The Story of Raggedy Ann of Towanda, PA

There was once a young woman named Ann, who lived in the rural town of Towanda, Pennsylvania, with her parents, who loved her very much. They would always say to her, “Just remember, Ann, if you ever get into any trouble, any trouble at all, just run home. Run straight home, and we’ll be here.” One night Ann was driving out by the woods. A deer sprang out onto the road, and Ann, swerving to miss it, crashed her car. In the crash, the glass from the windshield shattered, and split through either side of her neck. Ann stumbled out of the car and ran home, but as she ran, her mostly-severed neck flopped back and forth–flip-flop, flip-flop, flip-flop. Her parents found her and rushed her to the hospital, but somehow in the crash Ann lost her mind and went insane. Her parents put her in a mental institute. One night, Ann escaped, so that she could run home to her parents. And on some nights, you just might see her, running through the woods, her head going flip-flop, flip-flop, flip-flop.

This was a ghost story told at my informant’s childhood summer camp every year, usually at a bonfire on the Fourth of July. The camp policies didn’t allow most traditions, such as camp songs or stories, except for this and a few more told only on this night. Only one of the oldest, most experienced campers  will be allowed to tell the story, and every year, the camper with the honor does his or her best to make it new and exciting, even though everyone knows the story already.

On the last line– “flip-flop, flip-flop, flip-flop”, Raggedy Ann herself comes running across through the words, her head flopping back and forth, to the screams of the campers. This is always another senior camper, and it’s considered an honor to play the part.