USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘ghosts’
Folk Beliefs
general

Tijuana Taxi Ghost

Folklore:

This is a Mexican ghost story about a taxi driver. Several taxi drivers have claimed they have picked up a woman and she instead of giving a location location to the drive she gave them directions. The directions took them to a very far location. The location ended up being a cemetery and when they arrived and the taxi driver looked towards the backseat the woman was gone.

Background and Context:

This story was told to me in a casual setting in middle of the evening on a weekend. The informant is a Sophomore at USC and is Mexican American but grew up in Southern California. She was told this story by her mother in her teenage years. My informant also told me it is a story specific to her mother’s hometown Tijuana, Mexico.  

Final Thoughts:

My thoughts on this story is that it does not hold any specific message but is used as entertainment. I thought this story was interesting that my informant told me it was specific to a city rather than the whole country or region. What I also found interesting is in the story the taxi driver does not realize she is a ghosts until she disappears, there is also no mentions of bad luck, tragedy or horror that most ghost stories tend to have. Overall this story was a very unique type of folklore.

Folk Beliefs
general

Hitchhiking Ghost

Folklore:  

This story is a Mexican ghost story focusing on a hitchhiking woman. Truck drivers would be driving and see a woman hitchhiking so they would pick her up and let her sit in the back of the trunk. However when they look back later the woman would be missing and the truck drivers would freak out.

Background and Context:

This story was told to me in a casual setting in middle of the evening on a weekend. The informant is a Sophomore at USC and is Mexican American but grew up in Southern California. She was told this story by her mother in her teenage years. While her mother told her this story her father is the one who originally told her mother. My informant also told me it is a story specific to her father’s hometown in Mexico, Guerrero. This story she believes to be true as many truck drivers claimed to experience this phenomena.

Final Thoughts:

My thoughts on this story is that it does not hold any specific message but is used as entertainment. I thought this story was interesting because my informant told me it was specific to a city rather than the whole country or region. What I also found interesting is in the story the taxi driver does not realize she is a ghosts until she disappears, there is also no mentions of bad luck, tragedy or horror that most ghost stories tend to have. It is also unique that this story originated from different many different truck drivers with the same story. When the story has a origin from multiple sources who do not know each other it makes it more realistic for myself.

 

Folk Beliefs
Legends
Life cycle
Narrative
Signs

Ability to See Ghosts

A fellow student in this class and I met to exchange folklore. We are both very aware of the guidelines of the project, so there was no explaining necessary. Neither of us had any preference for certain category of folklore, so we agreed to share whatever we wanted. She chose the following story. BD is the informant, PH is myself

BD: My name is Beanna, I am 19, I am from the San Francisco Bay Area. What other questions are there?

PH: Nationality

BD: I’m Filipino but I’m also American, my family is third generation

So when my mom was a senior in high school her dad passed away and then she…was the only one there when he actually passed away and ever since then she says that she can see ghosts or like not see ghosts but she experiences ghostly things..so…like seven years ago my grandmother on my dad’s side passed away, and again, like, my mom was not the only one there but, after that we were cleaning up my grandmother’s house and my mom said that she saw my grandmother in the …mirror? Like the main mirror of the house and like every time she passes it she sees like a white flash…and I’m not really sure if that white flash is also supposed to be my grandmother? It’s kind of freaky…and, yeah, things like that happen. Like whenever someone passes away and my mom knows about it, all of a sudden, she gets, like, mirror sightings ‘cause I don’t think it helps that in our house in our main hallway we have this very large mirror and like our neighbor’s…mom passed away …two years ago? And my mom kept insisting for like three weeks after that she kept seeing flashes in the mirror… Yeah.

PH: Wow. So, do you believe that she is, like, seeing those things and seeing ghosts?

BD: Not really, no. (Laughs) It’s also kind of like a Filipino superstition thing because her mom also thinks that she can see ghosts which is really weird because, like, my mom thinks it stems from her being present when her dad died, but my mom’s mom was not there, so why would she be able to see ghosts by that same logic, sort of?

Legends
Narrative

Pullman Hotel Tennis Ghost

Main Piece:

 

The following was recorded from the Participant. They are marked as TM. I am marked as DG.

 

TM: When I was working, um, at Pullman Hotel, and it’s in the uh Pullman neighborhood in Chicago, and it’s the hotel that housed people that used to visit the Pullman Palace Car Company and made railroad cars-really fancy ones. And so, uh, they had a factory in that neighborhood, and then they had a tower of houses…And so it was built in 1880, and it’s no longer used as a hotel, um, partly because there’s no way to get out if you’re on the top floor. Yeah, um, and I…was kind of manning the front desk for tourists to come in and walk around the old hotel and these three women walked in and one was kind of a little bit, you know, younger–not 20s but maybe 30s, and, um, then there were two women maybe a little bit older and they had like fanny packs on, you know, and kind of tourist looking… And, um, the younger one had on like a tennis skirt or something. It looked like she played tennis or something, um, it looked a little dated but not really so I talked to them…Um, it was mostly–it was the two older women who were talking to me, I guessed the other was their kid, and, um, it used to be a restaurant at the hotel-and it was fancy-which isn’t there anymore. Um, so they all kind of went off and the two of them went to do the tour where, um, you have your piece of paper and you walk around and take the tour on your own, and the other went off to the bathroom. And then the woman comes walking around the corner from the bathroom, kind of reaching into her pocket to, you know, maybe hand me a piece of paper, and then she just just disappeared. Just completely gone! She had a tennis skirt on, it was kind of 80s. It was kind of funny 80s, I thought it was kind of dated, but then I was like she’s kind of close to my age so like. I have no idea what that was about.

 

Apparently the hotel was supposed to be haunted and many people have had ghost experiences there.

 

 

Context:

 

The conversation was recorded while sitting in a hallway outside of a classroom on a university campus. The context of where the interviewee saw the ghost was in the front desk area of the old Pullman Hotel. Apparently, the hotel is a well-known haunted site, and most who have worked there have had sightings.

 

Background:

 

The interviewee is a professor at the University of Southern California. They are also a practicing archeologist. Originally from Chicago, IL, they now live in Los Angeles, CA, with their husband. The interviewee worked in Finance before pursuing a teaching degree.

 

Analysis:

 

I think this story held a lot of weight because I’ve had my fair share of ghost stories. I’ve also worked long hours in a retail setting, and know that feeling you get towards the end where you’re starting to imagine things. I think that made this story even better, because I could easily imagine the feeling of “Did I just see that??” Beyond that, many others have apparently seen ghosts at the Pullman Hotel, adding legitimacy to the legend. It also made me wonder what was on the paper–was it a message that the apparition was trying to tell TM, or was it just a recording ghost that does the same act in the same place forever?

Legends
Narrative

Ancestor Mirror Ghost

Main Piece:

 

The following was recorded from the Participant. They are marked as BDV. I am marked as DG.

 

BDV: So my mom thinks that ghosts communicate to her, so after my dad’s mom passed away, and we…we were the ones to clean out her house and pack away her stuff and things like that. And my mom kept insisting that every time she passed this mirror, she would see something behind her, and she thought that it was my dad’s mom and we were like, “ok whatever.” And then coming back to our own house, the same thing would happen to the mirror in our living room, and she was like-it happened for a year for her until, like, the year anniversary of my grandma’s passing.

 

DG: And you heard that from your mom?

 

BDV: Yeah, from my mom. And she says that the same thing happens to other people in her family. Like, after her dad passed away, it happened to her eldest sister. And she thinks that since my grandma didn’t have any daughters-she only had my dad-that it, like, passed to her daughter-in-law, which is, like, my mom.”

 

 

Context:

 

The conversation was recorded while sitting outside of a coffee shop at the University of Southern California. The ghost sighting was seen at the house of the interviewee’s grandmother, as well as at the house of the interviewee.

 

Background:

 

The student was born and raised in Northern California. She is a sophomore at the University of Southern California. She is the fourth generation to grow up in America, but is Filipino. She speaks several languages, with English being her native language.

 

Analysis:

 

I’ve heard about stories like this. There seems to be a lot of folklore concerning mirrors and ghosts, leading me to believe that mirrors are a method of communication to the other side. For example, the Bloody Mary game is played in a mirror. I personally have heard folklore about not looking into a mirror in the dark or the spirits will replace your soul with theirs, leaving you trapped in the mirror. So to me, the idea of seeing the deceased behind you in the mirror seems entirely believable, and also incredibly terrifying.

Folk Beliefs
Legends

Stonegate Mansion

Title: Stonegate Mansion

Category: Legend, Ghost-Story

Informant: Julianna K. Keller

Nationality: American, caucasian

Age: 20

Occupation: Student

Residence: 325 West Adams Blvd./ Los Angeles, CA 90007

Date of Collection: 4/09/18

Description:

Stonegate mansion was owned by a businessman in the early 1970s. One evening, the owner of Stonegate discovered that his wife was having an affair. Overcome with anger he took out his aggression on his wife and daughter, killing them both. Upon hearing the cries of his employer, the Stonegate’s butler ran into the scene hoping to save her. Quick to hide his crime and appease his emotions further, Mr. Stonegate then murdered the butler as well. All of the murders took place in the upstairs parlor.

The mansion was later turned over to the state before it was sold to a private company that renovated it and now lents it out for parties and celebrations. The owners keep all parties exclusive to the first floor. Owners and visitors alike say that evil spirits haunt the second and third stories, warning people to keep away from the area of the infamous crime.

Context/Significance:

Stonegate Mansion is located in Fort Worth Texas. Known for its architectural design, The Stonegate Mansion features more than 12,000 square feet of gleaming hardwoods, marble floors, soaring ceilings, and floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook majestic oak trees and immaculate landscaping. The Stonegate Mansion is spacious enough for groups of up to 300, but intimate enough for parties of 20.

In 1972, Cullen Davis spent $6 million to build the five-bedroom, 11-bath mansion with an indoor pool and a 2,000-square-foot (190 m2) master bedroom. In its prime, the luxurious, contemporary home of courtyards, tunnels and balconies at 4100 Stonegate Blvd. was decorated with more than 100 oil paintings. The mansion was designed by Albert S. Komatsu and Associates.

Explaining its darker past, in 1976 a man in black, wearing a black wig, shot and killed two people there. Three witnesses described Davis as the shooter. But in a trial in Amarillo he was acquitted of the killing of his 12-year-old stepdaughter, Andrea Wilborn, who was murdered execution-style in the basement. Prosecutors also later dismissed charges related to the killing of former TCU basketball player Stan Farr, who police found dead in the kitchen, and the wounding of Davis’ estranged wife, Priscilla, and her friend Gus “Bubba” Gavrel. Davis’ oil-based business empire later crumbled. He moved out of the mansion in 1983 and declared bankruptcy in 1987.

 

Personal Thoughts:

I’ve never been to Stonegate mansion, but my roommate had her Senior Prom in one of its ballrooms. She says the estate is gorgeous and home to many celebrations in the area. The mansion doesn’t advertise the ghosts online, but she says that the stories are common knowledge to those who live in the area.

Customs
Festival
Folk Beliefs
Folk Dance
Folk speech
Foodways
Game
general
Holidays
Life cycle
Material
Musical
Narrative
Rituals, festivals, holidays
Stereotypes/Blason Populaire

Columbus, MS; Pilgrimage Week

Title: Columbus, MS; Pilgrimage Week

Category: Town Celebration/Holiday

Informant: Lieanne Walker

Nationality: American, caucasian

Age: Upper 60s

Occupation: Blue Collar— Homemaker, stockman, Home Depot Employee, etc.

Residence: Columbus, MS

Date of Collection: 4/21/18

Description:

The town of Columbus, Mississippi holds a pilgrimage week every year to commiserate the town’s history. Settled in the deep South, pilgrimage week revolves around the period just before the Civil War and reconstruction (mid. 19th Century). Pilgrimage week is generally held in the Spring, sometimes early April, and lasts approximately five days.

During the week, one of the main events is antebellum tours. Due to the nature of plantation style living during that era, a multitude of homes were built in that period and hold much of the town’s history and significance as a trade hub and economic cross-roads for cotton, molasses, and tobacco. Many of the homes were kept and maintained by families that have inherited the lands.

While not all of the homes have remained, the ones that are often house relics, clothing, and historic narratives. People living in these homes will open up their estates during the week and dress in clothing passed down from their ancestors. This clothing might include: Confederate uniforms, hoop skirts, antebellum dresses, coat and ties, etc. Women will often wear bonnets and carry fans. Visitors and locals alike are encouraged to tour these houses and are sometimes invited to rent out rooms for bed and breakfast.

During the week there are festivities that happen such as recipe contests, history reports, and parades.

Presiding over the festival is a Pilgrimage court. The pilgrimage court includes a king, queen, ladies, and gentleman. The Pilgrimage king and queen are chosen for being prominent young member of the community that uphold the town’s traditions. The pilgrimage queen is usually a first year college student studying at the local University where the pilgrimage king is typically a senior in high school. The court is comprised of high school males and females from the upperclassman level. The king and queen of pilgrimage week are responsible for attending specific antebellum tours, hosting events at their respective homes, and participating in the pilgrimage week parade. The two are crowned at the end of the celebration during the pilgrimage ball (the concluding ceremony of the event). The king and queen will usually also have a large banner or sign outside of their homes indicating their role in the celebration.

In the evening, candle-lit tours of some of these homes will be offered as well as cemetery tours. Younger members of the community (high school underclassman and below) will volunteer to research and dress up as some of the prominent past leaders of the past community and stand by their graves to give information and tell stories to passerby. These tours are held after sun down and lead by candlelight.

Context/Significance:

The Columbus Spring Pilgrimage is an award-winning event that has been widely recognized as one of the best and most authentic home tours in the South. The antebellum mansions of Columbus are impeccably maintained and as resplendent as ever. Many home tours feature recreated activities of the 1800s, complete with period costumes, which add excitement and even more authenticity to this historic event.

Personal Thoughts:

Columbus pilgrimage week is a way for both residents and visitors to celebrate the history of the town’s past while appreciating the aspects of Southern culture that bring fame to the area. Tourism is a main function of this event as well. When I was younger, my mother brought me to pilgrimage week once when visiting relatives in the area. Similar to the way people will make pilgrimages for religious purposes or self exploration, I felt then and still feel now a connection to the area and a bond with their history. While I’m not sure whether or not I’d call myself personally a “Southerner,” my roots bring me back to the area time and time again. Getting to visit and take part in these pilgrimage activities help give new meaning to the life my ancestors once lived and helps me get a better picture of who I am on an individual level as well.

Folk Beliefs
general
Legends

Winchester Mystery House

BACKGROUND:

A woman from Saratoga, California tells the legend of the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, California.

INTERVIEW:

My interview with my source, L, went as follows:

ME: So tell me about your experience with the Winchester House and like what you know.

L: I grew up in San Jose and everywhere as a child were huge billboards for the Winchester Mystery House and it always had this scary image of a skull and this very creepy looking house and it always played up on the mystery and the scariness of it and everyone would talk about it. But as a child I’d never been. And all you would hear was all of the legends and the stories that surrounded it right around the house were several movie theaters. So we were all very familiar with the outside of the house and everyone would talk about oh the Winchester Mystery House and how Sarah Winchester had inherited this vast fortune from her husband on his death that from the Winchester rifle company and that after his death she was devastated. They had lost their only child in infancy and then her husband died. I think typhoid fever. I’m not sure if that’s right but that was the lore as I was told it and that she went to a spiritualist was really big back in those days and they ate hundreds and he told her that all of her sadness and tragedy and misfortune was because all of the money that she and her husband had was blood money because of all the people that had died because of the Winchester rifle and that she needed to move out west and she needed to start building a house to house all of the spirits of the people that were killed by the Winchester rifle and that as long as she would build she would stay alive. She would evade the ghosts and all the tragedies that were befalling her family. But the building could never stop. They had lost their only child in infancy and then her husband died. I think typhoid fever. I’m not sure if that’s right but that was the lore as I was told it and that she went to a spiritualist was really big back in those days and they ate hundreds and he told her that all of her sadness and tragedy and misfortune was because all of the money that she and her husband had was blood money because of all the people that had died because of the Winchester rifle and that she needed to move out west and she needed to start building a house to house all of the spirits of the people that were killed by the Winchester rifle and that as long as she would build she would stay alive. She would evade the ghosts and all the tragedies that were befalling her family. But the building could never stop. And so she left the East Coast and she moved to California and she bought the little farm house and started rebuilding it and built this enormous mansion in its place and that her whole goal was to never ever stop building because she was afraid of the spirits of all the dead. And so she would have workers building 24/7. It never stopped. Night Day there was always someone building on the house and she built stairways that went nowhere and doors that you would open the door and there would be a brick wall behind it and fireplaces that didn’t even go all the way up through to the ceiling. It just went part way and cupboards that were only like an inch deep just strange bizarre stuff. And she was super obsessed with you know the spiritual side of all these ghosts that were chasing her she felt and she had a Seance room built into the house so that she could speak to the dead and she intentionally built this house to be like a labyrinth where you know these doors that open to nothing were to confuse all the spirits that might be coming after her. So the house was built both the house them and yet to keep them from being able to get to her. And so as a kid you know it just was so scary and you would hear all these stories about that you know at night sometimes you would see lights moving through the house like candles flickering through the house because it was the workers still the ghosts of the workers still working on the House. And if you would you know stop and listen which we could do because the movie theaters parking lots right up to the hedges of the house we would stop and listen because they would say you could hear the hammers of the workers still working into the middle of the night you know and she was obsessed with the number 13. You know she had windowpanes that were specifically the number 13 panes in the window and 13 steps in a stairway in the 13th bathroom has 13 windows and she just was. So everything was really cold and creepy and so as a kid it was just so mysterious and scary and the first time I finally got to visit the house I was about 12 and we had friends that came into town from Southern California and they wanted to see them in Winchester Mystery House so my parents said we could all go and it was both fascinating and terrifying. Even though it was just a house because of all the stories that we heard you’re walking through it and it’s beautiful. No expense was spared when she was building this house it’s amazing the craftsmanship that went into all of these things that are kind of pointless because they go nowhere and do nothing but it’s stunningly beautiful. But at the same time there was always all of this scary creepiness about it because of all the stories that we’d heard as children and all the legends that surround just how crazy she was or how afraid she was and her fear and the ghosts and all the weird things that she did.

ME: Wow that’s actually insane.

 

MY THOUGHTS:

I think it’s incredible how knowledgeable this source was. She really was able to give me a thorough explanation of all the crazy stories and legends behind the house. I like how she gave both an account of the stories she got from word of mouth before she visited the house, as well as an account of what she learned after visiting.

Legends

Irma Hotel ghost story

My friend Jace grew up in Cody, Wyoming, a town named for the folk hero “Buffalo Bill” Cody. He gave me the following description of the purportedly haunted Irma Hotel:

“So apparently this was like, the first hotel ever built in Cody. And it was named after one of Buffalo Bill’s daughters who died when she was a kid; it’s called the Irma Hotel or whatever. And then apparently, I think it was like, some, like some important person within the state came to visit and ended up like, dying or being murdered in his hotel room. Like being- being shot with like a- one of those muskets or whatever. And then uh, so I don’t know, apparently he’s just supposed to like, haunt the whole hotel ’cause he wasn’t a good guy. Uh and then also Buffalo Bill himself uh, is supposed to haunt the hotel. There are reports of waitresses seeing people in dining booths, but then when they go over they’re not there, or seeing people- like the the people that clean the rooms seeing people like, walking around the hallways.”

This legend is deeply linked not only to the town in which it is meant to have taken place, but particularly to Buffalo Bill Cody himself. The incorporation of Buffalo Bill into folklore like this piece contribute to his status as a legendary figure and folk hero–someone who certainly existed, but whose identity is shrouded in unsubstantiated stories due to his widespread exaltation. This particular legend weaves together supernatural, patriotic (in the form of folk hero celebration), and local themes.

Folk Beliefs
general

La Llorona

Folklore:

This story is well known throughout general Mexico and is titled La Llorona which translates to the weeping women and is a ghost story. The story focuses on an indigenous women who marries a Spaniard and has three children. However the husband leaves the woman and marries a wealthy Spanish woman. In the indigenous women’s anger she kills her three children. Right after she kills them she regrets killing her children, so she drowns herself. In the end her soul cannot move on so she roams lakes and rivers at night calling out “mis hijos” which translates to my children.

Background and Context:

This story was told to me in a casual setting in middle of the evening on a weekend. The informant is a Sophomore at USC and is Mexican American but grew up in Southern California. She was told this story by her mother in her teenage years. My informant also told me it is a ghost story and it is believed that anyone who hears the wailing woman is destined for bad luck, it is also told to children so they won’t wander outside at night.

Final Thoughts:

This was not the first time for me to be hearing this story so I believe this story is very popular and has many different variations. I also agree with the notion that this story is used to prevent children from wandering out at night, it would be effective because it would scare the children in fear of receiving bad luck by hearing the wailing women. I do not believe in ghost but I  do believe ghosts are a possibility so this story would deter me from going out at night as a child.

 

 

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