Text: “In my town, there was a woman we called, the mud lady. She was a homeless woman, who wore so much makeup that it made kids scared of her and made it look like she was covered in mud. Even our parents would tell us to stay away from her whenever we went into town. If she was on the same side of the street as you, you would cross the street so you didn’t have to pass her. Everyone had different conspiracies of how she became the mud lady. I remember one kid said that she would steal people’s dogs, kill them, and bury them in the mud near the lake, others stated that she’ll stab you if you walk by her. Whenever you did walk by her, she had a very scary smile, every time. It didn’t look like a friendly smile, it looked like a psychopathic smile. Looking back on it now, she was just a poor old homeless woman trying to live her life. However, it was kids being kids, making up stories about her that had no factual evidence. I don’t believe she ever did anything bad, but as a kid, I was terrified of her.” – Informant
Context: The informant is from a small suburb in New Jersey, that probably didn’t have many homeless people, most likely why these stories were made up about her. The informant was about 10, and he would see the mud lady almost on a daily basis. This woman did make him very aware of his surroundings, starting as a child and even the parents of these children told them to stay away from her.
Analysis: This is definitely an interesting piece of folklore because although this woman never did anything truly bad, it was the conspiracy theories made up about her that truly made her scary. I think this is definitely something that occurs in small suburbs with little homeless populations because even in my town, there was this one homeless man named Joe who was the kindest man ever. But as a kid, all of us were told to stay away from him and we would gossip about potential stories of his life. One was that he comes from a very wealthy family but did so many drugs that he refuses to live a life where he isn’t homeless. Someone said that his parents offered him money but he refused to take it. We were told to always stay away from him, but as we grew up, we realized Joe was no threat. He was a homeless man just trying to live his life, without any harm to others. It is also upsetting that as children, we use the stereotype that a homeless person is dangerous or on drugs, when in reality they are just trying to live their lives.