“There is a district, a sort of suburban district in Salt Lake City, Utah called ‘The Avenues,’ and it runs from A to Z. At the top of the Avenues is the oldest cemetery in the state. It was established when Brigham Young lead the Mormon pioneers to the Salt Lake Valley. Anyway, there’s one grave site called Emo’s Grave. And that’s the epitaph, ‘Emo.’ There’s no birth date, there’s no death date. But it’s that kind of gated sort of memorial where there are benches inside but nobody can sit on them because it’s gated around. But you can reach through, and there’s sort of a crevice that’s been chiseled out of the grave itself, where initially I guess the family left flowers or something. But, um, regardless it’s cold stone.”
“On certain evenings, usually Friday the 13th or the evening thereof, um, teenagers will go up to Emo’s Grave and from inside the stone, smoke will start emanating. And this has been corroborated by several different accounts. And then someone will walk up and say ‘Emo’s Grave, Emo’s Grave, Emo’s Grave,’ and they will put their hand inside the crevice and it will feel warm. And people have left things there in the late evening to come back the next morning to find them gone, and these aren’t just, like, berries and things that birds can pick up because for one a bird can’t get in there, and for two, like I said: Not light things. So there’s a bit of supernatural suspicion that surrounds Emo—this mysterious individual named Emo—and his grave.”
I then asked how he came to hear about this piece of folklore, to which he responded:
“It’s become a sort of rite of passage for teens to go up to the Avenues cemetery and go through this Emo ritual.”
So I asked the next logical question, did he do it?
Did he find anything?
“We found ourselves to be scared. Because, this is like thirteen, fourteen years old, right? And it might have been—your mind fills in what you want to see. I mean it’s the same concept with the face on Mars. You want to see the face and so you do. But I swear there was smoke, I swear there was heat. We left a note; it was gone the next day, so, yeah, eerie.”
My favorite piece of folklore that I collected, I really couldn’t have asked for better. It’s a rite of passage that’s become traditional for these Salt Lake teens, and best of all my informant actually went through it. I suspect Emo’s Grave has proliferated because of the aesthetic of the site itself, bolstered by these ever increasing accounts of people visiting the grave under the right conditions. Along the way Friday the 13th got tied in with this death-based ritual, as well as the rule of three. I love the way my informant seems perfectly aware of how amusing and perhaps slightly ridiculous the whole thing might sound, but when talking about his own experience at Emo’s Grave is sure that, as far as he can tell, things happened that he couldn’t rationally explain. A testament to the power of folk rituals.