USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘lake’
Legends

The Green Lady

The informant is marked IN.

IN: There’s this one spirit, called the green lady, who wanders around this botanical garden, that I think has water or like some kind of pond in it. She has green scales and jagged teeth, very Shape of Water, and her hair is made up of seaweed, and so the story goes that she had visited that garden with her children and one of them got lost and drowned in the lake. Because of that, she died with a broken heart and is apparently supposed to roam that area, in search of her child. And anyone visiting this garden is told not to leave their kids alone, because the spirit will like, take them as revenge or a consolation to her own child, you know.

Context: I asked the informant at work if he had any Hawaiian folklore tales he could remember.

Background: The informant is Hawaiian, with Japanese-American family. He heard this story around from locals in the area around this botanical garden.

Analysis: I think that this story is very similar to La Llorona in nature. It also functions as a story to tell children to get them to stay with you while visiting this area, as it will scare them to be alone with a fish-like spirit with jagged teeth.

Legends

La Llorona

The informant is marked IN. The collector is marked JJ.

IN: So the story goes that this woman in like colonial times in Mexico, she had a couple kids. And the story changes, like some stories say the kids drown, some say they got lost, or killed. So the story goes that at night whenever people hear any crying outside it’s like this woman that’s coming back to get kids and like kill them. So part of that is saying that you can hear like moaning and crying and you’re supposed to hide your kids and stuff. So I’m pretty sure they like take the kids and drown them in the river.

JJ: Did you hear it in your family like from older generations more?

IN: In my family they didn’t say it that much, but it was more like between friends when we were telling horror stories. I think it’s more of an older generation, and also in smaller towns where people walk around more in a smaller environment. But it mostly came up in people telling their friends or hearing it from like older grandparents.

IN: The main thing is there are people that say that they heard her and it’s actually popular enough that they made a movie recently. But if you hear her you’re supposedly supposed to die, so not many people really claim to hear her.

Context: The informant is my sister in law. I asked if there was any Folklore from Mexico that she remembered.

Background: The informant is from Mexico and has lived in California for about ten years. She heard this tale growing up from friends who would tell the story as being something they heard from their grandparents mostly. For her it was more of a horror/entertainment tale than a cautionary one, particularly because she lived in a bigger city so there wasn’t relevance for la Llorona.

Analysis: I found the informants explanation interesting because from class I always imagined it being a cautionary tale to make sure your kids don’t wander away. I also understand why older generations and people in more rural areas might hear it more often or spread it for caution there to make sure that their kids don’t wander into forests at night.

Legends
Narrative

Lonnie Lake

Main Piece
Lonnie Lake
Well there is the Lonnie Lake tale. Well, So, there was a horror story they would tell us at YSSC, Yosemite Sierra Summer Camp. There was a story that, this is told to 13-year-old boys, so, there is a lake in Yosemite that is not even on the map. so, like, It was a lake in kind of like the finger lakes area, on the Yosemite side of the national forest whatever boundary, and it was a place apparently so dangerous that they removed it from the map. So not even on the map. So the story goes that there was the spirit this Native American women who was hurt brutally hurt by young braves, and her way of revenge was drowning young boys in the lake. It’s called Lonnie Lake, and that’s where she died, and that’s where her spirit lives, a native American spirit, who drowned boys in the lake. And you’re not supposed to go to Lonney Lake, because if you go in the lake, she drowns you. I was told this by the staff of the camp, so don’t ever go to Lonney Lake and don’t go in, because there will a native American spirit and she will drown you.

Background
Yosemite Sierra Summer Camp is a Christian Adventure camp located near Bass Lake, California, right near Yosemite National Park. The camp includes all sorts of different activities, including lake activities like water skiing and wakeboarding. The campers range in age from 8-16, with the informant recalling a time when he was 13-years-old. The camp is located on Bass Lake, with the story about a different lake named “Lonnie Lake”.

Context
The informant is a 25-year-old man, born and raised in a Christian family in Southern California. The information was collected while inside his family home in Palm Desert, California, on April 20th, 2019.

Analysis
I thought it was really interesting to hear about this tale, for I had also attended this same camp, but had never heard this tale. I enjoyed how the informant identified this story correctly as a tale, instead of legend or myth, which would have been incorrect. Upon further research, I cannot find any evidence of this “Lonnie Lake”, yet tales involving Native American spirits are common. I wonder about the purpose of creating a cautionary tale about a lake that truly doesn’t exist. I also think it interesting for such a tale to be shared at a Christian camp, for the religion does not endorse ghosts or vengeful ghost-spirits. I think it must be really fun for the participants of the tradition to tell the story and try to scare the campers, but I do not think that the telling of the story has any meaningful link to Native American tradition. Instead, it utilizes the native american tradition in another way.

Folk Beliefs
Legends
Myths
Narrative

The Ghost of Drunken Moon Lake

The informant learned the following legend while studying abroad in Taiwan, and told it to me while recounting her experience at National Taiwan University.

“At National Taiwan University, there’s a big lake in the middle of campus, and it’s called Drunken Moon Lake, and the story is that there was a woman who was I think rejected by her lover, for some reason couldn’t be with her lover, and she drowned herself in the lake and I’m not sure how long ago it was, so they believe that a ghost is an unhappy spirit, like an unrestful soul. And they believe that she lives there on the lake. So there is a pagoda in the middle of the lake that doesn’t have a bridge to it, there’s no way to get to it, so there’s just birds there, and they believe that she lives there with other unhappy female ghosts, female sprits, and that if you’re a man, you should not walk by the lake, especially at like sunset or dusk. And if you do walk by the lake, you should definitely not talk to any woman because it could be an evil spirit trying to seduce you and she’ll drag you into the lake with her. Or else, if she doesn’t drag you into the lake, she could also go with you and pretend to be your wife or your girlfriend, but she’ll continue to bring bad things into your life and continue to haunt you without you knowing. And you’ll think you’re in love with her and meanwhile she’s destroying your life. So yeah, don’t find a girlfriend at Drunken Moon Lake”

The informant learned of this legend gradually over her time studying abroad in Taiwan, as whenever she would be around the lake, other people would warn her and tell her about the ghost that resided in it. She received pieces of the story in both English and Mandarin from different people.

The informant did not mention anything regarding the origins of this tale, or why people believed it, but it seemed to be taken quite seriously. Like many other horror tales and legends, maybe its origins had some practical application. Perhaps it was meant to deter young men from approaching the lake for some reason. Perhaps someone wanted to keep them away from flirting with the women around the lake, or keep them from trying to swim in the lake.

Legends

Haunted Lake Almanor

The informant explains that his family has a cabin on a lake that they go to each year.  The lake is called Lake Almanor because the director of Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PGE) had three daughters named Alma, Mary, and Norah.  There used to be a town where the lake is now and PGE bought up all the land and created a dam over the town, so there’s an entire town underneath the lake.  The informant explains that at night by the lake you are able to hear a creaking noise and that is supposedly the door to the grocery store still under there.  The informant explains that the ghosts of the former townspeople haunt the city because it was unjustly taken away from the citizens and all of the buildings still exist underwater.

The story of the haunted lake with the city underneath displays individuals’ interest in stories of societies, which have been treated unjustly and the belief that those people get revenge via haunting certain places.  The story of the creaking door underneath may actually be true – this is what makes the story more intriguing.

Legends
Narrative

Legend – Giant Man Eating Catfish – Texas

Legend – Giant Man-Eating Catfish in Lake Travis

“I’ve heard my whole life that there are catfish in Lake Travis that are the size of Volkswagens. Right by Mansfield Dam the water gets to be like 200 feet deep, so they say the catfish down there have just had years to grow so large. Apparently divers have gone down there and seen these giant catfish… they’re so big that they could just swallow a full-grown man. I mean, catfish don’t eat people, but if you accidently, like, swam under them and they were sucking something up, they could swallow a human. At least that’s what they say.”

The informant is fifty years old and grew up on this lake in Austin, Texas. Catfish as a meal is very popular in this area, and there have been instances of big catfish being caught, though not as big as the ones that are said to dwell at the bottom of the lake. This legend, in many ways, is similar to the legends of the Loch Ness Monster and Giant Squids in the ocean. It seems that, wherever there is a large body of water that is generally untouchable by humans, a legend like this is formed. It is as if all areas undeveloped and untouched by humans are somehow savage and monstrous, almost to prehistoric extremes. Uncertainty is, apparently, a breeding ground for folklore. There was an article about this legend written in a local hill country newspaper, in which the journalist attempted to debunk the legend. According to this article, a local man made jokes to tourists, which they apparently they took seriously, and the legend of giant catfish in Lake Travis began. Also, the article addresses the fact that the water at that depth contains too little air to sustain fish, so all the fish stay closer to the surface. Overall, this seems to be just another legend of a monstrous sea creature, but adapted to the culture of Central Texas.

Annotation:
Williams, John. “A Body in Mansfield Dam? Man-eating Catfish in Lake Travis? Are These Stories True, or Are They Urban Legends?” The Hills of Lakeway Messenger [Lakeway, Texas] Feb. 2008, 2nd ed., sec. 2. Print.

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