USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘haunted’
general

Haunted High School Auditorium

The informant told a group of friends this story when recounting weird traditions and stories about their high school experience. The informant is from a rural town in Eastern Oregon.

“So, our auditorium at my high school is also haunted, and rumour has it that the drama/english teacher that later got fired because he apparently had sex with a student, um, basically he confirmed this, and was the director  of the theatre and stuff, but there was like this kid who was really into theater and everything, and he killed himself and we don’t know why or how, but he killed himself apparently, but the specific seat, J26, is supposed to be particularly haunted and that’s where he always sits, and my teacher would say how they would be putting on plays, and the light box you would see shadows or voices or scuttering about so, Yeah. That’s basically it.”

Analysis:

It is hard to see what the English/Drama teacher would gain by spreading the rumour of the ghost, but it has been widely accepted in the informants school as truthful.

general

Otok Daksa (Daksa island)

NK is my grandmother who was born and raised in Dubrovnik, Croatia. Being a local she knows a lot about the city and its folklore. She first told me this story in elementary school for a project on islands near Dubrovnik.

“Daksa is a small island near Dubrovnik. For years after World War 2 access to this island was forbidden. The island is haunted and even the owners of the island don’t live on it and have tried to sell it couple of times now. The island is haunted because there were 48 people accused of being Nazi sympathizers and were brutally executed in 1944. Locals say it’s haunted by their ghosts looking for justice.”

 

What’s the real story behind it?

 

“Yugoslav partisans celebrated their victory over the Nazis by rounding up anyone they thought corroborated with the enemy, including the village priest and mayor,

The ‘guilty’ were then rowed out to the island where they were gunned down in cold blood and left unburied. The locals were told that the same fate awaited them if they intervened, so the corpses remained uncovered for decades and it wasn’t until recent years that they were finally laid to rest. So the legend has it that spirits of the dead men haunt the island, demanding justice against those responsible.”

 

The ghost story obviously has some true facts. I’m guessing that because of the tragedy that occurred on the island, the locals had to cope with it some way and said the island was haunted.

Festival
general
Legends
Narrative
Rituals, festivals, holidays

The Stump Murderer

Folklore Piece

“So this is just an old ghost story from camp, in northern Wisconsin. But this guy who was an old janitor at the camp went out to the woods to start chopping trees to make room for this new court they wanted to build. So he started chopping down trees with an axe and he cut off his leg. So he only had one leg after that, and um, so he uh, filled that with a stump that he had found and used that as his leg. This scared the campers so much that the camp fired him and sent him away. But what ended up happening that next summer, a boy was taking a shower on his own at the shower house at night. And then he would hear footsteps and a log kind of dragging. The story is that each year he comes back once and takes one kid and buries them in the back.”

Background

“Yeah I like the story, It’s pretty morbid actually. I mean, like, here we have these pretty young campers, talking about someone chopping his leg off and stealing children, and yet, like, it’s totally OK, because it’s summer camp. How crazy is that, when you think about it, really? Like, ok, if I went up to some kid at a school, and I told the same story about a janitor working in the woodshop, like, I’d probably be arrested! It’s just funny to me. But, uh, yeah, I love telling this story”

Context:

“We’d usually do the whole campfire thing. You know, uh like we would get all the campers around at night and go around telling stories. We would tell this story one of, like, the first nights. It’s actually a pretty clever way to get them to, like, stick together”

 

Analysis: Upon first listen, I didn’t think much of this story. It seemed like a hodgepodge of a number of different classic folk-tales: the peg-legged pirate, the axe murderer, the former camper turned raging homicidal maniac, etc. However, I think there is something deeper to be found here. At the centerpiece of the story is this rivalry between the janitor and the camp. The camp’s work is what made him lose his leg, and yet the camp are the ones who banished him. Then, when he comes back, he takes retribution upon the camp in the form of taking kids that are alone. This serves two functions. First, it teaches the kids to respect the camp and its dangers, but more importantly, and implicitly, to never wander off alone. The informant mentioned later, once I prompted him with this question, that it is why they tell this story, for fun but also so that they don’t go wandering out at night alone.

As someone who did not grow up going to sleepaway camp, it was also intriguing to me that these nights of sharing scary stories around a campfire during summer camp actually happen. It sounds like a modern ritual to me if I’d ever heard one. The ambiance of the night time, the fire, and the stillness of the forest all provide the perfectly eerie ambiance for a scary ghost story, and now because of its association, one cannot come without the other.

 

general

The Generous Jesuit Ghost

“So I have this friend who goes to Fordham, and I live in the Northeast so I’ve visited plenty of times, and she told me this popular legend around the school. There’s a church on campus since it’s a Jesuit school, and one day some girl saw a priest in the church that she hadn’t seen before. She was looking for tutoring in the field of his expertise, so she befriended him. He tutored her for weeks until the end of the semester, but something wasn’t quite right. At the end of the semester, she went back to thank him for all of his help, but she couldn’t find him. So naturally, she looked up the name of the priest in the school’s records, and found the name and picture of the priest who had helped her. The funny thing is, he had apparently been dead for almost 90 years!”


I got this from one of my friends who is from Providence, RI. Her friend is a freshman at Fordham, and keeps in regular contact with her. According to my friend, the legend circulates among Fordham students, and it’s a local legend that that building is somewhat supernatural. Having gone to a Jesuit high school, I kind of have an insight to this legend. The Jesuit priests at my school loved stories like this, and they always told kind of tongue-in-cheek stories about Jesuits helping people, so I feel like this may have originated with the Jesuits themselves.

general

Gore Orphanage

“The Gore Orphanage is a building that was initially constructed as a Mansion around the turn of the 20th century just a few miles the from our house [in Amherst, Ohio], and it’s name just comes from the fact that it’s on Gore Road. Sometime around 1905, the owners of the mansion sold the house away, and an orphanage was opened shortly after. The Orphanage then allegedly caught fire in the year 1910, and the whole building burned down with everyone inside. Today, it’s said that if you go to the location where the orphanage used to stand, you can still hear the cries of the children at night, just very faint screams somehow captured from the moment they died.”

This story comes from my dad, who’s lived all of his life in Northern Ohio. This legend is pretty popular around the area where I grew up, and I actually learned of it from my dad, who in turn learned it from his father. I’ve actually looked into the Gore Orphanage before out of curiosity, but no historical documents show that there any casualties from the fire in 1910, and they actually show that the building did burn down in 1923 with no deaths. Additionally, the sounds heard at night a likely due to the sound of traffic on the nearby I-80 turnpike. Despite this, my family and I still like the idea of the story because it’s something interesting in an area noted for not being too interesting.

Legends
Narrative

The Woman With The Purple Dress

This piece was performed by a USC student I work with whose hometown is Salt Lake City, Utah. They originally heard this story from their friends in Utah, where it is used as a ghost story in order to scare people.

“The story of the woman with the purple dress. There was an old train station down in Utah and the building is still there… supposedly haunted by this woman in a purple dress and the story is this: she was waiting for her train and it was a cold day out and she was wearing this purple dress with no jacket or sweater or anything.

And so the conductor says, ‘Well, here i have an extra jacket. I’ll give it to you, let you borrow it. I’ll come by your place later. Your house is on the train stop or whatever…. And I’ll get it from you’

She says, ‘Thank you so much’ ”

‘So, what’s your name?’

She gave him her name and she was on her way with the jacket. A couple days later the conductor went to get his jacket. He couldn’t find it. He went to the address that she gave him and he couldn’t find the woman. He went to this little grave area out by, like a family gravesite, like a farm house and there was family grave site. He went to the grave and noticed that the woman’s name was on the grave stone. So, supposedly it’s still haunted by her.”

This folklore sounds a lot like a “friend of a friend” story, since my co-worker couldn’t remember specific details, like the name of the station or where exactly it was located, but he had heard the story from a friend. The details that are passed from person to person, like the color of the woman’s dress, feels very arbitrary, but probably helps make the story sound more legitimate.

Folk Beliefs

The Ghost of Spangenberg

This piece was told to me by my co-worker who went to high school in Palo Alto, CA. At the high school there was a large theater, called the Spangenberg theater, where the theater students would perform shows during the years. The rumor around the theater was that it was haunted by a ghost. My informant learned the rumor from an older theater student. She felt that the ghost story was both fun (to pass on to a new generation) but also slightly scary because of the small chance that it might be true.

“In our high school we used to have this rumor circling around the theater group that there’s a ghost in Spangenberg. So, we kind of ran with it. It wasn’t written anywhere, we just kind of passed it off as… generation to generation within the theater community at our school. Basically if anything went wrong we kind of just blamed it on the ghost. Supposedly there was a backstory to this ghost, about someone committing suicide in the building, I don’t know much about that, but things that happened were like: I was pretty sure I turned those lights off and I’d be the first one in the building the next morning and the lights were on and I know no one else was in there because the building was locked and I was the last one out the night before, so yeah… things would just come up and terrify you occasionally. There would be random noises, that was terrifying up in the rafters. I didn’t like going there by myself and we just kind of blamed it on the ghost, and because of that if I was ever there last, by myself at night I wouldn’t just be there, you know, taking my leisurely time making sure everything was locked up. No. I would be sprinting. I wanted out, immediately.”

Q: Do you remember who told you about the ghost of Spangenberg? How did they tell you about it?

“It was more of a reference, like, ‘Ooh, watch out the ghost of Spangenberg might mess it up for you” Or ‘don’t let him catch you’ or just kind of like, mocking. And I kind of feel like that’s how I passed it off, too.”

Q: Did you try to scare freshman with it?

Yeah, obviously. It’s what we do. No shame

Q: So, what would you say to them?

The first time I would ever mention it to them I would try not to scare them, actually, just like ‘Oh that’s super weird, it was working yesterday. It’s because of the ghost.’

 

It’s interesting that this ghost doesn’t have a name or any method of identification (even a gender) because generally this kind of “haunted building” folklore would come with some sort of a back story to add to the believability. However, it sounds like the story was believable enough even though the ghost didn’t have any special features.

Childhood
Legends
Narrative
Tales /märchen

Mound Parties

This is another story told to Marisol by a nanny who was from the Andean province of Ayacucho. The nanny told her that as a child, her relatives always warned her not to get close to parties or gatherings of people in the middle of the fields or on top of hills because these were there to take away wayward children, drunks and gluttons. She warned her that if she was out playing the hills and heard laughter and voices, she was to run away immediately and not get close to the table, no matter how delicious and abundant the meal or how inviting the people because if you ate any of the food or touched the guests, they would take you to the afterlife and the party would disappear and all that your family would find on the hill would be a rock.

This story serves to keep kids in line and keep them away from strangers and unknown places. It is a lot like the Irish tales of fairies. There is also the presence of a magical mound which can be found, most famously, in Irish fairy folklore.

Legends
Narrative
Tales /märchen

La Casa Matusita A

This house situated in Downtown Lima, Peru is the most famous haunted structure in the entire country. It is famous throughout, you can ask anyone in Lima, and they will all know of it whether they believe in paranormal phenomena or not. The house was first brought to my attention when I moved to Peru by one of my maids, she told me all about it and then my mother confirmed the stories circulated, but said they were all made up. During her last visit, I had her recount a couple of versions of the story of the Matusita which she knew (there are dozens):
At the turn of the twentieth century, there lived in the house a cruel man with two servants (cook and butler). During dinner with friends, the servants decided to get their revenge and poison their master and his friends with hallucinogenic substances. They served the tampered dinner and locked the door of the dining room. A few minutes later, the servants heard  a horrible scuffle. They waited until the noises ceased and then when they opened the door, they saw that the diners were torn to pieces, there was blood spread everywhere. The servants felt terribly guilty and took their lives right there. This version is said to explain the loud voices, conversation and laughter followed by blood curling cries and sepulchral silence that neighbors and passerbyers have attributed to the house.  It is said that if they get close to the house or look in, they will go mad at the sights of gore and debauchery inside.
This version shows the rift between the master and his servants which can be extended to the sentiments that the indigenous and African workers feel towards their European (and later on Asian) masters. This tension is found to this very day since in Peru there is a very strong, but passive racist undercurrent that is perpetuated from generation to generation and never confronted. The race of the master is left unsaid in some versions of the story like this one (it is implied he was white); however , there are also versions that connect this version to version b which I also discuss. In those versions, the master is Asian and a descendent of the Chinese family who lived in the house in the 19th century.

Legends
Narrative
Tales /märchen

La Casa Matusita C

The American embassy used to be situated in a building directly in front of the Matusita house, and it is said that the legends were all invented and fostered by the American mission so as to prevent people from entering the Matusita house and using it as a site to launch terrorist attacks on the embassy itself (during the late 80s unrest due to the communist Sendero Luminoso).
This version is corroborated by multiple  facts. First, my mother and her coevals heard of the Matusita stories only in the early nineties, and second, as a consular officer herself, she once heard from her peers at the Ministry that the Matusita legends were a product of “Hollywood at its politically finest”.

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