Occupation: Pharmacy Administrator
Date of Performance/Collection: 3/17/19
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s): Persian, French, Spanish
Main Piece (direct transcription):
Mom: When I was 10 and 11, we rented a house in Luis Lopez, which is right outside of Socorro (New Mexico). It was rural, and we lived right on a ditch. We had some neighbors that were a quarter of a mile down the dirt road we lived on, and they were a Catholic, Hispanic family that were very superstitious. They had crosses everywhere in their house, and I slept over there one night, and there were six or seven kids and the oldest was nineteen. There were a couple younger than me, too, and one my age. I spent the night, and all four or five of us were in one double bed, and at night they were telling me about La Llorona, and how she was real, and how she was wandering around the ditch near our house. They told me that they heard her over at the ditch at night, walking, and it scared me to death.
Me: Can you tell me the story of La Llorona that they would tell you?
Mom: Yeah… From what I can remember, they told me that La Llorona tried to drown her children when her husband left her, and she went mad. After she had already thrown them into the river, and they had drowned, she came to her senses and regretted what she had done. She ran along the ditch, trying to follow the quickly flowing water to grab her children, but tripped and fell. She hit her head on a rock and died before she could get to her children. Now, she wanders around ditches calling for her kids, trying to find them.
Context: The informant, my mother, is a pharmacy administrator living in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She was originally born in New York but moved to New Mexico with her family at a young age. Her father, a playwright and artist, was invested in his Native American heritage. From her travels around New Mexico, moving from place to place when she was young, and also hearing stories from her father and my father, who is from Iran, she has gathered a variety of folktales. My mom and I were talking about ghost stories, and she remembered the time when she was neighbors with a Catholic, Hispanic family. The family was superstitious and believed in ghosts.
My Thoughts: I thought that this story was interesting because I also heard the story of La Llorona first from my peers in New Mexico, since a lot of the population is Hispanic there. It’s one of the most popular ghost stories that I had heard throughout my childhood, and I thought that my mom’s story was especially interesting because she actually lived near a ditch. The kids claimed that they had actually heard La Llorona walking around at night. The story that the kids had told my mom when she was young is incredibly similar to the one that I had heard while I was in elementary school from my classmates. Of course, there are some differences, and the way that my mom told the story would be different than how the children in Luis Lopez would’ve told her, because that is the nature of folklore, for it has form and variation from individual to individual.
For another version of this story, please see Kathy Weiser’s La Llorona-Weeping Woman of the Southwest (2017), which can be found here