THE INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY FOR CONTEMPORARY
IN THIS ISSUE
Asbjørn Dyrendal: Satanism in
N. Constantinescu: Money
schemes in Romania
Mare Kõiva: Human sausages in
Brian Chapman: Garage doors
and penile implants
Accents on accents
Daniel VanArsdale: Update on
How not to get that job
Internet sites on virus
"No va" won't go
Site for sightings
Web sites for legends
"Bad Day" Reports
HAVE YOU HEARD?
Bricklayer story on screen?
More and more on kidney thefts
Conspiracy rumours : Diana's
LEGEND AND LIFE
Brian Chapman: Punning names
Barbara Mikkelson: bodies
Yorkshire AIDS Marys
Baby atop car
kidney in Brazil
Contraceptive jelly mis-taken
Ann Landers tells tale of a
That awful package got stolen
Ship and lighthouse, 1939
Gorsky~Yablonski: First words
on the moon
1966 red tape & taxes legend
Free ride to the mental
"Feeling better, sir?"
Plunging cows in the press
B. Mikkelson: Racist-designer
EYE ON SATANISM
1997 Buchan Prize awarded
1998 Buchan Prize rules
Call for Papers: Innsbruck
Call for Papers: Organ Theft
New home page on the Web for
THE CUTTING EDGE
New MUNFLA finding aid for
FROM THE EDITOR
This issue of
FoafTale News comes
seven months after the last one. Blame for such a delay might be placed on the
Canadian postal strike in November and December 1997, but at best that would be
an exaggeration. The real reason is that my workload allows less time than
before for the compilation,
editing and production of
All blame for lateness rests with me!
Please continue sending
news, queries, research notes, clippings, calls for papers, or notes about local
rumour and legend cycles to me for inclusion in
address is FoafTale News, MUN Folklore and Language Archive, Memorial
University of Newfoundland, St. John's, Newfoundland A1B 3X8 CANADA. The email
Media Constructions of
'Satanism' in Norway 1988-1997
The promotion of
stereotypical images of "Satanism" in Norway started late in the 1980s. For a
short time, the Norwegian press followed examples from England and the US in
pressing claims of widespread Satanism in ritual abuse, but this unleashed few
of the same reactions. But at the same time as reports of "survivors" peaked in
the early 1990s, the phenomenon of Black Metal "Satanism" reached the public,
and soon teenage arsonists and killers made new headlines, constructing a new
media image. [A
few words about references and sources: my clippings are less representative
from 1993 onwards than for the years 1989-92, as the number of articles exploded
in all kinds of media. For the first few years, therefore, the references are
pretty much exhaustive as my files go. After this, most of the references are
of the "for instance" kind. More could often be cited, from the around 250+
reports I have, and certainly more yet if my files had been anywhere near
complete. For the years 1993 onwards, my files from conservative Evangelical
extremely incomplete. Important strands of conservative Christian discussions
are therefore missing, as I did not want to rely on faulty memory based on
While the Satanism
scare was circulating in the United States during the latter half of the 1980s,
in Norway such topics could only be found in a certain kind of men's magazine
that stressed "just the right mix" of true crime and female (semi]nudity. Such
publishers had been discussing Satanism for a few decades, but even there it was
a rare topic. Confined to the fringes of the media, it was considered more of a
mainstream problem only among the clergy. The Bishops' Conference treated the
growth of "the occult," new religious movements and Satanism as convergent
problems for the first time in 1978 (case 3/78), and revisited the topic
regularly through the 1980s (cases 15/81, 30/84, 24/85, 18/89).
The Bishops' approach
was cautious; Conservative Evangelical publishing companies and the similarly
less so. During the 1970s and 1980s several books on "the occult" and Satanism
were published, chiefly by Hermon Forlag, which converged with
stories on the brainwashing effect of rock music and Satanic influence among New
Age adherents. Some
biographies by alleged previous Satanists and occultists were also translated
and published in Norwegian. The first of these was Briton Doreen Irvine's
From Witchcraft to Christ,
released by a Pentecostal publishing company in 1974. Irvine claimed to
have belonged to a London
"black lodge" that practiced a diabolical form of Freemasonry; later she
allegedly joined a coven and became "Queen of Black Witches" before her
conversion and exorcism. The publishing of such books, which often leaned
millenarianism, saw a sharp increase during the latter half of the 1980s and the
first few years of the 1990s.
Actually, the first
reports about Satanism and ritual abuse, cannibalism, etc., surfaced in reports
from the United States in 1988 in Norway's second largest newspaper,
December 1988), and in an AP report that was sold to several large regional
papers (27 June 1989). The first of these stories mainly concerned the infamous
"Geraldo" program, while the other contained material about a large police
conference in Connecticut, and linked the Matamoros case with Satanism and
satanic ritual abuse (SRA). Both contained skeptical comments: in the second
Robert Hicks and Ken Lanning were quoted extensively. Neither report made much
Still, during this same
period the topic of Satanism and "the occult" became more interesting for the
Norwegian mainstream press. As the semi-serious tabloids rose to staggering
(for Norway) figures in publishing, they moved more and more into the topical
domains of the slick weekly magazines. "Satanism" was one of these areas.
Starting as reports from the fringes, it soon became a legitimate news item. In
the process "Satanism" was constructed in several different manners, but the
themes of teenagers, sex, crime and music came to dominate.
Reports of indigenous
Satanism hit the front page for the first time on a slow news day, 2 June 1988.
Norway's largest newspaper proclaimed "Devil-worshippers threaten the town," a
story about two brothers who were threatening people, stealing from the church
and "worshipping Satan at midnight-dances" in a small town in the western part
of Norway (VG 2
June 1988). In November 1988 the next report arrived: a "Satanic chapel" was
discovered in the town of
Halden, in the southeast of the country, during a drug raid. Pictures of a "Baphomet"
(a goat-headed image of the devil popularised by the 19th-century occultist
Eliphas Levi) adorned an altar, along with "ritual" knives, a skull, Tarot cards
and other occult paraphernalia. The house was frequented by young adults
ranging from 16 to 30 years of age. Some were arrested for possession of
cannabis. The follow-up on the next day was concerned about the fact that the
Satanic Bible was available from book stores, something that came up again and
again (VG 1/2
November 1988). Only one of the "Satanists" from Halden was ever mentioned
again. As a Christian convert, "Lucifer" warned about Satanists and their
occult activity against preachers involved in a revival (Dagen 10
"Occult" and physical
threats/assaults by (mostly) teenagers claiming Satanic beliefs continued to
play an important role in news reports from 1988-1992. The threat of "the
occult" was mainly limited to
whose main concern focussed on the perceived cluster of Satanism/New Age/Rock
music/backward masking/teen suicide. It was, however, among the first to
publish reports about the danger of Satanic Ritual Abuse (SRA). The first
reference to SRA is in a report from England dated 22 March 1990, reported both
third largest newspaper), but the initial "breakthrough" came in
11 August 1990, when British freelance journalist Fred Harrison published a long
piece on the English Satanic
Ritual Abuse claims. In an interview with psychiatrist Victor Harris, which
contained all the usual details about secret Satanic mind control cults among
the powerful, Harrison disclosed that he and Dianne Core of the British
organisation "Childwatch" were also following leads to Norway. Their book was
published late the following summer.
But by this time a
Norwegian policeman had taken the media spotlight, with Harrison confined to a
sidebar commending his bravery. A long interview with a lieutenant of the Oslo
police vice squad appeared in
11 June 1991, definitively introducing the SRA mythos as a Norwegian news item.
The interview, illustrated with photos of crude graffiti, was based on a long
article by the lieutenant in the internal magazine of the Oslo police (OP-nytt [March
1991]: 22-26), with details learned from a Satanism seminar in the Netherlands.
In both article and interview, he gave detailed gory descriptions of "satanic
rituals" as well as long "checklists"
to identify abused children, translated from unnamed "English and American
sources." He also gave a historical background for this "satanic revival,"
linking Satanism to the Golden Dawn, the Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO) and the
Church of Satan. The only organisation known to exist in Norway is the OTO,
which subsequently was linked (falsely) with sex crimes in many of the reports.
And the police lieutenant
added something more significant: a Norwegian "case." An unnamed woman in her
twenties was said to be "continually remembering more of her participation in
the Satanic-ring" during therapy. At least two Satanic "rings" were operating
in Oslo, she claimed, which, the newspaper alleges, the police were about to
uncover. The story exploded into the media the following days, with headlines
like the following:
"Sex and black magic in secret
lodges" (Dagbladet (12
"Sadistic sex magic with
14-year-olds" (Dagbladet (12
"Police take action against
Satanists" (Dagen (12
"Eva escapes from Satanic
meeting" (Dagbladet (13
"Increasing interest for
Satanism in Norway" (Dagen (15
"Satanism is hatred of life" (Vårt
The story also made its way
into television but the material for developing
the story further was sparse. With few further disclosures, the papers soon
were forced to rely on pictures of satanic graffiti, interviews and articles
about "the occult," accomplishing a sort of linkage by assimilating any kind of
"Satanic" activity to the lieutenant's story. Teen Satanists' engagement in
violence, discovery of alleged "ritual" sites, and the like were interpreted
partly in the context of his claims for a while.
This assimilation of
Satanism into a generic threat composed of "the occult," drugs, brainwashing,
and ritual human sacrifice almost made its way into popular culture as well.
The theme of Satanism had of course been used several time in crime novels, but
remained unconnected with the 1990s SRA theme. In May 1994, a movie thriller
with the working title of "Set," including all these elements, was reportedly
being cast (Aftenposten 6
May 1994). The manuscript was said to be based on "available accounts" and
sponsored by public funds. (The movie has still not been released.)
Reactions to the
lieutenant and his "survivor" were mixed. Shortly before the story broke, a
group of Norwegian journalists and skeptics affiliated with CSICOP published the
first issue of their magazine
with "Satanism -- a media scare" as
the front page theme. They
followed up with harsh criticisms of the journalists and experts involved in
interviews, features and public debate (Klassekampen 13
Vårt Land 29
June 1991). Nor were they alone. Other skeptical voices were raised (Dagbladet 15
June 1991) among them one of Norway's most publicly active academics,
anthropologist Jan Brøgger (Aftenposten 22
June 1991). Many of the critical replies were based on
knowledge of English and American developments, and also cited similarity to
witch beliefs known from history and anthropology as a reason for more skeptical
Such criticism may have
caused some doubts, but the theme of "organised Satanism" and
ritual abuse continued as the
dominant interpretative frame in the media (Dagbladet 3
August 1991, 20 October 1991, 23 February 1992). More "survivors" came forward
in response to the news, as Core/Harrison and the police lieutenant cooperated
in their quest. Interestingly, though, during Norway's only "ritual abuse"
panic, the Bjugn kindergarten case of 1992 and beyond, news reports contained no
mention of Satanism, though they did mention the influence of Kee MacFarlane on
the therapy used and interviewed Bill Thompson, a British criminologist with
several papers critical of SRA claims.
As summer 1992 hit
Norway, allegations started again, this time compounded by the sudden
"explosion" of young "Satanists" involved in various kinds of criminal
behaviour, including assault, assault with a deadly weapon, desecration of
graveyards, and possession of illicit substances. Arson was hinted to be a
"Satanic" act, the first church-burning taking place on 6 June ("6-6") 1991
(allegedly at 6 am, thus providing the third digit of the devil's number
"666"). Several arrests were made late in the summer. This competed as the
central issue after the first criminal arrests, and took over more or less
completely after January 1993.
For a long time there
was nothing approaching consensus as to how this phenomenon was to be
interpreted. For instance, in June a "ritual site," a grotto containing stolen
crosses and graffiti, was found outside Stavanger. Bishop Bjørn Bue, approached
for comment, saw it solely as youth activity
(Stavanger Aftenblad 15
June 1992). In August, though, he linked the same grotto to widespread
organised criminal Satanic activity (Dagbladet 5
August 1992). Sexual abuse of minors (girls of 13-14) by Black Metal musicians
in Bergen (aged 17+) was mentioned, but never substantiated, and the case seems
never to have gone to trial. (One 17-year-old arsonist in Stavanger was later
convicted of raping a
15-year-old girl.) These reports were linked to the OTO and the police
lieutenant's claims from the previous summer, rather than to the Black Metal
"Satanists" attacked young evangelists in the streets of Kristiansand, and
others were arrested for one of the several church burnings this summer, public
interest exploded. Over twenty newspapers and journals published editorials,
interviews and analyses of the phenomenon (Vårt
September 1991). SRA claims
for the last time became a main issue. In a burst of activity from 10-15
Vårt Land produced
a series of articles on the topic. Five pages were devoted to a long
description of alleged SRA survivor "Astrid" and the context of her story (the
Norwegian scene, described by anonymous police and therapists, and British "true
crime stories"). Also included was a long interview with Black Metal
band-leader and store owner Øystein Aarseth, a.k.a. "Euronymous," soon to become
the victim of Norway's most
notorious "Satanic murder." The journalist carefully pointed out that these
kinds of Satanism are separate issues, but the juxtaposition of stories implied
The next days were
devoted mostly to general debate on "Satanism," mostly as a sign of cultural
crisis. But Astrid's story was followed up in
Vårt Land (15
October 1992) where it was still believed four years later (Vårt
January 1997, 18 April 1997). It was also followed up in the general debate (Holmgang,
TV2, 13 October 1992) and in a journalists' magazine (Journalisten 23
October 1992). Nevertheless, claims of secretive Satanic cults involved in
horrendous crimes began to fade into the background.
The SRA mythos
resurfaced briefly when two books were published, one on black magic in
contemporary occultism (Karl Milton Hartveit,
Gyldendal 1993), the other on ritual abuse in general (Eva Lundgren,
La de små barn komme til meg,
Cappelen Debate on
this issue, however, was peripheral. Reports of SRA surfaced a few times more
in general accounts of "Satanism," mostly as part of interviews. Two long
interviews with Core and Harrison appeared in a Christian journal (Troens
1992 and April 1992). There were also some articles in
September 1993, 25 June 1994, 15 August 1994), some skeptical reviews of the
book on ritual abuse, and a few radio-debates (I participated in two of these).
TV2 aired a British documentary
from Britain which promoted claims of a conspiracy that included the royal
family. Even the announcer was embarrassed.
By 1993, the main
perception of Satanism in Norway was controlled by the sudden high visibility of
teenagers, mostly aged 15-18 years old (but ranging from 14 to 25), who were
playing with the identity of being evil. Sometimes they would claim to be
Nazis, sometimes Satanists, sometimes Odinists, and at other points they would
refuse any label other than 'evil,' spouting statements
such as: "We're not Nazis. The Nazis only hated the Jews, we hate everyone."
Or, "We're not racists, we want all people to suffer." Or, "If our music causes
people to commit suicide, that's good. It weeds out the weak."
They got the opportunity
to air this philosophy when some of them also acted on it. Starting with the
attacks on young evangelists late in July 1992, the majority of stories about
Satanism were concerned with Black Metal "Satanists" and their crimes. During
the period of 1991-1993, several people were beaten, some stabbed, at least one
girl (aged fifteen) was raped, allegedly by two seventeen-year-old arsonists one
of whom was convicted of a lesser charge, and two people were murdered. The
first was an adult homosexual who apparently enraged a young "Satanist" by
propositioning him. The second was Øystein Aarseth, a.k.a. "Euronymous," a
major figure on the Black Metal scene, killed by his best friend, Varg (Kristian)
Vikernes a.k.a. "Count Grisnakh."
As the case went to trial, the
murderer got plenty of attention. His statements provided good copy, and gave
Vikernes a perfect opportunity to promote his image as the prototypical
"Viking-Satanist," although he had long ago abjured the label "Satanist,"
preferring "Odinist" and later "Nationalsocialist." Vikernes seems to have been
at least modestly successful, as he is still the subject of a lot of attention,
and quite a few of the "Satanists" have cut their hair and joined the ranks of
the growing neo-Nazi movement (Aftenposten 20
February 1995). (Interviews with Aarseth and Vikernes may be found on the World
Wide Web at http://www.lut.fi/~mega/muzac/Burzum/interviews.html.)
Although people were
attacked, it was mainly property that was damaged: desecration of graveyards
and burning churches. Over the next three years around forty churches were set
ablaze, most of them by young people identifying themselves with the
anti-Christian image of Black Metal "Satanists" and inspired by the actions
taken by others. Initial doubts were dispelled, as churches continued to be
burned, and "Satanists" down to the age of fourteen were arrested (Aftenposten 3
September 1993). In some places, interest in alleged ritual sites approached
panic, and anything unusual could be interpreted as signs of Satanic activity.
The drive towards
action was even larger among some church-goers. Police and congregations
several times kept nightly watch over churches with variable success. Some of
these churches were burned down at later dates, when watchfulness declined. Not
all were as conscientious as 67-year-old Victor Anderson, priest in the Trinity
church in Oslo. According to
June 1993) he armed himself with an axe and kept watch in the sacristy at
night: "If we are to survive as a cultured nation, society has to strike back
at these Plebeians ("pøbelveldet")," said Anderson, a veteran in the Norwegian
Broadcasting Corporation's religious radio.
As in all such cases,
media coverage varied widely in aims and quality, but as the interest approached
panic-level, many of the papers delved deeper into the issue, and provided some
genuine understanding by printing in-depth interviews of individual "Satanists"
September 1993, 23 September 1993,
April 1994). In addition, some provided calming statements:
"Satanism is no large problem"
strengthens the church" (Dagen 23
"Arson sets congregation
alight" (Aftenposten 3
"Exaggerated fear of Satanism
among Christians" (Vårt
Music journalists hastened to
separate the different genres of Heavy Metal from the extreme Death Metal
subculture. The majority of those involved in the Black Metal scene, they said,
did not hold such extreme views, and of those few who did, even fewer acted
them out (Dagbladet 29
January 1993, 1 September 1993). For some of these papers, such depth served as
a contrast to other parts of their coverage. And papers not selling on a
subscriber base preferred headlines like:
"14-year-olds into Satanic
groups," (Dagbladet 23
"Razzia at Satanist-Central,"
"Murdered by Swedish
11 August 1993),
"Worships Evil" (VG 22
The number of
church-burnings eventually declined
and public attention dwindled, but the image of Satanism as a "youth problem"
seems to have been firmly established. During the phenomenon, two main
interpretations were in competition. The first consisted of cultural criticism
directed towards either secularisation, the church, or both. Some of these
interpretations saw several factors, like rock, fantasy novels, role-playing
games or several sorts of occultism as causing the trend of adolescent Satanism
July 1992, 30 July 1992,
Vårt Land 14
Others were more
interested in the poverty of experiential dimensions in the mainstream of the
Lutheran church. A priest on the conservative, pro-symbolism, liturgical wing
of the church (Norway has a national,
Lutheran church) wanted to bring back the church office of exorcist (Vårt
August 1992). This sparked a semi-separate debate within the church on how to
meet "Satanism." Most agreed that exorcism was not the answer (Dagbladet 5
August 1992, 16 August 1992,
Vårt Land 6
Stavanger Aftenblad 7
Some Christians used
(and still use) adolescent Satanism as proof of the failure of secularisation.
This was one of many strands of thought also covered by Karl Milton Hartveit,
one of the most widely cited experts. He stressed the religious dimension of
Satanism among adolescents, and connected it closely to the ideologies of
Crowley and LaVey. But he also saw adolescent Satanism as connected more
broadly with the secularisation of church and social life, and condemned the
church for closing its doors to the brighter side of the occult (VG 6
August 1992, 23 September 1993,
September 1993, Hartveit 1993).
Hartveit also expressed
the second main interpretation: that Satanic symbols and violent actions were
used as signs of rebellion in a society
where all other effects had been "used up" by previous generations. Music
journalists also favoured such an interpretation (Dagbladet 16
April 1994). This interpretation is not necessarily opposed
to the cultural criticism offered by clergy and occultists like Hartveit, but it
was often offered as an antidote to the assimilation of Satanism with rock and
fantasy genres, and located Satanism more narrowly as an extremist part of
adolescent subculture. Attempts to frame "Satanic" extremism within a larger
perspective were often connected to other problems of adolescent extremism like
the growth of neo-Nazism.
While larger societal
trends are rarely mentioned from this perspective, one trend was commented
on: as many of the people interpreting Black Metal Satanism narrowly were
journalists, there was a tendency to frame extremist acts of arson and murder as
part of a dynamic involvement with the media.
One journalist wrote
me: "Rock'n'roll Satanism existed as a peripheral subculture. With the reports
about 'bourgeois' Satanism [SRA, murder, conspiracy etc.], a picture of
Satanists as dangerous was constructed. Disturbed souls such as 'Count'
Vikernes then got a free ticket to publicity." With publicity
and the first crimes, a spiraling process was started, the hypothesis goes, with
different people competing for "street credibility" and being the "real
Satanists," i.e., the most evil. The media happily assisted in creating new
headlines. He concludes: "To turn Jerry Rubin's saying around, 'We create
reality wherever we go by living our nightmares.'"
Other centrally placed
observers seems to agree. Attention begat action, and once the snowball was
rolling, it became impossible to stop. The stories became scripts for actions
and created reality.
Postscript, December 1997:
The same police lieutenant and former head of the sex‑crimes unit that brought
SRA allegations into Norwegian headlines in 1991 had his own demons to grapple
with, it seems. This man was perhaps
source of the credibility of SRA‑allegations
in the early 1990s, and a valued patron of the budding "Save
the Children" movement in Norway.
He is now under arrest
for indecently exposing himself to his neighbours' daughter ‑‑
while her parents were videotaping him. This led to a small avalanche. The
police found missing and stolen weapons at his place, dating back as far as
1977. Several other women came forward, and other investigations for indecent
exposure were uncovered ‑‑ dating back to the 1970s in his home town up north.
The reason for his being removed from the sex‑crimes unit finally surfaced as
well, as the police reopened the case in which he was alleged to have attempted
rape on a handicapped woman (in a wheelchair) who came to his office to report
abuse from her partner.
In other news, a
Swedish teen‑satanist is being investigated for at least one case of murder,
supposedly inspired by Norway's infamous "Count Grisnakh," the murderer in turn
inspired by news items about what "real satanists" did.
So it goes.
Big Money, Great
Expectations, Huge Delusions
U of Bucharest,
Blvd Metalurgei, Nr. 6
philosophical or moral standpoints, wealth has dominated human history from the
early beginnings to the modern times. In the old, traditional society, people's
dream of getting rich found expression in beliefs, practices and legends
concerning hidden treasure.
Successful or not,
"digging for gold" makes a stable point in treasure-hunting legends, functioning
to give people good advice, and to help maintain moral standards (temperance,
confidence in others, sharing good fortune and wealth with one's fellows,
etc.). The legends also worked against the disappointment of not reaching the
gold, leaving a tiny window for new attempts to catch the "golden hen"
(Constantinescu 1995, 107-111).
This almost natural
desire of overcoming poverty and getting rich took special shape in the new
Eastern European democracies after the collapse of communism and the beginning
of the free-market economy. The "pyramid system" or "mutual aid games" spread
at a fantastic speed throughout Eastern Europe, reaching a
peak in Romania. This financial "game" is based on a chain of depositors who
contribute an unlimited amount of money and expect to receive in a short period
of time (three to six months) the deposit multiplied a number of times.
Known in Romanian as
"Caritas," it originated in Cluj-Napoca, the main city of Transylvania, and
attracted millions of Romanians from all over the country dreaming of overnight
riches. The prospect of quick riches found fertile ground in an impoverished
population hoping to escape quickly from the poverty of forty years of communism
and Ceaucescu's "golden epoch," and to enter in triumph the long-awaited and
highly praised capitalism.
The National Radio and
Television service, with very few exceptions, took no stand in the debate.
But the private media immediately took stands for and against the Caritas system
including on the front page of many Romanian newspapers.
an independent daily newspaper from Bucharest (the only one that regularly came
to the Romanian department in
Turku, Finland, where I held a teaching position) included at least one article
almost every day for the whole month of March 1994 on the Caritas system. The
international media also showed some response.
Caritas and its
offspring ("Gerald," and "Norocul Zilei," for instance) were rapidly exploited
for political reasons. The media discovered or simply invented secret
connections of party leaders, parliamentarians and other public figures with
these fast-money enterprises.
As expected, after a
while (some six months or so) the "pyramid" collapsed to the disappointment of
thousands of depositors and to the satisfaction of those who had consistently
campaigned against it. Its organiser, Ioan Stoica, became a hero, a
quasi-legendary character, a new Messiah, a Saviour of poor Romanians. Some
more radical critics directed their attacks against the new government:
We must conclude that guilty
[of this phenomenon] are not the millions of people who, victims of a psychosis,
stayed in line days and days
at Caritas, but the power installed in country after December '89. The state of
public depression is, to a large extent, the 'oeuvre' of the administration
which did not perform its duty toward the individual, its property, and its
prospects of a new life." (Ionescu 1994, 8)
Two main channels
reflected the process: the private press and oral, person-to-person
communication. But these influenced each other to such an extent that it is
very difficult to determine which mirrored which.
of newspaper articles about Caritas indicate the efforts of the newsmen to catch
readers' attention, especially as the news overlapped with orally transmitted
rumours. Sometimes the "mutual aid game" was put in medical terms: "The
Caritas Syndrome" (Adevarul 1205,
12-13 March 1994), or "The Caritas Psychosis" (Adevarul 1215,
24 March 1994; see also Ionescu 1994, 8). When the system collapsed, the main
idea was that of death, of irreversible failure: "Caritas -- A Dead Body,
Stoica -- A Profiteer" (Adevarul 1196,
2 March 1994); "Caritas Is Dead, Long Live Norucul Zilei" (Adevarul 1214,
23 March 1994); "Gerald Breathless" (Adevarul
1219, 29 March 1994); "Caritas in Deep Coma" (Evenimentul
17 March 1994). There were also journalistic tricks such as the quick
connection of other hot topics to the Caritas system, for instance, the crash of
Soviet-made MIG fighters: "Caritas Crashes More Often Than MIGs," (Adevarul
1212, 21 March 1994). The
collapse of the Gerald game, based in Focsani, the capital city of Vrancea
district, an area of seismic activity, was promptly presented as a natural
catastrophe: "Earthquake in Vrancea with Epicentre at Gerald" (Adevarul 1215,
24 March 1994) and "The Seism at Gerald Takes Size" (Adevarul 1216,
25 March 1994).
An apocalyptic vision
tangled with an atmosphere of mystery and despair. A title like "The Day After
Caritas" clearly alludes to the American thriller
The Day After.
The idea of revenge was
constantly repeated: "Will the Other Depositors Take Revenge on the Happy
Winners from Cluj?" (Adevarul 1210,
18 March 1994); "Gypsies Threaten to Abduct the Master of Caritas" (Adevarul 1206,
14 March 1994); "Uprising in Suceava against the Caritas Circuits" (Adevarul 1216,
26 March 1994); "Furious Depositors Besiege Caritas in Suceava" (Adevarul 1218,
28 March 1994).
A first conclusion
which can be drawn is that in every note, information, or short comment there is
a narrative nucleus that can easily be transformed into a story. On the other
hand, all these press reports were preceded by and fed back into oral gossips
and rumours. The latter hold a privileged position in the "new paradigm of
rumours among Romanians." This type of rumour seems to be threefold. Some
assume that the circuit will last forever, giving reason for hope and optimism
by the participants. Others assert that the scheme will suddenly collapse -- a
reason for fear. The third category stressed that people working within the
scheme (maids, doormen, bodyguards) were making more money than "honourable"
professions -- teachers, for instance, thus suggesting reason for moral (and
social) conflicts, as traditional social status and roles were disturbed (see
Rumours about people
who cashed their original deposit eightfold were eagerly spread by the
organisers of the system, who launched an aggressive defense by constantly
reinforcing the main argument and
raison d'être of
the game -- hope. The train transporting depositors from Bucharest to Cluj was
named "The Hope Train." The propaganda machine of Caritas enrolled
sociologists, historians, writers, and journalists, who faithfully served the
cause. Special magazines and newspapers appeared, and even a whole book (Zamfirescu-Cerna
1993) was dedicated to it. The authors use a very emphatic style characterised
by an awful mixture of rhetorical clichés, totally unsuitable to the content
(see Zafiu 1994). The title speaks
for itself -- translated it reads, "The Caritas Phenomenon of the Salvation of
the Romanians by Themselves."
The great expectations
of getting rich overnight kept the game alive for quite a while. But eventually
disappointment and deception took the place of unrealistic hope, and most of
those who dreamt of getting their deposit back eight times increased, feared
losing everything. Mass deception was a more effective mode of narrative than
The reports of big
winners were very few (except for the first depositors, who happened to be the
organisers of the game, their relatives and close friends -- a rumour later
confirmed by press reports), while the tragic stories about people who took
their lives as they lost their money and property were carried more often both
on written and oral channels. The reports of those who committed suicide have
never been officially confirmed, but such stories continued to circulate on a
large scale. Here is a sample:
Dumitru Calistu, 65 years of
age, from the village of Roma, Botosani district, hanged himself in a barn
behind his house. The villagers assert that his suicide was a result of the
fact that [he] had deposited at Caritas in Cluj 1.2 million lei [about
US$750], which he could not retrieve. (Adevarul 1197,
3 March 1994.)
In another case, a businessman
who tried to kill himself had deposited no less than twenty million lei (about
US$12,000) which he had borrowed from a bank. Some other stories appear as
After over 20 years of work in
a mine, I managed to buy an
apartment in Deva. 'Cause I'm ill and all my relatives live in Cluj, I decided
to go to Cluj, to take care of my health. So, I sold my flat for nine million
lei (and deposited in Caritas), but now housing is so expensive that I cannot
buy an apartment here.... I'm starving with my wife and my six-year-old
daughter. All I want is to retrieve my money, the nine million. (Ion Papita,
Some other people claim they
mortgaged their houses or sold their property, hoping to multiply the
sum eight times:
I sold my furniture to make a
deposit in Caritas, but good fortune only strikes for rich. Mr. Stoica was our
God; now he is the devil on Earth. (Pauna Bisonescu,
Evenimentul zilei 27
As can be seen,
narratives of this type belong
somewhere between reports, rumours and legends, their legendary character being
provided by their function of informing, warning, and moralising the
readers/listeners about the tragic consequences of the unwise act of playing
It is perhaps too
early, and the items collected are too limited, for any definitive conclusion to
be attempted; but the four classes of variables that, as Gary Allan Fine argues,
inform legend and its use ("social structure, personal imperatives, situated
dynamics, and narrative content": Fine 1992, 5) seem to apply, in large
measure, to the fortune-making stories generated by the Caritas phenomenon in
The narratives (press
reports, rumours, personal experience stories, and contemporary legends)
that accompanied the fast-money system speak very clearly of a new social
structure different from that of the traditional, village-like society. It is a
structure of new attitudes and mentalities, of new aims and means which people,
on a large scale, share in hopes of overcoming the problems of a society in
transition: poverty, unemployment, inadequate legislation, distrust and
suspicion, and the changes in social structure and moral values.
If these very new,
genuine forms of folklore have any impact, for better or for worse, on the
reality that generated them, it remains to be seen.
1995. "Digging for Gold: The Legend's Way." In Livets Gleder,
Om Forskeren, Folkediktningen og Maten.
En Vennebok til Reimund Kvideland,
Vet & Viten as, 107-11
Fine, Gary Alan 1992.
Manufacturing Tales: Sex and Money in
Knoxville: U Tennessee P.
Ionescu, Gelu 1994. "Psihoza
Serie Nou_, V: 9-12, 8.
S_ulean, Dan 1994. "Noua
paradigma a Ivonurilor la români,"
România Literar_ XXVII:
Zafiu Rodica 1994. "Leul
na_ional _i osta_ii s_i,"
România Literar_ XXVII:
Zamfirescu, Dan, and Dumitru
Fenomenul 'Carita' sau mântuirea românilor
prin ei în_i_i.
Bucure_ti: Roza Vânturilor.
Bloodsuckers and Human
In the mid-1960s, I was
a schoolgirl in a small town in Central Estonia. Some of the smaller rural
schools had just been closed down, so our school expanded and began to operate
in two shifts. Secondary level classes were not over until eight in the evening
so we used to go home in groups. Our way through the dark town was creepy and
thrilling. On our way we had to pass an ancient castle in ruins since the Great
Northern War; mysterious humming and indistinct sounds were often heard from
behind its ditches and walls.
"Sots," we used to think at that time, although other possibilities could not be
ruled out. Ghosts, for example. Or something even worse: black cars (Russian
Pobedas, as I remember) were said to drive around Estonia to kidnap people and
drain or suck all the blood from them. The drained bodies were said to be
thrown by the roadside.
It was a serious
thing; we believed the stories. Or almost believed. They were not very
different from the stories that adults, especially women, told at work and play
-- a mother killing her children for her lover, the blockade of Leningrad during
World War II, robbers, suspended animation, etc.
There were other
stories, too. Fairy-tale-like thrillers that would make your flesh creep, which
no one would believe, but which provided a good pastime -- about red and blue
hands playing the piano. Or shock stories, like the one about the man with a
golden foot, where someone's cold hands grabbed you while you were listening.
Stories and beliefs
about sausage factories are obviously a type of contemporary or "urban" legend
and circulated throughout the former Soviet Union. These legends are
interesting in that adults and children tell them in different stylistic
versions and forms; another remarkable feature is the longevity of such
bloodsucker and sausage-factory narratives are belief accounts, memorates, and
sometimes legends. In the children's
tradition they serve as belief accounts, with an important role played by
children's thrillers, some of which speak about sausages, hamburgers, pies or
cookies of human flesh. Thrillers are completely different from legends.
The term "urban legend"
was introduced in Estonia in the 1980s though, in Russian folklore studies, it
has never taken root. Instead the genre that attracted attention was children's
thrillers, the first classifications being made in the 1980s. Psychologist M.
Osorina and folklorist O. Gretchina from St. Petersburg distinguished a class of
children's narratives called
'frightful story') (Gretchina & Osorina 1981: 101). These are special
children's thrillers with elements of folk tales and legends, urban legends,
modernised versions of older legends and pseudo-thrillers. They can be briefly
characterised as folktale-like
narratives, having much in common with folktales in their structure and motifs,
while being combined with typical features of legends.
From urban legend to thriller
On the border-line
between urban legends and children's thrillers are the post-World War II
narratives about sausages made from horse or human flesh, and about the black
cars of the bloodsuckers. These stories are more diverse in form than the
children’s thrillers. At the same time, the differences between the traditions
of children and adults are more marked, and it is easier to track the passage of
the belief (or belief account, respectively) into the children's tradition.
As has been found out,
play and belief are so similar to each other that often a man cannot be sure
whether his fear is real or a mere playful simulation. I believe that the
stories about bloodsuckers and sausage factories were very real and taken very
seriously in their time. That fear aroused suspicion towards all kinds of
strange officials and is reflected in several narratives in the Estonian
Folklore Archives (Kõiva 1995, 313 ff.).
Between the 1940s and
the 1960s, an extraordinarily large number of stories about infanticide and
various crimes that were all assumed to be true spread all over Estonia. Their
action was localised in and connected with Estonia's new industrial towns
established after the war and where the inhabitants were mostly aliens,
including Russians. (Before World War II 90% of Estonia's inhabitants were
Estonians; now around 60% are Estonians.) Most of such stories are based on
ancient legends (for example: mother accedes to her lover's demand to kill her
child; ties him naked to a tree; a passer-by saves the child and takes his
mother to the police station).
The adult thrillers are
induced by various social tensions, lack of information, uncertainty about one's
existence, numerous unwanted bearers of alien traditions in the neighbourhood,
and many other reasons. On the other hand, the stories reflect factual crimes:
people reported missing, murders and robberies, of which there must have been
many in the post-war period.
Together with the stories
about war-time events, black cars for arresting people, human experimentations
and human blood collection by Jews and others, which were propagated by the KGB,
served as starting points for the stories about sausage factories. This variety
in the tradition is closely connected with folklore known probably all over the
former Soviet Union. These stories may have been partly inspired by night-time
deportations in the 1930s and later. People were quietly gathered into black
cars, and disappeared.
The trials of physicians and
geneticists could also inspire and propagate such stories. Large-scale
epidemics and wars bring forth stories of cannibalism, so the sausage-factory
stories spread in the former Soviet Union together with the narrative traditions
about the war and cannibalism during the blockade and famine.
In the narratives
collected from adults, the borders between real events and fantasy are elastic
and the transitions smooth. In quite a few cases the incident is made
more concrete and truth-like by added belief stereotypes and facts:
It was told that after
the war there had also been blood-takers, blood-suckers in Tartu. They had been
dark men, but they had also had some Estonians in their company. A blonde girl
danced with a young man at a party and started to try how her ring would fit on
the boy's finger. And finally she left it there. But later she phoned and
asked him to bring her ring back. The boy went but did not come back. His
family started to search for him and found him when half of his blood had been
removed from his body and he had fainted. But he still survived. [Tallinn,
woman, 74 years old.]
In the adults'
tradition narratives about sausage factories are in the style of seriously
believed legends. The story line and composition are very simple: people claim
to have been lured to the
sausage factory or near it and either miraculously escaped or remained lost.
They mention a town or ruined street in a town where that kind of factory has
been situated; in most cases these are Tartu or the capital city Tallinn.
Often the mode
of presentation is emphatic: the incident is described as a first-hand
experience. So, for instance, a woman with a university degree told her
children how she, a young and healthy girl with rosy complexion, had been
entrapped in Tartu. She even saw the dreadful place, but escaped miraculously.
The following is another narrative told in the first person:
That was also in Tartu. We
went to buy cheap things. We took our onions and went to Tartu. A girl came, a
young girl. We say that we would like
to buy some saccharine. She
says, 'Come with me.'
'How far is it?' -- 'Not far,
by the Emajõgi.'
We went with her. We peeped
in from a door. God, there were heaps of heads. They had a sausage factory
there. Many children had been missing there. They
wanted to make sausage out of
us. We called the militia. Only then the militia found out about that
factory. It was underground, in a kind of cellar. A father recognised his
daughter from her apron. It was after the war, when sausages were made from
human flesh. A man found only the head of her daughter: a pink ribbon was tied
in her hair. [RKM II 395, 131/2 (2) < Võnnu khk., Lootvina k. < pärit
Võrtsjärve äärest -- Kadri Peebo < Aleksander Molodost, üle 70 a. vana (1986)]
In another story a man lures a
woman to take milk in a strange house; the woman again escapes miraculously:
In Turu Street in Tartu there
was a sausage factory after the war. A friend of a friend of mine who had been
at hospital in Tartu together with a woman who had escaped from there told me
about it. She had come to Tartu with a horse and cart from the countryside to
sell milk in the market. A man walked up to her and said that he would buy the
whole barrel of milk if she just drove with the horse into
his yard. The woman drove in through the gate, but the man closed the gate at
once behind her back. The woman then understood that something was wrong and
ran out through the wicket. The man threw an axe into her shoulder. But people
came to her help and took her to hospital. Then those sausage manufacturers
were caught. [Tallinn -- woman, 74 years old.]
In some cases such
narratives have been complemented with comments on what exactly was made from
My aunt also told us that
soap was made from bones, sausages were made from bowels and human flesh. And
fat was used for making some kind of paste.
Scouring paste. And this paste was said to give rich lather. [RKM, Mgn. II
3568 (13) < Otepää khk., Pühajärve k. -- M. Kõiva < Harald Asor, s. 1968
(1982) Lit.: M. Kõiva (1989)]
Such stories were
not only told about towns but also about remote village farms. Similar stories
can be found in older folklore as well. Usually they deal with farmers who
catch travellers and rob
them; sometimes the criminal landlord salts his victims in a barrel, and the
meat is used for eating or for feeding the pigs. Slaying of travellers is an
old motif that can also be found in Aarne-Thomson's catalogue of folk tales
(AT1536; for Swedish
parallels see for example Ljungström 1995, 285). The experiences of occasional
guests who have stayed overnight in a house form the basis of many traditional
legends (e.g., devils trying on the skin of a corpse, Aa S104 -- asking advice
from a witch), fabulates and jokes.
-- first person narration -- has been analysed in folk tales and found to be
more frequently used in certain types of narratives and by certain narrators (Viidalepp
1985, 69-82, Peuckert). In the case of legends, the narrator's participation in
the supernatural event defines the text as a memorate. According to a common
view legends are narratives, the veracity of which is not doubted by the
narrators. And yet, even here one may find fiction, humorous presentation and
story lines that are not held possible or veritable by the bearer of the
religious tradition (cf. the Irish
story-teller's opinion of
the truthfulness of the beliefs about fairies, Lysaght
1995, 303). Egomorphic presentation is very commonly used in the bloodsucker
and sausage factory narratives:
In the time of flax-pulling we
went into a house to stay overnight. We were given a place to sleep on the
kitchen floor. The kitchen cupboard
was closed. We heard something dripping in the cupboard. The hosts all went to
sleep. My mates got up and somehow managed to open the cupboard. In there we
saw a man hung up by his feet, his throat cut. Put ready so that sausage could
be made out of him. That was in Metsküla village. We quickly put on our
clothes and ran away from that house in great terror. -- [Võnnu, man]
In the adult
tradition these stories are in the style of seriously believed legends or
memorates. In their analogous
repertoire children use egomorphism only in very rare cases; in most cases the
narratives are timeless. Their whole body of tradition is more diverse than the
thrillers partly copy the tradition of adults -- they hold what they have heard
to be historical truth -- but a part of them are much different from those that
the grown-ups tell, despite being sources of inspiration and influence.
The majority of
children's narratives are based on the same motifs, but they are adjusted to
suit the structure of a thriller. Their composition is again reminiscent of
primitive folk tales. The story begins with breaking some taboo (the child
steps on forbidden ground), but the taboo may also not be present and the
narrative may begin with the initial formula
Once upon a time there lived...
that determines the characters. A child, unsuspecting and innocent, but bearing
some peculiar mark (a name written on the finger-nails, varnished nail, a ring
inscribed with a name), is sent out to do some shopping and encounters the evil
character, a man/woman/mother
hating his/her family. Less frequently the main evil character may also be
White Hand or Black Hand or some other character typical of thrillers. The
characters are not numerous: mainly mother, child, and abductor; only rarely
three children. The
sausage factory narratives differ from others of their kind in that they consist
of a single episode; thus they are shorter than a common thriller. Factories
of minced meat, hamburgers, pies or cookies are prevalent in the children's
narratives, which leads us to believe that the stories developed in urban
environment in the late 1960s or the 1970s.
A mother had a daughter. She
gave her child a ring as a birthday present. Soon she sent her daughter
shopping. The daughter went along
an asphalt road and disappeared underground. Mother waited and waited, waited
but her daughter didn't come. Mother went and bought some minced meat. At home
she began to fry the meat. Suddenly she saw the same ring in the minced meat.
Then she realised what had happened to her daughter. [RKM II 324, 243/4 < Nõo
khk., Elva Keskkool -- Merike Pille, s. 1959 (1976)]
elements like underground tunnels, suddenly opening armchairs and streets, or
names on fingernails are abundant; only
small children are likely to identify the story with reality. Tests made with
three- and four-year-old children show that even they are intuitively prone to
look for a realistic explanation and that magic explanations are learned only
gradually (Rosenberg et al. 1994, 69). At the same time, some adults seem to
falter in their convictions when it comes to the paranormal and magic, and
believe in the possibility of what is beyond common sense. This explains the
great popularity of the urban legends and other tradition bordering on them.
As a rule, children do
not believe such stories; they are equated with thrillers which everyone can
invent at will and which have no connection with real life. They do, however,
offer tingling emotions.
People remember that adults
used to tell such sausage-factory stories very often, that they were believed
and presented for believing. The stories made a deep impression on children. A
recollection describes the narrating situation:
I know, it was in the
'fifties, I went to Tartu with my mother, and she knew a hospital assistant, and
they were just building a new cinema across the river. And then she showed us
several houses where sausage factories had been. They were ruins, as a rule.
[man, 50 years old]
Old narratives may
revive unexpectedly. For example, after the take-over of the security service
building in Tallinn in 1990 there were rumours that an enormous meat mincer had
been found from the interrogation block in the cellar of the house.
For making minced meat out of the detainees,
to be sure.
Each period adds its
own areas of interest to urban legends: rumours about kidnapping fair-skinned
(Estonian) women in the southern Soviet republics, fear of new foods and drinks
(Pepsi-Cola), mishaps at forbidden activities (stealing meat/calves from
collective farms), etc. Stories induced by social tensions and subconscious
fears do not remain in the repertoire for long; they spread quickly and
disappear as quickly.
They are closely connected
with urban gossip and rumours. Among these we can mention the post-World War II
stories about horsemeat sausage or factories where sausage was made from human
flesh, and black cars in which blood-takers moved around. These stories
presupposed a serious belief in what happened, and they balanced on the
borderline between belief and doubt.
RKM -- Manuscript folklore
collection of the Estonian Folklore Archives, started in 1945.
RKM KP -- Manuscript folklore
collection of the Estonian Folklore Archives, contemporary
folklore from 1992.
RKM, Mgn -- Collection of
analogue recordings of the Estonian Folklore Archives, started in 1953.
Grechina, O. & Osorina, M.
1981. Sovremennaya fol'klornaya proza
XX. Leningrad, pp. 96-106.
(Contemporary folklore prose of children.
Kõiva, Mare 1995. Ja tegi
ukse lahti. Kõiva, M. (toim.)
Lipitud-lapitud. Tänapäeva folkloorist,
pp. 306-324. (And opened the
Scratchy-patchy. Contemporary Folklore.)
Ljungström, Å. 1995. 1995.
The Shepherd Turns into a Vanishing Hitchhiker. M. Kõiva & K. Vassiljeva
Folk Belief Today.
Tartu, pp. 283-288.
Lysaght, P. 1995.
Traditional Beliefs and Narratives of
a Contemporary Irish Tradition
M. Kõiva & K. Vassiljeva
Folk Belief Today.
Tartu, pp. 242-258.
Melnikov, M. 1987.
Russky detsky fol'klor.
Moskva. (Russian Children Lore.)
Rosenberg, K. & Kalish, Ch.
W. & Hickling, A. K. & Gelman, S. A. 1994. Exploring the relation between
pre-school children's magical beliefs and causal thinking.
British Journal of Developmental Psychology.
Vol.12, Part 1.
Viidalepp, Richard 1985.
Minavorm muinasjuttudes ja naljandites.
Rahvasuust kirjapanekuni. Uurimusi rahvaluule
proosaloomingust ja kogumistööst.
Tallinn, pp. 69-82. (Egomorphism in fairy tales and jokes. From Oral Lore to
Manuscript. Studies about narratives and field work.)
Garage Doors and Penile
Victoria, British Columbia,
An old joke told by
Dead Pool stalwart Bob Hope concerned his neighbour who had had a heart
pacemaker implanted. The neighbour was delighted with the results. "The only
problem," groused Hope, "is that every time he makes love my garage door
opens." [See Allan Fotheringham, "Cellular Phone Scare is Good News,"
Financial Post 4
I was intrigued to see
that a story in a recent issue of the
Weekly World News features
a related motif, but its emphasis has shifted and the garage door has now become
the agent. It will suffice to quote the lead paragraph of what is essentially an
over‑elaborated joke: "Frantic
pastor Frederic Nussman got a newfangled electronic penis implant to cure his
impotence. And now, every time the neighbor lady uses her garage door opener,
the minister's manhood leaps to attention!" [Joe Berger, "Neighbor's Garage
Door Opener Turns on Man's Sex Implant."
Weekly World News 5
August 1997, p. 58.]
tells of a hapless Californian outfitted with a penile implant pitching a tent
in his pants every time his neighbours use their electronic car doors.
These jokes could have
been independently invented; but if, on the other hand, there is a genetic
connection, the switch of the opening of the garage door to cause from effect is
puzzling. I can suggest one possible explanation.
Focussed on the
pacemaker, the earlier joke successfully functions in only one direction: the
device triggers the garage door. The alternative version -- the neighbour
clutches his heart in agony when the door is used -- isn't funny and lacks the
requisite sexual element.
But when the now
commonplace pacemaker is replaced by the "newfangled electronic penis implant,"
the joke can easily function in either direction: 1) erection opens garage door;
or 2) operation of door produces erection.
If version #1 exists, I
would expect it to predate version #2. Unlike the Bob Hope joke, its potential
for a humorous reversal would be obvious.
Accent on accents
Appearing on the
LINGUIST distribution list in March 1997 was a discussion of crossed-purpose
attempts in English to use plain ASCII codes for the accented and non-ASCII
letters of languages like French and Spanish. It has since been (frequently?)
forwarded among many humanities discussion groups. According to the discussion
English-speaking (or -writing) emailers confuse the artefact of their earlier
technology with an international standard, using the form their accent-blind
computers translate accents
into as if it were a preferred means of indicating accents. Thus a word like
gets written as "resumi,"
Whether such mistakes are actually being made became the topic of discussion
separately on the FOLKLORE discussion List 9 March 1997) and alt.folklore.urban
Chain Letter Project Update
1017 W. Lime Ave.
Lompoc, CA 93436
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
A research note on
early sources on chain letters appeared in
June 1996. Please continue to forward to me any email that appears to have been
frequently forwarded by
others. Even repetitions of the same message are useful since variations may be
present (especially in the subject field), and the number of examples received
provides a rough estimate of the total number circulating on the Internet. Also
please send any paper chain letters (with date and place received) to the above
postal address. Postage will be refunded for contemporary "prayer" or "luck"
chains. If you have any old paper chain letters I will pay up to $20 for
datable originals. All suppliers of chain letters are acknowledged in the data
base unless they request otherwise.
With assistance from
Dr. Michael Preston (University of Colorado), over 275 dated paper chain letters
have been collected and digitised. They include 65 with a date before 1960. An
annotated bibliography on chain letters is maintained which currently has 285
entries. Over 300 examples of chain email have been classified and saved,
complete with all forwarding messages. Many chain letter texts and comments
have been distributed on the Internet, especially on the University of Colorado
folklore list (firstname.lastname@example.org). Russian and Polish articles on
chain letters have been obtained, and some have been translated by Ianina
Tichenko of Kiev. Dr. Jean‑Bruno
Renard (Université Paul‑Valèry, Montpellier, France) kindly provided several
French chain letters and important references. Dr. William F. Hansen
(University of Indiana, Departments of Classical Studies & Folklore) is
gathering sources on "Letters from Heaven" ("Himmelsbrief") and is studying
Latin, German, Danish and other foreign language material. A book on chain
letters is planned to contain a chapter on the Himmelsbrief by Dr. Hansen. A
final chapter will discuss the Internet replicators. An article on the amazing
1935 "send‑a‑dime" craze is also in preparation. This was the origin of the
money chain letters, as well as pyramid schemes and exchange chain letters (for
postcards, recipes, etc.).
The Himmelsbrief claim
divine origin, promise miraculous protection for those who possess a copy, and
often use threats and promises to encourage further publication. They have
circulated for at least 1500 years and may all derive from a single Greek
source. Traditional "luck chain letters" usually claim a human author (a saint,
missionary, or officer) and all have copy quotas and deadlines for compliance.
They first appeared around 1900 and probably derive from the Himmelsbrief.
Lottery and charity schemes may also have had an influence. Our large sample of
dated English language luck chain letters for this century reveals a succession
of major innovations (or translations?) that completely replace prior forms and
predominate for a decade or more. Minor changes in content, such as a new title
or postscript, may also replace prior versions. The rapidity and completeness
of this replacement process are difficult to explain, considering that perhaps
over a million luck chain letters are in circulation. It is challenging but
usually possible to explain why a proliferating variation has a replicative
advantage. Some of these variations are whimsical or even accidental. Thus
chain letter history can be viewed as an evolutionary process that is
independent of human control or awareness.
Chain letters, in number
and variety, are exploding on the Internet. Neither threat of prosecution,
pillory nor vigilante hacking has deterred the posting of illegal money
schemes. A recent automated search of USENET content produced over 14,000
matches for "chain letter." Denunciations and parodies, many of them chains
themselves, are almost as numerous as the offending messages. Many Web pages
feature, and oppose, chain letters. New categories of chain letters have
appeared, such as hoax warnings of email virus, and parodies of these hoaxes.
However most Internet chains have derived from paper sources. Further, new
variations rapidly replace prior forms, as in the paper realm. For example a
common Internet luck chain letter now has an ASCII graphic of a single spear
man. It used to have three
ASCII spear men, but I have not seen one like that for many months. The single
spear man is less likely to be disrupted by wrap-around caused by the
accumulation of quote symbols. Thus technical, and social, features of the
Internet environment have prompted Internet adaptations of the paper originals.
Prevalent Internet luck and money letters have, in just a few years,
significantly diverged from their paper ancestors.
I plan to issue about
quarterly a small email newsletter on chain letters and replicative
communication in general. This will be flagged by "RepCom" in the subject
field. There is no cost or obligation to receive this. The first issue will
document the perplexing "rapid replacement" phenomenon noted above, and attempt
to explain it by self‑organising networks. Future topics may include: the
political use of chain letters; motivational evolution of the exchange
letters; advantageous ambiguity in chain letters; origin and evolution of
pyramid schemes; speculations
on the future of replicative communication on the Internet; replicative aspects
of graffiti ; chain letters and mimetics; legal aspects of chain letters in the
USA; Internet adaptations of luck and money chain letters; micro‑evolution
of paper chain letters; chain letter evidence for mass fantasies of uxoricide;
and abstract evolution from a sampling perspective. If you would like to
receive "RepCom" please let me know by email. Please state if you have a
particular interest in any of the above suggested topics for RepCom, or any not
listed. All comments and criticisms are welcomed. Finally, if you would like
to receive a sample of Internet replicators as I receive them let me know.
How to Avoid Getting Hired
In recent months a text
has been circulating through the Internet that is reminscent of such past bits
of photocopylore as "Excerpts from High School History Exams," "Real Accidents
Reports" and "Applica-tions for Welfare." Entitled similarly to the version
July 1997, p. 117), "Stupid Resumé Tricks: How to Avoid Getting Hired," most are
unsigned. In the
a header note is signed by Anne Fisher and gives as source an employment agency
in Menlo Park, California, Robert Half International. The texts include such
excerpts from resumés and job interviews as "It's best for employers that I not
people," "Am a
perfectionist and rarely if ever forget details," and "Fisnished eighth in my
class of ten." The full text, sometimes attributed to
be found at several Web sites, including www.cl‑sys.com/esp/goofs.htm
Some Web sites about viruses etc.
A short discussion of
the Good Times "virus" warnings appeared in Ron Collins' "Bits & Bytes: E-mail
has its ups and downs,"
Newfoundland Herald (26
April 1997): 118. Included were four sites with information about Good Times
and other "Internet hoaxes":
"No va" = "It won't go"?
A letter from Gabor
Megyesi of Trinity College, Cambridge, printed in the
Sat 20 July 1996 debunked the claim that had been published the previous weekend
that the Vauxhall Nova was unsaleable in Spain due to the translation of its
name as "It won't go." As Dr Megyesi explained, Spanish "nova" (meaning "new"
etc.) and "no va" (meaning "it
does not go") are pronounced quite differently. In fact the Chevy Nova sold
well in Spanish America. He suggested a URL for more information. The current
version of it is: www.urbanlegends.com/products/chevy_nova_mexico.html.
Site for Sightings
The Web site
www.sightings.com/ is a homepage for UFO and related news. A recent visit to it
(mid-January 1998) resulted in the following table of contents. Many of these
topics are of interest to legend researchers:
New 1998 Phoenix Mass
Nazi Saucers Described In Atom
Frances Barwood's UFO Campaign
New Sightings From India To
Netherlands To The U.S.
Former British Home Secretary
Said Visited By ETs
Near Disaster At Hanford
World Was Minutes From Nuclear
War ‑ UK Almost Nuked
A UFO "Fender Bender" In
ACC Posts Startling New
The Complete ACC Data Page
Biblical References To UFOs
GIANT ET Craft Emerges From
Sea Next To Oil Rig!
Mad Cow & Kreutzfeld‑Jacob
Disease Prions Defined
The Complete Mad Cow Disease
UFO And Shuttle In Near
Collision? Sightings Everwhere!
Pens Linked To Hospital Deaths
Bird Flu Virus As Virulent As
Spanish Flu Of 1918
Phoney Medicines Kill
And Maim In Poor Countries
Mystery Sky Gel Full Of
Bacteria & White Blood Cells
CDC Says Bird Flu Virus Is
Gay Leadership Calls For
Tracking HIV+ People!
Implants Approved For LA Dogs
Astounding ET Artifacts Found
TWA Flight 800: The Truth
Moon Base Photo Said Seen By
Top Security AF Vet!
LIVE Cam Of Mt. Etna Eruption!
Freak, Extreme Weather Wreak
Flu Rolls On In U.S...Hospitals
Pentagon Wants To Give
Unproven Vaccines To Public!
Advisor Links USAF To Net Disinfomation
British Scientists Demand Cell
Scientist Predicts 200,000
Human Clones A Year
Balloon Crash: AF Allows Live
TV Coverage This Time!
Area 51 Workers' Toxic Waste
Suit Slammed By Fed Court
Brazil Pilot Circles
Giant Mothership 3 Times!
Goodbye Stereo Speakers and
New Call For Electro‑Medicine
Remarkable Report From Navy MP
Who Saw Too Much!
Eminent Scientist States Mars
'Face' Is Real
Stunning Israeli UFO Evidence
How An Asteroid Could Destroy East Coast
Australians Try To Evict Ultra
Secret Pine Gap Base
Chernobyl Reactor Shell In
Cylinder or Rectangle: An ET
Sites for legend sightings
Since mid-1997 Jan
Harold Brunvand has been "hosting" a web site for the CNN news network devoted
to contemporary legends. It is in the area at http://community.cnn.com/ -- drop
to the bottom of the page and under "Fringe" you will find the link to the "Urban
Legend" section. Contributors post stories they've heard, and near-legend
experiences they've had, while Jan Brunvand comments and annotates. Emailers
known around the contemporary legend universe, like David "Snopes" Mikkelson,
are some of the regulars.
Snopes's own site is
likewise a good area of the web for legend discussion: www.snopes.com. Snopes
operates both a bulletin board and a very prolific mailing list.
"Bad Day" Reports
For some time, texts
very much like the following have been circulating through discussion lists,
email (including informal joke circles), and web page promotion. It speaks for
itself. This particular text was taken from a web page at http://cr.fallon.com/badday.html
in January 1998 but is very nearly identical to a piece circulated through an
informal joke circle in May 1997 and sent to me by Jane Gadsby, as well as to
other frequently forwarded pieces circulating through 1997. It probably
originated somewhat earlier than 1997 if the included events' dates are anything
to go by. Note especially the classic contemporary legend motif in the last
item and the sitting-up-corpse of Mrs Carson in the sixth item.
Having a Bad Day? Think Your
Day is Going Bad?
Check These Out....
• A fierce gust of wind blew
45‑year‑old Vittorio Luise's
car into a river near Naples, Italy, in 1983. He managed to break a window,
climb out and swim to shore ‑‑ where a tree blew over and killed him.
• Mike Stewart, 31, of Dallas
was filming a movie in 1983 on the dangers of low‑level
bridges when the truck he was standing on passed under a low‑level bridge ‑‑
• Walter Hallas, a 26‑year‑old
store clerk in Leeds, England, was so afraid of dentists that in 1979 he asked a
fellow worker to try to cure his toothache by punching him in the jaw. The punch
caused Hallas to fall down, hitting his head, and he died of a fractured skull.
• George Schwartz, owner of a
factory in Providence, R.I., narrowly escaped death when a 1983 blast flattened
his factory except for one wall. After treatment
for minor injuries, he returned to the scene to search for files. The remaining
wall then collapsed on him, killing him.
• Depressed since he could not
find a job, 42‑year‑old Romolo
Ribolla sat in his kitchen near Pisa, Italy, with a gun in his hand threatening
to kill himself in 1981. His wife pleaded for him not to do it, and after about
an hour he burst into tears and threw the gun to the floor. It went off and
killed his wife.
• In 1983, a Mrs. Carson of
Lake Kushaqua, N.Y., was laid out in her coffin,
presumed dead of heart disease. As mourners watched, she suddenly sat up. Her
daughter dropped dead of fright.
• A man hit by a car in New
York in 1977 got up uninjured, but lay back down in front of the car when a
bystander told him to pretend he was hurt
so he could collect insurance money. The car rolled forward and crushed him to
• Surprised while burgling a
house in Antwerp, Belgium, a thief fled out the back door, clambered over a
nine‑foot wall, dropped down and found himself in the city prison.
• In 1976 a twenty‑two‑year‑old
Irishman, Bob Finnegan, was crossing the busy Falls Road in Belfast, when he was
struck by a taxi and flung over its roof. The taxi drove away and, as Finnegan
lay stunned in the road, another car ran into him, rolling him into the gutter.
It too drove on. As a knot of gawkers gathered to examine the magnetic
Irishman, a delivery van plowed through the crowd, leaving in its wake three
injured bystanders and an even more battered Bob Finnegan. When a fourth vehicle
came along, the crowd wisely scattered and only one person was hit‑Bob Finnegan.
In the space of two minutes Finnegan suffered a fractured skull, broken pelvis,
broken leg, and other assorted injuries. Hospital officials said he would
• While motorcycling
through the Hungarian countryside, Cristo Falatti came up to a railway line just
as the crossing gates were coming down. While he sat idling, he was joined by a
farmer with a goat, which the farmer tethered to the crossing gate. A few
moments later a horse and cart drew up behind Falatti, followed in short order
by a man in a sports car. When the train roared through the crossing, the horse
startled and bit Falatti on the arm. Not a man to be trifled with, Falatti
responded by punching the horse in the head. In consequence the horse's owner
jumped down from his cart and began scuffling with the motorcyclist. The horse,
which was not up to this sort of excitement, backed away briskly, smashing the
cart into the sports‑ car. At this, the sports‑car driver leaped out of his car
and joined the fray. The farmer came forward to try to pacify the three flailing
men. As he did so, the crossing gates rose and his goat was strangled. At last
report, the insurance companies were still trying to sort out the claims.
• Two West German motorists
had an all‑too‑literal
head‑on collision in heavy fog near the small town of Guetersloh. Each was
guiding his car at a snail's pace near the center of the road. At the moment of
impact their heads were both out of the windows when they smacked together. Both
men were hospitalized with severe head injuries. Their cars weren't scratched.
• In a classic case of one
thing leading to another, seven men ages eighteen to twenty‑nine
received jail sentences of three to four years in Kingston‑on‑Thames, England,
in 1979 after a fight that started when one of the men threw a french fry at
another while they stood waiting for a train.
• Hitting on the novel idea
that he could end his wife's incessant nagging by giving her a good scare, Hungarian
Jake Fen built an elaborate harness to make it look as if he had hanged himself.
When his wife came home and saw him she fainted. Hearing a disturbance a
neighbor came over and, finding what she thought were two corpses, seized the
opportunity to loot the place. As she was leaving the room, her arms laden, the
outraged and suspended Mr. Fen kicked her stoutly in the backside. This so
surprised the lady that she dropped dead of a heart attack. Happily, Mr. Fen was
acquitted of manslaughter and he and his wife were reconciled.
• An unidentified English
woman, according to the London Sunday Express was climbing into the bathtub one
afternoon when she remembered she had left some muffins in the oven.
Naked, she dashed downstairs and was removing the muffins when she heard a noise
at the door. Thinking it was the baker, and knowing he would come in and leave a
loaf of bread on the kitchen table if she didn't answer his knock, the woman
darted into the broom cupboard. A few moments later she heard the back door open
and, to her eternal mortification, the sound of footsteps coming toward the
cupboard. It was the man from the gas company, come to read the meter. "Oh,"
stammered the woman, "I was expecting the baker." The gas man blinked, excused
himself and departed.
HAVE YOU HEARD?
Bricklayer's story: Laurel & Hardy?
Department of Folklore,
University of Copenhagen
Originally posted 27 April
1997 to the FOLKLORE Discussion List with the title, "Why Paddy's not at work"
but slightly edited for
While I was working
with the (modern?) legend of "Why Paddy's not at work today," also known as "The
Letter" (the up‑and‑down‑ with‑the‑rope
accident so popular in modern Scottish and Irish ballads), an informant claimed
to have once seen a Laurel and Hardy movie which used the story. I have not
been able to verify this. If anyone can help me I will be glad to hear about
Jan Brunvand (Curses!
Broiled Again! NY:
WW Norton, 1989, pp. 180-188) lists many published and recorded versions of the
story, going back as far as 1918, with one tantalizing but probably fraudulent
reference to the 18th century. Brunvand does
not mention a Laurel and Hardy
movie and I don't know of one either. But a similar scene appears in the 1930
Harold Lloyd movie,
The Lloyd character gets caught in the ropes of a window-washers' platform; he
goes up and down the outside of a
high-rise building several times.
A posting to the
Folklore Discussion List by Eddie R McGuffin (email@example.com) on 28 April
1997 pointed out the story is also used in David Foster Wallace's
Infinite Jest: A Novel (Boston
& NY: Little Brown, 1996);
Evolving Kidney Theft
In February 1997 the
travel information column "Q & A" by Patrick Dineen in the Toronto
Globe and Mail (8
February 1997, p. A13) carried a question from a reader wondering if kidney
thefts really happened to people holidaying in "the south." Dineen found it
useful to check with the provincial organ exchange programme for their advice.
They debunked the rumour and
he passed along the same advice to the reader.
The Guardian (of
London) included a short piece of four paragraphs about the recent flurry of
"travel advisories" about kidney thefts. The entire piece, entitled "Travellers
beware" (10 July 1997, p. 10) reads as follows:
There's a striking new
example of an urban legend: those terrifying stories, always happening to
someone other than the teller, which prove to be fiction representing modern
fears and what-ifs.
A friend of mine who
works for a big multinational was among the recipients of an e-mail to all
employees travelling abroad. It warned of the experience of a British
businessman travelling in America who, after being bought a drink in a bar,
wakes up naked in a bath full of ice with a mobile phone on the rim and the
message written on his chest, "Call 911."
The emergency services, thus contacted, ask him if he can feel a wire behind his
back. Yes, he could. In that case, the medics explained, his kidneys had been
removed by professional organ-brokers. The hapless traveller is now,
apparently, waiting in intensive care for a transplant.
Research reveals that
this e-mail scare story is now rife in London companies with foreign
operations. Yet it is merely the latest version of an urban myth about the
alleged risks of foreign travel, in which increasingly terrible consequences
follow for a corporate whizzkid from a spiked drink. In the first (1950s-1970s)
draft, the traveller wakes naked in the main square minus all his money. In the
second (1980s), plied with champagne by a beautiful woman, he wakes to find
"Welcome to the Aids Club" scrawled on the mirror in lipstick. In this (1990s)
rewrite, he comes round to total renal failure.
The stories simply
dramatise the preceived dangers of abroad and the perils of success. In the
latest version -- in which the
organ thieves are often identified as Mexican -- the tactics of the poor against
the rich have even reached as far as body-pilfering. The myth is interesting as
an example of middle-class neurosis, but you would have to have swallowed quite
a few spiked drinks in a foreign bar before believing that it really happened.
The traditional broadside
song, "The Dance on Peter's Street" (aka "Shirt and Apron," Laws K42)
examplifies a nineteenth century version. The recently-paid sailor
in a foreign town meets a woman at a dance and spends the night with her. He
wakes up accompanied only by his hangover: she, his clothes, his watch, and all
his money are missing. He walks back to the ship clad in her clothes. -
Kidney Theft on Television
I was not alert enough to
remember the exact title of the show ("Weird _____" ) on American cable
television, but about 15 April 1997 I saw an news item attempting to convince
viewers about the realities of kidney organ thefts. The patient was lying on
his back in a hospital setting to show the scars where the organ had been
Naturally, I tuned in towards
the end of the show and was thus caught off
guard and away from some
Anyone else report seeing it?
I received no other report of this show, but perhaps other readers saw it.
Please let us know if you did.]
Child Theft, Kidney Theft
22 Lawson Road,
Sheffield, England S10 5BW
Further to my "Shopping
Mall Kidnappings" note in the last issue of
10-11), I heard more versions of the story in Belgium in early April 1997. In
one, the story was set in a
local, named superstore which has lost many customers as a result of the
rumour. My highly‑educated hostess completely believed the story when a
neighbour rang her up with a "Have you heard . . . ?" In another, it all
happened at EuroDisney. In
some versions the child is found with a kidney or other organ missing. My
friends told me that
published a piece on stories of this type late 1996 or early 1997.
MUN Folklore & Language
Memorial University of
St. John's, Newfoundland A1B
In North America it
became popular about a decade ago for police officials and bar owners to
encourage groups of drinkers to make one of their party the "Designated Driver"
for an evening's activities. The Designated Driver would not drink alcohol
during the evening and would drive all the party home. It became common in the
mid- or late-1980s for bars to offer free non-alcoholic drinks to Designated
Drivers. It seems to have faded
somewhat out of public consciousness since then and I haven't heard of publicity
campaigns about Designated Drivers or free-drink programmes in some years.
Then in September and
October 1997 came a flurry of reports of drinkers using the designation as
a way to
to drink. Brian Chapman of Victoria, B.C. has sent two clippings from the
stranger than fiction," 25 August 1996 and 21 September 1997, p. C2 ). The
later one gives as source the Waco, Texas, paper
places the event at "a particularly rowdy bar on the outskirts of Waco." It
seems likely to be the version that fostered the following flurry. The earlier
one, by more than a year, shows no skepticism and places the event at "a
notoriously rowdy bar" in Vermont. It gives as source the Rutland, VT,
The Waco version (September 1997) reads:
We don't know if this
one's true, but we liked it anyway. A police officer was staking out a
particularly rowdy bar on the outskirts of Waco, Texas, for possible violations
of the under-the-influence laws. Watching from his squad car, he saw a fellow
stumble out the door, trip on the curb and try 15 cars before finding his own
and promptly falling asleep in the front seat. As the evening progressed, the
owners of other cars left the bar and drove away. Finally the sleeper awakened,
started his engine and began to pull away. The police officer pounced, waved
him to a halt and administered a breathalyser test. The results showed a 0.0
blood-alcohol level. The puzzled officer demanded to know how that could be.
the driver replied, "Tonight , I'm the designated decoy."
The August 1996 version from
Vermont differs in interesting ways:
It was a sting with a
difference. Police in Vermont were staking out a notoriously rowdy bar for
possible impaired driving violators. One policeman watched from the squad car as
a fellow stumbled out the door, tripped on the curb and tried 45 cars before
opening the door to his own and falling sleep on the front seat. One by one,
the drivers of the other cars drove off. Finally, the sleeper woke up, started
his car and began to leave. the cop pulled him over and administered the
breathalyser test. hen the result showed 0.0 blood-alcohol level, the puzzled
policeman asked him how that was possible. "Easy," was the reply, "Tonight was
my turn to be the decoy."
Versions of the
story were posted to Internet
newsgroups starting in the second week of October. The earliest of these, dated
9 October 1997, bore the marks ("<<") of having been quoted from somewhere else,
but the source is not given. The text was posted to the Usenet newsgroup
soc.culture.vietnamese under the subject title "It's Thursday" by Nga Ngo (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The internal title and text were as follows, including the "smiley" :) at the
end, indicating a certain skepticism on the poster's part.
Staking out a
notoriously rowdy bar for possible drunken drivers a policeman watched from his
squad car as a fellow stumbled out the door, tripped on the curb and tried 45
cars before opening the door to his own and falling asleep on the front seat.
One by one, the drivers
of the other cars drove off. Finally, the sleeper woke up, started his car and
began to leave. The policeman thought "Now I have my chance, I'm gonna get
him. He ran over to the car, pulled the driver out of the car and forced
him to take a Breathalyzer test to determine the level of alcohol. When the
results showed a 0.0 blood‑alcohol level, the puzzled policeman asked him how
that was possible.
"Easy," said the man,
as he smiled from ear to ear. "Tonight was my turn to
be the designated decoy"! :)
No skepticism seemed
apparent in the versions of the story that appeared the following week in
newspapers and on radio "light news" reports. A placename was given in most of
these reports: Dartmouth, Nova Scotia was reported by one, Bangor, Maine by
another heard in the St. John's, Newfoundland area. The number of cars tried by
the staggering man has varied from report to report.
Another version turned
up as a joke contributed to
The Newfoundland Herald (8
November 1997: 136) by N.
Richards of St. John's, Newfoundland. In it, no place was named and only five
cars were tried by the stumbling driver. A search of the WorldWide Web showed
the story being used on at least a half-dozen personal pages in December 1997.
Drama Dept., Exeter University
Exeter, England UNITED KINGDOM
This weekend [in April
1997] I met up with a colleague from Scunthorpe and I told him the only story I
knew about the place.
A headteacher I know
at a primary school just outside Grimsby is a radio ham and has set up a
transmitter at the school so that the children can communicate with people all
over the world. He told me that a friend of his from Scunthorpe had had
terrible problems with his station name. Apparently all his messages were
getting blocked by the 'censor' who was identifying keywords to stop pornography
being transmitted across the airwaves. Scunthorpe, of course, has the letters
C‑U‑N‑T consecutively placed
in it. The ham in question had to change his address to the hyphenated Scun‑thorpe.
I told this story to my
colleague, who said that he had heard the story several times himself within
Scunthorpe, but relating to the Internet. It seems that people had had email
messages blocked for exactly the same reason. His suspicions were immediately
raised since, unless you are some kind of government organisation, town names
are generally not included in email addresses. There is, however, a well‑known
local joke in the town about
"who put the cunt in the Scunthorpe"! It all sounds like a case for the
This question, of whether or not America On-Line and CompuServe were censoring
messages that failed their text-filter tests, was a matter of discussion
on various Usenet groups through 1995 and 1996. The town of Scunthorpe was the
main example (along with the apparent problems of breast cancer groups):
filters were looking for any naughty word in an effort to "protect" children and
adults with sensitive ears or, rather, eyes.
The local joke in
Scunthorpe reminds me of a Newfoundland legend. It is said to have taken place
in a "woods camp" where men working for the big lumber and paper companies would
be in residence for months at an end with little or no contact with the outside
world. The cooks were not known for their culinary ability, and neither for
their friendly acceptance of criticism. One of the responsibilities of the
foreman in a camp was to keep his men in good will. In the crowded
camp one night the foreman heard someone call the cook a "cunt." He immediately
stood up and asked, "Alright. Who called the cook a cunt?" Someone else called
out, "Who called the cunt a cook?"]
Conspiracy Rumours: Princess Diana's death
An Associated Press
wire story (printed in the St. John's
27 December 1997, p. 16, as "Conspiracy theories abound about Diana's death")
claims the Arab world is seething with rumours of Diana's being murdered. Two
recent books are noted as being conduits for the rumours. One is Ahmed Atta's
Assassination of a Princess.
Another is Ilham Sharshar's
Diana, a Princess Killed by Love.
A movie (The
is being considered by
director Khairi Beshera. All three suggest that Diana was killed by British
intelligence agents because she was about to convert to Islam.
LEGEND AND LIFE
Victoria, British Columbia
You asked if I knew of
anyone who had a punning name like Crystal Chanda Lear. The following is taken
from "Remembering a great name in radio," by Allan Fotheringham,
The Financial Post,
10: 76 (June 1997), p. 17:
As a hobby [long-time CBC
radio host Clyde] Gilmour
invented SVEFNAP ‑‑ the Society for the Verification and Enjoyment of
Fascinating Names of Actual People. He had high standards, as always. Actual
proof of the names had to be supplied. Among a number of ridiculous names ‑‑
Sexious Boonjug, Addylou Ebfisty Plunt, Zilpher Spittle, Dunwoody Zook, Fice
Mork, et al ‑‑ discovered by the members of SVEFNAP is Polly Wanda Crocker [who]
lived at Shingle Springs, Calif.
The Body Under the Bed
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
As much as this story
of a smelly corpse hidden in a hotel bed shouldn't be based on anything other
than fiendish imagination, there have been at least a handful of real life
instances of it. Far from being apocryphal, dead bodies get stashed in the box
spring or the bed's pedestal more often than you'd want to believe. What's
more, a fair number of them are discovered days later... and only
next tenant complains about a persistent and disagreeable odour in his room.
In each of the
following cases not only were bodies discovered under hotel beds, but it was
investigations of the smell of decomposition that led to their discoveries.
In July 1996, a woman's
body was found under a mattress in the Colorado Boulevard Travelodge in
Pasadena, California. Apparently the motel's staff discovered her ten days
after her demise and only after guests had complained for several days of a foul
odour coming from that room.
There were two
stashed‑and‑smelly body cases in Florida in 1994. In both instances the next
tenants in those rooms were German tourists, further adding to the confusability
of the stories. In August 1994, in Fort Lauderdale, the hotel's staff
discovered the body of 47‑year‑old
Bryan Gregory tucked under a platform bed. Though they themselves had noticed
the strange smell for days, they only set about looking for its source after a
German couple spent the night in that room and afterwards complained about the
In March, 1994, the
body of 24‑year‑old Josefina Martinez was found underneath a bed at the
Traveler's Hotel near Miami International Airport. Again, the discovery was
prompted by an aggrieved German tourist upset about a foul odour in his room.
In Virginia in 1989,
Jerry Lee Dunbar disposed of the remains of two victims this way: 27‑year‑old
Deirdre Smith, who was discovered in May under the floor of a motel room on
Route 1, and 29‑year‑old Marilyn Graham, who turned up in June under a bed in
the Alexandria Econo Lodge. In Smith's case, the
killer first kept her body
partially hidden under his bed for two days, then subsequently placed it in the
crawl space under the carpeted floor. Her presence seemingly didn't bother him,
because he didn't move out of that room until three or four weeks later. Both
girls' bodies were eventually found after other guests complained about the
In a Mineola, New York,
motel in 1988, a body turned up in a boxspring. The remains of 29‑year‑old
Mary Jean DeOliviera were found at the Oceanside Motel. Again, the body was
discovered days later and only after other patrons complained about the smell.
At least two other guests unknowingly cohabited with the body before it was
found, and at least one guest refused to stay in that room because of the smell.
Here's a change of pace
‑‑ not a murder, but a death by misadventure. In Rosedale, Maryland in 1987, an
unidentified man died of a drug overdose after one of the thirty‑four balloons
of heroin he'd swallowed burst. His partner stashed the corpse under their
motel bed, then split. Three days later, the family the room was next rented to
complained about the odour, and this led to the body's discovery.
There are, of course,
numerous other cases of dead bodies being left under hotel beds, but I've chosen
not to report on these because I think one of the key elements of the legend is
the presence of the horrible smell and complaints about it leading to the
corpse's discovery. What gives this contemporary legend its
chills‑down‑the‑spine gruesomeness is the body's being found only after an
unsuspecting traveller spends the night sleeping above it. That clearly
happened in at least some of the cases I've mentioned and perhaps in others
where the news reports stated only that hotel guests had complained without
Urban legends tend to
localise to where we believe they likely would have happened. It's easy to
understand how in each of the versions Brunvand relates in his 1993
Las Vegas was named as the city where the corpse reposed, for Vegas is indeed
viewed as Sin City, USA.
Much easier to believe
that the unsuspecting traveller shared his room with a mouldering corpse in Las
Vegas than it is to place the occurrence (rightly) in small‑town New York,
Virginia, or Maryland. Especially when dealing with a half‑remembered true
story, it's natural for the "obvious" details to replace facts that have been
misplaced due to ordinary fuzziness of memory. One, after all, does not let a
lack of facts stand in the way of a
Though a real‑life
instance of this legend might have taken place in Vegas and I've just so far not
found it, I think it more likely that the legend Brunvand started hearing in
1991 was based on a real happening in some anonymous little place and that the
location of the tale was later changed to Las Vegas. Keep in mind that the
Deirdre Smith (1989, Virginia), Marilyn Graham (1989, Virginia), Mary Jean
DeOliviera (1988, New York), and John Doe (1987, Maryland) cases antedate 1991.
Gruesome finds like these tend to get heavily reported on, and that certainly
happened with Smith, Graham and DeOliviera. (The cites listed on my web page at
http://www.snopes.com don't begin to do justice to the coverage these
discoveries received ‑‑ each of these deaths was definitely reported on by more
than a handful of papers across the USA.) Because of that widespread coverage,
I lean towards this legend's having sprung to life out of a true story whose
location got shifted from Your Town, USA (where only nice people live) to Sin
City (where both life and room rates are cheap).
So, look ye under your
hotel beds if there be a peculiar smell you can't account for....
Some of the sources for
the foregoing are:
Boccella, Kathy. "Motel
Murder Arrest," 3 September
and Suffolk), News (p. 3).
Clark, Jayne. "Attention‑Grabbing
Highs, Lows of Year," 1 January 1995,
Travel Section (p. H1).
Davis, Kevin. "Corpse Found
Under Motel Bed," 18 August 1994,
Lauderdale), Local (p. 3B).
Davis, Patricia. "Man Pleads
Guilty to Slaying at Va. Motel," 28 November 1989,
The Washington Post,
Metro (p. E5).
Logeman, Henry G. "Hempstead
Man Convicted of Killing Woman," 8 June 1989, U.P.I. Regional News.
Sharfstein, D. "No Longer a
UL!" 1 August 1996,
Pasadena Star News.
"German Tourists Unwittingly
Sleep with Decomposing Body," 19 August 1994, Agence France Presse,
"Woman's Body Identified," 19
Lauderdale), Local (p. 3B).
"Hotel Guest Finds Body under
Bed," 13 March 1994,
National (pg. A2).
"Maryland News Briefs," 4
August 1987, U.P.I. Regional News.
Yorkshire AIDS Marys
The 21 December 1997
The Guardian Weekly ("UK
News - In Brief," p. 10) carried the following short item. Presumably the daily
a longer piece on the matter:
Mass Aids tests are
being carried out on soldiers at Catterick Garrison in North Yorkshire following
fears that two women have been infecting soldiers with the HIV virus.
Baby atop car
An Associated Press
newsstory was distributed just before Christmas (and published in the St. John's
22 December 1997, p. 17 as "Baby survives tumble from top of moving car"); it is
very similar to legends in circulation. The story, datelined Tinley Park,
Illinois, tells of a two-month-old child accidentally left in his car seat atop
the car when the mother drove away. The car travelled eight kilometres before
the baby fell off, still unnoticed by the mother. A passing truck driver (the
only person named in the story) saved the child from the fates.
Another raptor story
On 19 January 1998
the local Canadian
Broadcasting Corporation television station in St. John's, Newfoundland, CBNT
carried a news item in its supper-hour news programme,
Here and Now,
about a Notre Dame Bay man who had recently checked his rabbit snares. He was
carrying home a rabbit when he came upon an eagle flying towards a tree with a
large fish in its claws. Both man and eagle were about equally startled by the
encounter. But it was the eagle that dropped its prize, a codfish of about five
or eight pounds. Cod-fishing is almost entirely outlawed these days, so the man
was pleased to have a few meals of a rare food. [See stories in
(January 1995): 9; 37 (June 1995): 13-14.]
Stolen kidney reported in Brazil
An Associated Press
wirestory carried in the St. John's
Weds 21 January 1998 (p. 20) was entitled "Parents accuse doctor of stealing
kidney." The same story was carried the same day in other papers, for instance
the Victoria, British Columbia,
Datelined Sao Paulo, it outlines the case of a 15-year-old girl who was
discovered to have only one kidney ten years after undergoing an operation for
the removal of kidney stones. The parents have persuaded the hospital to launch
an investigation of the doctor who performed the surgey in 1988. The article
notes, "Brazilians have long speculated about th existence of rings that sell
human organs, but no proof has been found."
Gyno-glitter keeps moving
Folklore & Language Archive
St. John's, Newfoundland
CANADA A1B 3X8
The gyno-glitter story
("Fancy!") that Kathy Roland and Alan Mays reported in
(June 1996: 4-5) arrived in St. John's, Newfoundland in late summer or early
fall 1997: I heard it in
mid-October 1997. A friend of mine works in a small shop catering to the needs
of parents of Girl Guides. A co-worker told her the story (in late September or
early October) as having happened to the mother of a friend's brother-in-law.
It varies from versions
39 only in the detail of what
the doctor said: "My -- I must be special!" As in the other versions, it
puzzled the woman until she discussed it later with her daughter who told her
the spray bottle wasn't what she thought...
Like a bowlful of jelly
Folklore & Language Archive
St. John's, Newfoundland
CANADA A1B 3X8
In May and June 1997
reports were flying in the media and through Internet channels of a young woman
who got pregnant despite being given contrceptive jelly by her doctor or nurse.
The story ends with the revelation that she'd been following doctor's orders:
before every sexual act, often smeared on a cracker.
The tale was published
Weekly World News,
29 April 1997 p. 15. It circulated on the Internet mainly as a third-person
legend/joke. As reported below ("More From Ann Landers"), it was included in an
Ann Landers column in the Victoria, B.C.,
6 October 1997.
In November 1997 a
similar story appeared as a first-person narrative by a public health nurse. I
received it in a selection of jokes from a friend. Although the story was
signed with an email address (BarbaraA.@silcon.com), my messages to the author
were not answered. This version was not about jelly but about self-foaming
When I was a public
health nurse, I had a young patient who was pregnant for the third time in less
than 3 years. I asked her if she used any birth control and she said that we
[sic] took birth control pills. I asked her to bring them to me so that we
could talk about what she was doing, the dosage and whether or not she needed to
change to another type of birth control. With that, she went to the bedroom and
came back with ... vaginal foaming pills (about the size of a Necco wafer). She
said, "I've been taking them just like the doctor told me - every time I have
sex I take one. They're hard to swallow but I manage." I sat there for a
moment trying to control the hysterical laughter that was rising and ready to
burst out of me. I had visions of those foaming tablets bubbling up out of her
mouth. I finally grasped onto my professionalism and said in a somewhat stifled
(but controlled) voice said [sic], "You were supposed to insert those vaginally
every time you had intercourse - not swallow them." Her reply was, "Now I know
why they didn't work." Needless to say, I had some teaching to do and a new
form of birth control to get for her!!
The Cookie Thief again
Thanks to Brian Chapman
of Victoria, we have a clipping from the Victoria, British Columbia
Times Colonist 11
November 1997, p. D3 of their regular Ann Landers column, entitled "Biting tale
on sea of slip-ups." A reader in Quebec recounts the "real-life story" that
happened to an employee of her aunt ("one of the women in her office") in
Kamloops, British Columbia. It took place on the car ferry from Victoria to
Vancouver: she sat to eat her chocolate bar and read her newspaper when the man
sitting next to her picked them up, ate the bar and walked away with the
newspaper. She saw him later in the ferry cafeteria eating a sandwich which she
righteously grabbed and took a bite out of. Later she returned to her car only
to find that she had left her chocolate bar and newspaper there.
Earlier references to
this legend in
"The Cookie Thief"
(December 1996): 18-19.
More from Ann Landers
In addition to the
previous item, Brian Chapman sends the following legendish bits from recent Ann
Landers columns as seen in the Victoria, B.C.,
29 March 1997, p. C6: a
letter from the man who sat next to the woman (Bettye Hawley) who on a plane
trip in the 1930s had dropped a white glove into the open zipper of her
neighbour: him. He says his wife did not believe him and a divorce ensued, as
did his permanent abstention from alcohol.
6 October 1997: a
letter from a man whose wife had recently read in the Memphis
Commercial Appeal that
a woman was suing a pharmaceutical company because she was not protected against
pregnant after spreading her contraceptive jelly on her toast and eating it.
(See also the item, above, "Like a bowlfull of jelly."
Dog answers phone again
Again, thanks to Brian
Chapman in Victoria, B.C., we have an Associated Press wirestory dateline Oslo,
Norway and published ("Dog answers phone and raises alarm") in the Victoria
31 October 1997, p. C10. Bimbo, a tiny Bichon Frise dog, was home alone when he
answered the phone and whimpered into the receiver. At the other end was
Bimbo's owner's mother who thought it was her daughter in danger. The police
were called and the fire department broke in to find the dog, alone. The dog's
owner is named: Unni Andersen. The last time this was reported here was"Dogs
(June 1996): 12.
Brian also sent a copy
of a CNN News Service (www.cnn.com) story, 1 May 1997, of a pet pig ransacking
a room at its owner's residence and in the process dialling an emergency
Those awful packages
The Toronto newspaper
Globe and Mail reported
20 September 1997 a story from Senegal, via the Pan-Africa News Agency and the
Senegalese News Agency that a Kolda man was carrying the body of his baby son
home. After tying the package containing the body to his bicycle, he stepped
back inside the hospital for something else. While he was gone, the bicycle and
its package were stolen. A policeman stopped the thief and asked what was in
the package; he replied, "Goods." When it was opened the thief "reportedly
fainted at the sight of the dead child." The
Globe and Mail gives
the URL of www.africanews.org/PANA/ apparently as their immediate source.
Readers will recognize
the motif of the nasty package stolen formerly with motifs such as a urine
sample (eg. J H Brunvand,
Mexican Pet ,
pp.89-90) and a dead pet (Mexican
Ships + Lighthouse: early version
HazletonCampus, Penn State
Hazleton, PA USA
carried versions of a story placed in various locales but frequently off the
coast of Newfoundland (FTN 42,
May 1997, p. 4; 40-41, December 1996, p. 19; 39, June 1996, p. 15). In it a
large American military ship mistakes a lighthouse for another ship
and orders it to change course to avoid collision. Here is a version that
appeared in a 1965 compendium of jokes,and perhaps was included in its 1939
The fog was very thick,
and the Chief Officer of the tramp steamer was peering over the side
of the bridge. Suddenly, to his intense surprise, he saw a man leaning over a
rail, only a few yards away.
"You confounded fool!"
he roared. "Where the devil do you think your ship's going? Don't you know
I've the right of way?"
Out of the gloom came
a sardonic voice: "This ain't no blinkin' ship, guv'nor. This 'ere's a
This is from
10,000 Jokes, Toasts, & Stories,
ed. Lewis and Faye Copeland (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1965 [orig. 1939]),
joke no. 6717, p. 692.
Meantime, the recent legend
keeps moving along. A colleague in the History Department at Memorial
University sent me a photocopy received by her from a friend at the National
Maritime Museum in Greenwich, England. Like most recent versions it placed the
event off Newfoundland in October 1995.
A good web page devoted
to the legend, complete with alternate versions and opinions regarding origin,
First words on the moon
Folklore & Language Archive
Memorial University of
Following our coverage
of the legend of what Neil Armstrong may or may not have said on the moon in
1969 and what it may or may not have meant (FTN [June
1996] 39:13-14), we have the following report from Martin Lovelace of what he
heard from a friend in England in mid-1997.
Following, as well as I
can recall, is a story told me by my friend Mike, who is a professional
photographer in southern England. He had been on an assignment photographing, I
think, high‑tech controls of some kind at a factory somewhere in England. The
manager, or whoever he dealt with, had recently returned from a business trip to
the U.S. where he had heard the story, either at a conference, or in a business,
which involved Neil Armstrong. Mike stressed to me that it was told to him as
actual fact, not in any way as a joke. The story was that Neil Armstrong had
been asked whether he had really said, as he stepped onto the Moon, "That's one
small step for man..." "No," he said, "that was all made up. What I really said
was 'Go for it, Mrs. Yablonski.'" Apparently Neil Armstrong had grown up in a
poor section of a major U.S. industrial city [the Bronx, possibly], next door to
a Polish couple. They had an active
sex life and their voices could be heard by Armstrong, as a boy, while he lay in
bed. One night he heard Mrs. Yablonski say, "There'll be a man on the Moon
before I put that thing in my mouth!" So what Neil Armstrong really said as he
stepped onto the lunar surface
was "Go for it, Mrs. Yablonski!"
As mentioned in a previous
issue, the "Good Luck, Mr Gorski" text has been circulating during the past
year. I received the following version in November 1997 by email from a friend
who regularly sends jokes
along to a list of about a dozen people, of which I am one. It begins with a
A true story:
When Apollo Mission
Astronaut, Neil Armstrong first walked on the moon, he not only gave his famous
"One Small Step for Man, One Giant Leap for Mankind" statement, but followed it
by several remarks, usual com traffic between him, the other astronauts and
Mission Control. Just before he reentered the lander, however, he made the
enigmatic remark "Good luck, Mr. Gorsky."
Many people at NASA
thought it was a casual remark concerning some rival Soviet Cosmonaut. However,
upon checking, there was no Gorsky in
either the Russian or American space programs.
Over the years many
people have questioned him as to what the "Good luck, Mr. Gorsky" statement
meant. Some months ago, (July 5, 1995 in Tampa Bay FL) while answering
questions following a speech, a reporter brought up the 27 year old question to
This time he finally
responded. Mr. Gorsky had finally died and so Neil Armstrong felt he could
answer the question.
When he was a kid, he
was playing baseball with a friend in the backyard. His friend hit a flyball
whch landed in front of his neighbor's bedroom window. His neighbors were Mr.
and Mrs. Gorsky.
As he leaned down to
pick it up, young Armstrong heard Mrs. Gorsky shouting at Mr. Gorsky. "Oral
sex! You want oral sex?! You'll get oral sex
when the kid next door walks on the moon!"
1966 Legend of tax and red tape
Thanks to Paul Smith we
have a clipping from
The Denver Post of
29 January 1966 (p. 12), "Our Town: Housewife Beats Pop Bottle Tax," by John
Snyder. The tale is recounted of how an (unnamed) woman was angered by having
to pay an extra cent of tax due to her grocery total being pushed from one tax
bracket to another by the inclusion of her pop bottle deposit (twelve cents).
On demanding her penny back, she was told she'd receive it when she redeemed the
empty bottles. But she was not given her cent back when she returned her
bottles because, she was told, twelve cents was not a taxable amount. A battle
ensued, one that she personally won: the store dare not charge her anymore, but
it continues to charge other customers. Not only the anonymity of the story,
but also the fabulative flourishes suggest a legend-in-the-news: "Outside again
in the sun, our friend thought about that for a moment, then hurried to her
car...." And, "'There's no tax on 12 cents,' the checker said, still smiling
Feeling Better, Sir?
Thanks to Brian
Chapman, Victoria, B.C., we have a clipping from the
Finacial Post (Toronto,
Ontario), 23 December 1997, p. 51. The article by Tim Wharnsby is "Junior
Hockey: Canadians are learning to adapt" (p. 51). It begins with the following:
Let's start with an old
A few years back, on a
plane trip to Finland for the world junior hockey championship, a Canadian
player was sitting next [to] a grumpy team official, who exercised his bad
temper on a daily basis. The grouch had the aisle seat.
Shortly after takeoff,
dinner came and they ate. The team official quickly fell asleep.
As the plane passed
over Greenland, the flight got bumpy. The player felt queasy, but he didn't
want to disturb his grumpy neighbor. So the player reached for an air-sickness
bag, but accidentally threw up in the official's lap.
The official woke up
and was ready to blow his stack. But before he erupted, the player quickly
asked, "Feeling better, sir?"
Source and other details are
In April and May 1997
the world's newswires sang with the sound of wonder recounting the tale of a cow
dropped from a Russian cargo airplane into the Pacific Ocean, knocking a fishing
boat to the bottom; the crew lived to tell the tale.
Just as swiftly as
the tale went around, the debunking wire stories followed. Tom Morton of
The Scotsman ("Flying
cow story caught in net exposed as load of bull,"
1 May 1997) led the attack, tracing the story back through German and Russian
papers, to a Russian television programme of some eighteen months previous. In
a Reuters story dated the day before ("Russia's flying cows make it to the
newspapers" by Susanne Hoell, in the San Jose
Morton is cited as source for information leading through the German paper
Hamburger Morgenpost and
the Russian daily
By Hoell's account the tale was popularised originally by the Russian television
Osobennosti Natsionalnoi Okhoty ("Peculiarities
of the National Hunt") but probably existed previously as a traditional
explanation among fishermen for otherwise inexplicable losses of fishing boats.
The story had evolved
somewhat by July when it was carried as a Southam Newspapers feature in the St.
Evening Telegram (in
a column by George Jonas, "Of Hong Kong, and flying cows," 11 July 1997, p. 6)
placing it in the Sea of Japan. The fishing boat, now a somewhat-larger
trawler, was from Japan. Jonas's version came from "Flying,
America's most venerable aviation magazine."
Derek Froome in
Altrincham, Cheshire, England, reported in early June 1997 that he'd just heard
the following from his next-door neighbour:
airmen have been smuggling cattle from Siberia by air to the east. While
overflying the far east waters their smuggled cattle stampeded in the aircraft,
and to avoid catastrophe the rear loading doors were opened and the beasts
rushed out of the hold. Tumbling to earth at high speed they fell on to a
Japanese trawler, which was immediately sunk by the weight and impact.
[Thanks to Brian Chapman,
Derek Froome and Bill Ellis for clippings.]
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
web site: http://www.snopes.com
Rumours that Tommy
Hilfiger made a racist remark exploded onto the Net in late 1996 after a news
article purporting to be from the Philippines tabloid
making the online rounds. These self‑same
rumours had been in circulation at least nine months earlier, but Cristina
Peczon's 13 November 1996,
brought them to critical mass.
According to Peczon,
the revealing remark happened on the CNN television network on Elsa Klensch's
an interview with both Hilfiger and Ralph Lauren on the latest fashion trends:
supposedly butted in then with a comment, something like it is one thing for
one's label to go popular worldwide, but there are some people who just don't
look well in "their" designer clothes. Hilfiger then allegedly named several
Asian races, apparently saying that he preferred if "these people" wouldn't
wear their line ‑‑ particularly Filipinos!
Though many people were
up in arms about this article and in the wake of it there were calls for
boycotts of Hilfiger products, no one was ever quite sure what the designer had
said, who he'd said it to, or even which ethnic group he'd said it about. One
version had him saying, "If I knew that Blacks and Asians were going to wear my
clothes, I would have never designed them." More colourful versions had him
making his shocking revelation on national TV and Oprah Winfrey then throwing
him off her show. (Oddly enough, the same story has been told about Liz
Claiborne for many years, that Oprah threw
the show after Liz claimed she didn't design for black women as "their hips are
Quoting from the 1
Los Angeles Times:
In one cybermyth,
Hilfiger supposedly told style reporter Elsa Klensch of CNN that he didn't think
Asians looked good in his clothes. Then, as the story morphed, he told Winfrey
the same thing about blacks, at which point she threw him off the set. Yet
representatives of both shows deny Hilfiger ever appeared as a guest.
One cannot get thrown off a
show one was never on.
Both Hilfiger and his
company have steadfastly denied all forms of the rumour. (Depending
on who you hear it from, he slammed Asians, Filipinos or blacks, on Oprah or
Ricki Lake or BET News or Larry King Live or CNN ‑‑ as a rumour, it's a marvel
of non‑specificity.) According to a company statement posted to the Internet in
Tommy Hilfiger did not make
the alleged inappropriate racial comments. [...] Hilfiger wants his clothing to
be enjoyed by people of all backgrounds and his collections are put together
with the broadest cross‑section
of individuals in mind. To reinforce this, he features models of all ethnic
backgrounds in his fashion shows and advertisements.
Cyberdenials or not,
the rumour has legs. Earlier, I mentioned it had been around for at least nine
months before the Net explosion in late 1996. From the 1 March
St. Petersburg Times:
Then there's the
infamous disparaging "statement" the Parsons brothers and several others said
they had heard that Hilfiger made about blacks, particularly poor blacks,
wearing his clothes.
As with all rumors,
there are several variations, and no one can say where or when Hilfiger made the
comments. One woman said a friend heard him say it on BET News. A clerk at
Burdines said he heard it was on the Ricki Lake show.
Hilfiger being cast as
a racist villain is especially unfortunate for his history as a designer
portrays him as anything but. Adding colour and movement to everyday clothes,
his designs shot into popularity fueled by enthusiastic support from the black
community which adopted his fashion statements as its own. When Snoop Doggy
Dogg wore a red, white, and blue Hilfiger rugby shirt on
Saturday Night Live in
March 1994, the word went out ‑‑ Tommygear was cool. 1994 was also the year the
National Conference of Christians and Jews bestowed its National Humanitarian
Award on the young designer. In 1995 Hilfiger was named Menswear Designer of
the Year by the Council of Fashion Designers of America and from there he's gone
nowhere but up.
satisfying as it is to believe the old Liz Claiborne tale has updated itself by
attaching to a newer, fresher designer, there's another likely explanation that
must also be considered. As Hilfiger's
clothing became more and more popular, it increasingly became a target for the
knock‑off specialists of the Pacific Basin. Hilfiger's statements that people
should foreswear Asian or Filipino bootlegs of his clothes because cheap copies
don't look good on anybody could easily have been misheard or misunderstood so
that they were later remembered as statements to the effect that Asians or
Filipinos themselves should not wear Hilfiger designs as
make his clothes look bad.
A report in the July 1997
Internet World (8:7,
p. 127, "The Surfboard: Rumors: All the Fashion") purports to trace all the
Internet activity about Hilfiger to a single mass poster, Van LIen. The
Internet World writer
contacted her by telephone and was told she
had "just reported something a friend told her."]
Like many newspaper
clippings, it is difficult to judge the following. In a section of
The Times called
"The Times Diary," 24 March 1997, was the following short item, reprinted here
in its entirety.
Tired of Tupperware,
chafed by charity work, the ladies who lunch have a new excuse to run up their
platinum card bills. In Langan's Brasserie, Mayfair, the other day a table of
women with fixed hair and fixed tans sat surrounded by the rubble of a champagne
lunch. One of them was wearing a veil. On inquiry it turned out they were
celebrating the fact that their veiled friend had decided not to get married.
They called this event an unwedding party.
And while he yet spake, the cock crew
According to a posting
to the Forteana Discussion List (email@example.com, 22 May 1997 by
The Times ran
the following story on 22 May 1997. It was titled "Timely end to phantom
Twice a day, regular as
clockwork, Basil Vandenheede heard a cockerel crowing. He believed it was
trapped somewhere in his house.
So he called in the gas
board to rip out his fireplace and check the chminey. He then summoned friends
to pull bricks out of the wall so he could examine the cavities. He left out
milk and bread. He searched every inch of his garden. But at 10:30 pm and 4
am, the cock still crowed.
After six weeks of
interrupted sleep, he contacted the council and two environmental health
officers spent the night at his house in Rochester, Kent.
"It always woke me up
even though I slept with a blanket over my head," he said. "At 4 am it started
and we jumped up and put the lights on," Mr Vandenheede said. Then realisation
dawned. "I put my arm up next to an officer's head and he said: "It's you, it's
Mr Vandenheede, 74, has
solved the problem by smashing the watch.
EYE ON SATANISM
Thanks to Brian Chapman
in Victoria, B.C., we have a copy of the December 1997 issue (vol 97-12) of
Flashpoint: A Newsletter of Texe Marrs.
The newsletter is published by Living Truth Ministeries, 1708 Patterson Road,
Austin, Texas 78733 USA. A photograph shows Texe Marrs a smiling, open-shorted
man in his fifties. The lead article in the newsletter is called "Devil
Companies, Devil Products, Devil Logos?" (pp. 1-2). It begins with a discussion
of Lucent Technologies and the rumours surrounding interpretation of its name (
say some) and the name of its product "Inferno" software. Using the reports of
correspondents, the article discusses a half-dozen other companies showing the
logos of Microsoft, Procter & Gamble, and Disney, noting that some people see a
stylised "666" in the Disney logo. Marrs nowhere states that he sees these
devilish connections but he writes that he is "convinced that Satan and his
agents are very busy these days, conditioning men's minds and programming their
senses with stunningly effective visual magic and sorcery."
1997 Buchan Prize for Study of Llama Meat
Bill Ellis, President,
International Society for
Contemporary Legend Research
Penn State Hazleton
Hazleton, PA 18201‑1291
Society for Contemporary Legend Research (ISCLR) has awarded the 1997 David
Buchan Student Essay Prize to Ms Clare Sammells for her submission, "Folklore,
Food, and Seeking National Identity: Urban Legends of Llama Meat in La Paz,
Bolivia." The prize was announced 23 May 1997 at ISCLR's annual meeting, held
in 1997 in Boulder, Colorado.
Ms Sammells, a graduate
of Harvard University's Folklore and Mythology programme, is Assistant to the
Dean of Executive Education at INCAE, a leading business
school in Costa Rica. She enrolled as a graduate student at the University of
Chicago's Department of Anthropology in the fall of 1997.
Her essay, based on her
Senior Thesis at Harvard, discusses the taboo against eating llama meat held by
middle- and upper-class Bolivians, which takes a form similar to those held in
North America about eating dogs, reptiles and rodents. Although llama meat is a
nutritious food valued by the indigenous population, most ladinos consider it
contaminated by parasites and diseases. Many legends circulate about street
vendors and restaurants who disguise llama meat to serve it to unwitting
customers, just as Chinese and fast-food restaurants in the United States are
often rumoured to serve up taboo items like rats and
increasingly, are a symbol for Bolivia's national identity, and other indigenous
foodstuffs such as quinoa have been accepted into the country's diet. Sammells
holds out the possibility that the legends show a process in which llama meat is
becoming accepted by the middle and upper classes as a sign of pride in the
country's distinctive traditions.
ISCLR's prize committee
remarked on the richness with which Sammells explicated this traditional
belief/legend complex, which like all contemporary legends is largely symbolic
rather than literal. Her work, based on extensive fieldwork in La Paz, breaks
new ground in identifying and explicating themes distinctive to South America's
The prize honours the
memory of Dr. David Buchan (1939‑1994),
a leading international ballad scholar and a staunch supporter of contemporary
legend research. It is given annually to the best student essay combining
research and analysis on some aspect of contemporary legend, or contemporary
Ms Sammells receives a
cash prize of $250, and her winning essay will be considered for publication in
ISCLR's scholarly journal.
ISCLR also awarded
honourable mentions to two other submissions that it felt were publishable
contributions to the field. One went to JoAnn Conrad of the University of
California, Berkeley, for "Stranger Danger: Defending Innocence, Denying
Responsibility." This essay describes the continuing social concern over child
abductions in legend, media and public policy. She focusses on "The Aborted
Abduction," a common legend in which a child is snatched from a shopping mall
and taken to a washroom where the abductors try to disguise his or her identity.
A second honourable
mention went to Lara Maynard of Memorial University of Newfoundland for "Locked
Doors: Bearer‑Centred Interpretation of 'The Roommate's Death' and other
Contemporary Legends of Special Relevance to Females." Critiquing traditional
psychoanalytic readings of the legend of a college at which a student's roommate
is murdered by an intruder, Maynard suggests a new methodology for eliciting
comments and interpretations from those who pass on such legends.
Both honourable mention
essays will be forwarded to the editor of Contemporary
1998 Buchan Student Essay Prize for
Contemporary Legend Research
The deadline for
submissions for the 1998 Buchan Award for student essays in contemporary legend
research is 1 May 1998. The prize will be awarded for the best student essay
combining research and analysis on some aspect of contemporary legend, or
contemporary legend research. The winer will receive US$250, a year's
membership in ISCLR, and an engraved plaque. The winning essay will be
considered for publication in the society's journal
The prize rules are as
Essays should have been
written within the previous or current academic year. Previously published
essays will not be considered for the award.
Two copies of the essay must
be submitted by 1 May 1998.
Essays must be submitted in
English, typed, double-spaced,
and on white paper. The applicant's name must not be included on the essay.
Instead, a cover sheet must list the title of the essay, the applicant's name,
address, telephone number, school and programme attended, and year of the
or their teachers may submit
essays. Instructors are asked to encourage students with eligible essays to
enter the competition. Applications will be accepted from registered (post)graduate
students, although undergraduate essays will be accepted for consideration on
the advice of faculty members.
Applicants can make only one
application for each competition but students may receive the award more than
once in their graduate career. Members of the Selection Committee are
ineligible to apply during their tenure.
All applications are
adjudicated anonymously by the Selection Committee. The award will be made by
the president of the ISCLR upon the recommendation of the Selection Committee
appointed by him/her.
The award will normally be
announced at the annual
meeting of the Society. The winner will receive US$250 and a year's membership
in the ISCLR.
The winning essay will
normally be submitted for publication in
The Editor of
Contemporary Legend shall
have right of first refusal to publish
the winning essay, and a version suitable for publication should be submitted to
Contemporary Legend no
later than six months after presentation of the award.
The winning essay does not
have to be read at the annual ISCLR conference, but entrants are
encouraged to attend and
present their essays. If the winning essay is read at the annual ISCLR
conference it will be identified as the winner of the David Buchan Student Essay
The Council reserves the right
not to award the prize in a given year and
it is the exclusive right of ISCLR to change the terms of the award for future
Essays should be sent to:
Dr Bill Ellis,
for Contemporary Legend Research
University, Hazleton Campus
UNITED STATES OF
Phone: 717-450-3026 (Fax:
Call for Papers: Innsbruck ISCLR Conference
Perspectives on Contemporary Legend
The Sixteenth International
21 July ‑
24 July 1998
Society for Contemporary Legend Research (ISCLR) is pleased to announce that the
Sixteenth International Perspectives on Contemporary Legend Conference is to be
held in Innsbruck, Austria, 21 ‑ 24
July 1998. The Conference will be held at the Old Town Hall. Accommodations
will be available at the Central Hotel. Registration will begin on 20 July
1998, 6.00 to 8.00 p.m. The formal sessions will begin on 21 July 1998.
First held in 1982 at
the Centre for English Cultural Tradition and Language, Sheffield, England,
these meetings have provided scholars working in this area with a forum for the
exchange of ideas and with an opportunity to keep in touch with current
Participants have discussed
the so‑called "urban" or "modern" legends, but also any legend or legend‑like
tradition that circulates actively at present or has circulated intensively at
any earlier historical period. Periods discussed have ranged from ancient times
to the Internetlore, and cultures from Africa and the Pacific Rim to our own
academic worlds have been examined.
The 1998 meeting will
be organised as a series of seminars, at which the mayority of individuals
attending will present papers and/or contribute to the discussion sessions.
Concurrent sessions will be avoided so that all participants can her all the
If you wish to
participate in the conference, please forward a title and a four hundred word
abstract of your paper, along with a conference fee of US$75 for ISCLR members
(US$100 for non-members and US$45 for students) by
1 March 1998.
Similarly, if you would like to propose any special discussion sessions or
events, please do not hesitate to get in touch. Send abstracts and advance
registration fees to:
Dr. Ingo Schneider
Telephone: 0043 (0)512
Fax: 0043 (0)512 507
Call for Papers: Organ Theft session at AFS
The Folk Narrative
Section of the American Folklore Society would like to sponsor two paper
sessions at the 1998 AFS Meeting, each dealing with a single narrative type.
One panel will study tale type AT300 The Dragon‑Slayer, best known in the mythic
narrative of Saint George but also prevalent in a myriad of folk and popular
forms, including "Alien" and "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." A second panel will
focus on the contemporary legend motif of organ thefts as seen in "The Kidney
Heist," "The Baby‑Parts Abduction,"
the West African "Penis Theft" panics, and many other international
narrative/rumour forms. If interested, please send a title and brief abstract
Highacres, Penn State
University ‑ Hazleton,
Hazleton, PA 18201‑1291
(Fax: 717‑450‑3182 )
ISCLR Home Page
Courtesy of Mark
Glazer, the new World-Wide Web home page for the International Society for the
Study of Contemporary Legends is at http://www.panam.edu/Faculty/mglazer/isclr/isclr.htm.
THE CUTTING EDGE
New Legend Finding Aid and Index at MUNFLA
MUN Folklore & Language
Memorial University of
St. John's, Newfoundland
CANADA A1B 3X8
The Memorial University
of Newfoundland Folklore and Language Archive (MUNFLA) in St. John's,
Newfoundland, CANADA, has been collecting folklore of all kinds since the
1960s. Although many indexes have been devised over the years, no index
specifically for legend research was developed until the past two years. A new
legend index, including references to contemporary legend along with other
legends as well, has recently been completed. Contemporary legend researchers
can now find legend material more easily.
The index was conceived
when it became apparent that a search for particular types of legend material
took great time and effort for what was often a small reward. I reviewed
published works on legend classification and developed a list of subject areas
and the legends are thus broken into forty-two subject categories.
After some debate I
decided not to separate contemporary legends into a separate section. While I
recognise the differences among the legend types, their similarities seemed
stronger. Leaving the decision of what to call a legend to the user, I created
an index in which the researcher would find legends of various types on any
topic of their choice. Many legends that would not be classified as
contemporary legends are similar enough in motif and structure to be of interest
to a contemporary legend researcher, and this information might be missed if the
various types were separated. For example, the many stories in MUNFLA regarding
phantom lights: seen in various places over the years, some are attributed to
faires, Jack O’Lantern, and other mysterious creatures which exist in the
folklore of Newfoundland. Legends of these lights may be of interest to
researchers of UFOs; the index's header note at "Phantom lights" directs
researchers to “see also 'UFOs'.”
The index is aimed at
both the professional researcher and those with little or no experience in an
archive setting. For this reason each category has an extensive, yet not
exhaustive, header note to aid the research. A full finding
aid of the index is available on request at MUNFLA. (A small copying and
handling charge will be made.)
Journals and Newsletters
is a new newsletter devoted to information about UFO abduction claims and
related phenomena like satantic ritual abuse. It is edited and published by
Kevin McLure who has been responsible for several other small, skeptical
newsletters in the past few years.
I have seen only issue number 1 (August 1997) which is six A4 pages. On page
one is the statement,
approach is that we are still waiting for the first hard, objective evidence
that any single human being, of any age, has ever been so much as physically
touched, let alone abducted or examined or bred with, by a single alien being.
You can subscribe to
sending £5 (for five issues in the UK, four in Europe, and three elsewhere) to
Kevin McLure, 3 Claremont Grove, Leeds LS3 1AX England, UNITED KINGDOM.
Dragonsphere: The Scrying Glass of
Esoteric and Strange Publishing.
A periodic, free-of-charge compendium of publications, concentrating on small
presses. Published by Dragon's Head press, Box 3369, London SW6 6JN, UNITED
KINGDOM. The issue of
May-August 1997 (two pages on a single sheet) contains about fifty synopses and
Letters to Ambrose Merton 11
(December 1997) contains Paul Screeton's article "Alcotots and Teletubbies: Two
New Moral Panics" (about the outcries against
"alcopop" drinks for young
people and against a British television programme called "Teletubbies"). Also
included are Princess Diana jokes from the period immediately after her death
(August through October 1997) and items on the migratory motif of cities
built on seven hills, virus alerts, penis snatching, and other legend-related
We are interested in
publications on any topic relevant to
especially those in journals or from publishing houses not usually read by
academics in North America and the United Kingdom. Forward references or
offprints (if convenient) to the Editor. English abstracts of works in other
languages would be
Bell, Jeff. "Blizzard baby
boom forecast premature."
British Columbia) 1 October 1997, p. A1. [Disputes the popular wisdom that
there has been a spike in birth numbers in the current month, nine months after
"the fabled Blizzard of '96." The following day, the same newspaper had a
photograph of new parents with
their baby "conceived during the blizzard of '96," p. A5.]
Bilodeaux, Jean. "Death on
the Range: For 50 years cattle mutilations have linked three ranches in a
(August 1997): 52-55. [Written by a MUFON investigator,
contains recent cases and a sidebar entitled "What to Do if You Find Mutilated
Bowden, Tim. "Chatback:
Elvis spotted on a Harley."
The Australian Way,
February 1997: 80. [Elvis Presley's motorbike; half-naked wife steps out of
the van and husband blithely drives away; Herr Burpas's painted, decorated
buttocks; drunk ambassador asks the Archbishop to dance; historic "shark arm
murder" of 1935; cashing in long fingernails or cicada wings; uneven hang of
R. "Can We Prevent Cult Deaths?"
Skeptical Inquirer 21:4
(July/August 1997): 20-21. [Complaint about lack of skepticism in modern
Collins, Tony. "Urban Myths."
Sunday Telegram 1
June 1997, p.1. [Includes report of revenge-long-distance call to a Japanese
weather service, the choking Rottweiler, the dead boyfriend scratching the car
roof, the scuba diver in the forest fire, the stolen cat corpse in a bag, and
the rumour that Mr Bean is dead.]
"Conspiracy theories abound
about Diana's death." (St
27 December 1998. [Mentions books and a movie that develop the Arab world
rumour that British MI6 agents assasinated Princess Diana in 1997 to prevent her
conversion to Islam.]
Is Your Child Caught in the Web? A
Parent/Teacher Guide to Child Safety on the Internet.
Mount Pearl, Newfoundland: Publishing Solution, 1997. ISBN 0-9682336-0-0.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. [Includes selected "Satanic sites" including among them
rightist and racist sites.]
Denisoff, R. Serge and George
True Believers: The Elvis Contagion.
New Brunswick, USA: Transaction Publishers, 1995. [On fans who disbelieve the
1977 death of Elvis Presley and the role of the media in the phenomenon.]
The Singular Beast: Jews, Christians and the
NY: Columbia U P, 1997. [Role of pigs and pork in Jewish and Christian beliefs,
practices and interactions through the past 2000 years.]
Frasher, Steven. "Stop the
cards already: Terminally ill
British boy has achieved World Record of 33 million get well cards."
British Columbia) 6 August 1997: 11.
Gonzales, Sandra. "Inspired
to Kill? Three teenage 'death metal' band members are accused of killing a girl,
believing Satan would advance their careers."
San Jose Mercury News 4
April 1997: 1A, 14A. [Prosecution charges in 1995 California case of murder,
rape and torture.]
Harrington, Richard. "On the
Beat: Long Live Paul-Is-Dead; New Book Chronicles the
History of the Hoax."
Washington Post 19
March 1994): C7. [Reviews Andru J. Reeve's
Turn Me On, Dead Man (Ann
Arbor: Popular Culture Ink).]
Holt, David, and Bill Mooney.
Spiders in the Hairdo: Modern Urban Legends.
Audiocassette. High Windy Audio HW1212,
1997. ISBN 0-942303-13-X. [Contains 16 contemporary legend stories told for
ages 10 to adult. 1-800-63-STORY for orders.]
Lewis, James R., ed.
the Gods Have Landed: New Religions From
Other Worlds." Albany:
State U of New York, 1995. ISBN 0-7914-2330-1. [Includes articles on aspects
of organised UFO-belief, including the "Heaven's Gate" leaders "Bo and Peep,"
and with an extensive bibliography of "the flying saucer contactee movement,
Martin, Judith. "Miss
Manners: The salad story and other tall tales."
Eveing Telegram (St
John's, Newfoundland) 20 June 1997, p. 19. [Syndicated columnist reports and
debunks story of some other etiquette writer caught at a grand dinner eating the
Morton, Tom. "Flying cow
story caught in net exposed as load of bull."
1 May 1997. [Traces the tale of a cow falling from a Russian airplane and
sinking a fishing boat, from late 1995-early 1996 to a flurry of credulous
reports in May 1997.]
Pettitt, Tom. "Shakespeare's
Urban Legend: Caliban, Carnival, and Prospero's Sewer." In S. E. Larsen, M.
Nøjgaard and A. B. Petersen, eds.
Nature: Literature and its Otherness.
Odense: Odense U P: 1997, pp. 169-180.
"Mrs. Fields Cookies." In
Biggest Secrets: More Uncensored Truth About
All Sorts of Stuff You Are Never Supposed to Know.
New York: Quill/William Morrow, 1993, pp. 43-53. [Mainly a study of the secret
ingredients of the famous cookie of Mrs Fields,
but including several versions of the chain letter/legend recipe.]
An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes
of the Occult and Supernatural. New
York: Griffin/St. Martin's P, 1997 ISBN:0-31215119-0, paper.
Reimer, Susan. "Believe This:
Muppet Bert isn't dead, isn't dying."
Baltimore Sun 7
December 1997. Text at www.sunspot.net/columnists/data/reimer/120797reimer.html.
[Folklorist Diane Goldstein on origin and development of the "Bert and Ernie are
gay" rumour, eventually transforming
into the rumoured deaths of each of them.]
Roche, Ken. "Your Morning
Globe & Mail (Toronto),
19 September 1997, p. 1. [Transcript of conversation between sub and lighthouse
said to have happened October 1995; see
40/41:19; and 42:4.]
Schellhardt, Timothy D.
"Management: Tales of Canceled Job Offers Scare M.B.A.s."
Wall Street Journal21
May 1997: Section B. [Rumours are rampant among MBA graduates about the danger
of accepting job offers without continuing
the job hunt.]
Schram, Sanford F. and Philp
T. Neisser, eds.
Tales of the State: Narrative in Contemporary
U.S. Politics and Public Policy. Lanham,
Boulder, NY and London: Rowman & Littlefield, 1997. [Contains several articles
dealing with stereotype and rumour, and the official response to them in
government policy in the United States.]
Shepard, Frederick J.
"Bibliography of the Mary Celeste."
Bulletin of Bibliography 14:3
(Sept - Dec 1930): 48-50. [More than thirty published
items between 1872 and 1930 on the highly legendised loss of the crew and
passengers of the
Mary Celeste in
Boston & NY: Little Brown, 1996. ISBN 0-316-79179-2. [Strange showers, corn
circles, UFOs, mirages, lights, noctilucent clouds, and much more.]
Sleveking, Paul. "Strange but
True: Headless railmen shining on the line."
The Sunday Telegraph(6
April 1997): 17. [Writer for
Fortean Times gives
short accounts of local legends from Arkansas and North Carolina.]
Turner, Karla, with Ted Rice.
Forword by Barbara Bartholic.
Masquerade of Angels.
Roland, Arkansas: Kelt Works, 1994. ISBN 0-9640899-1-2. [The cover blurb
begins: "Dr. Karla
former university instructor of English, came face to face with the alien
abduction phenomenon in 1988 when her entire family experienced repeated
encounters with non-human entities."]
Taken: Inside the Alien-Human Abduction
Arkansas, 1994. ISBN 0-964-0899-04. [See above item.]
The End of the World as We Know it: Faith
Fatalism, and Apocalypse in America. New
York: New York U P, 1997. ISBN 0-8147-9283-9. [Wojcik teaches English and
Folklore at U Oregon.]
Yemma, John. "Science vs.
fiction: Aliens, auras, and the lost continent of Atlantis -- they're all part
of pop culture these days. But scientists are fighting what's been called the
X-Filing of America."
The Boston Globe Magazine
13 April 1997: 13, 22-27, 30, 33-37. [Apparent rise in credulity in America.]
Thanks to Michele Hart
for typing and Mikel Koven for editing some of this issue of
Many of the references in the New Publications sections are thanks to Paul
Smith's spotting them. Thanks, too, to Brian Chapman, Jane Gadsby, Delf
Hohmann, Lorraine Jackson, Martin Lovelace, Lara Maynard, Tom McGuire, Art
Rockwood, Pat Parsons and Jeff
Victor for references and clippings.
FoafTale News (FTN)
is the newsletter of the International Society for Contemporary Legend
Research. We study "modern" and "urban" legends, and also any legend
circulating actively. To join, send a cheque made out to "ISCLR" for US$25.00
or UK£15 to Paul Smith, Department
of Folklore, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John's, Newfoundland
CANADA A1B 3X8. Members also receive
a refereed academic journal. Most back issues of
available from the Editor at a charge of US$3 each.
FoafTale News always
welcomes contributions, including those which document legends' travels on
electronic media and in the press.
All research notes and
articles are copyright by the individual authors who reserve all rights. For
permission to reprint, contact them at the addresses given in the headnote of
indexed in the
Send queries, notices, and research reports to a maximum of 3000 words to the
Editor; clippings, offprints, and citations are also encouraged. Text on disks
The opinions expressed in
FoafTale News are
those of the individual authors and
do not in any necessary way represent those of the editor, the contributing
compilers, the International Society for the Study of Contemporary Legends, its
Council, or its members.
Philip Hiscock, MUN Folklore & Language Archive, Memorial University of
Newfoundland, St. John's, Newfoundland, CANADA A1B 3X8.