(The following is transcribed from a conversation between the informant and interviewer.)
Interviewer: Can you tell me some of the old stories or wives tales your mother told you?
Informant: The most gross one is about her – her mother, my grandmother, your great great grandmother told my mother about this rich lady that she took care of in Germany – she had a big ole mansion she took care of her, and I guess the lady – uhh, my grandma took care of her when she was dying. And, uhh, she kept telling her – I think her name was Marie – to go over to the closet! Because she kept hearing children crying. And uhh, so, my grandmother told my mother… to never let the blood of your unborn children to cry to god for vengeance. And she always told me. And I thought “what in the heck does THAT mean?!
Informant: I kn- I never – I mea- (laughs). What does that mean?! And then when I – I got older, and they talked about abortion, It finally, I finally put two and two together. The lady must’ve had a lot of abortions – because you know, they were wealthy, and they didn’t want kids to mess up their lifestyle, so she probably had an abortion, and then she – as she laid on her death bed, those little spirits haunted her – or she just had a guilty conscience, and she imagined that. So that’s a kind of weird icky thing.
Interviewer: Do you think that story is true? Or-
Informant: No, It’s true! It’s true. Because it was told to me by my mother, who never lied.
Interviewer: But either way it’s a story warning against abortions.
Background: My informant was born and raised in southern Illinois to very strict Catholic parents. She has strong Irish and Italian heritage. Her mother was a devout and strict Catholic, and she has always been very religious herself, though she has never been overly strict with her children or grandchildren.
Context: The informant is my grandmother, and has always had a proclivity for telling stories, jokes, and wives tales. This piece was selected out of many from a recording of a long night of telling stories in a comfortable environment.
Thoughts: This story is not surprising coming from an “original” teller who was devoutly religious, especially nearly a century ago. The two ways in which the informant’s mother’s religion impact this story are funnily connected, though. I mean to say, I personally find it doubtful that this story was truthfully told by my great-great-grandmother, or that it happened to her. To me, it seems almost obvious that this was simply a tale to frighten young girls out of abortions because the teller was deeply religious, and that anybody could have made it up or spread it around. That is why I believe it to be folklore in the first place. But, my grandmother is nonetheless convinced that the story was true and happened to her grandmother also because of her mother’s religious nature – and feeling sure that she was not lying.