Author Archives: jpolley

The little sanatorium girl of Parnitha

Background: The informant stated that she had a personal encounter with a deceased little girl who she believes she is the same person of the urban legend of the little girl of Parnitha (suburb in northern Athens, Greece). She first heard of the legend from the mother who would warn her not to wonder around that area alone. According to informant, she was fascinated by the story of the Parnitha’s little girl and wished she could meet her one day. This personal experience didn’t affect the informant as the encounter with the little girl was uneventful. It imprinted, however, a vivid memory and led the informant to question later as an adult, the existence of the tormented and unrested deceased girl.  

EE:This is an old legend. I can’t even remember when. It was,  I think, the story starts around 1914. You know, it starts with the story of the sanatorium. It was the church, I don’t remember the name, maybe, oh, I know Petraki, the monastery of Petraki that donated acres to build the sanatorium. It was the deadliest of times, couldn’t even say the name,  because it was so scary, the tuberculosis and everyone thought of it as a death sentence. People didn’t know how to help , I mean didn’t know of any treatment. There was nothing anyone could do, were left to die, they tried to keep them from infecting , you know the rest. But too many died, among them children. What could they do? No antibiotics to give , it was in the 60s that,  there were antibiotics and tuberculosis was cured. But this sanatorium,  they didn’t demolish it.   And I always wanted to go and look and play. Broken chairs and mattresses and everything that remained , we liked to explore. But the legend , we knew about the legend and didn’t stop us. And others were talking about it all, and about the girl dressed  in white  and the cold drafts and the screaming voices at night. But in the 60s, I think it was 1964,  I was, mmm, about 15 years old, or maybe a couple of years older, I won’t reveal my age (informant laughing)  and then, you know , we wouldn’t listen to our parents any more. It was one day after Christina’s birthday, Christina was my best friend, that we decided to go.  After the sun came down , in the darkness ,  we walked to the “Well of the Lady” to find the little girl. Because legend has it that she will appear after the sun sets. But didn’t see anything and we start laughing. Bored , we couldn’t stay , we had to get home. It was late. But when getting further from the “Well of the Lady”, I heard crying , and when I turned I saw a little girl, crying,  asking to drink water but she was far from the “well”. The faster I run  towards her, the more she fainted and I couldn’t see or find her. But,  I am certain I saw her, I heard her, I saw the blue ribbon around her waist. 

Me: Who do you believe was the little girl? 

She was, she was the unban legend of the little girl, very sick,  that died in her way to the “well” from the sanatorium to drink the healing waters. She believed that the water of the “well” would heal her. But she was too sick with tuberculosis, too sick. Left her last breath, trying to reach the healing waters of the “well”. I know it was her. She  looked exactly like the urban legend,  dressed in white and her blue ribbon. I couldn’t forget her blue ribbon and her cries.  

Me:  Did anyone else see her? 

EE: None of my friends saw her

Me: Why do you think they didn’t see her or hear her?

EE: She was crying for help. Who do you ask for help? My friends didn’t believe in the legend. Maybe,  I don’t know. Maybe ghosts are , they sense , I mean they know to whom to present themselves.  This girl was asking for help , maybe she sensed I could help her to get her to the well or I don’t know. I don’t know.  

Me: Do you think many people believe in the existence of the little sanatorium girl that appears at the “Well of the Lady” in the area of Parnitha? 

EE: Yes. Its  a legend. There is a history. After the sanatorium closed down, they tried to built a hotel . Named “Xenia” I think. But failed , bankruptcy. And then came , the government tried to open a school but it closed too.  And nothing could , I mean nothing good could come out of this place. Many have seen the little girl but I haven’t met any of them. 

Me: Did you share your experience with your parents back then? 

EE: I didn’t. They wouldn’t had believe me.  And I didn’t  want to get in trouble. These were other times. You either obeyed your parents or you would’ve been in big trouble (informant laughing).   

Me: What makes you believe that your mother who had told you about this legend wouldn’t had believed you? 

EE: I don’t think she believed it herself. Our parents could , you know, try to make us do things  without explaining . Fear was good. She thought if I get scared I would do or not do what she wanted.

Context: This piece was collected via a zoom meeting

Thoughts: It is interesting that the informant grew with this legend and although she  suspected that her mother used it as the means to scare her to obey her, she grew to have the one experience that contradicts this belief. The informant grew with this story and knew exactly how the little sanitarium girl    looked like. The fact the her friends didn’t see or hear anything that night may be interpreted as proof that the legend is passed on as the means to honor and remember the people, especially young children who suffered a horrible death due to a deadly disease so easily cured with the use of antibiotics a few decades  later.  Since the informant didn’t mention that she knows of any others who have seen the little girl with the blue ribbon around her waist,  I wonder if she just saw what she was expecting to see or hoped. The area is covered with dense trees which makes it very difficult to see things clearly even at daytime. Her vivid image of the little girl, dressed in white, with the detail of the blue ribbon around her waist, seen in the darkness, amidst  dense vegetation makes me skeptical. Or maybe, ghosts do choose to appear to the living with a more open mind and heart. Since it is an urban legend, I wonder if there could had been more confirmed sightings of people who had indeed a personal encounter with the Parnitha sanatorium little girl but are no longer living to confirm these sightings.       

The Soldier and the drum music

Background: The informant explained that this is a first hand experience. It happened when he moved to a new city as a young boy, decades ago. Prior to this experience, he had never heard of the legend associated with the appearance of  the ghost of a soldier that appears in the spot that he was killed, haunting and torturing the ones that enter his territory. It affected the informant in his daily life all his childhood as he was always scared to walk through alleys. However, over time, it became a fainted memory and had forgotten about it until he was asked to share his experience.   

KV: I can’t remember the year, uh, I think it was maybe 1957 or 1958. We lived in Florina and that year we moved to Thessaloniki. Because my parents wanted to live in a big city for work and there was no school for me, only elementary, had to move to a big city to go to high school. So we moved to Egnatia Road , I think , yes, I remember it was 386 Egnatia Street.

I liked it, first time I saw it,  because it, there was an ice cream place and we where above it. The first night I fought with my sisters. I wanted the bedroom that looked at the alley. It was bigger and quieter. Then, my mother got mad and I , I always got mad at my sisters.  I didn’t , I couldn’t sleep and went back to the kitchen and asked my mother about the room again. And everyone was upset and my sisters screaming. And suddenly we saw the door , the kitchen door opening, and a man with torn clothes, he was dressed like fandaros (soldier) and bleeding, I think the bleeding was coming from a head wound, I think, appeared, and he, his eyes were, I don’t know how to describe them. He was like a wild animal. And my mother asked us to make our cross, and pray and we saw him moving but couldn’t hear his footsteps. And we didn’t hear the door opening before either, just saw it. I froze and couldn’t move. And I couldn’t talk and my heart was beating fast. 

I felt a sudden wind and the lamp , you know we had an oil lamp in the kitchen table at night those days, and there was no flame anymore. I don’t know , maybe it was the wind. I couldn’t see anything but I could hear music, drums, like a drums’ band playing in the alley.  But my mother was brave and she grabbed the lamp and lit it again. And the man was not there any more. But when we got to the balcony to see if someone was there , the kitchen had a balcony that faced the alley, we saw a young boy laying on the floor, in the alley and foam was coming out of this mouth and the wind was still blowing. And we saw the fandaro leading the drums’ band  and stepping over the young boy. We closed the windows and we left the house at night. We walked for hours, we had no car and that late there was no bus. We stayed in a friend’s home and when our father picked us up the next day, he was still in Florina the night before, we told him everything. 

Me:Did you ever find out if something had happened before in that alley?  

KV: Later we found from,  that on that alley many soldiers had lost their lives during the war, World War II, I think in 1940. And legend has it that whoever passes , the ghost of the soldier who was playing the drums, the leader of the drums band,  killed on that alley, attacks whoever passes after midnight and paralyses the right side of their face, that’s were the enemy bullet first hit him.

Me: Why do you think that the soldier entered your home: 

KV: The fighting. Maybe the fighting, the loud voices. And these apartments, our apartment was build , I mean it was new. It was build on the battlefield grounds. The voices, because we were fighting , maybe it  was reminiscent of the aggressive sounds of the enemy. 

Me: Do you know what happened to the young boy you saw that night? 

The boy we saw that night passing the alley, he was paralyzed and still lives today, and the doctors couldn’t do anything to fix it. Because they couldn’t find anything wrong with him. And his parents tried and took him to many doctors. And the boy was fine and healthy till be entered the alley that night. Couldn’t find what caused it, I mean. And the boy couldn’t talk. He is mute but no one can explain it.

Me: Do you think many people believe in the existence of the deceased soldier and his malevolent attacks in the alley?

KV:  Older people do. Because many things have happened. And many people who lived there saw things too and many accidents in that alley.  And the rumors spread and many mouths opened , and spoke of unheard things. Things that cannot be explained.  And the people that saw and heard these things are not delusional. Especially the drummer band, many people have seen the drummer band and fainted images of soldiers. Yes, they believe. But the young ones,  they don’t now. They are skeptical. They say they  don’t believe but avoid the alley. And they laugh sometimes and I think  because the alley, the alley is not  the same any more. Many stores, street lights and drugs . They don’t think it’s a ghost, they say but they are not sure. And the lights have , aren’t really ghost friendly. And deaths , sudden, it can be, I mean you can not be sure when there are drugs involved. But older people , they do believe. 

Context: This piece was collected via an in person meeting

Thoughts: It is interesting that many sites that where in the past the ground of battlefields  have developed their own legends. The informant having a personal experience, confirm that the legend of the drummer soldier and the haunted alley is not perpetuated just by the people who lived there in the past, possibly used by locals in modern times trying to create a story to attract more business to local restaurants and hotels. Since the informant stated that there have been many older witnesses that have attested to the presence of the soldier on the haunted alley and the sounds of music (drums) in the past, their similar personal experiences support  the idea that the legend could be true and not fabricated or made up by people. The medically unexplainable paralysis of the right side of the boy’s face that night when entering the alley , also makes the narration of this experience more powerful and validate to some extent the informant’s statements.  Even up to this day with medical advances, there is no physical indication as to why it happened. And his comment about the city lights on the alley makes me think if in their absence, the appearance of the deceased soldier and his band  and the activity in the alley would had continued to be as evident to more people now as it did decades ago. Maybe darkness is where they belong and thus, they prefer appearing in a world more similar to theirs, where they remain invisible, intangible and ephemeral. Perhaps during a power outage, one could investigate any activity related to the legend. The only question that still remains in my mind however is “ who will dare to cross the alley after midnight?”