La Llorona (The Weeping Woman)

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While growing up in Albuquerque, NM; the fear of La Llorona (pronounced “LAH yoh RoH nah”), also known as The Weeping Woman, was a fear instilled into me to the point where you would never see my happy little monkey butt playing by rivers or arroyos (ditches) at night as a child.

There is no established date of when the legend of La Llorona took place.  However the origins of the story came from Mexico and has spread all over the southwestern parts of the United States with many variations to the Legend.

Folklore

The retelling that I still remember from my childhood of the La Llorona starts in a small village in Mexico.  In this village lived a very attractive woman named Maria with vanity over surpassing her beauty.  All gentlemen suitors were rejected when trying to court Maria, until one day a very handsome man, son of a very wealthy ranchero, rode into town on his horse.  When this man first laid his eyes on the very beautiful Maria, he was convinced that this was the woman that he wanted to marry.  For awhile at first, Maria played hard to get by ignoring this handsome wealthy gentleman.  She would refuse to speak to him by not giving him the time of the day.  She also rejected all of his elaborate gifts that were presented to her to win her affection.

Long story short, they were married and had two children together.  They were perceived to be the happiest family in the area.  Then after a few years after the children were born, the ranchero started to leave home more and more to suit his embedded wild frontier lifestyle.  When returning  on occasions the man started to ignore Maria and would only spend time with his children.  On the last visit home the wealthy ranchero came back with another woman in his carriage.  The man told Maria that he was leaving her for this woman who was from a wealthier class.  As the newlyweds rode off Maria became furious and grabbed her children and took them for a walk to a nearby river.  While they were walking down the bank of the river, Maria’s anger was festering from within and boiled over.  Out of rage she grabbed her children by the arms and threw them into the river.  Maria stood by the river watching the strong currents pulling her children away to their watery deaths.  After realizing what she had just done, Maria started running down the river bank crying out to her children.  Maria ran as fast as she could but could not keep up with the speed of the currents.  While running and trying to shorten the gap to her children, she tripped and fell face first hitting her head on a rock and died.

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To this day, if children dare to play near any form of rivers they might hear the sounds of a crying woman in white yelling out for her children.  And if these foolish young souls stay long enough, she will take them as her own.

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Other variations of the La Llorona portray her children to be spoiled little brats and after her husband left her the little monsters misbehaving is supposedly what triggered Maria’s rage that caused her to kill her children.  Another version of the La Llorona tale states that she married a conquistador and when she was dumped for another woman of higher status her Aztec blood threw her into madness and she killed her children.  After killing her children she went on a mission to rid all European colonists by killing men, women, and children as an act of vengeance against the intruders of her land from overseas.  She was portrayed to be wearing black clothing, a blank expression on her face, and having long fingernails.  She would carry out her conquests of eliminating European colonists at night.

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Like any other ghost story, the La Llorona legend is used as a scare tactic to keep children from danger.  Whether it is to keep them from playing around bodies of water or to get them to come home before it gets dark.  The story is also used to get a child to behave.  If a child acts like a brat, La Llorona would be the threat used to redirect the child’s behavior.

References

La Llorona – A Mexican Ghost Story | donQuijote. (n.d.). Retrieved July 24, 2016, from http://www.donquijote.org/culture/mexico/society/customs/la-llorona

Challenging and Redefining the Myth of La Llorona. (n.d.). Retrieved July 24, 2016, from http://www.csusm.edu/news/topstories/articles/2012/10/tsLaLlorona.html

Fuller, A. (n.d.). The evolving legend of La Llorona. Retrieved July 24, 2016, from http://www.historytoday.com/amy-fuller/evolving-legend-la-llorona

LA LLORONA. (n.d.). Retrieved July 24, 2016, from https://tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/lxl01

Weiser, K. (n.d.). La Llorona – Weeping Ghost of the Southwest. Retrieved July 24, 2016, from http://www.legendsofamerica.com/gh-lallorona.html

Hayes, J. (n.d.). LA LLORONA – A HISPANIC LEGEND. Retrieved July 24, 2016, from http://www.literacynet.org/lp/hperspectives/llorona.html

 

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The Hull House

Hull House

In 1856, a real estate tycoon Charles J. Hull built a home in the near westside of Chicago, which in that time period was considered to be the upper class area of the city.  Mr. Hull’s wife died in the second floor bedroom and shortly after a few months of her death it was reported that her ghost haunted the room.  After the rest of the Hull family vacated the house  the Little Sisters of the Poor and a used furniture store occupied the building and also claimed to have experienced the presence of Mrs. Hull.

After the Chicago Fire of 1871, burning down most of the westside, the wealthy moved to other parts of the city and the near westside became inhabited by Italian, Greek and Jewish immigrants.  The area’s landscape went from luxurious homes with green lawns and hedges to tenement houses and factories.

Jane Adams

jane adams

Jane Adams was a social reformer who was the first American woman to receive the Nobel Peace prize.  In 1889, Jane Adams along with her partner Ellen Starr Gates started their social equality efforts in Chicago by opening up the Hull House as a peaceful haven for the immigrants living in the area.  They provided shelter, education, and job training to improve the quality of life of the residents who resided in an area that became plagued with crime and crooked cops and was known as the “Dark Corner of Chicago”.  The Hull House was purchased by the University of Illinois and still stands today as a museum of social reform efforts made by Jane Adams, Ellen Gates, and the staff of Hull House.

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The Devil Baby

The Hull House became a footnote in the realm of urban legend folklore by becoming known as the House of the Devil Baby of Chicago.  The story goes that a catholic woman married an atheist man.  The woman tried to put a picture of the Virgin Mary on a wall of their house and the man ripped the picture down and tore it to shreds.  The man yelled out, “I would rather have the Devil himself in this house than that picture.”  Shortly after the woman gave birth to a child that had scales and a tail.  Some variations of the story claim that the child had horns and a hooves for feet.  The baby was taken to and abandoned at the Hull House.  Supposedly, Jane Adams took the baby in and while trying to baptize the baby, the infant stood up, walked around, and was mocking the priest.  Rumors ran rampant about the “Hull House Devil Baby” and people would visit the House and ask to see the infamous baby, some even tried to offer money for a peak of the demonic creature.  

Jane Adams and the staff of Hull House denied the stories.  Jane Adams even wrote in her autobiography dispelling the rumors and claims of the Devil Baby.  People to this day claim to see at night a demonic face of a child appearing out the attic window of the Hull House.  Whether the story has some truths or not, there are now known birth defects that could have happened that could logically explain on how this once started as a rumor then turned to the legend of the Devil Baby.

References

About Jane Addams. (n.d.). Retrieved June 05, 2016, from http://www.hullhousemuseum.org/about-jane-addams/

 

Visit The Museum. (n.d.). Retrieved June 05, 2016, from http://www.hullhousemuseum.org/overview/

Jane Addams and Hull House. (n.d.). Retrieved June 05, 2016, from http://www.hauntdetective.com/hauntings-legends-folklore/chicago/westside/85-jane-addams-and-hull-house

The Devil Baby of Hull House. (2011, October 3). Retrieved June 05, 2016, from http://www.chicagonow.com/chicago-quirk/2011/10/the-devil-baby-of-hull-house/

JANE ADDAM’S HULL HOUSE. (n.d.). Retrieved June 05, 2016, from http://www.prairieghosts.com/hull.html

The Bunny Man

The bunny man bridge

While searching for my great white whale of a tale, I came across an urban legend with a title that alone gave me a smirk on my face and sparked my curiosity.  As I’m reading the legend of the Bunny Man I couldn’t help but notice the similarities between the true events of the Bunny man and another piece of folklore that I picked up when I was a kid going to summer camp.  I’m not  going to give it away, but if you see it or possibly hear it in your head while reading this blog,  please give me some form of validation that I’m not the only one who thinks this is funny.

The legend takes place in FairFax County, Virginia.  On Halloween at the stroke of midnight while you are hanging out under the Colchester overpass, which is also nicknamed the Bunny Man Bridge, a flash of light will appear.  Anyone under the bridge will have their throats slashed and will be hanged from the bridge.

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There are some variations of the story that created the origins of this urban legend; however, the main part of the story starts in the early 1900s.  An insane asylum was built deep in the wilderness of a nearby town called Clifton.  After the Civil War, the population started  to grow in FairFax County.  As the population increased the fears of living near an insane asylum arose and eventually a petition was signed by the populus of the county to have the inmates transferred to another facility known as the Lorton Prison.  One of the transports crashed and the guards and some of the inmates died.  Ten inmates escaped into the woods and after several exhausting months of manhunts eight of the inmates were apprehended.  Two of the inmates, Marcus Wallster and Douglas Griffin, vanished into the woods.  The inmates managed to evade the authorities long enough to cause the manhunts to be called off.  The police figured if they’re not dead by now they would be soon.

Soon after, skinned rabbits were being found and sometimes hanging on the Colchester overpass.  Eventually the body of Marcus Wallster was found hanging from the overpass.  The police suspected Douglas Griffin for the crime and he became known as the Bunny Man.  Douglas Griffin was convicted of murdering his family on Easter Sunday which is what landed him in the asylum in the first place.

Some versions of the story state that the authorities caught up with Mr. Griffin and while pursuing him he was  hit by a train.  Another variation stated that the authorities found Mr. Griffin’s dead body lying on the train tracks that run over the Colchester overpass.

Now there have been many tales of teenagers hanging out under the Bunny Man Bridge on Halloween night and found the next day hanging from the bridge.  Here is where I’m starting to smell the presence of good old fashioned parenting.  Scare your kids by telling them ghost stories to prevent them from doing stupid things, which inevitably causes them to do those stupid things when they become teenagers.

According to my sources there are  no documents whatsoever to validate the origins of this legend.  There are also no police reports confirming that there have been people found hanging dead on this notorious bridge.  However it is pretty common to find abandoned buildings or remains of buildings in the backwoods of Virginia.  It is possible that one of those remains could have been the abandoned asylum that was shut down.  And it is possible that documents could disappear.  If you don’t believe me ask a lawyer or a unscrupulous business person.

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Anyways…

This is where it gets a little silly and weird.  In 1970, a series of the Bunny Man sightings started to pop up.  Police reports were made and even some of the local newspapers started chiming in on these mysterious encounters.  The first report was made by an Air Force Academy cadet Robert Bennett who was on leave in Virginia  and was visiting his uncle.  Towards the end of his leave he spent the evening with his fiance.  They were sitting in a car in the 5000 block of Guinea Road when a man dressed in a bunny suit came out of the bushes wielding an axe shouting out, “You’re on private property and I have your tag number”.  The man tossed the axe through the right passenger front window of the car and then skipped off back into the dark woods.  Another report was made less than two weeks later by Paul Phillips who was a private security guard for a construction site.  Phillips reported to police seeing a young male appearing to be in his 20s dressed in a bunny suit carrying an axe.  As Phillips approached this bunny man the man struck a wooden support with his axe on a new house being built and shouted out, “All you people trespass around here.  If you don’t get out of here, I’m going to bust you on the head”.  There were over 50 reports of sightings of the Bunny Man in the 70’s.  Even to this day there are sightings of a man in a bunny suit near the overpass or somewhere along Guinea Road.

While reading about these true encounters the Little Bunny Foo Foo song started to play in my head.  If you have never experienced or heard of this song I have provided a link below.  Warning this song is very catchy so I give you my apologies in advance.

http://bussongs.com/songs/little-bunny-foo-foo.php

I extended my research for this blog just to see if there are any correlations between the folklore of the “Bunnyman” and “Little Bunny Foo Foo” and there are none.  However it did inspire a “Little Bunny Foo Foo” parody of mine.

Little Bunny Foo Foo hopping through the forest…Slicing people’s throats and hangin’ em on the bridge…

I’m not going to continue on with it.  I will leave the rest of it up to your imagination.

References

The Bunny Man Unmasked – Page 4. (n.d.). Retrieved May 30, 2016, from http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/library/branches/vr/bunny/bunny4.htm

A.K. (2014). The Strange True Story Behind the Legend of the Bunnyman Bridge. Retrieved May 30, 2016, from http://www.oddlyhistorical.com/2014/04/25/strange-true-story-legend-bunnyman-bridge/

B.S. (2015, May 18). Beware of the Bunny Man! | Mysterious Universe. Retrieved May 30, 2016, from http://mysteriousuniverse.org/2015/05/beware-of-the-bunny-man/

Mckendry, D. I. (2015, December 22). Virginia Haunted by Killer Dressed as Giant Rabbit: The Legend of Bunny Man Bridge. Retrieved May 30, 2016, from http://www.blumhouse.com/2015/12/22/virginia-haunted-by-killer-dressed-as-giant-rabbit-the-legend-of-bunny-man-bridge/