USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘Urban Legends’
general
Legends
Magic

El Familiar

The following Argentinian urban legend was told by my old high school history teacher:

“There are many urban legends in Argentina, my favorite being El Familiar.  According to the legend originating in the sugar plantation in Salta, Tuchman, and Jujuy, the Argentinian government was struggling economically which meant the sugar industry would take a big hit. However, the titans of the sugar industry found a way around their economic misfortune, by partnering with the Devil.  The Devil promised to protect the sugar industry from the failing economy in return for a yearly human sacrifice.  The sacrifice would be selected by the sugar industry and then dragged to the Devil in Hell by a decapitated black, rabid dog dragging a chain around its neck.  Legend has it, the dog still rabidly wander the sugar plantations searching for its next victim”

Analysis:  Although this is only a legend, it has increased religious practices of protection in the northern areas of Argentina.  The eminent threat of the Devil leads Argentinians to use rosaries or blessed crucifixes for protection.  This is one of my favorite pieces of folklore because I am very interested in urban legends.  Although they are never true, they have a great impact on the communities and culture around them.  In this case, the old urban legend has decreased unwanted activity in sugar plantations and increased religious faith in northern Argentina.

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.

 

Legends
Stereotypes/Blason Populaire

Midget Town

Oh it was always like have you been to midget town? Because it’s like… Yes, it scared the bejeezus out of me. But it was just like this one way street by the river bed and that the houses are smaller so it’s midgets. But it’s a private… it says PRIVATE STREET:NO TRESSPASSING, that if you drive down the street, midgets will come and chase you with pitchforks.  

This Urban legend came to the attention of my informant through her high school friends and peers. She told me this story as a funny thing she and her friends used to do. This was an urban legend around where she grew up in Whittier, California. She was an active practitioner of this urban legend and found that the houses were indeed smaller for little people, but there were no pitchforks. This piece of folklore was interesting to me because this was a real place that was only nicknamed “Midget Town” a name stereotyped for little people.

Legends

Gravity Hill

“In Chino Hills, there’s a ghost story sort of thing, um, where, uh, we have a lot of hills in Chino Hills and there’s one hill that, um, it’s almost as if it’s like two hills in a row. So there’s like a ‘U’ between the two hills. Um, and there used to be a road that goes up and over them, um, and you kind of go down and then back up, um, and supposedly there was a car accident, um, I don’t even know how long ago, um, where, like, 3 or 4 children ended up dying in the car accident in-between these two hills.  Um, and supposedly, now there’s no longer a road, um, but if there– supposedly if you go in-between with your car and you kind of go down into where the ‘U’ is at the bottom and you set it up so that your car is in neutral, kind of facing upward toward the second hill, um, so that you’re– as if you’re going to go up the second hill, um, and then you put it in neutral and kind of go up slightly, um, supposedly you’re going to go back down… Supposedly the kids’ ghosts, the children’s ghosts, come and push your car back the opposite direction so you go back up the hill backwards, um, and so tons of, like, teenagers try to do this with their cars all the time um and supposedly, I’ve actually had a couple friends that told me it works, um, and everyone flips out, um, because everyone thinks these children’s ghosts come and, like, push your car, um, but in actuality it’s probably just gravity.” Laughs

 

My informant is a former resident of Chino Hills, California. This is a popular legend spread amongst the youth in the area and my informant first heard it from friends her age when she was a young teenager. My informant doesn’t have much patience for ghost stories, but enjoyed sharing the tale anyway. This is a legend that seems to have been around for awhile in the area as the father of another informant I spoke to remembers this story from when he was a teen. This secondary informant refers to the site mentioned in the legend as ‘Gravity Hill’ and adds a new detail: supposedly, when the ghost children are pushing the car up the hill, handprints can be seen on the windshield.

The Gravity Hill story is not unique to Chino Hills. Reportedly, there are several haunted hills throughout Southern California and, likely, the rest of the country. It’s an urban legend that is adapted for whatever area in which the story is told.

general
Legends

Mysterious Green Slime

“This has to do with KFC and umm for a long time, I never knew why my parents never went to KFC cause my family likes fried chicken, and I remember that I asked my mom one day.

She told me a story about when she was kid. Her and her sister would be walking to school.  On the side of the road, there would always be this green slime.  They didn’t know where it came from.  It was weird. They never knew where it came from. They were from New York, but still it was just weird.

One day they were walking home from school, and her sister had a ball she was playing with and it rolled into the alley next to KFC.  They went over to get it.  While they were back there, a guy came out of the back of the KFC, and he had this big bucket.  He dumped the stuff in the bucket out and it was the green slime.  They didn’t know what chicken or process it came from, but they knew it was from KFC.”

The informant’s family has never gone to KFC.  The informant says that she believes the story is true, but when she introduced the story, she said it was something that she wasn’t sure about.  This could be since the legend came from the close source of her mother.  Legends like this one about fast food restaurants with tainted food and mysterious chemicals have been very popular on the internet in particular, not necessarily because they are true but because they address the fear of what people are really eating and putting into their bodies.  As people started to move away from cooking their own food, they no longer have the ability of watching their food be prepared, and especially at fast food restaurants where they get their food in such a short time, people start to become suspicious and worried.  The informant, however, goes to other fast food restaurant, but she will never break her rule about KFC.

 

general
Legends

Don’t Feed the Cats!

My informant used to work at Disneyland as their landscape designer. So, there were always many urban legends about the Disneyland grounds when they worked at night. Since Disneyland is open every day, all the engineers and workers come in after Disney closes at night to work on rides and the plants. One of the funniest sayings they would have at Disneyland was, “Don’t feed the cats.” This saying actual caught on and now has become an urban legend associated with Disneyland.

Supposedly, when Disneyland first opened, a lot of feral cats would start roaming around the park. The cast members would feel bad for them and feed them cans of tuna. So then, more cats started coming to Disneyland and would just live there. However, when the cast members fed the cats tuna, the leftover tuna and smell would attract yellow jackets. So, at one point, there were just tons of yellow jackets at the Disneyland park and since people were always wearing bright colors and eating food that would attract the yellow jackets, there would be tons of people getting stun and complaining about the yellow jackets. However, for the longest time no one knew why there were so many yellow jackets around. Since then, they have tried to get rid of the feral cats and yellow jackets, but to this day, people will say, “Don’t feed the cats at Disneyland!”

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