decided to walk through the house and when he came into the kitchen, the entire family of the house was in there—including the mother who had died.  My friend went up to her, and her face was bone white. She was dead.  The mother was holding this little baby.  My friend asked her if she wanted to go and she said, ‘I want to go, but somebody has to look after this baby.’  He woke up right after that.  We were all freaked out by the story.

About a year later, I remembered the story and I asked him about it.  He said that when the father got back from his trip, he told him about his dream.  The father had given him this strange look and said, ‘No one knows this, but my daughter had a baby who died of crib death in this house.’”

My informant is catholic and believed that the mother was trapped in the house to pay for her sins of drinking and leaving her son behind.  She had to take care of another child in the afterlife.  He also believed that the baby couldn’t go to heaven because it was so young and it still needed someone to take care of it.  He said that he liked the story because he liked to believe the stories of rich families with hidden pasts in those big houses.  “You never really know where all that money came from” he said.

My informant’s analysis of why the child and mother were in the house really corresponds well with ghost belief in the church.  A mother who sinned is punished, but the child who hadn’t been christen yet is trapped as well.  A baby is not really a member of the community until that moment and thus is in a state where it is vulnerable.

general
Legends

Moorpark’s Gravity Hill

The story teller was a USC student from the city of Moorpark, about an hour north of LA. She grew up in Moorpark, and is from a Japanese American background. This ghost story was collected late at night, walking on a dimly lit street through campus.

 

Me: First of all, where did you hear this ghost story?

K: Uhm I mean, someone told me, it was just a casual thing, someone told me at someone’s house, it wasn’t a dark scary night or anything. But everyone hears this story at one point or another living there.  So, there is this place in Moorpark, called Gravity hill and its back in…people don’t live back there. Its like farm land, getting into the orange trees and everything, I don’t know anyone who lives back there. I’ve only been back there for this place. So basically, there is this place where supposedly there used to be train tracks and a bus full of kids stalled in front of these train tracks, a long time ago, no one ever told me when. And they couldn’t get the bus off the train tracks, and it was full of kids, and a train started coming and hit the bus and everyone in the bus died. All the kids died. So they say this place is haunted by these little kids, and that if you put your car….if you go to this place and you go to this certain spot and put your car in neutral, and let it sit there, the kids will come, and think you’re stuck there, and they will push your car up hill to try and save you, you go up gravity hill. So we tried it this one time, homecoming night, freshman year, went there before the dance. So we went to this place, and it was my friend’s older sister who was driving the car, and so she had to find the right spot. So she put her car in neutral, and we’re sitting there, and then all of the sudden the car started moving forward. And, I mean, its not that big of a slope, its like a little tiny bit of a slope, and your car starts rolling up hill. Its like, the creepiest thing ever. I heard that some people like to put flour on the back of their car and they check it when they get up the hill, and check for handprints later. Which, I mean, there are rumors about people finding handprints in the flour but I don’t really believe them, but people say that they do.

 

Me: At the time did you believe any of it?

 K: Uhhhh, I don’t know. I don’t really believe in ghosts. I honestly don’t, I mean, I would have to actually look up the history to see if there were actually train tracks there to believe it. If I found out that there were actually train tracks and this did actually happen, I might believe it a little.

Me: Do you think there is any other explanation other than some sort of other worldly spirit?

K: (Laughs) Uhh, I mean, maybe putting your car in neutral doesn’t really put your car all the way in neutral and maybe you have a little gas putting you up the hill? I don’t know, the hill is really small.  So it’s not like….maybe people don’t realize at the very end of where you put your car at there is a little down slope first, you know? I don’t know. You do roll a significant amount forward though, I don’t know. It ‘s kind of creepy. I got goose bumps there, and I was freaked out. I locked my doors.

 

After I heard this story, I was quite speculative myself. Being an engineering that trusts in the good laws of science, I knew this was physically impossible, and that a car could not roll uphill. I did some research using the keyword “gravity hill”. I found an interesting article covering an in depth investigation of how this happens, at it is reported as a common phenomena at various places around the world. The conclusion that they came to was that the car does not actually roll uphill, but rather downhill, and the upward slope that people see is actually an optical illusion caused by the surrounding landscape and curvature of the road. What I find fascinating about this ghost story is that it has an interesting legend, complete with spirits of children, and people are able to go and see it for themselves. Due to the variety of places that have reported this occurring, there is great potential for a variety of different ghost stories to explain why this occurs. These ghost stories could vary by location or culture, and have unique stories, different than the children pushing the car.

 

Source:

 

Richards, David. “IIG | Gravity Hill Investigation.” IIG | The Independent Investigations Group. Independent Investigations Group, 07 Jan. 2006. Web. 05 Nov. 2011. <http://www.iigwest.com/investigations/2006/20060107_gravityhill.html>.

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