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

Great Grandmother’s Murder House

Storyteller: “So my mom’s entire family is from New Orleans, which is essentially the most haunted city in the world…like there is so much tragedy and everyone…like if you grew up there you kind of believe in ghosts? Like you pretend you don’t but you do. No city can have that much tragedy and death and not have stuff wandering around. So my great grandmother had this really nice house. And I remember like being…sort of with it enough as a kid to be like ‘we are not rich, how did she afford this really nice house.’ And it was because it used to be a brothel and there was a murder there and so my family got it really cheap. So it was a murder house right? So the story was that one of the women that worked int he brothel was married. And her husband came in and dragged her up to the attic and they had a huge fight and he killed her. And there were these dark stains on the floor up there that everyone said was blood stains…that would not come out. Whether they were or not I don’t know, but that’s what I know this story was. So, basically they would always tell us that ‘Herald’, essentially, used to live in the attic because it’s where he killed his wife. And we were like ‘yeah whatever. Ha ha. Very funny.’ So my cousins and I are upstairs one day and we are playing in the attic and all of this weird crap starts happening. Like a door slams and a window that like…things like open and not a problem open and like weird weird stuff. And so we were like ‘oh you know what it is. It’s uncle M, he’s trying to scare us…because my uncle was notorious for scaring the kids all of the time. So we were like, ‘it’s just him.’ And then we were like ignoring it and then I looked out the window and my uncle M was downstairs. And we literally screamed and ran downstairs as fast as we could [laughs]. And to this day…NO explanation for what was happening in that attic. We were like ‘maybe it was like the uncle? or whatever…’ but could never prove that it was another human in our family.” [seeing my disturbed face she adds] “Yeah…it’s very upsetting! [laughs] I did not enjoy that! But yeah, that is the story of my great grandmother’s murder house.”

 

Background: The storyteller is from the south (specifically New Orleans) and she got to spend a lot of time growing up there. As a result, she not only has a lot of knowledge on the stories people told about the city, but she also had her own personal experience with a ghost in her great grandmother’s murder house.

Context: I asked her if I could interview her for this project. I knew that she was from the south and after collecting a couple stories from people who grew up in the south, I was fascinated with them and wanted to hear more. She gave me three stories…one of them included this first person narrative of her experience with what she still to this day believes was a ghost. I met up with her and another storyteller for coffee to go over the details.

Thoughts: Like the storyteller already pointed out, New Orleans is famous for being one of the most haunted places in the world. There really is so much tragedy that has occurred in that city throughout the years that it is not hard to believe that there are many ghost stories and legends that derive from it. It is scary to hear and see things out of the ordinary especially when we cannot figure out the realistic cause of it. Many people refuse to believe in such things as ghosts and live in denial with the fact that they may be real. Some things that cannot be explained frighten us.

Legends
Myths

The Girl in the Pink Dress

Context:

While talking with my friend (who will be called D), about general folklore. We began talking about Disney stories and ghost stories came up. D then told me about a familiar story to cast members who work in California Adventure. D is in her early 20’s and works at the Disneyland Resort, specifically within the Hollywood backlot attractions and previously worked the attractions in Bug’s Land until construction began for Marvel Land. Her story take’s place in the Animation building which was next door to Bug’s land until recently.

Main Piece:

Back in the 1970’s when DCA was still the parking lot for Disneyland, there was an accident where a tram ran over a little girl in a pink dress. She haunted Bugs Land but since it’s been demolished for Marvel Land she has moved to the Hollywood area. I heard this story from multiple CM’s who have experienced her presence where she is seen as a shadow walking through the theater alone or calling from the Flik’s phone or Heimlich phone from the now demolished Bug’s Land. I had a personal experience with her as well. It was a Saturday when half of the books in the Beast’s Library broke and they were frozen. We kept capacity down and waited for Maintenance to fix it but they had to call someone from WDI so we waited till the next day. On Sunday morning they tried to reset it and all the books had a blue screen. We blocked off the room and now we had to stand guard to make sure guests didn’t go down there while maintenance and WDI were working. I was with another cast member A, at the time and we were watching a family of four (mom, dad and two little girls with brown hair and shorts) when suddenly A turns and asks me if I saw someone go down to the beast’s library. I said no but I said I would check. When I went down there it was dead silent with blue screens all around in the dark. I came back and told her I didn’t see anyone and asked her to describe what she saw. She said she saw a little blonde girl in a pink dress run down there. I told her there were only these four guests and I was watching them the whole time and neither girls had a dress and they had brown hair. We got scared but nothing else happened.

Background:

There is a lot of terminology used in this piece as the experience happened between coworkers at the Disneyland Resort. DCA is an abbreviation for Disney California Adventure. CM is for Cast Member which is what employees are called at the resort. WDI is an abbreviation for Walt Disney Imagineering which is the company that handles the mechanics of the attractions within the resort. The locations mentioned are Flik’s Flyers, Heimlich’s ChooChoo and Tough to be a Bug theatre which is said to be the haunted attraction within that land. Within the Animation building is the Sorcerer’s Workshop where the Beast’s Library is. The library consists of mechanical books much like computer screens, that guests can interact with.

Notes:

As a cast member who works within the Animation building, I am not a stranger to the stories told by fellow cast members about the little girl with the pink dress. She has been known to jump around the attractions within the area that she was said to have passed away. There was a story recently told to me about a cast member receiving a phone call in the Animation building main office from an attraction in bugs land. This was after everything was demolished in the area. There is nothing left but a flat land of dirt. The description of the little girl never changes and cast members aren’t the only ones who have seen her. Guests have described seeing the little girl as well. These sightings and stories coming from different people and different locations adds to the credibility of the ghost existing.

 

Legends

Two Boys near Pirates of the Caribbean

Context:

The informant is a young woman of 28 years old currently working at the Disneyland Resort. She will be referred to as DG. While DG was working at her former location in a restaurant within Disneyland, she was talking with her friend, who we’ll call KE. He described an odd situation that happened to him during a marathon held within Disneyland before the land was opened to guests.

Main Piece:

I was at work at the Galactic Grill working with one of my friends, KE. We were cleaning at the time and I asked him how his marathon went. He’s a runner and a track coach and did one of the longer Disneyland Marathons. KE told me that he was running out front ahead of everyone so there was no one around when he was running through New Orleans Square. As he passed the Pirates attraction, he heard children laughing and giggling in the distance like they were playing so he ran faster. Later he found out that the attraction was undergoing maintenance, so there was no one around or inside it. Maintenance workers were not scheduled to work on the attraction during the hours of the marathon. The voices sounded like two young boys playing.

Notes:

Disneyland has a fair number of stories shared by cast members about phantom voices and ghosts. One of the stories is of two young boys near the Rivers of America which is located directly across from the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction. In 1973, two boys decided to hide somewhere in Tom Sawyer’s Island which is in the middle of the Rivers of America. After park closing, they thought they would swim onto the main land to play in the park. While attempting to swim across, one of the boys struggled and when the other attempted to help, they both drowned. This event is the origin of the stories shared by cast members and guests who have heard the boys’ voices and have seen movement in the river near Tom Sawyer’s Island.

 

Gestures
Protection

Getting My Ears Pulled When Speaking of The Dead

Nationality: American

Primary Language: English

Other Language(s): None

Age: 62

Residence: New York City, USA

Performance Date: April 8, 2017 (telephonically)

 

Alan is a 62- year old man, born and raised in New Jersey who is a 2nd Generation American whose ancestry is Austrian and Russian.

 

Interviewer: Good Morning. You mentioned that you experienced your mother’s family superstition first hand when you were a youngster. Can you explain it?

 

Informant: Sure. My mother would always pull my ears and those of my sister, when we were very young, when she heard that either a relative or person she knew had just died.

 

Interviewer:  Was there a reason why she did this?

 

Informant: She never spoke directly about this, but my mother was a superstitious individual when it came to the evil eye. I have to assume that this had something to do with that. For instance, she would always dress my sister and me in red if we were visiting someone who she felt possessed an evil eye. I remember one time when she just stood in front of this particular person and walking backward pushed my sister and me out of the room. I was young and didn’t really think anything about it.

 

As I got older I began to realize that the pulling of our ears when she spoke about the dead was a part of her superstitious beliefs. I never observed this behavior with her sisters and brothers (my aunts and uncles). Her mother and father (my grandparents) were both dead before I was born so I never saw if it was somehow connected this action to them. However, knowing my mother, she might have come up with this crazy superstition all on her own.

 

Interviewer: Does She Still Do This?

 

Informant: No. The last time I remember her tugging at my ears was when my Great Uncle Joe had passed away when I was 13. We were driving to a supermarket and my father asked my Mother when was Joe’s funeral. As he did she reached around from the front car seat and managed to grab my left ear, but I twisted and prevented her from getting my right one. From that day forward, she never tugged my ears again!”

 

 

 

 

 

Thoughts about the piece:  

Superstitious gestures like this one become ingrained even if connection to meaning is lost. http://www.imamother.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=172695

For other Jewish superstitious customs see: http://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/popular-superstitions/

 

 

 

general

Haunted House in the Philippines

The 21-year-old informant was born in the Philippines, but moved to the U.S. (Hawaii) at the age of 9. As ghosts and other mythical creatures play a large role in Filipino culture, the informant recounts personal stories and myths that she encountered during her time in the Philippines.

Informant: “When I was little, I was with my brother and we were at my grandma’s house, and we had a babysitter with us, so it was just the 3 of us. I was like, 3 or 4 years old maybe? I think it was a 5-story house– it was a pretty big house, which people were saying it was so big that it wasn’t as inhabited as it should be, so then like, ghosts started coming in and like, taking over the space or whatever.

But um, we’re just playing and then we heard like, chains on the stairs, just like (*makes a few thumping noises with her hand*). It kept stepping on the stairs and we heard chains just clanking on the floor, and as a child I was just like, ‘Fuck is that?’ And there’s a foot on the stairs, and it was all bloody. It was literally just a foot, and it had chains around it– all bloody. And it just kept stepping, not really going anywhere.

And then, I talked to my brother, and up ’til this day, he’s like, ‘No, I swear I saw it,’ and he was 7 years old then? Maybe I was 4… I was 3 or 4.”

Collector: “Was it like, a solid foot?”

Informant: “Ya, it was just one foot. I forgot what that house used to be… like, what used to be there before the house was built… but I know there was some mystery there.

And there was another one… like, the house was pretty haunted. I heard stories that–well, when we weren’t there–my other cousins lived right across that house, and her grandma would say that she would see like, a white lady just walking across the rooftop, and no one was there ’cause everyone was like, in Hawaii or like, the mainland or whatever… So that was another one of the stories.”

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