Contemporary Legend – Saint Louis, Missouri

“So in St. Louis, where I’m from, there was an actual exorcism.  Like the movie “The Exorcist” was based off of this one.  It happened to a little black boy who lived over the river in Illinois but it was performed in St. Louis.  It probably happened in the mid 1900’s, like in the ‘50’s and people say he still lives in the area.  It actually happened, like it was reported on T.V. for a long time and it was in all the newspapers.  But anyways, now anytime somebody brings up the movie “The Exorcist” or just anything about exorcism, everyone kind of brags that it actually happened in St. Louis.”

The exorcism Meredith is told me about was a real one; it was reported on the news for a long time. When I first heard it, I thought it was a legend and that it was something that could happen but really did not.  But she told me numerous times that it actually did happen and that the man, Roland Doe, is still living.

I consider this story to be folklore because it is a story that a group of people, the people from St. Louis, identifies to.  As Meredith stated, every time somebody mentions the movie “The Exorcist”, people from St. Louis jump to add that it happened in their hometown.  She also told me that the movie was actually based off of the exorcism that occurred in St. Louis.  She added that this exorcism was the only documented exorcism performed in the America.

Meredith said that she learned about this story when she was in elementary school and from her parents as well.  She thinks it is interesting and she said she would always bring it up when people talked about ghost stories or urban legends.

I believe that this story will become a piece of legend as time goes on.  The people who actually know this happened will pass, but the story will be passed on orally and some may even create variations of the story.  When I first heard this story, I was a little spooked out.  I had never heard of an exorcism that actually happened, and it happening relatively recently and in America was incomprehensible to me.  However, it was very interesting how Meredith openly she shared the story as if it was something she, and the other people of St. Louis, are proud of being associated with.