USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘creepy’
Folk Beliefs

The Ursuline Ghost

(trigger warning: talk of self-harm)

 

INFORMANT: Do you remember the ghost story about the nun that haunts Ursuline?

 

ME: Yes I do, but go ahead and tell me about it.

 

INFORMANT: Okay so in the entryway of the highschool Ursuline, they have an old picture of a class where you can actually see this ghostly figure in a window in the background. The legend is that the nun killed herself in the school and is now cursed to walk the halls for eternity. I remember when I took a tour of the school, I got goosebumps and instantly creeped out. I didn’t even know the story at the time but I knew that place was haunted. It’s also just super old and creepy looking

 

Background

The informant fully believes that the school is actually haunted by the nun and found the picture that everyone references online. She originally heard the story from one of her friends who attends the all girls school and has since passed it onto her friends at her school as well.

 

Context

Ursuline Academy is an all girls private Catholic school in Dallas, Texas. The informant is currently a student at a different, co-ed private school in Dallas.

 

Thoughts

The idea that the nun was forced to haunt that school as a result of killing herself is a statement about the catholic roots of the school. In Christianity, suicide is considered a sin instead of a result of depression. This concept that suicide is a punishable act may have contributed to this story (it should be noted that there is no record of a nun ever dying on the school’s grounds- much less commiting suicide on school grounds). On the other hand, Christians believe in Heaven and Hell and therefore don’t believe in ghosts. So the idea that a servant of God would be damned to haunt Earth forever is a naturally rebellious idea that goes against traditional beliefs.

 

Legends
Narrative

Haunted Photo Development

Informant Info: The informant is a 26-year-old female who was born in raised in Hickory, North Carolina. For the past 3 years, she has lived in Orlando, Florida and has worked for Walt Disney World as a Status Coordinator.

 

Interview Transcript:

 

Interviewer: Have you ever had anything strange happen to you, like stuff you can’t really explain?

 

Interviewee: We actually did have a “ghost” in the dark room in photography class in high school. they called it the boohag! (Laughter) Anytime something would go wrong with a print in the wash stage of developing, they blamed it on the ghost — Because you literally just let your print sit in the water and nothing should ever happen to it in that stage.

 

Interviewer: Do you have any idea where the story of the boohag comes from? Is there any background to it?

 

Interviewee: Mrs. Gow, the photography teacher, started it to scare students into not taking her class for an easy elective. She only wanted students that were dedicated to photography and art.

 

Interviewer: So it was completely made up? Or did you ever have any experiences with it personally?

 

Interviewee: Well, it happened to me and a friend in the smaller darkroom one time when we were by ourselves and we purposely ruined our prints by opening the door before they were done because there were these creepy knocks on the wall going back and forth and then there was a dragging noise from one wall to the next and it was literally the most terrifying thing. We opened the door into an intro to art class of all freshman with the most horrified looks on our faces and no one knew what was going on. To this day, I think the boohag was actually a real ghost.

 

Analysis:

This story has all the motifs that a typical ghost usually contains. The story is set in a darkroom, which is a room with no light and is usually quiet and isolated. It can be argued that the dark room is a liminal space. I find it interesting that she mentions the teacher completely made up the ghost, but then that she later had an experience of “creepy knocks” and “dragging.” Since the ghost is made up, it could just be old pipes or a rodent in the walls that scared her… or maybe there really is a ghost! It is also worth noting that there are other stories of a “boohag” ghost, such as the one documented here: http://americanfolklore.net/folklore/2010/05/boo_hag.html, but the stories are radically different and likely don’t share any connection other than the name.

 

Narrative

Creepy Clown Story

Informant is USC sophomore born and raised in Amherst, NY.

He tells me the story of a “deranged clown” he and his friends came across in the summer of 2016.

He tells me:

“Yeah, we were walking in the forest by my house. I was going to shoot some pictures and my two friends were with me. It was like noon, a perfectly normal day.

So I was going to take some portraits and then we were going to go see a movie. It was so normal, but as we’re walking down the path in the forest— it’s behind the school, we went all the time so this was no different— I saw this color out of the corner of my eye.

And this was happening right around the time when all those clowns were showing up in videos. So my first thought was “oh god, a clown.” And so I turned and there he— it— was, a clown standing in the forest. It looked like he was holding a knife, I saw a glisten which could have been a knife, but also maybe a phone or something. A watch glistening or something, but I’m pretty sure it was a knife.

He wasn’t looking at us but immediately I had a flash back to a video I saw where a clown started chasing someone at like, full speed. So I wasted no time and we high tailed it out of there.

Usually I don’t believe in this kind of stuff. Honestly I thought those clown videos were just all faked. But when you see one yourself, and you think that somebody’s crazy enough to go stand in the forest dressed like that, you don’t care what’s faked. You get the fuck out of there!”

Personally I’m also skeptical of this “killer clown” thing. It seems a little too “Hollywood” to be true to me, it kind of taps into this scary movie fear we have as a society. I don’t know if I actually believe he saw a clown, or if he even believes he did. Part of me thinks he’s just playing off of the trend and wanted to have a creepy clown story of his own.

I also wonder about the “scary clown” thing— why is it true? What’s so scary about clowns, or as a society did we choose to make the clown scary because it’s a better narrative?

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