BACKGROUND: My informant, DT, is a student from the US. Her parents are part Irish but also born and raised in the US. This piece is something that she learned from her grandparents — a cautionary tale of sorts to stop her from eating the mushrooms around her grandparent’s house.
CONTEXT: This piece is from a conversation with my friend to discuss a story she heard from her grandparents.
DT: Ok so there was the story of Wilhelmina Von Ark who was like this little girl who used to live in my grandparent’s house. My grandparents live really close to the woods and the legend is that she went into the woods by herself and got lost. Lost and hungry, she accidentally ate a poisonous mushroom and died. So every time we [her brother and her] went over to their house our grandparents were like “Don’t eat the mushrooms you remember Wilhelmina!”
Me: Wilhelmina feels like a strong name. Is that from somewhere?
DT: I always thought this was like a story everyone knew, like, but apparently it’s just a true story of the girl who used to live in that house.
THOUGHTS: It’s hard to tell whether this story legitimately chronicles the unfortunate life of a little girl that dies of mushroom poisoning or whether this is a fictional story made with the purpose of curbing DT from the woods. Regardless, I think it’s important to note that the story still did two significant things. (1) Whether or not it’s true, it still did its purpose of stooping DT from eating random mushrooms from the woods, and (2) DT believed (and still believes) it, so to her, it’s still 100% authentic.