USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘dark’
Legends
Narrative

Bay Area Ghost Story

Informant EB is 52 years old and recounted the story of a paranormal encounter he experienced last fall:

Have you ever experienced anything that you would consider to be of supernatural origins?

“As a matter of fact, I have. First some backstory. When my wife and I were purchasing our home we were told by the realtor that the prior owner, a contractor who had built the house himself,  had committed suicide along the side of the house due to financial difficulties and his wife leaving him. Early last November, a day or two after Halloween, I was walking my aging dog whose hips are starting to fail around the walkway surrounding our property in order to avoid her straining herself by climbing up the stairs inside. Upon rounding a corner, which due to tree cover and a lack of windows on that side of the house was submerged in near complete darkness,  I saw, for only a split-second, what could only be described as a face come rushing at me before passing right through sending a curdling chill down my spine. My dog started barking incessantly and I, obviously shake, continued on into the light of the front of the house and inside.”

Did your opinion regarding the existence of the paranormal changed after this experience?

“Yeah I’d say so. I wouldn’t say I didn’t believe in the paranormal prior to this experience but having never had any personal encounters I definitely had my fair share of doubts. I’definitely say this experience has solidified my belief in the existence of the supernatural to some extent.”

What context would you share your experience in?

“I have told several people in the month since. Whenever talk of ghosts has come up in conversation I’ve brought it up.”

How did people react to your experience?  

“A mixture of fear and skepticism. I would be skeptical too had I not been the one to experience it. ”

 

Analysis: The story took place “a day or two after Halloween” meaning it quite likely could have fallen on November 2nd, which is also All Souls Day. All Souls Day is a day on which the Catholic Church remembers those dead that are now in Purgatory being cleansed of their venial sins and carrying out the temporal punishments for their mortal sins. November 1st or 2nd is also a part of the three days of Day of the Dead festivities popular in Hispanic cultures during which the souls of ancestors are remembered and are believed to return from the dead to visit their living relatives. As such the soul of a man who had died via the mortal sin of suicide would, according to the catholic doctrine and Hispanic customs be more likely to appear during this time frame. A motif common to many ghost stories and which also appears in this story is its occurrence in a liminal location, the property line between the former homeowner’s property and that of his neighbors.

Folk Beliefs
general
Legends

Do not respond to voices

Informant Background: The informant was born in rural parts of China called Hainan. She lived there with her grandparents where she attended elementary school. She moved to the United States when she was thirteen. She speaks both Chinese and English. She lives in Los Angeles with her mother but travels back to visit her relatives in Beijing and Hainan every year. She and her mother still practice a lot of Chinese traditions and celebrate Chinese holidays through special meals.

 

In the countryside of China the bathroom is not part of the house. It is small hut or room separate from the house. Sometimes people have to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night through a dark area surrounded by trees. And…Sometimes you will hear noises from wind and trees. My grandparents told me that if you hear a voice calling you, or calling your name, you should ignore it. You are not supposed to look or respond to the voice even though the voice might sound like your parents or somebody you know. If you answer, the ghost that created the voice will take you away and you will disappear.

The informant said this story was told to her by her grandparents every time she visits them in the countryside. When somebody said they need to use the bathroom, her grandparents will say “if you hear a voice, don’t answer.”This is a warning for people of all ages to be careful of strange and familiar voices at night time because these voices can be ghosts and spirits calling your name. To respond to those voices is the same as responding and acknowledging the spirits. Acknowledging the spirit makes you a target.

 

I heard of a similar folk belief from my friend where you cannot respond to unfamiliar sounds especially at night time because it means that you can hear the spirits. If you can hear it then that means they can come and take you away. If you ignore and pretend you do not to hear it then you are safe. This folk-belief shows the fear of night and darkness which occurs in many culture. In this case it is the fear of the unknown and the unseen.

This warning also shows the danger in acknowledging something from the other realm that by acknowledging the voice makes you a target. It reminds me of the Sirens from Greek mythology how sound is used as a target luring device.

It is similar to other ghost story how ghosts and spirits emulate living things to lure in their target. This belief is a warning to be careful of the surrounding when you are alone at night time even though it still in the area of your own house.

I think it could also be that those voices are a murderer who calls out and the disappearance and death is done by a person rather than spirit.  This legend could be another form of disappearance crime done by humans rather than spirits.But then again as a legend the truth value fluctuates. Similar to most legends this story/warning challenges the concept of believe. It also shows that belief is very contextual. Even when the informant was telling me this story, both she and I were a little scared because our surrounding was very quiet. In this case, the truth value of the legend does not need to be proven for the story to have an effect.

Folk speech
Humor
Musical

Barney Theme Song Parody

 “I hate you, you hate me, let’s get together and kill Barney, with a bazooka, and a big ol’ machine gun, boom, boom, boom and Barney’s dead.”

This is a song sung in the same tune as the song from the Barney television show that used to go, “I love you, you love me, we are happy family, with a great big hug and a kiss from me to you, won’t you say you love me too?”  In a way it is a play on it and mocks the cherished children’s show, which is as classic as Sesame Street and Big Bird.  However, this version is sung by slightly older children, such as the informant from Moorpark, CA, who are aware of more violent objects such as machine guns and bazookas.  The informant learned of this version of the Barney song from her older brother who was in sixth grade and had learned it from his friends at school.  She repeats it because she is at the age where she repeats everything her older brother does, no matter what it is, in order to impress the “grown ups” of how much she knows.  She likes it because she is a very lyrical person and likes to sings rhymes and tunes in the car whenever the family travels.

This is a saying often restricted to children, generally those who have grown up in the 90’s when Barney was still quite popular, who have grown older and are capable of creating such a creative and mocking rhyme.  I think that the kids retell it as a method of proving to other people and kids that they have grown up, almost a hierarchy among children.  Since the older kids know the new and different rhyme, they can distinguish themselves from the “kiddies” and “babies” who still watch Barney, the friendly purple dinosaur.  I think it is a sense of status that causes the children to spread this chant and they enjoy that feeling that they can be different from other students.

 

There are many versions of this mock barney song which can be found at http://www.amiright.com/parody/90s/barney0.shtml For example,

“I hate you, you hate me
Let’s get together and kill Barney
With tanks of water and acid he will drown
Barney escapes but he falls down”

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