Tag Archives: urban legend

The Saticoy Waterplant

Background: My informant is a 19 year old girl from Calfornia with Mexican heritage and a large family that often share stories together.

Me: Who is this story about? 

S: My mom’s best friend’s father. He worked at the Saticoy water plant in California during the night shift. He was tasked to make sure different machines used during all hours of the day were working properly. He would drive his truck around the property to get to different areas of the plant to check different piping systems. He claimed that he would often hear drunk teenagers running into the orchids to hide from cops or explore the property. One night as he was getting back into his truck after checking a pipe that had recently been malfunctioning, he heard the sounds of rowdy kids. He was so used to this that he ignored it and just got into his truck and began driving away. As he was driving he looked into his rearview mirror and noticed a young girl sitting in the back of his truck. He stopped the car and got out to yell at her, but when he went out no girl was there. He blamed this on being tired and got back into the car, but he saw the girl in the rearview mirror again, this time much closer to his back window. He tried closing his eyes and opening them again, thinking he was hallucinating from lack of sleep, but the figure was still there. He moved the rearview window completely upwards and drove home without once looking back again, and he quit the night shift that same night. 

My thoughts: I like this story because I know about this particular waterplant in my area and have heard a few strange things about it but this is the most concrete account of anything paranormal happening at this particular place. A similar place with a haunted reputation also in Ventura county is the Scary Dairy, which has an entry which can be found here http://folklore.usc.edu/tag/mental-hospital/

The Hapless Waterskier

Background: This is an urban legend from the American South as told by a 20 year old boy, G, who lived in Florida in his youth and still has family in the area. He was first told the story by his father, but he has heard of different versions of the story from other people who say it happened in a different place. He recounted this legend to my boyfriend and I one night.

G: Ok so, back in the 1990’s, a boy and his dad were going water skiing on a lake in Seminole, Florida. I believe it was called uh… Seminole Lake. It’s a small lake next to the interstate in St. Petersberg county. So, he was water skiing and his dad was pulling him, and y’know, he fell, as you do when you’re water skiing… and when he fell in the water, y’know his dad has to turn the boat around. Oftentimes in Florida there’s obstacles in the water so you have to take like, a long turn-around. So he takes this wide turn and he comes back around and he sees that his son is waving his hands in the air, and he’s like, screaming. And so he pulls up next to his son, and his son is crying out that he’d fallen in barbed wire–because, I mean like that area of Florida is not very nice. It’s actually right next to a warehouse where they sell water equipment like jetskis and boats and stuff, so it wouldn’t be uncommon for that kind of stuff to be in the water. So he was crying out that he was getting torn up by barbed wire, and when his dad finally pulled him out, he had over a hundred snake bites on him. He had gotten tangled in a nest of water moccasins. And uh, well he’d been bitten 40 or 50 times so he had about a hundred holes in him. And he died.

Me: Oh wow. And that’s real? You believe that really happened?

G: Oh yeah. I think in 1990 something. I actually looked it up once and found a very similar story that apparently happened in Alabama. It was on Snopes. So I guess it’s just kind of an urban legend to people around here. Texas, Alabama too. But I think it definitely happened.

Me: Do you think people use it as a kind of cautionary tale? Like, “don’t go in the water, don’t fall in, there’s snakes!”

G: No. I mean like, it never stopped me from water skiing. Maybe I just wouldn’t go to Seminole Lake.

My thoughts: I think this story isn’t so far-fetched that it’s unbelievable, so that probably contributes to its appeal and its tendency to continue to spread around and shock people. I think Floridians especially like to milk the stereotypes about the crazy dangers of the Florida swamp. I’ve heard it called the “Australia of America” because of its reputation for scary creatures, and it’s my guess that this legend probably hammers that nickname in for people when they hear it. 

Donkey Lady Bridge

Context: Donkey Lady Bridge is located on the east side of San Antonio, and is a popular story amongst children that often becomes an inspiration for dares. The bridge passes over a creek.

G.G. : So, my story, it like comes from San Antonio, where I live. It’s basically um it started in the like the 1800s, some people say 1900s, like 1950s, but a lot of town folk say it’s like 1800. Basically, um, a farming family lived outside of San Antonio back then which is now on the east side of San Antonio.
P.Z. : Alright, so older, it was more spread out.
G.G. : Yeah. So like basically the farmer set fire to his home, murdered his children and left his wife horribly disfigured. And so and the wife, she survived, but her fingers were melted down to stumps creating hoof-like appendages, leaving the skin on her face charred and gave her an elongated, donkey-like appearance. And so, grieving the loss of her children and betrayal of her husband, she haunts Elm Creek and those who try to cross ‘cause like there’s a bridge. So that’s why we call it Donkey Lady Bridge.
P.Z. : Okay so it’s like a particular bridge in your hometown?
G.G. : Yeah I actually took my sister out to it.
P.Z. : Is there like, are there supposed to be noises when you’re here? Are you supposed to see something…?
G.G. : Uh okay uh, okay so —
P.Z. : Or is it just, sort of like, you said you brought your sister there..?
G.G. : Like, you’re supposed to hear her, you know? And I feel like I heard a different story of it like the story that i heard whenever I was like a kid. And like everyone hears it because it’s like it’s from our town. And so it was kind of like um, it was kind of like this love affair and the family, I guess the man tried to get rid of his family by setting the house on fire or something like that…
P.Z. : Some sort of affair —
G.G. : Yeah and so that’s why he killed his whole family but then like she obviously came back and like haunted him and she killed him and stuff. And um oh there’s also this, no, no I’m getting that confused with something else. Anyway yeah so now she like kind of protects that area by Donkey Lady Bridge. She doesn’t want anyone coming onto her land because that’s like where her children and her house was, you know? She doesn’t want any of the other farmers because I guess he was a big man in the community so that’s why she haunts that area, guards that area. So Donkey Lady Bridge, you’re supposed to go there and park. And then she’s also because there was also something about her that she ran out and drowned in the river too. That was another story of her and so like you’re really supposed to go out on a rainy night and then um park your car at the bridge and you’re supposed to hear her, just hear donkey noises, hear like the hooves or something, you know or something that’s just there. And that’s pretty much it, I don’t think there’s ever been any reported sightings or anything like that.

Thoughts: I grew up in a fairly urban area, so to hear of a story relating to a specific creek or bridge was a new experience. I thought that it was interesting that just one storyteller could personally recall multiple versions of a singular legend. Also, it was interesting that this has become a sort of story to bond the community, like when she mentioned that she brought her sister to the bridge to show her where the popular urban legend took place.

The little sanatorium girl of Parnitha

Background: The informant stated that she had a personal encounter with a deceased little girl who she believes she is the same person of the urban legend of the little girl of Parnitha (suburb in northern Athens, Greece). She first heard of the legend from the mother who would warn her not to wonder around that area alone. According to informant, she was fascinated by the story of the Parnitha’s little girl and wished she could meet her one day. This personal experience didn’t affect the informant as the encounter with the little girl was uneventful. It imprinted, however, a vivid memory and led the informant to question later as an adult, the existence of the tormented and unrested deceased girl.  

EE:This is an old legend. I can’t even remember when. It was,  I think, the story starts around 1914. You know, it starts with the story of the sanatorium. It was the church, I don’t remember the name, maybe, oh, I know Petraki, the monastery of Petraki that donated acres to build the sanatorium. It was the deadliest of times, couldn’t even say the name,  because it was so scary, the tuberculosis and everyone thought of it as a death sentence. People didn’t know how to help , I mean didn’t know of any treatment. There was nothing anyone could do, were left to die, they tried to keep them from infecting , you know the rest. But too many died, among them children. What could they do? No antibiotics to give , it was in the 60s that,  there were antibiotics and tuberculosis was cured. But this sanatorium,  they didn’t demolish it.   And I always wanted to go and look and play. Broken chairs and mattresses and everything that remained , we liked to explore. But the legend , we knew about the legend and didn’t stop us. And others were talking about it all, and about the girl dressed  in white  and the cold drafts and the screaming voices at night. But in the 60s, I think it was 1964,  I was, mmm, about 15 years old, or maybe a couple of years older, I won’t reveal my age (informant laughing)  and then, you know , we wouldn’t listen to our parents any more. It was one day after Christina’s birthday, Christina was my best friend, that we decided to go.  After the sun came down , in the darkness ,  we walked to the “Well of the Lady” to find the little girl. Because legend has it that she will appear after the sun sets. But didn’t see anything and we start laughing. Bored , we couldn’t stay , we had to get home. It was late. But when getting further from the “Well of the Lady”, I heard crying , and when I turned I saw a little girl, crying,  asking to drink water but she was far from the “well”. The faster I run  towards her, the more she fainted and I couldn’t see or find her. But,  I am certain I saw her, I heard her, I saw the blue ribbon around her waist. 

Me: Who do you believe was the little girl? 

She was, she was the unban legend of the little girl, very sick,  that died in her way to the “well” from the sanatorium to drink the healing waters. She believed that the water of the “well” would heal her. But she was too sick with tuberculosis, too sick. Left her last breath, trying to reach the healing waters of the “well”. I know it was her. She  looked exactly like the urban legend,  dressed in white and her blue ribbon. I couldn’t forget her blue ribbon and her cries.  

Me:  Did anyone else see her? 

EE: None of my friends saw her

Me: Why do you think they didn’t see her or hear her?

EE: She was crying for help. Who do you ask for help? My friends didn’t believe in the legend. Maybe,  I don’t know. Maybe ghosts are , they sense , I mean they know to whom to present themselves.  This girl was asking for help , maybe she sensed I could help her to get her to the well or I don’t know. I don’t know.  

Me: Do you think many people believe in the existence of the little sanatorium girl that appears at the “Well of the Lady” in the area of Parnitha? 

EE: Yes. Its  a legend. There is a history. After the sanatorium closed down, they tried to built a hotel . Named “Xenia” I think. But failed , bankruptcy. And then came , the government tried to open a school but it closed too.  And nothing could , I mean nothing good could come out of this place. Many have seen the little girl but I haven’t met any of them. 

Me: Did you share your experience with your parents back then? 

EE: I didn’t. They wouldn’t had believe me.  And I didn’t  want to get in trouble. These were other times. You either obeyed your parents or you would’ve been in big trouble (informant laughing).   

Me: What makes you believe that your mother who had told you about this legend wouldn’t had believed you? 

EE: I don’t think she believed it herself. Our parents could , you know, try to make us do things  without explaining . Fear was good. She thought if I get scared I would do or not do what she wanted.

Context: This piece was collected via a zoom meeting

Thoughts: It is interesting that the informant grew with this legend and although she  suspected that her mother used it as the means to scare her to obey her, she grew to have the one experience that contradicts this belief. The informant grew with this story and knew exactly how the little sanitarium girl    looked like. The fact the her friends didn’t see or hear anything that night may be interpreted as proof that the legend is passed on as the means to honor and remember the people, especially young children who suffered a horrible death due to a deadly disease so easily cured with the use of antibiotics a few decades  later.  Since the informant didn’t mention that she knows of any others who have seen the little girl with the blue ribbon around her waist,  I wonder if she just saw what she was expecting to see or hoped. The area is covered with dense trees which makes it very difficult to see things clearly even at daytime. Her vivid image of the little girl, dressed in white, with the detail of the blue ribbon around her waist, seen in the darkness, amidst  dense vegetation makes me skeptical. Or maybe, ghosts do choose to appear to the living with a more open mind and heart. Since it is an urban legend, I wonder if there could had been more confirmed sightings of people who had indeed a personal encounter with the Parnitha sanatorium little girl but are no longer living to confirm these sightings.       

Folktale Creature: The Squonk

Main Piece: 

“He’s just sad and ugly and I love him. Oh boy, so, the squonk is basically this kind of urban legend, like cryptid creature that’s certainly meant to explain like those weird noises hunters hear in the night. And the thing is that the squonk cries a lot because he’s ugly, and that’s what those weird noises are. And that’s it. He just cries a lot because he’s ugly and no one wants to be the squonk.”


My informant had a strong personal connection to the squonk that was mostly based on finding the concept delightful. She is from an entirely different area than the squonk, which supposedly exists in Pennsylvania. My informant discovered the concept online, but does not recall exactly where. As mentioned above, she says it is meant to explain strange sounds hunters hear that sound like crying.


Folklore is normally emblematic of the culture in which it exists. For example, modern American folklore tends to have an emphasis on the future and the brightness at the end of the tunnel- proverbs such as “all’s well that ends well” or “the ends justify the means.” Americans tend to have an emphasis on happiness and hope to the exclusion of other sentiments. It’s interesting, then, that there’s this specifically Pennsylvanian creature that is so unbearably and irredeemably ugly that all it does is cries. This kind of hopelessness is not normally emblematic of American folklore. Two possible explanations fit within the framework of America as a mostly hopeful folk group. First, this could be a bizarre way of putting down the other. The hunter is not the one crying in the woods because they’re ugly- it’s the noise possibly frightening them that is. Second, this could be an example of an unconsciously counter-hegemonic folk belief. The majority of America is full of blind hopeful folklore, but we believe in a creature that lives in the woods and cries because of how depressed it is over its hideousness.