USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘legend’
Legends
Narrative

The Legend of Boggy Creek

The interviewer’s comments are denoted through initials JK, while the interviewee’s responses are denoted through initials MB.

 

 

MB: The one I remember growing up with they used to scare us with the Legend of Boggy Creek.  It was not in our area, it was by Fouke, Arkansas.  F-O-U-K-E Arkansas.  And um- so this guy claims that he was attacked in his home by a umm, like a big hairy, 7 foot guy, like a big hairy man.  Long arms, kinda like half ape, half man.  And he went to the hospital and he did have a bunch of scratches and cuts, and he was in shock.  He was treated for all those things.  So this was like in the 70s actually, so I don’t know how folklore it is, but his neighbors said that they had seen some things, they had heard some rustling around his home and so they weren’t disputing his claims.  They even said they had shot the thing, but they never saw any blood, and couldn’t find it after they had fired.  But nobody else could really believe the guy, but when people went back to his house there were these strange claw marks all over the guys front door and front porch and everything.  And I think they ended up making a documentary movie out of it.  I’m pretty sure they did.  So that used to scare us all the time.

 

JK: So was that near your place in Hot Springs?

 

MB: No, it was Boggy Creek in Fouke which is a lot further south, closer to Texas and Louisiana.

On sleepovers and bunking parties we’d all talk about it.  It was just a ghost story, but it had enough truth to it it wasn’t a ghost story to us, you know?  I think it was also called the Fouke Monster.  Just like this sasquatch like creature that would haunt all these creeks in Southern Arkansas.  So he would just hang out in the creek system.  And you know why that was so scary for us to?  Because we had a creek running underneath our house, our first house, so that was pretty scary.

 

Conclusion:


This sounded like a classic monster story.  The informant, an Arkansas native, admitted to me that she thinks there are more stories of monsters in the south than there are up north– where she currently resides.  I asked her why she believed this and she told me it’s because people are “a little crazier down that way.”  I liked how this legend gained steam in the minds of the informant and her friends when they would talk about it at sleepovers.  I think getting psyched out with your friends over a monster story at young age is something anyone can relate to.

Legends
Narrative

The Arkansas Traveler

The interviewer’s comments are denoted through initials JK, while the interviewee’s responses are denoted through initials MB.

 

 

MB: The Arkansas Traveler is a story that we always knew growing up, and they have a song about it, I think it’s the state song….. And it’s about a traveler going through Arkansas and he comes upon a cabin and there’s an old squatter, they called him, that’s what they called him, a squatter, like an old hillbilly type, hayseed, and he’s fiddling on his porch and um.. So the traveler, the Arkansas traveler is tired and hungry, and he asks the guy “Can ya spear some water?”, and the guy says, Oh I ain’t got none.” And he keeps fiddling and fiddling all through the whole thing.  And he says, “Well do you have any food?” and the squatter says, “No, nothing in this cabin.”  But he keeps fiddling this whole time, just playing this little tune over and over again.  And then the guy says “Do you know if there’s an inn up ahead?”  and the squatter says, “Might be, I don’t know, never been there.”  You know, he’s a real hayseed.  The traveler says, “Well, do you think maybe I could spend the night with you?”  And the squatter’s like “Well there ain’t no room”  Oh, and it was raining this whole time, I forgot to mention, that’s a big point in the story haha.  So the squatter says, “There’s only one dry spot in the house and my wife and kid and me sleep there.”  And the traveler says, “Well why don’t you mend the roof?”  The the squatter goes “I’m not gonna mend the roof on a rainy day.” And all this time he’s fiddling, fiddling, fiddling.  Then the traveler says, “Well why don’t you mend it on a sunny day?  Go out on a nice pretty day and mend it.”  And the Fiddler says “The roof don’t leak on a pretty day”  So the traveler is just like exasperated and he goes “Why do you keep fiddling that same tune over and over again?”  And the fiddler is like, “I can’t figure out how to finish it.”  The traveler says “Well give me the fiddle” and takes the fiddle and he puts an end to it, you know, he fiddles it up, and he puts an end to it.  Then the squatter looks at him with just this huge smile, like thank you you’ve rescued me from this torture, he’s so happy that this guy has finished his song for him and now he’s let loose from this fiddle and he says, “Oh come on in!! You can have the dry spot!!”  He calls to his wife and says, “Make up some dinner!!” and calls to his son, “Grab some whiskey, we got us a visitor”  In other words, the last word is like, “You can have the dry spot”  cause remember it’s raining.  

 

JK: So the song the traveler completed for the Fiddler is the state song of Arkansas?

 

MB: I think it is the state song, its called “Arkansas Traveler” and that’s why the baseball team is called the “Travelers” (the AAA affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals– The Arkansas Travelers).

 

Conclusion:

I found this to be a very interesting story.  My mom is originally from Arkansas– the informant is one of her childhood friends– so I’ve visited the state every couple of years since I was born.  For me, it was especially interesting to hear how the Arkansas Travelers baseball team got their name.  I’ve been to a fair amount of their games and I’ve always wondered why they’re called the Travelers– I was just too lazy to look it up.

 

general
Legends
Narrative

The Legend of Pecos Bill

The legend of Pecos Bill.  He was from– I think he was from… Kansas or Missouri or something?  Somewhere in the midwest, middle of the country  and he was famous for riding broncos.  He could ride any bronco you gave him.  He would just never fall off, incredible… So he was like, “Bring me your wildest creature and I can ride it.”  He could ride lions and tigers… and any bucking bronco, camels, anything crazy… he could ride anything.  He was just a huge cowboy, bronco rider.  And then somebody, then um, that area, Kansas and Arkansas and all that area– maybe that’s why I know this story– is, you know, famous for tornados, and cyclones, same thing.  And sure enough a cyclone came along, and it was gettin’ ready to wreck a town, and the townspeople said, “Hey Pecos Bill, can you ride that cyclone outta town?  Can you tame it and ride it out of town?”  And he said, “Well, I’ll give it a try, I’ve ridden everything else.”  And, um, so he hops on the cyclone, on the tornado, and it crashed him around and spun him around everywhere and everywhere… and he kept on it for miles and miles and days, ya know, a whole day of ridin’ it.  Um, and it was just nuts for him,  going all around in circles.  But he stayed on it, and, ya know, he had the tail and he’d whip the tail, ya know, how a cyclone is kinda triangular, like a cone.  And he’d whip the tail of it, tryna tame it and everything and he rode it all the way to…. Arizona.  Up in the sky, ride it all the way to Arizona, and it, um, finally just fell out in water.  All came down in water, and they say it rained really hard and, uh, it rained so hard it formed the Grand Canyon.  Rained so hard it drove it all the way down.  And then he fell off so hard that, um, he made… what is it?  Death Valley I think?  Or something like that.  I can’t remember, but that’s supposedly how those things were formed. Death Valley.  Which is the lowest part, you know, the lowest sea level, lowest part of the country I think.

 

Conclusion:

 

This story was told to me by my Aunt Susan.  It’s a classic folktale employing a legendary, mythic figure with supernatural abilities.  I like how the story ended with the explanation of how the Grand Canyon and Death Valley were formed.  It’s cool when stories seem to be relatively narrow and focused and then, at the end, open up to cover some part of general, well known history..

Legends
Narrative

Zirahuen Lake Legend

Main Piece: Zirahuen Lake Legend

 

Full Piece – Transliteration (told in English by a Spanish Speaker)

 

“The Legend say that when the fall of Tecnochtitlan. Spaniards come and was a handsome captain who fell in love with Princess Erendira. She was the daughter of King Tangazoan, the captain wanted to have her for himself so he kidnapped the princess and hid her in the valley surrounded by mountains. The Princess Erendira cry day and night, and pray to her gods to save her from her natural prison. The gods of day and night Juriata and Jaratanga decide to help her; they turn her into a mermaid and her tears were so powerful that a lake was formed in the middle of the valley.

 

Villagers say that the mermaid is still living under the deep of the lake and sometimes she emerges to punish me of evil hearts.”

 

Translation

 

“The Legend says that when Tecnochtitlan fell, Spaniards came with a handsome captain who fell in love with Princess Erendira. She was the daughter of King Tangazoan, and the handsome captain wanted to have her all to himself, so he kidnapped the princess and hid her in a valley surrounded by mountains. Princess Erendira cried day and night, praying to the gods to save her from her natural prison. The gods of day and night, Juriata and Jaratanga, decided to help her. They transformed her into a mermaid and gave her tears so powerful that when she would cry she created a lake in the middle of the valley where she was held.

 

Villagers say that the mermaid is still living in the depths of the lake and will surface sometimes to punish mean of evil hearts.”

 

Background:

 

This story was told by my Mexican nanny, Mirna, of 18 years, and it is one of her favorite stories growing up as a kid. Her mother would tell it to her brothers and sisters as a sort of bedtime story, and to teach her sons what would happen if you were mean to a woman you loved. She likes this story because it gives her a feeling of empowerment as a woman, and likes to think that it gives her a voice in her head that she won’t take crap from anyone. Her grandmother passed on the story to her mother, who then passed it on to my nanny and her siblings.

 

Context:

 

My nanny is a native Spanish speaker, but she told me in English as to help me understand, and I did not get the chance to get the full Spanish telling. The origin of the story is from the Michoacán region of Mexico, where my nanny grew up and where her family still lives to this day. It tells of the formation of the lake nearby where they live, and is more of a creation story from the region.

I think of this as more of the kind of story that would be told around a campfire or to a child as they are being put to bed, because it has both a mythological part in the story of the gods helping out the princess, and also tells of why certain things came to be near their home and gives a reason that almost dictates their way of life.

 

My thoughts:

 

When I first heard the story, I thought it was a variation of the “La Llorona” story, where a similar event occurs in that a woman is distraught by her man and ends up living in a body of water. When I asked if this was a version of La Llorona, she began to explain that this was a local legend from where she grew up, and was a story explaining the creation of the lake near where she lived.

I don’t think this was the entire story, as it seems very short and not very detailed, but it still gets the point across as being a creation story.

 

 

 

For another version of this story, see:  The Leyend of Zirahuen’s Lake (http://ourcommunityblog.blogspot.com/2009/04/leyend-of-zirahuens-lake.html)

Folk Beliefs
Legends
Narrative

Hawaiian Folk Belief/Legend Menehune

Note: The form of this submission includes the dialogue between the informant and I before the cutoff (as you’ll see if you scroll down), as well as my own thoughts and other notes on the piece after the cutoff. The italics within the dialogue between the informant and I (before the cutoff) is where and what kind of direction I offered the informant whilst collecting. 

Informant’s Background:

My mother’s mother’s mother and even from before her are from Hawaii but some England roots are interjected into the bloodline as well. My mother’s father’s father’s father hails half from Hawaii and the other half from China and Portugal. But what is funny about most Hawaiians, is that they are not only Hawaiian. They are also Caucasian, Portuguese, Chinese, Filipino, Samoan, Japanese, Korean, e.t.c…….Plantation workers were brought in to work the sugar and pineapple fields and they brought their culture with them.

Piece:

From when I was a little girl, we were taught about Menehune. They are little talented craftsmen,  Hawaiian people who help build things to bless others when no one is looking. When the good deed was done and the giver wasn’t pointed out or identified, we would hear our grandparents suggest that the Menehune did it. :)

Piece Background Information:

Informant already mentioned within their piece that she learned of the Menehune through her grandparents when she was a young kid.

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Context of Performance:

Via email.

Thoughts on Piece: 
The Menehune seem to be another variation of other magical creatures in the folklore of other cultures such as Ireland’s leprechauns. There are many different origin stories behind the Menehune, but at the end of the day, the Menehune seem to be used or invoked as a solution to unknown phenomena. This is very interesting and explains why tales of the Menehune are still alive today though they date back so far- parents, grandparents, etc. pass it on to their children.
Legends
Narrative

Hawaiian Legend Night Marchers

Note: The form of this submission includes the dialogue between the informant and I before the cutoff (as you’ll see if you scroll down), as well as my own thoughts and other notes on the piece after the cutoff. The italics within the dialogue between the informant and I (before the cutoff) is where and what kind of direction I offered the informant whilst collecting. 

Informant’s Background:

My mother’s mother’s mother and even from before her are from Hawaii but some England roots are interjected into the bloodline as well. My mother’s father’s father’s father hails half from Hawaii and the other half from China and Portugal. But what is funny about most Hawaiians, is that they are not only Hawaiian. They are also Caucasian, Portuguese, Chinese, Filipino, Samoan, Japanese, Korean, e.t.c…….Plantation workers were brought in to work the sugar and pineapple fields and they brought their culture with them.

Piece:

Adults loved telling us Night Marchers stories as kids and scare the bejezzes out of us!!! So scary.

I was told that the Night Marchers are spirit warriors on the way to war. They are souls that do not want to be bothered and we have to respect their anger for they fight to avenge their deaths. Especially when it’s a full moon, night marchers are welcoming new warriors to join them. They often chant and grunt, and bang their weapons. Their torches has a frighteningly deathly fire that is easily seen at night. They rarely march during the day.

Piece Background Information:

Informant already mentioned within her piece that she learned about the legendary Night Marchers through adults when she was a young kid. 

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Context of Performance:

Via email.

Thoughts on Piece: 
Similar to the way in which La Llorana is meant to keep kids from wandering out at night the legend of the Night Marchers might be a way for parents to keep their children from wandering about. The fact that my informant still, to this day, finds them so scary reflects that the legend was effective in doing just that. Upon further research, the legend of the Night Marchers might tie into a history of colonialism.
For more information on Night Marchers, see Beckwith, Martha. Hawaiian mythology. Honolulu: U of Hawaii Press, 1971. Print.
Childhood
Folk Beliefs
Legends
Narrative

Jasy Jatere

My friend grew up in Paraguay and has a lot of myths and legends that stem from the Guarani tradition.

Friend: “The Jasy Jatere is the God of the siesta. I heard about him from my grandmother. Apparently he would steal kids who snuck off during the siesta, which is a nap most people take during the day. I think the story was told to keep kids from leaving their houses while their parents were sleeping. Like don’t go away or the Jasy Jatere will get you!”

Me: What did he look like?

Friend: “He was supposed to look like a kid. He has blonde hair and is pretty small-framed. But he’s actually a full-grown man. Kids are supposed to think he’s their friend, he plays with them and feeds them fruit and honey, and then, according to my grandmother, he imprisons the kids and pokes out their eyes so that they cannot see to find their way home.”

Me:Did it scare you into napping during the siesta?

Friend: “Yeah I was pretty freaked out by Jasy Jatere. I definitely thought he would come and get me if I wasn’t napping. He’s sort of like the boogeyman of Paraguay.”

Analysis:The Jasy Jatere being a “Paraguyayan Boogeyman” is interesting. In some ways, it is creepy that parents would try to scare their children into staying at home and trying to sleep. Most of the time, these fears dissolve without much consequence. A child grows up and learns not to fear the Jatere, or the Boogeyman. Another connection that could be made to the Jasy Jatere is Peter Pan. It is the same archetype: a boyish creature who seems to be immortal, coming when children are without their parents, to take them away to a far off place– usually never to return home. Many cultures have these types of stories, and I think they play into our fear (and curiosity) of being taken from a loving home  with one of our kind who has learned to survive without the support of parents. transcoder

Adulthood
Folk Beliefs
Gestation, birth, and infancy
Legends
Narrative

Kurupi

My friend from Paraguay has a lot of folklore about the seven Guarani monsters and the legends behind them. The Kurupi was the strangest of all the seven that he told me about.

Friend: “There are several Guarani monsters I learned about growing up in Paraguay. One of them is the Kurupi, a weird gremlin-like dude with a really long penis. I think he represents the spirit of fertility or something. ”

Me: Were there any stories about him?

Friend:  “Yes. In ‘the old days’ a lot of people would say (if they had an unwanted pregnancy) that Kurupi had impregnated them without even entering their home. For example, if you were a single woman or if you had cheated on your husband and didn’t want to get into trouble, you would blame it on Kurupi. His penis is so long that he can go through windows and doors in the night. There are also a lot of stories about the Kurupi taking young women and raping them.”

Me: Did you ever believe the stories?

Friend: “No, I never really believed in the Kurupi. Mostly he’s just a funny little demon that we’d laugh about in grade school.” 

Analysis: The Kurupi is certainly the strangest looking creature I’ve ever seen. Besides the initial hilarity of his appearance, the tale of the Kurupi is creative and disturbing. In a place and time where modern medicine cannot explain pregnancies and sex, legends will replace science. This is a clear example where women would become pregnant (by someone other than their intended) and the only way to protect their virtue would be to blame it on the Kurupi. In many ways, belief in a creature like this can settle marital disputes before they even arise. Additionally, however, the Kurupi could have taken the blame for many rape incidents– when a real person was the perpetrator.

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Legends

Legend of Lokrum island

Legend of Lokrum 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 right before I went to Lokrum for a school trip.

“Did you know that the island of Lokrum is haunted?”

 

No, why is it haunted?

 

“well to know why its haunted you have to know the history of the island. Once upon a time, a huge fire spread in Dubrovnik. The fire was so vast it posed a threat to the city and all the citizens in it. In desperation and sorrow, the people of Dubrovnik turned to prayers and promised to build a monastery if they survived. Suddenly the fire stopped. The citizens of Dubrovnik held its promise and built a Benedictine monastery on Lokrum. The monks took care of the island and, for centuries, have turned Lokrum into a paradise. But interest Lokrum aroused by Dubrovnik rich families who wanted the island all to themselves and their own personal benefit. These rich families drove the Benedictines of the island, but before they left the island, they cast a curse on Lokrum.”

 

What was the curse?

 

“After the holding the last mass on the island, right before they left they surrounded the island 3 times in the dark mysterious procession, the persons buried deep inside the hoods lit candles and held them upside down. During the procession, quietly repeated, “Damn everyone who gets Lokrum for personal enjoyment!” And so it was. From that that day on any one who owned Lokrum has died a mysterious death.”

 

After doing some research other versions are really similar and historically the story happened. All owners of the island did die in a mysterious death or had some big tragedy happen in their life. To this day no one owns the island, and I find it interesting how people still believe in the curse.

 

For another version of this story visit http://anavie.net/lokrum-the-cursed-island/

Legends
Narrative

Starbucks Subliminal Advertising

This was told over lunch when a group of friends were discussing the new Starbucks drinks. The informant is a young 20 year old girl.

“Well, I heard once was that starbucks baristas spell your name like weirdly wrong, even if you have a very simple name and someone told me that was because they do that on purpose, because then you take a picture and then send it to people or post it online and that gives them free advertising!”
Analysis:
This is a newer version of a folk tale, that came out of the infamous actions of the Starbucks baristas. Everyone who listened to this story was pretty amazed and believed that it could be true. There is merit to the idea that such a big corporation as Starbucks would use some sort of subliminal, if not Orwellian, advertising technique to make people buy more. There is also the aspect of joining in on the fun of having your name spelt incorrectly, as if you are joining a community of people who have been wronged by corporate America.
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