USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘hell’
Folk Beliefs
Legends
Narrative
Signs

Denver Airport Is the Portal to Hell

SB: Um, the Denver airport…is notorious for being at the very least the basis of a conspiracy theory and at the most the actual portal to hell (laughs) so, the- Denver generally with its airports have been very problematic. The first one was the Stapleton airport. Stapleton was a member of the KKK, and they named the airport after him, but then they decided to turn that into a neighborhood, so they moved the airport out into the boonies. It’s like an hour after from the city, it’s huge, there’s these like iconic white tents, and the myth is that underground, there are tunnels that are used for the government, for their nefarious activities, and um…some crazy people – to be perfectly honest – believe that within those tunnels and somewhere in the Denver airport is an actual, um, portal to Hell…where Satan himself resides. What’s also kinda scary about the airport is there’s a giant blue horse sculpture with glowing red eyes that you drive past as you are on your way to catch a flight. And when the sculpture was putting it up, the horse fell over and killed him…and then his son, or daughter i’m not sure, his child- finished the sculpture and now it stands, but it’s haunted because the sculpture actually killed someone and at night, it’s eyes glow bright red and it’s terrifying and everything about the airport terrifies me.

 

Background:

Location of story – Denver, CO

Location of Performance – SB’s dormitory room, Los Angeles, CA, night

 

Context: This performance was done just between SB and I in response to me asking if she had any urban legends, riddles, or holiday traditions. I am very close friends with SB.

 

Analysis: At the base of this conspiracy theory, there is an association between very real hate and evil with more metaphysical, faith oriented evil. It is almost a way to be able to digest the history of the Denver airport: the only explanation for that level of bias and hate is that it is prompted by the devil’s proximity. It is also interesting to note how that association affects all other aspects of the airport that would have otherwise stood as an independent legend – i.e. the horse. I myself have heard about the conspiracy theory that the Denver airport has some nefarious activity, but I have never heard that it is an actual portal to hell. Prior to this performance, my knowledge of the conspiracy theory primary focused on the suspicious design of the physical space itself. For example, there are photos of the aerial view of the airport, resembling a swastika, the barbed wire faces in and not out, and in the background of all the idyllic, pastoral murals, there are depictions of war and violence among other disturbing images. The significance of the design of this airport is related to the presence of many celebrities’ and powerful individuals homes around the airport: they do not live there but they have bought property there. When I was told all the details by my friend, she explained that ultimately, all this meant that it must be some sort of refuge for the rich, famous, and/or powerful if the apocalypse were to eventually happen. 

Folk speech
Proverbs

Syrian Proverb

حيث لايوجد الناس هناك الجحيم

Transliteration: heith layoujd alnas hnak aljehm

Translation: Where there is no people, there is hell.

Context of proverb: This proverb presents the Syrian fear of solitude, thus demonstrating the importance of relational ties to others. In this sense, you are meant to treat others kindly so that you gain their company while avoiding an empty, hellish wasteland


The interlocutor recalled this proverb due to extent to which older family members have said it, hoping to instill or impart some knowledge on the younger members of his family, including himself. Through his faith, he has always felt a genuine fear of hell and damnation, explaining why he recalled this proverb so quickly with so much clarity.

Because one must enact their vernacular authority in order to grant another person with a bit of wisdom, the giver of the proverb is usually an older person with much more life experience and their own fair share of wisdom to give. One grows into the social role in which they are allowed and even expected to give advice to family members and the community in general. In the case of this specific proverb, the supposed elder is imparting the message that solitude is hell, pushing people to be amiable and compassionate to avoid the hell of loneliness.

Legends
Narrative

La Carreta Chillona/ The Weeping Wagon

Main Piece:

“It is a wagon that goes through the many towns during midnight. The spirits on the wagon would take all those it crossed. It is said that they would take them to hell. At midnight, you could hear the sound of the wooden wheel very loudly marking the wagon’s passage through the town. The wagon was conducted by spirits from hell in order to take humans to hell. My sister and I heard the wagon passing some nights. Maybe it was our imagination or fear, but we really thought we heard it passing. Some even say they saw it.”

Context: The informant is a middle-aged woman, born in El Salvador. Her mother told her this story, and she believes now that like many of the other stories her family told her, they were in order to prevent them from wandering the streets at night.

Thoughts:

I agree with the informant that the function of these stories is to prevent the young from wandering at night in order to avoid the many dangers that could occur at that hour.

Legends
Narrative
Stereotypes/Blason Populaire

Hell’s Half Acre

Title: Hell’s Half Acre

Category: Legend

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:

Back when the Southern cattle drive was still active in the Central/Northern region of Texas, the end of the Chisholm Trail could be found at the end of town in Forth Worth Texas known as Hell’s Half Acre. The reason for the name is due to the activity that took place on this strip of land.

After a long and difficult cattle drive, cowboys used to bring their lives stock back into town right down the middle of Hells’ Half Acre. Exhausted from their journey but craving the company of women, these cowboys would hire prostitutes along the strip and eat, drink, gamble, and whore their way through town until they ran out of money.

Upon loosing the money that they’ve just earned, these cowboys would then be forced into going on the cattle drive again from where the train lets off. The land was nick named Hell’s Half Acre after all the misfortunes men had had on that very spot.

Context/Significance:

As the importance of Fort Worth as a crossroads and cowtown grew, so did Hell’s Half Acre. It was originally limited to the lower end of Rusk Street (renamed Commerce Street in 1917) but spread out in all directions until by 1881 the Fort Worth Democrat was complaining that it covered 2½ acres.

More than any other factor, urban growth began to improve the image of the Acre, as new businesses and homes moved into the south end of town.

Personal Thoughts:

At this point in time, Hell’s Half Acre is more full of hipster bars and coffee shops than cock fighting or bawdy halls. Tailored boutiques and tourist shops line a well kept and preserved cobblestone street, littered with the tattered remains of history. The cartel drive is still somewhat active and every morning and afternoon, specific time is set aside for when the cattle cross pastures through the street.

For a town once built by livestock, it’s not surprising that much of the area’s pride comes from it’s seedy past in the cattle drive industry. The town conspires together to maintain its fame and even labels it’s self as “Cow Town USA.” Whether it’s entirely true or not, the county sells and maintains its tourist industry under that marketable phrase.

Legends
Magic

Kiamuki House and the Kasha

The following urban legend was told by a Hawaiian native that she learned from her auntie:

“Theres this creepy looking haunted house on the corner of 8th and Harding that they just tore down last summer but they’re trying to rebuild….they shouldn’t. It’s home to a kasha.  A kasha is a demon that feeds on human corpses and there’s one probably still living on that plot of land.  The kasha first started inhabiting the house after a man killed his wife, son and daughter in his house and buried their bodies on the property.  The bodies of the wife and the son have been found but the daughter’s body is still missing…because she’s now the kasha that haunts the Kiamuki house.  She tried to claim her first victim in 1942.  The police received a desperate phone call from the woman who lived in the house in 1942 claiming that her children were being strangled by a ghost.  The police responded to this call and were terrified at what they saw at the house.  According to police reports, they witnessed the two children being thrown around and strangled by an unseen entity.  After about an hour and a half the policemen were finally able to save the children from the kasha and evacuate the family from the house never to return…but that did not stop different people from moving in. After the family moved out, three women moved into the house and one night the kasha violently grabbed one of the women’s arms.  They quickly called the police and they responded and offered to escort the women to another house for the night.  On their drive, the kasha reappeared and started choking one of the women.  The car pulled over and  the two other women struggled to get the kasha off of their friend.  The policeman also pulled over and tried to help the women but was restrained by what he describes as a ‘large calloused hand.’ Finally he was able to break free and get the kasha off of the woman.  He offered to drive the women to the house but when they got into his car it wouldn’t start so the women returned to their car and all of a sudden both cars worked again.  As they drove down the road the policeman recalls seeing the car door get ripped off of the car and thrown into the road by an unseen entity which then continued to drag one of the women out of the car and strangle her to death while her friends and the policeman watched helplessly”

Analysis: This terrifying ghost story might be more than an urban legend with detailed police reports that are still unexplainable, after all how do you explain someone being choked to death by thin air?  The informant sounded utterly terrified of this house and claimed she will always take a longer driving route if it means avoiding that neighborhood.  The common ghost story motifs are all present in this chilling story because the kasha is a young girl who was tragically murdered who’s purpose is now to inflict harm to others.  However, this goes further than a common ghost story because there are detailed police accounts and multiple accounts of attacks on the property.  This story has been passed down to generations of Hawaiians as a tale of caution to always avoid the Kaimuki House.

 

Folk Beliefs
Legends

Gate to hell

“So there are seven gates to hell, and this is one of them. It’s this old cemetery in the middle of nowhere, it used to have a church and a small town, and it’s in the middle of nowhere, and people just think it’s a portal to hell. And there’s just sketchy stuff that happens there all the time.”

 

Here my informant is talking about a cemetery near her hometown in Kansas. She remembers growing up hearing supernatural stories about the area, and she told me that she refuses to go near it to this day. As the story goes, there are seven gates to hell, but only five have been found (she was unclear about where the other five are located). Some of the “sketchy stuff” involves the disappearance of animals and people; she remembers stories from when she was in high school about friends of friends going missing, never to be found again.

This is a classic urban legend; a local spot is chosen because it is “spooky” looking, and it is said to be supernatural in some way. There must be thousands of similar spots across the US.

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