“Once there was a teeny tiny lady and she lived in a teeny tiny house outside a teeny tiny village and she lived with her teeny tiny dog and her teeny tiny cat. One day the teeny tiny lady decided to go to the teeny tiny village to market. On her way home she saw a teeny tiny bone in a teeny tiny field, so she picked up the teeny tiny bone and took it to her teeny tiny house. When she got home she made herself a teeny tiny supper and she sat down to eat it. She heard a noise from her teeny tiny cupboard, very quiet, barely a whisper, ‘give me my bone.’ She shook her head and didn’t pay it much attention and she finished eating her teeny tiny supper. Then she went to her teeny tiny bed and she went to sleep. When she was laying in her teeny tiny bed the teeny tiny lady heard a teeny tiny voice from her teeny tiny cupboard saying, ‘where’s my bone?’ The teeny tiny lady was afraid so she pulled up the teeny tiny blanket to her teeny tiny face. A little bit while later she heard the voice a little bit louder, ‘Where’s my bone?’ The teeny tiny lady covered her head with the blanket and she pushed herself all the way down into her teeny tiny bed. And then she laid there for a while, and then she heard very loudly coming from the cupboard, ‘I want my bone!’ Then the teeny tiny lady stuck her head out of the blanket and she said, ‘You can have it! Take it!’ And she covered her head back up and crouched down into her bed. In the morning she got up and she went to the cupboard and she opened the cupboard and the teeny tiny bone was gone.”
The informant first heard this tale as a child during the 1960s from either her father or uncle, because it was so long ago she can’t remember which. She says that her family enjoyed listening to a show called “Fractured Fairy Tales” one of these tales being “Old Mother Hubbard”,
“Old mother Hubbard, she went to the cupboard, to get her poor dog a bone, and when she got there the cupboard was bare and so the poor dog had none.”
She says that she used to ask questions about the fairytales they heard. The tale was an explanation for why there was no bone in the cupboard because, why would she check the cupboard if she knew there was no bone? She clearly thought there was a bone in the cupboard?
This tale is used to explain why Mother Hubbard went to check the cupboard and gives context as to why she would think there was a bone in the cupboard for her dog. The use of a tale to explain and give context to another tale is very interesting as one could consider it a sequel, or in this case a prequel. Which shows that tales giving context to folklore are also considered folklore. Of course, the tale itself can be told separately from “Old Mother Hubbard” and be used as a scary story to prevent children from picking things up from the side of the road or taking something that does not belong to them.
When my informant O was younger, their older brother told them a Creepypasta (term for horror-related legends) legend about Jack the Ripper. He told them how Jack would come to your window every night and he would test you by scratching on your window. If he didn’t scratch your window it meant you were safe, but if he did, it meant that you were a possible target. Unfortunately, O had a tree close by her bedroom window, so sometimes the branches of the tree would graze her window late at night, causing an eerie scratching sound which terrified them. O said that they would get panic attacks and often had trouble sleeping thinking that Jack was going to get them in their sleep. One night O’s panic attack got so bad that they started crying and screaming and their dad ran in, worried about what had caused their reaction. After they explained the situation to their dad, he scolded O’s brother for scaring them and he cut down the branches near O’s bedroom window that very night.
I also have an older sibling who is ten years older than me so I have had my fair share of horror stories that my older sister has told me growing up. She would also try to convince me that I was adopted when I was younger because I don’t really look like either of my parents by telling me that my birth certificate was fake. I can definitely relate to O because I have had so many experiences that are similar to the story she told me. My sister is a really big horror fan, so she watched and read a lot of horror stories. She would always try to scare me by telling me scary stories and legends about our hometown and I remember many late nights of running to my mom’s bedroom because I was too scared to sleep in my room as a kid.
“So this couple goes out on a date, in their car, and they’re driving along this country road and it’s very dark and isolated. And then the car breaks down or it runs out of gas, I don’t remember which, the car can’t go anywhere. So the guys says to the girl on the date- He says he’s gonna go get help and he tells her to get in the backseat of the car and get under a blanket and no matter what she hears, no matter what goes on outside the car, she should not get out from under the blanket. Under no circumstances should she open the car door or look out the window. So she gets in the back of the car and covers herself with a blanket and he gets out of the car, and then she hears a lot of noise, commotion. Yelling and noise and then all of a sudden it gets quiet. And while she’s laying in the backseat of the car she hears this scraping on the roof of the car. Just scrape. Scrape. Scrape. Very quietly. She’s very curious but she doesn’t look out. She just stays in the back of the car and waits for the boyfriend and she just keeps hearing that noise. That scraping noise on the roof of the car. So she’s in there all night by herself and I guess she falls asleep ‘cause in the morning she hears a bang bang bang bang on the door and she’s really scared. She huddles down even further into the blanket and she hears more bang bang bang bang on the car door and a voice says, ‘Ma’am this is the police,’ and so she looks up out of the blanket and sees it’s a police officer and he says, ‘Ma’am, get out of the car but don’t look behind you.’ So she gets out of the car and he says, ‘Were you out here with your boyfriend?’ And she says, ‘Yes.’ He says, ‘Don’t look behind you.’ And she turns around and she looks and she sees her boyfriend hanging from a tree limb over the top of the car and his feet on the car that are making the scraping noise.”
Background: The informant first heard this urban legend in highschool at band camp in Texas. She says it was likely around the 1970s. She says that she had heard a similar urban legend when she was living in New Jersey, though instead of a country road it was a road near a mental ward and the boyfriend just disappeared.
The ending of this particular urban legend is very gruesome when you begin to think about what was happening during that time, especially with civil rights movements, and when you start thinking about the possible race of the couple. By the 1970s most schools and establishments had been desegregated, but racial discrimination was still extremely prominent. The legend itself is likely just used as a horror story to scare teenagers and kids from going off on their own at night. But when coming from a place like Texas that has a history of heavy racial discrimination, the implications have a different meaning.
Date: April 25, 2022
Source and Relationship: G, younger brother
Type: Scary Story, Legend
Folklore/Text: Humans Lick Too Story: “My friend Quincy told me this story at a sleepover and I still think about it a lot. So this girl who’s my age was staying home alone for the night with her golden retriever. She started hearing strange noises around the house so she stayed in her room and put her hand under the bed so that her dog would lick her, so that she knew she was safe. She felt her dog’s tongue on her hand, so she decided she was fine and tried to go to sleep. But then she heard the faucet running in her bathroom, which was weird because no one was home. When she walked to the bathroom to turn it off, she saw across the wall, written in blood, ‘HUMANS LICK TOO.’ The body of her dead dog was also lying on the floor in front of her. When Quincy told me the story I didn’t sleep for three days, I still need to get him back for it.”
Explanation/Context: I have actually heard many versions of this story over the years, with some details being added or discarded based on who I’m talking to. It clearly is an urban legend that found its way through the power of the internet and/or spoken word to the minds of current high schoolers, which is fascinating to me since I first heard the story when I was his age as well. After further investigation, this tale is actually quite famous since it was originally printed in a 1871 novel by M. R. James. It is remarkable to me that such stories have stood the test of time and continue to strike fear into children globally. I still refuse to leave any of my limbs hanging off the side of the bed at night because of this very tale.
Date: April 14, 2022
Source and Relationship: Elaine, High School Theater Teacher
Type: Scary Story, Superstition
Folklore/Text: The PAC Ghost: “A long time ago, on a cold and windy night, a tech theater student was working late at night in the rafters of the Jesuit High School performing arts center. Suddenly, lightning struck the building and the student was flung from the rafters, 90 feet above ground, into the orchestra pit to their demise. Their body was never found, but we believe that they became a ghost to haunt Jesuit theater productions to come. Now, every time a door closes randomly or a gust of wind blows throughout the theater, we know that the PAC ghost is watching over us. This is why we always leave one light in the center of the stage at the end of the night, so our ghost friend can find his way around.”
Explanation/Context: While growing up I thought that my high school theater was the only school that attributed a ghost to the strange happenings around the performing arts center, as it turns out, theaters around the world experience this phenomenon as well. Theater buildings are often very historic and carry years of storytelling in its walls – the pieces that were put on linger just as hauntingly as an apparition might. There is an undeniable folklore with tragic mishaps in the theater, dating back to gladiatorial performances in ancient Europe; the most notable theater mishap, of course, being Abraham Lincoln’s assassination while he was watching a play. For centuries, the idea of leaving a “ghost light” in the center of the stage once everyone else has gone home has been customary in protecting the space from bad energy. In this case, though, the tale of the fallen student from the rafters has darker connotations that have warranted an even further superstition that any unexplainable noise or movement comes from that deceased students’ spirit.