No. 37                                                                                                    June 1995






Guntis Pakalns:  Contemporary legend and "ghost stories" in post-socialist Latvia

Mark Moravec:  the Paris ISCLR conference, July 1994

Anna Guigné: Dying Child's Wish (thesis abstract) 

Bill Ellis:  The Forteans' UnConvention, April 1995



Bill Ellis: Orkney Islands Satanic Ritual Abuse Case



Killer clowns, severed-head lab samples and a python in the bathroom



Blue Star acid, vanishing hitchhikers, 666 = Bill Gates III, and more



More on Bogus social workers, as well as Pinky-Pinky, kidney thieves, highway signs' secret marks, pets snatched and mystery cats, and more.



Any teeth-in-cod stories?  Deaf lore?  Any lore about Mount Rainier, Washington?



Forteans disown book













Guntis Pakalns, Archives of Latvian Folklore, Turgeneva 19, Riga, LV-1003 LATVIA.      Email:


(Revised from paper read at American Folklore Society  panel on "Contemporary Legends in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania," Milwaukee, 23 October 1994)


    In today's Latvia the term ghost narrative (or ghost story, which I use here) denotes two rather different types of narrative, the first being stories about unexpected encounters with inexplicable premonitions, sounds, beings or phenomena, and interpreted later as coming from some other world.  Usually these beings and phenomena are mentioned explicitly -- the dead and their spirits, ghosts, the devil, some obsessive spirit, nightmare, hidden treasures and their guards, flying witches and dragons, dwarves, spirits of a house, and the like.  Traditional folkloristics classifies most of these narratives as demonology tales or legends and a great number of personal experience narratives are included, often connected with the death of a relative or close friend.  Although these stories of personal experience are not in the best accordance with the traditional concepts of what a folk-tale is, in my opinion they constitute the living core of the ghost story tradition.  Beyond this core, the stories can be interpreted as moving away from it as the teller forgets or is willing to disapprove of the story, and plays with it or uses it for amusement or educational needs.

    The second type of 'ghost story' narrative in Latvia turns up mostly among children as horror stories.  Ghosts figure in only a few of them, and a portion of these stories end up as jokes on ghosts and fears.   Their main point is not their truthfulness, but rather the effect created by them as the children play with their fear.

    In contemporary Latvia, ghost stories' status, as well as that of tellers, is high although the peak was three to five years ago.  Upon introducing myself in Germany in 1994 as a researcher of ghost stories, I usually met negative and ridiculing attitudes.  Each time I had to prove these stories are not the nonsense talk of elderly babblers, but a communicational theme vitally necessary for people, deeply touching our emotions and the basics of our world view.   In Latvia the reaction is different;  there is great curiosity and sympathy.  Audiences expect something interesting and slightly, even pleasantly, terrifying.  People are willing to listen, to feel the same, to hear something new, and to share their knowledge of the subject.

    The ghost stories are of special interest for a Latvian narrative scholar.  They form a connection between the traditional narrative world and that of the modern world.  Until the breakdown of the USSR, narrative functioned the same as political jokes, active in oral form but hidden from the formal culture.  Now they can be recorded in abundance.  The most striking aspect, though, is that despite substantial changes in the conditions of narration they show surprising stability.

    Latvians played an important role in the breakdown of the USSR at the end of the 1980s when unexpected changes took place in the life and experience of people and in their concepts of the world's order.  Regained freedoms appeared nearly every week both in the national and the political realm and even in ways of thought.  It was an uncommon and even sacred period when without any bloodshed and uncontrolled hatred the so-called Singing Revolution took place in the Baltics.  People felt very united and a better future seemed close and reachable.  Now, in the mid-1990s, this period of revolution has passed and the people of Latvia are involved in an irregular rush to a capitalistic, post-socialist society, a society that offers a wide range of new possibilities, but is throwing many people into poverty and hopelessness.

    This period was of interest to the researcher of folklore narratives.  Changes that would have taken decades in other countries took place here extremely quickly.  Much greater importance than in a normal period was acquired by oral communications like rumours (for instance of the next currency reform and price changes) and the mass media.  The existing press changed incredibly;  new publications appeared giving the public access to themes non-existent or silently prohibited in the Soviet period.  As a result of this flourish of information, characteristic stories are fully documented and accessible for future folkloristic studies.

    During 1990 and 1991, possibly the years of the most intensive changes, Latvia was still part of the cultural space of the USSR and it encountered a vast and intensive wave of UFOs.  Nearly every day newspapers published new data on their study;  there were special television broadcasts and the new magazines took it as their duty to publish something on the issue, at least in their early issues.   One of the most important centres of UFO study on the territory of the old USSR was established in Riga, publishing in Russian its own newspaper.  Several young Russian journalists took part in an expedition to one of the anomalous zones in Siberia, called M-Triangle, and in lectures and publications recounted their experiences,  including meeting representatives of different space civilisations and acquiring new

powers as a result.

    I was one of those people enthusiastically attending lectures, buying newspapers, acquiring this completely new knowledge, and trying to test its credibility.  My being a narrative researcher was only part of my interest.  I noticed that my judgement of the credibility of the stories was affected by the number of similar narratives heard before.  The UFO stories, and those of like phenomena, brilliantly fit my definition of ghost stories given above.  As in ghost stories, the narrator is completely convinced of the truthfulness of his account, despite lacking witnesses and proofs.  I also observed the adaptation of the stories for the needs of publication.

    More or less connected with this wave of UFO reports were the performances of fortune tellers and other persons with extra-sensory powers, mass healing sessions, announcements of an impending Judgment Day, and reports of poltergeists, vampires, cyborgs, and modern witches.  Western videofilms, including horror movies, finally became available at this time and despite their low credibility, their impression was great, bringing related themes into the consciousness of post-Soviet individuals.

    Different explanations can be found for this wave which people from abroad could call enthusiasm for superstition.  With the breakdown of the isolated and strictly formal socialist society a dam was broken and a vast valley was filled with new knowledge and narratives.  But when this valley was filled up, by the past two or three years, the interest was quickly lost.

    Two more publishing events were extremely interesting to narrative researchers.  The first was the discovery of contemporary legends by the media in 1991 and 1992.  One of the biggest Latvian newspapers, Diena, published an interview with the Swedish researcher Bengt av Klintberg.  Then an article by my Latvian colleague Guntis Smidchens (now working at the University of Washington) appeared, and a collection contest was proclaimed.  These were followed by the publication of the material collected and my own survey.  The recorded material included ghost stories.  I collected most of the modern legends from colleagues at the Archives of Latvian Folklore.  The choice of texts was determined by my intuition and only later I found many had been published in foreign collections.   My attention has more recently turned to contemporary legends depicting life in socialism, characteristically mixing humour, tragedy and the absurd.  Although they may include new types, for the most part they are transformed variants of internationally known legends.

    The second publishing event was that in 1991 and 1992 of the first two children's books of ghost and horror stories.  Maris Rungalis, author and editor of a children's magazine, collected a variety of texts and genres, presenting them for an audience of eight- to thirteen-year-olds.  With about eighty texts, these books not only documented the stories actually in circulation, but also gave rich stimulus to new narration.  After they were published, I recorded in oral tradition many of the stories published in these books.  I have used the books in interviewing students from different groups, asking them to note which stories they know and to judge them regarding age, origin, credibility, function and genre.  A book of about a hundred Russian texts, The Terrifying Folklore of Soviet Children was also published in Riga, but literary reworking is more apparent in it.

    I believe a folklorist can be an interesting object for his own study and observation and that his activities inevitably characterise his period.  To conclude, then, I would like to tell some of my own experiences as a narrator of ghost stories. 

    When a scholar encounters ghost stories, he or she approaches the outer boundaries of science.  Instead of supposedly "pure" science, other aspects may come to the fore.  I have been interested in ghost stories for about fifteen years, recording them, reading them in earlier collections, arranging them for the legend index at the Archives of Latvian Folklore, directing student collection projects, etc.  But I have not succeeded in writing an article about them that would correspond to the perceptions of scholarly research in Latvian folklore.  The study of these stories as written texts, according to the methods I know, seems superficial -- a kind of trivial pursuit unable to approach the essence of the narrative.

    It is the telling of the narratives that I consider to be the most important aspect of them.  I have given more than sixty public lectures about them, mainly between 1990 and 1992, for adult audiences as well as for children, and also on Latvia television and radio.  At first I referred only in passing to them, as I told about my own ancestor, Anss Lerhis-Puskaitis (1859-1903), the outstanding collector of Latvian tales and legends, or when I talked about Latvian funeral songs, the object of my own dissertation.  I soon noticed that people wanted very much to talk about these stories and that I could express my scholarly research by telling them myself, with scholarly comment.

    I attempt to make my narration, improvised and newly created in each telling, as close as possible to that in other settings.  I am not referring to outward appearances like the darkening of a room or the imitation of older attributes.  I am aware that the telling of these stories in a lecture hall is an individual performance, a form of folklorism.  I attempt to free myself of the feelings of superiority regarding the narratives, which are supposedly a part of scientific research, and attempt to retell them as they were told to me by narrators -- believing in their truth or at least in the possibility of their truth.  I also use recordings of narrators to show their voice intonations when they tell about omens of death, apparitions, feelings sensed at the moment of a relative's death, a deceased husband who comes back from the graveyard, strange lights or unusual dreams.  It is toward the end of a lecture that I tell a few horror stories or contemporary legends for comparison in order to show they have other functions than memorates.  In recent years the time I devote to contemporary legends has exceeded that of the credible part of ghost stories, reflecting changes not only in my own interests but also those of my audiences.

    In these lectures I have the opportunity to test and even experiment with the effect of the stories on my audience.  Of course, I am careful not to make the effect too strong;  dosage is an easier matter orally than in a written form.  Sometimes I succeed in creating a feeling that the world is wide and full of possibilities and that the other world has come close to ours and been made easier to understand.  Hidden feelings and knowledge are opened up, and often the members of the audience begin to tell about their experiences, not only regarding ghosts and souls.  Not only the socialist world, but contemporary official culture, too, suppresses and censors the telling of ghost stories.  But I think people need discussions and silent thinking about their ancestors who have passed away, about the secrets of the other world, about their strange feelings and senses, dreams and the like.  Seen in this perspective, my attempts to stimulate the telling of ghost stories, and the telling of stories as a whole, renewing a balance in this area, may have a therapeutic effect, not only for the individuals but also for society as a whole in the post-socialist period.

    Reflecting about changes over time in the narration of ghost stories, I could probably analyse the varying elements in connection with the great changes that have taken place in society, the mass media, personal relations to religion, etc.  But I think this is a superficial level, like waves on the surface of the sea.  My observations prove that among the so-called "simple folk" (the unnoticed majority of narrators) the telling of ghost stories has changed much less than might be expected in the unstable post-socialist world.  The stability of the telling style of the ghost stories, especially of the memorates, is more characteristic and


astonishing than the  variability.  Maybe this is because narrators intuitively try to safeguard and preserve important balances such as that between rational and irrational elements in their world view.




Mark Moravec

104 Howitt Street, Ballarat VIC 3350 AUSTRALIA


    The Twelfth International Conference of the ISCLR was held in Paris, at the Maison des Sciences de l'Homme (MSH), from 18 to 22 July, 1994.  It was chaired by Véronique Campion-Vincent (of MSH) and Mark Glazer (Rio Grande Folklore Archive, University of Texas - Pan American).  This was the first ISCLR conference to be held in continental Europe, and the five-day programme attracted more than forty participants from Europe, America and Australia.  Thirty-four papers were presented on the major themes of legends in literature and art, medical legends, satanic ritual child abuse, theoretical issues, and a wide variety of case studies.

    The conference provided a welcome opportunity to meet with many of the world's leading legend scholars, to discuss and debate research methodologies and, of course, to swap many a good story.  A selection of papers are profiled below, including some points raised in subsequent discussions.

    Historical Echoes:  John Gutowski examined the use of contemporary legends in the writings of H.P. Lovecraft.  Rather than use the sacred myths of the old spiritual gods of creation and order, Lovecraft featured contemporary, monstrous, extraterrestrial or paranormal creatures who initiate destruction and disorder, key themes shared with contemporary legends.  In the novella, The Whisperer in Darkness, the villain actually uses an appeal to folklore sources to tempt the main protagonist to investigate further the mysterious Bigfoot lurking in the hills of Vermont.

    The legends about controversial Norwegian painter, Edvard Munch, were used by narrators to explain the shocking content of his paintings as well as to help promote a distinctly Norwegian artist.  Amongst other eccentricities, Munch was said to store food in a grand piano and to use only a particular taxi driver or waiter so that he wouldn't have to speak to new people.  The solitary, misunderstood artist stories functioned both to disempower him by showing his home-life incompetence, as well as to establish his genius on a par with other struggling but renowned artists such as Van Gogh, according to Leslie Prosterman's well-illustrated presentation.

    Contemporary German legends about a dam worker who falls into the unset concrete were found to be the most recent in a long tradition of stories in Europe, America and Africa about industrial workers falling into their manufactured products (such as honey, wine, dough, Coca Cola and pickles).  Some stories claimed that the worker's remains were found after the product had already been bottled and distributed, thus spreading the "contamination."   In an appealing, detective-story style account of her investigation, Sigrid Schmitt suggested a historical link with the old motif of the building sacrifice as a magic means of protection.

    Thomas Barden and John Provo distributed a request on the  e-mail network for stories from American military personnel involved in the war in South Vietnam (1964 to 1973) and followed up the many legends reported.  They included sexual horror stories (prostitutes who put razor blades in their vaginas to mutilate the soldiers);  "fragging stories" (fragmentation grenades used to kill over-zealous senior officers);  deserter tales (sightings of the "White Cong" - a high-ranking American deserter fighting bravely with the Viet Cong);  cruelty stories (enemy soldiers dropped out of helicopters);  and Viet Cong ghost tales (the dead manifesting as ghostly music).  Many stories focussed on the North Vietnamese soldier as a skilled and honourable warrior.  But most American stories did not invoke a noble cause as it was not a noble war.  The legends served as mechanisms of social control for both commanders and soldiers.  At the basic level, perhaps the story-telling was a strategy for keeping alive.

    The Enemy WithinGeneviève Paicheler and colleagues interviewed 61 people about their perceptions of AIDS.  In an environment where all people lack information about the origin of AIDS, the French population was found to hold a number of beliefs.  Unlike many other Western countries, there is a norm of tolerance rather than of scapegoating minority groups.  Instead, other people or institutions were sometimes held responsible.  For example, some repeated legends about science or the military having developed an AIDS virus in the laboratory.

    Legends about unconventional ways of getting pregnant comment on sexual mores.  One legend collected by Peter Burger concerns a woman who takes a bath in a hotel and becomes pregnant despite being a virgin.  She hires a private investigator who determines that a previous hotel guest had masturbated in a bath that same morning, leaving spermatozoa on the side of the bath.  She sues the hotel for one million dollars.  Pregnancy and AIDS legends share the theme of potency, with even one drop of sperm having serious consequences!

    Gillian Bennett has edited the informal English newsletter, Dear Mr. Thoms, for a number of years.  She discussed the "Bosom Serpent" legend, about the emergence of noxious creatures who have been inhabiting one's vital organs.  Over 160 references were located, with worms, snakes and amphibians predominating.  Her paper adopted an empirical rather than a metaphorical approach.  The patient was seen to use the legend to convincingly describe the symptoms of a genuine medical condition, for example, an ulcer or tapeworm.

    Dark Forces:  Many contemporary legends appear to act as the modern equivalent of horror stories, though plausibly true.  There is a blackness about those stories that deal with deep-rooted fears, of threats that loom too close.

    "Lights Out" was a fast-spreading nineties legend that emerged in the current American milieu of public fear of gang violence.  Patricia Turner outlined the rise of the legend.  The Californian versions claimed that a gang initiation weekend was imminent.  The new test for recruits was to cruise the "safe" streets without their car lights on.  The first innocent driver to blink his or her headlights as a friendly warning would be their target for murder.  The police and media received numerous calls from an anxious public.  However checks with gang liaison officers and gang informers revealed no such events were planned and would indeed be precluded by the gang members' "code of honour" not to target outsiders.  The story shares the motifs of earlier legends of nocturnal trolls who preyed on victims as they traversed bridges, and the 1950s and '60s teenager stories of escaped convicts and madmen who preyed on young couples or good samaritans.  In America, the gang members have become the trolls or escaped maniacs of the 1990s.

    The "Organ Kidnap" legends continue to be popular (see my articles in Australian Folklore 8, 89-99 and Proceedings of the Fifth National [Australian] Folklife Conference, 32-41).  Paolo Toselli described the spread of Italian stories of child kidnappings for the body-parts black market.  In Italy it was not just a legend but a panic.  The stories caused social concern based on the critical preoccupation with the safety of our children.  Perhaps the stories are a variant of soul-snatching and a warning for children not to stray.

    The themes of satanism and child abuse were discussed in several presentations.  Sometimes the two issues are connected; sometimes they are not.  Satanic ritual child abuse claims have arisen in America and Britain in two contexts.  The first involves welfare workers who upon questioning young children become convinced that they had been abused during satanic cult rituals involving their parents.  In extreme cases this led to raids on homes and children being taken away from their parents into welfare custody, with subsequent lengthy court cases to sort out the conflicting claims of innocence and guilt.  The second context involves adults recalling under therapy satanic ritual child abuse years after the alleged events.  In both circumstances, it has been claimed that biased questioning by welfare workers or therapists has produced false stories.  In the latter context, the psychological explanation of a "false memory syndrome" has been suggested.  To date, most court findings have indeed found no evidence to support the satanic abuse claims.

    The first session paper presented by Gary Alan Fine and Jeffrey Victor concerned satanic dabbling.  Some American adolescents make "legend trips" where they visit a cemetery or haunted house.  There they test the legend by conducting a ritual and leave their mark in the form of a campfire, graffiti or vandalism.  This "satanic tourism" has the thrill of deviance, of shocking adults.  Police, clergy and school administrators warn adolescents of the dangers of satanism but, ironically, those warnings actually promote satanic dabbling.

    A psychoanalytic analysis of satanic legends was offered by Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi, with a focus on belief and fantasy, child sacrifice legends, cultural traditions, and the classic Freudian processes of sublimation, projection and catharsis.  Bill Ellis's paper, presented in absentia, viewed satanic ritual abuse narratives as part of a tradition of belief about exorcism and folk healing.  Such a "folk tradition of belief" (Gillian Bennett's term) is a belief system rather than a legend, and the belief is not supported by institutions.

    In a challenging presentation, Donna Wyckoff zeroed in on the larger number of child abuse claims that are "remembered" years after the alleged events and which do not have any satanic connection.  Such claims are first person narratives, but they share familiar aspects with contemporary legends including widespread transmission, response to social anxieties and traditional motifs.  In her opinion, most such claims arise through what has come to be labelled as "false memory syndrome."   Knowledge of the storyline is gained second-hand from television talk shows and the suggestion/reinforcement of dubious therapists.  Failure to live up to a cultural ideal of the successful, achievement-oriented man or woman can be blamed on an external cause such as childhood sexual abuse, satanism or multiple personalities.

    Along the same themes, Jeffrey Victor proposed that supposed "repressed memories" of bizarre experiences (such as satanic cult ritual abuse, UFO abductions and past-life experiences) are confabulated memories, a product negotiated through the ostention (acting-out) of a contemporary legend by the patient and its prompting and validation by the therapist.  Preconceptions influence the likely experience to be reported.  Thus a Christian fundamentalist may report satanic ritual abuse, a New Ager past lives, and a scientifically-minded person a technological UFO abduction.

    Mark Glazer drew attention to the sequences of physical and psychological violence present in many contemporary legends, ranging from disgust at eating chicken-fried rat to boyfriends hanging in trees.  Each such instance involves the breaking of a cultural norm, and it is this transgression which generates violence.  Whilst violence and victimisation also predominate in folktales and myths, the contemporary legend is unique in that the nature of the violence is random.  It is the fear stirred up by these random acts of violence that makes the contemporary legend dynamic and convincing.

    Salvation:  As Eastern Europe proceeds through its transition from communism to the free market, it also experiences the downside of capitalism.  Nicolae Constantinescu proposed that the traditional treasure-hunting narratives of Romania have been replaced by new fast-money making stories.  He outlined the rise and fall of "Caritas," a pyramid-style investment scheme.  After the collapse of the scheme six months later, get-rich-quick stories were replaced by stories of suicide, alleged links with discredited politicians and the claim of an illicit pregnancy resulting from a liaison with the scheme's founder.

    One of the interesting and unexpected aspects of this conference was the large proportion of papers that tackled claimed first-person experiences as opposed to the more usual third-hand legend narratives.  This included Sherry Cook Stanforth's presentation on grief narratives.  She interviewed mostly female informants who claimed to have had spiritual visions of recently-deceased loved ones.  The overwhelmingly common pattern was the receipt of a message stating "It's OK, I'm fine."  Whilst these experiences were singular in time, rather than circulating as legend, they are nonetheless a set of experiences with common themes.  They can be interpreted as symbolic of changing social boundaries, of moving to a new stage after a loss.  Bengt af Klintberg also suggested that these grief narratives were similar to an older tradition of dream or vision in Scandinavian society.

    First-person experiences also formed an important component of my (Mark Moravec's) own paper on "Legends, Memorates and Mythologies:  the Case of UFO Folklore."  I argued that the first-hand sighting reports (memorates), plus various stories of extraterrestrials, crashed flying saucers and government conspiracies (legends), combine to form a larger, evolving and overarching belief system (the UFO mythology), which provides meaning and direction to many immersed in the UFO subculture.  If UFO reports represent, in total or in part, a contemporary folklore, then such narratives can be analysed in terms of motifs, transmitted variations and beliefs.  A consideration of the nature of UFO lore, particularly the combination of first-hand and third-hand narratives, also holds implications for contemporary legend research in matters of definition and methodology.

    Seeing The Light: Not all legends are full of gloom and doom.  Many are very entertaining, and this is one reason why contemporary legends appeal and endure.  They can also be positively utilised as educational material.

    Véronique Campion-Vincent screened four short films in her presentation.  Paris was the perfect setting for this, one year before the hundredth anniversary of the birth of cinema in France.  The first two films were on the "Sharing by Error" theme.  The Lunch Date is a 1989 Oscar-winning U. S. film about a well-dressed woman in a railway diner who momentarily leaves her table, and upon returning, finds a black man in overalls eating her lunch.  She is ultimately embarrassed, however, when she discovers her own untouched lunch on a neighbouring table.  A 1991 French film is also set in a railway station and features similar confusion over a packet of biscuits.  According to Campion-Vincent, the need for ironic fables in the modern world is one of the factors of this story's success.

    I was pleasantly surprised to view again Schwarzfahrer ("Black Rider," 1992), set in Berlin and another award-winning short film.  Originally, I had seen and enjoyed it at the 42nd Melbourne International Film Festival in June, 1993.  My programme reviews it:  "Berlin today; a cross-section of the community.  A train carriage.  In a series of beautifully observed scenes [Pepe] Danquart sets you up for a comedy, then delivers a double-whammy drama about racism and German indifference.  A perfect film."  The plot is about a black man who sits next to an older white woman.  She makes increasingly outrageous and racist side-comments about immigrants.  The man remains remarkably composed.  But when a ticket inspector boards the carriage, the man snatches and eats her ticket.  Unable to provide a believable explanation, she is led off the carriage by the inspector.

    A short film with an identical plot was made in Brussells (La Dame dans la Train, 1993).  Both films are based on a ticket-eating legend which has been collected by Jan Brunvand and which has circulated in several European countries.  The legend is a good story:  it states that such a racist attitude is wrong.  The German film was made to be used in schools to initiate discussions on prejudice. 

    Other papers of interest included Rolf Brednich's on the "reader as researcher."  His contemporary legend book readers not only unearthed many new accounts, but also provided literary references and identification of sources.  Sandy Hobbs and David Cornwell provided a social interaction model for the text variations in the "Hanging the Monkey" legend.  That story of a shipwrecked monkey which is mistaken for a French spy and hanged also inspired some amusing song lyrics!  Two papers dealt with the child's eye view (with adult repercussions):  Jean-Bruno Renard on a French legend where an innocent child's ambiguous remark on television leads to the public embarrassment of his parents;  and Anna Guigné's study of over 200 texts of the "Dying Child's Wish" with the textual variations implying either support for, or scepticism of, such appeals.

    Theory and Practice:  The conference programme's division of papers between "case studies" and "theoretical issues" was sometimes rather arbitrary, as most "case studies" had a theoretical point to them, and most "theoretical" papers were built on a particular legend or experience.  However, two papers addressed the methodological issue of classifying and cataloguing contemporary legends.  Jan Brunvand has previously published a type index in The Baby Train (1993) based on legend themes.  A new classification system presented by Lucia Veccia assumes that legends are sustained by social fears;   she grouped them in eight major categories from foodstuffs to the supernatural.  An index developed by Ingo Schneider is thematic with 21 major categories.  Based on his present compilation, stories and ideas about foreigners are the most numerous.  Some classification problems are what to include or exclude, differences in interpretation of a legend's dominant meaning, and the occasional changes in meaning over time.

    In "The Functions of Legend Narration in the Modern World,"  Bengt af Klintberg proposed that as we cannot ultimately judge whether any given story actually once happened we should concentrate on looking at the legend's content, distribution and process.  Many legends express anxieties about threatening foreign elements in daily life, from technology to violence.  Other legends express wishful thinking, including stories of criminals and social superiors who are punished by their fates.

    The cultural transformation of narratives was addressed by Gary R. Butler.  He collected experience narratives with supernatural content from L'Anse-à-Canards, one of four surviving French-speaking communities on the island of Newfoundland.  Butler found that in moving from the individual personal experience to the second-hand accounts of others, the tale is transformed to fit in with the current community worldview.  The account retains the mystery and strangeness of the experience, but deletes the supernatural explanation.  Stories of strange lights formerly referred to as will-o-the-wisps are now described by younger residents as UFOs.  "Supernatural" stories are now "ESP."  The new worldview results as the community becomes increasingly less isolated and more open to the external input of the mass media and contemporary popular culture.

    Faits divers are human interest stories of scandals, accidents, natural wonders and disasters, often based on unexpected coincidences, and often published in newspapers.  They are presented as individual experiences, with names, places and dates, yet they also conform to stereotypical patterns seemingly derived from common lore.  Hilary Evans projected vivid artists' representations of historic wolf attacks in Europe, children snatched away by eagles, visions of the Virgin Mary and UFO abductions.  He proposed that communal folklore fragments into the individual experiences of faits divers, which then combine into folklore, and so on, in an ongoing cycle.  Two contrary processes are at work:  the need to establish an individual identity by reporting alleged personal experiences, and the need to be at one with the community, by fitting the personal experience into a shared pattern.

    And, yes, legends have entered the laboratory.  Oliviane Brodin used two paired samples of 250 subjects each to study individual differences in sensitivity to food contamination "rumours."  She found that a believable rumour (that "New Coca-Cola is carcinogenic") had an immediate effect on the attitude of consumers about the brand, but a less credible rumour ("McDonald's hamburgers contain red worms") did not.  It was the marketing variables (such as frequency of consumption and perceived risk) rather than the socio-demographic variables which affected individual sensitivity.  The purpose of the experiment was hidden from the participants, but they were later debriefed to avoid the diffusion of false rumours.  This paper was important in illustrating yet one more approach that can be usefully employed in the study of contemporary legends.

    Emergent Themes:  The diversity in both topics and approaches stimulated much lively debate and discussion.  Here was a multi-disciplinary gathering of folklorists, psychologists, sociologists, historians journalists and authors, each in our own way searching for the truth behind the legend process.  Being a truly international conference, the informal discussions were often a multi-lingual affair in French, German, Italian and many different accented forms of English.  The impact of Jan Brunvand's popularisation of legend studies was clearly evident in the wonderful array of multi-lingual books on display, most authored by the conference participants, and all charting the spread of contemporary legends around the world.

    Some of the major themes that emerged from the conference discussions:

*We can and should look at the possible historical derivations of contemporary legends, recirculating age-old motifs anew.

*As legend scholars, we should welcome the multiplicity of methodologies.  We need both the detailed case study and wider sociological comparisons.

*Unexpectedly, many papers dealt with personal experience stories, as well as the more familiar friend-of-a-friend accounts.

*The content, distribution, process and popular appeal of the story are more important than whether or not the incident ever happened.  However, the legend scholar has a responsibility to publicly identify what is true or false if this becomes known.

*Issues of definition frequently arose.  One view, though not unanimous, was that we do not need to distinguish between legends and memorates, as the processes are more important than the types of claims.  Gary Butler's "legend complex" was seen as a term which usefully sidesteps the never-ending definitional debates.

The subtitles I have used in this conference review give an indication of my own opinion on the central meanings and functions of many contemporary legends.  I would include here fears of the darker side of life, of personal violence, of untrustworthy technology, of food contaminations, and of an unpredictable and uncontrollable outside world that threatens to undermine the individual's control of his or her own life.  Yet there is also the opposite pole of hilarity, entertainment, one-upmanship, surprise and good luck.  At a deeper level, there is the age-old battle of good versus evil, and the possibility of personal salvation despite the obstacles of everyday life.  From one perspective, contemporary legends could be likened to modern-day parables that both warn and educate.  They are legends that resonate with historical echoes, ultimately deriving their power from age-old motifs that are still relevant in contemporary society.

    The diversity of topics and approaches presented at the Paris conference stimulated a widening of our individual perspectives on the nature and scope of contemporary legends, and how to study them.  I shall look forward to attending future gatherings!


[PH: A version of this report by Mark Moravec was published in Australian Folklore 10 (June 1995).]





Abstract of The "Dying Child's Wish" Complex:  A Case Study of the Relationship Between Reality and Tradition by Anna Elizabeth Kearney Guigné (MA thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland, 1993).

    This thesis is a case study of the relationship of the Dying Child's Wish complex, its related beliefs and associated practices, and "reality."  The nucleus of this complex of narratives and beliefs concerns a little boy (variously named Mario, Craig, Jarrod, Blaine), who is dying from a terminal illness.  His wish is to have his name recorded in The Guinness Book of Records for having collected the greatest number of get-well cards (or alternately postcards, Christmas cards, stamps, hats or other such items).

    Since 1987 four real appeals for world records have been launched using the same means generally associated with contemporary legend -- that is by word of mouth as well as by office technology and the media.  But as the parents soon found out, once an appeal is launched, it became impossible to halt renegade appeals;  the public's response was subsequently overwhelming and irrepressible.  One effect of these renegade appeals was the generation of a quagmire of distorted and missing information, the consequences of which have led to speculation, and the invention and generation of numerous scenarios based on both fact and fiction.

    Using the Craig Shergold appeal as a focus, this thesis explores how textual variation and change in the presentation of information influences individual perceptions regarding both the real and legendary nature of Dying Child appeals.  When a total of 204 texts were individually compared against an Enhanced Baseline Profile of the Shergold Appeal, results showed that all texts but one varied from the reality of the appeal in some major or minor way in terms of both missing information and incorrect information.  A consequence was the generation of numerous scenarios ranging from positive support for the appeal to views of debate and rejection.  Examination of the rhetorical statements and textual changes in texts also showed that perceptions varied considerably from positive support for the Craig Shergold campaign to cynical views that the appeal was less than real.  This in turn led to the creation of a body of "lore" surrounding real appeals and the resulting generation of the Dying Child's Wish complex.

[PH:  Anna Guigné's thesis is available through UMI Dissertations Service; UMI's catalogue number is 0-315-91654.  Their phone number is 800-521-0600.]




Bill Ellis, Penn State Hazelton,  Hazelton, PA, 18201-1291 USA


The British magazine Fortean Times hosted its second "strange phenomena" conference 22-23 April 1995 at the University of London Union.  Following the eclectic interests of Charles Fort, who founded the field of now called Forteana by amassing accounts of strange and unexplained events, speakers were drawn from a wide range of interests, some popular, some academic.  Much of it, however, was scholarly and of considerable interest to folklorists and contemporary legend trackers.

    There were two main themes: the first had to do with persistent rumours that the U. S. Government has evidence that UFOs are extraterrestrial spacecraft but is concealing this from the general public.  Jerome Clark of the Hynek Center for UFO Studies gave a detailed and generally skeptical paper on these rumours, but also summarized on-going research into the still‑unexplained Roswell crash of 1947.  He announced that because of continued pressure on politicians, the General Accounting Office (GAO) had initiated an inquiry to locate and summarize all the (apparently extensive) military paperwork that this incident provoked.  Results should be made public by the end of the summer.

    A second strand discussed evidence for life after death and ranged from anecdotal (best‑selling author Colin Wilson), through spiritualist (Michael Roll, who works with apparition mediums), to rationalist (University of Bristol researcher Susan Blackmore).  Religious matters were discussed in an even‑handed way by Kevin McClure, who gave an extensively researched discussion of the more‑than‑legendary Fatima prophecies, and by Ted Harrison, who summarized the documentable facts behind the medical phenomenon of stigmata.

    A highlight of the meeting was Loren Coleman's detailed reconstruction of the 1958 Bluff Creek "Bigfoot" incidents.  These events, which were responsible for giving the popular name to American humanoids, have been widely summarized but not until now critically examined.  Coleman's talk summarized his article "Was the First 'Bigfoot' a Hoax?" just published in The Anomalist 2 (Spring 1995): 8‑27.  Contemporary letters by cryptozoologist Ivan T. Sanderson and interviews with residents established that the construction crew was employed by a certain Ray Wallace, who had a long‑standing reputation for hoaxes and pranks. Moreover, the road he was constructing was behind schedule, and Wallace needed an excuse for not completing a federal contract.  And a friend of his was known for carving imitation "feet" and engaging in hoaxing contests with Wallace.  Coleman, himself sympathetic to the claim that some humanoid sightings are genuine, nevertheless puts this incident on firm factual footage.  His analysis suggests ways in which we could see events as local folklore that by chance entered national media attention.

    I (Bill Ellis) gave a paper that summarized current work in ostension and suggested ways in which this concept could help us appreciate (if not explain) the puzzling "Frackville Angel" incident of January 1993 (FTN 33‑34:  10‑12).  A delightfully full house attended (over a thousand people paid to attend), and questions showed a keen interest in contemporary folklore as a field that speaks to Forteana.

    The discussions that went on after the papers and over drinks/meals (thanks, thanks, THANKS to all those who paid!) very much supported this scholarly approach.  I'd never met any of the main speakers personally, not even Loren Coleman or Jerome Clark;  I came away hoping that there would be opportunities soon to meet them again.  It was, I felt, a fair opportunity to try out ideas in a setting where people wouldn't be jumping out of the potted palms slashing right and left with Occam's razor, yet also where people wouldn't be asking you to feel their ectoplasm either.

    I'd say UnConvention '95 was on the par with any conference, academic or non‑, that I've attended:  far less stuffy than MLA or CSICOP, a little more playful than AFS or ISCLR.   I encourage, and look forward to continued cooperation between the two camps.





Bill Ellis, Penn State Hazleton, Hazleton PA 18201‑1291 USA


    On 28 February 1995 Sheriff Colin Miller issued a 433‑page report concluding that charges of ritual child abuse held against three South Ayrshire families had not been proven.  Lord Hope, the Lord President and Scotland's senior judge, called the affair "a tragedy of immense proportions" and ordered eight children, held in custody by social workers since 1990, returned to their parents.

    The charges emerged during the summer of 1990 after "EF," a mentally unbalanced woman, had gone to authorities with suspicions that her husband had sexually abused one of her sons.  Doctors examining the children could find no physical sign of abuse, but the woman was moved to a shelter, where she continued to make charges against her husband and other family members.  Her mother‑in‑law was trying to drug the children, she claimed, and she implicated others in a "family ring" of child abusers.  Social workers, sensitized by recent seminars conducted by American "experts" on satanic ritual abuse (SRA), immediately suspected that "black magic practices" were involved.

    EF's three children and five others from related families were immediately removed and intensively interviewed.  A complex and bizarre scenario emerged in which parents, grandparents and other relatives were said to have dressed up in costumes and white hats to assault children sexually and to lock up babies in coffins.  Within weeks, Sheriff Neil Gow concluded that the children had been subjected to "systematic sexual abuse and corruption" and removed them from their parents' custody.  He also took the unusual step of releasing to the press a detailed list of abuses that the children said they had witnessed.

    The parents, however, fought the verdict and gradually forced release of the evidence used against them.  Dr. Anne Sutton, pediatrician at a Glasgow children's hospital, admitted that she had signed a medical report finding that the children had been molested, even though she had not been able to find any physical signs of abuse.  She said she "did not want to upset the relationship between the hospital and the prosecuting authorities and did not want to contradict a senior police surgeon."  Sutton, it developed, had also signed reports saying that children from the "W Family," the focus of the Orkney case, had been sexually abused, even though a colleague had found no signs of abuse.

    Most of the interviews in which children had testified to ritual abuse, it also turned out, had never been taped.  One that had been recorded was conducted by Lynn Gilmour, who claimed to have handled 150 previous cases of child sex abuse, and Liz McLean, a specialist on SRA at the Royal Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty of Children.  McLean played a role in the Orkney SRA case (see FTN 22:1‑3, 24:1‑4, 28:6‑7, 29:8‑9 and ISCLR's Occasional Publication #1: The Orkney Islands SRA Case).  She has since disappeared, leaving behind several thousand pounds of unpaid debts.

    The recorded interview of an 8‑year‑old girl, according to Sheriff Miller's report, shows "appalling" misuse of leading questions and coaching of child witnesses.  Gilmour and McLean are often heard stumbling over each other to encourage the child to implicate her father in sex abuse.  When the child failed to answer a question, the interviewers followed up with long silences and gave inordinate praise when the child began to respond in the "right" way.  "The interview casts very considerable doubts over all the interviewing techniques of Gilmour and McLean," Sheriff Miller concluded.

    As a result of such findings, Lord Hope ordered a rehearing of the case. The inquiry began in December 1993 and heard 103 witnesses over 152 days.  Sheriff Miller's report concluded that, given the balance-of-probabilities standard of proof, he was forced to conclude, "None of the children has been subjected to sexual or physical abuse."

    He conceded: "it is possible that this has been a case of child sexual abuse but any evidence of it has been so ineptly collected and so contaminated ... that it is not possible for me to conclude whether or not [charges against the families] have been proved....  I am left with a sense of frustration in that, while I am driven to being unable to find for the reporter [i.e., the advocate for the social workers] ... and therefore to say that he has failed, I cannot with any certainty come to a view as to the truth of this whole complex, complicated and disturbing case."

    He did not wish to be "over‑critical" of social workers "for their ethos or credo as it was in 1990....   Those who appeared before me were only the foot soldiers.  None of the officers or higher ranks appeared to me to explain their position to me and these foot soldiers inevitably have been left to be the butt of criticism."  Mary Hartnoll, director of social work in the district, called the report "devastating" and promised a quick review.  At the time, she said, satanic ritual abuse was a touchy area, where guidelines were limited and staff poorly trained.  "As social workers, we would have been failing in our duty if we had not acted and followed up on these allegations," she said, adding, "Certainly, with our knowledge now, the investigations would have been done differently."

    One child was returned home immediately;  four children from another family were sent home later in March after visits designed to re‑acquaint them with their parents, whom they had not seen at all since 1990.  Two of EF's children likewise rejoined their parents, but a 10‑year‑old son showed reluctance and was retained in care temporarily.  Mary Hartnoll's official review, issued later in the month, admitted that social workers had proceeded "with an inordinate degree of naïvety and credulousness." However, it also held that they had acted in good faith, without exceeding authority, and that the case was conducted under "detailed and responsible management."  The families' lawyer termed the report "a whitewash instead of an apology."

    Meantime, three Orkney families tried to block the BBC from filming a fictional drama, titled Flowers of the Forest, based loosely on the South Ronaldsay affair.  A BBC source stressed that the plot was not based on any single case but combines details from several SRA investigations.  A fourth family expressed support for the program, saying, "We understand that the play is about the social work profession and the power it wields.  If the play shows the madness that overcame the authorities in those cases, and the damage that was caused to families and children, it will be valuable and could help to protect innocent families in the future."  Filming is scheduled to start this summer.   [Chris Mullinger, "End of a nightmare," The Scotsman, 1 March 1995; John Robertson, "Criticism of 'inept' investigation into allegations," Ibid., 1 March 1995; Kamal Ahmed, "Family split by tragedy of errors," and "Doctor in abuse case admits fault," Scotland on Sunday, 5 March 1995; John Robertson, "Judges back abuse‑case parents," The Scotsman, 7 March 1995; Marcello Mega, "Creditors hunt for social worker," Ibid., 11 March 1995; Kamal Ahmed, "Criticised doctor to advise court on sex abuse case," Ibid., 12 March 1995; David Hartley, "Families seek legal aid to halt BBC Child abuse drama," Ibid., 17 March 1995; John Robertson, "Boy in sex abuse claim case unwilling to return to parents," Ibid., 22 March 1995; Graeme Stewart, "Ayrshire abuse report 'a whitewash.' " Ibid., 23 March 1995.]







Tim Mesarch [], Senior Production     Editor, American Psychological Association

Originally posted on the Forteana News List     (,  2 March 1995.


    In Washington DC last summer [1994], there was a rash of evil clown sightings.  Allegedly, a man dressed as a clown driving a white van attempted to entice children into his vehicle with lures of candy.  There were sightings reported in SE Washington and in Alexandria, if I recall correctly.  According to news reports, police had a license number and talked to the owner of the van, but had nothing on which to press charges.

    The news coverage was unintentionally hilarious, with defensive mothers saying "That clown better not show up in this neighborhood if he knows what's good for him!"  A  young boy who reported seeing the clown told his story to local newscasters, relating how he and some friends saw a white van driving down the street, then stop.  As the back door opened and a clown beckoned, he yelled to his friends, "Run!  It's the clown!" There were also side‑stories on legitimate clowns and how their businesses were suffering in the wake of the hysterical clownophobia.  The sightings occurred for about 2 weeks, then died down.  I put most of the sightings down to low‑level mass hysteria ‑‑ mostly bored kids with nothing to do once school was out.

    On another note regarding the creation of urban legends, a colleague of mine (Blaise Considine, who also posts to this list) has a wife who is a high school teacher in Montgomery County, Maryland.  Her school would order biological supplies (for dissection) from NIH [National Institutes of Health], also located in the county.  Apparently, one of her fellow teachers had traveled to NIH to pick up some fetal lambs or pigs (I forget)  for dissection by her biology class.  She procured the containers (unopened), put them in her trunk, then drove home.  The next morning she drove to school and brought the containers into her class.  During class, she went to open the containers to distribute the fetal lambs, and as she opened the containers for the first time, discovered that what had been packed in the containers was not at all fetal animals, but SEVERED HUMAN HEADS (!!!!!) ready for dissection by med students!  Somehow two shipments had been accidentally mixed up.

    Now if that's not good urban legend fodder, I don't know what is. It's got the FOAF element and everything.  And it's even true; Blaise can confirm it next time he's in the office.




Blaise Considine []

Originally posted on the Forteana Newslist,  2 March 1995.

    Tim [Mesach]  is essentially right in his retelling of the severed heads story, except that even my wife's account is 2nd hand (she was not in the room when it happened).  In a nutshell, my wife's high school science dept gets its supplies from several science suppliers, one of which is the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland.  The science dept had ordered 3 fetal pigs for an advanced biology class. The teacher in question (who does not want this to get out [but of course]) went to NIH to get the pigs.  The next day she was going to prepare them for class, opened the boxes and pulled out a specimen.  On closer inspection, it was a severed human head.  A quick‑thinking student grabbed said head and stuffed it back into the box.  My wife and some of the other science staff entered the room to calm the teacher.  The following day the heads were returned to NIH (I requested she bring one home for me to see ‑‑ she said I wouldn't have had the stomach for it [she went to med school and had spent some time in a Richmond, VA emergency room, so apparently had the stomach for it];  other suggestions were placing one on a stick in front of the school and claiming this is what would happen to problem students [the heads were senior citizens, so that was out] and just burying them out back).  Paint Branch High School no longer gets its supplies from NIH and I assume the inept clerk was sacked after his superior received a letter from the dept head (No pun intended).  Surely this is the stuff of urban legend, except that even my recounting comes 2nd hand.  How can we spread this around and create our own FOAFtale?  Perhaps this is the start...





Originally posted on the Fortean News List, 2 March 1995.

It sounds a lot like the story that circulated in Edinburgh during the nineteenth century Burke & Hare flap.  The local medical school got royally and correctly roasted for accepting dissectable cadavers, no questions asked.  Burke & Hare simply eliminated the middle man by delivering bodies of people who had not passed through the undertaker's hands.  According to one, the medical school was expecting three fresh bodies in unmarked baskets.  The first two had the expected corpses;  the third contained "a fine ham" among other delicacies.  See Ruth Richardson, Death, Dissection and the Destitute  (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1987): 136.



A Canadian Press wirestory entitled "Python Reunited With Owner" appeared in the St. John's Evening Telegram, 20 May 1995.  Datelined Owen Sound, Ontario, it details the story of Sean Wagner's finding a metre-long ball python in his bathroom.   He had moved into the apartment in March 1995 but did not find the python until one day in May while sitting on the toilet;  he saw it balled up (as ball pythons are wont to be) behind the radiator.   Carolyn Huslebet claimed it:  more than five months before it had disappeared unreported from the apartment, then occupied by Huslebet.   In the meantime she moved out and the apartment had remained empty for three months.  "Huslebet could not be reached for comment."





Alan Anderson (  reports the familiar panic about Blue Star tatoos has resurfaced;  it is not clear where, but it seems to have been in Kokoma, Indiana, in the United States.  He posted the following to the usenet group comp.society.folklore on 14 March 1995:

 This just showed up on our local news server:

Subject: Blue star tattoos being sold to school children...

Please distribute.  I don't know how widespread this is occuring, but it is very serious.  I received this information indirectly via Eli Lilly from J. O. Donnell of Danbury Hospital Outpatient Chemical Dependency  treatment services.

"WARNING TO ALL PARENTS: A form of tattoo called Blue Star is being sold to school children.  It's a small piece of paper containing a blue star.  They are the size of a pencil eraser and each is soaked with LSD.  The drug is absorbed through the skin by handling the paper.  There are also brightly colored paper tabs resembling postage stamps that have the pictures of the following:  Mickey Mouse, Superman, Clowns, Disney characters, Butterflies, and Bart Simpson.  Each is wrapped in aluminum foil.  This is a new way of selling acid, by appealing to young children.  If your child gets any of the above.  [sic] DO NOT HANDLE THEM!  These are known to react quickly and some are laced with strychnine.  SYMPTOMS:  Halluncinations, severe vomiting, uncontrolled laughter, mood changes and change in body temperature...  This is very serious -- young lives have already been taken!..."

It was of course immediately identified as an urban legend.  I've seen it every couple of years for almost a decade, and I wonder if this is based on real event and just won't die, or if it's the product of someone's sick imagination.

Just in case it was something real, I checked with our local police department's narcotics group, and they haven't heard any reports of these tattoos.  Of course.



Ted Daniels (of  the Millennial Prophecy Report, Box 34021, Philadelphia PA 19101-4021) sends the following, summarised from the Brother Stair, The Overcomer newsletter, published by the Faith Cathedral Fellowship, Inc. (Box 296, Route 2, Walterboro South Carolina 29488, in the United States).

    Bro. Stair ("the last day prophet of God") shares some experiences from the listeners and readers.  These exceptional appearances have been taken to be angelic visitations;  Bro. Stair will neither confirm nor deny.

    A "Christian worker" felt compelled to pick two hitchhikers up.  When she asked them if they believed Jesus would come again, they were unequivocally positive, and asserted that it would be sooner than anyone expected.  She looked in her rear-view mirror, and behold!  They were gone.

    When Stair told this story to a friend in California, he heard from him of another incident in Atlanta, near a famous interchange called "Spaghetti Junction."  Fifteen people in that city reported knowing about the incident, but Bro. Stair never did locate its source.  In this story the compulsion was so strong that the driver left the freeway, went back to the previous entrance, and retraced her route, even though she was convinced that the hitchhiker would be gone.  Events proceeded as above, and she felt constrained to pull off the road until she regained her composure.  A police officer stopped, and she reluctantly told him her story.  He said hers was the seventh report he'd heard that day.

    While Stair was trying to investigate that one, he heard of yet another.  This one happened in Tennessee, though his informant was again a Californian.  In this instance he managed to trace the source:  one Vincent Tan, described as an "analytical chemist" and a good Christian whose probity is vouched for by two Christian leaders.

    His visitation occurred Friday, 26 March 1993, as Vincent was leaving work at 1:30 am.  As he locked the door he saw someone standing next to the passenger door of his car.  This bothered him, since there had been reports of criminal activity in the area.  Though the person appeared "clean-cut,"  Mr. Tan felt constrained to retreat into the building and pray.  He asked God whether he ought to use a martial art called "chi-sao" against the apparent intruder.  It's not reported how The Father replied, but Vincent picked up a metal bar which he hid, reopened the door, and called, "Hi, can I help you?"

    The stranger replied, "Hi, Vincent."

          "Do I know you?"

          "Not really."

          "What is your name?  Who are you?" Vincent probed.

    The stranger replied that he knew the names of Vincent's "primary and secondary" schools, and told him he didn't need to use chi-sao or the rod he held.

    This set Vincent back a bit, since no one in this country knew he was adept at the martial art, nor could this stranger have seen his metal rod.  He later reflected also that the stranger used the terminology familar from Singapore ("primary and secondary") to describe his schools, and knew that he had attended St. Gabriel's there.  This meant that the stranger was the Angel Gabriel, he thought.

    The stranger wouldn't say how he knew so much, but assured Vincent that his ailing mother was actually in good health.  He then gave his message about Jesus' imminent return, and asked for a cup of water.  Vincent turned away for a moment, then turned back to ask the stranger inside the building to get it, and he was gone.

    As he was driving home, Vincent began to wonder whether the experience might not have been a dream.  When he returned later, he found the rod where he had left it.  Proof positive to his scientific mind.

    He prayed for guidance, wrote a detailed account of the experience, and later dreamed it over in vivid detail which he found matched his earlier account.

    Vincent has had a similar encounter since, this time with an unnamed angel.  The apparition was not a hitchhiker, but a stranded motorist.  Vincent was wary of stopping, but felt the Lord lead him to do it.  The driver, apparently a man in his seventies, asked Vincent to get his (brand-new, following an earlier account) jumper cable from his truck.  The "Man" connected his end in pitch blackness with no light.  Then Vincent discovered that this apparition had chocked his tires, when Vincent had not mentioned that he planned to do so.

    Vincent had had a lot of questions he wanted to ask the next time he saw an angel but a "force" made him keep them to himself.  The stranger led Vincent in a prayer for help when Jesus comes, which was to be soon.  He made a remark that showed he knew about Vincent's dreams, and odd things that had happened to him.  He then read from Matthew 24, turning instantly to the precise page, and found other verses as easily.  Everything he read had to do with the Second Coming.

    Then, when his battery was recharged, the man drove off with Vincent following.  The truck vanished in rounding a curve.



Just in case you're wondering how those stories get started, you may be interested in an advertisement that ran in the July 1994 issue of Philadelphia Magazine (p. 114).  The ad was for a restaurant called Szechuan Palace and claimed "...this authentic Chinese restaurant has been serving the area for 13 years.  Dishes of fresh fish, beef, children & pork are prepared with fresh Chinese vegetables and authentic Chinese sauces."




Bill Ellis contributes the following which he took from a posting to the Forteana News List, (forteana@PrimeNet.Com) 16 May 1995.


From: (Queensland, Australia)

Subject: Bill Gates is the devil and Muttonbird Slaughter

From an anonymous message to the internet, via Comic Relief No.76, p. 4 :

Warning! Bill Gates (president of Microsoft) may be the next Antichrist.  Revelation 13:18 says, "Let anyone who has intelligence work out the number of the beast, for the number represents a man's name, and the numerical value of its letters is six hundred and sixty‑six."  [Actually this sounds more like the beginning of Iron Maiden's "Number of the Beast" than the passage in my bible, but I digress. - Darben]  Bill Gates' full name is William Henry Gates III. Nowadays he is known as Bill Gates (111).  By converting the letters of his current name to their ASCII values, you get the following:

    BILLGATES3, 66+73+76+76+71+65+84+69+83+3=666.

Daniel 7:23 says, "The explanation he gave was this: 'The fourth beast signifies a fourth kingdom which will appear on earth.  It will differ from the other kindoms; it will devour the whole earth, treading it down and crushing it.'"  Current history knows three Antichrists: Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin and the Pope.  Is the fourth beast the Microsoft Corp., which represents the power of money?


[Only fly in the ointment:  neither "3" nor "III" has the numerical value "3" in ASCII, throwing the final count off.   And I thought Bill Clinton was at least one of the Antichrists at last count.   Or was it Reagan?   Or Gorbachev? ‑‑BE ]



"Impotency drug lasts and lasts" (Reuter wire story),  Evening Telegram (St. John's, Newfoundland), 28 November 1994,

p. 2:

   JERUSALEM -- An Israeli undergoing treatment for impotence was hospitalized after a serum he injected at home produced a 36-hour erection, a doctor said Sunday.

   "Some patients go with an erection for as many as four hours but we have never seen an incident like this," said Dr. Eliyahu Goren of Assaf Harofeh Hospital in central Israel.

  Doctors alleviated the condition by drawing blood from the penis and discharged the man after a three-day stay.




   The Guardian (Tues 14 July 1987), p.3, reported a ban by the Independent Television Authority in Britain on religous educational videos, particularly of six cartoons by the American company Hanna-Barbera.




   A company in Middlesex  (The Original Tooth Fairy Ltd) has offered to set in silver or gold children's teeth, taken by tooth fairies.  "It can make a unique and treasured gift for relations, God Mothers and even the original owner!" the circular states.  [I received this with no documentation, so I cannot tell how old it is;  it may date from the mid-1980s. - PH]



   A fictional story by Ivy Titchen, "Perfect Match," was published in Weekend (apparently a British tabloid) (22-28 Dec 1982): 13.  It is based on the motif of a husband buying a vase matching his own only to find out it was his own, sold earlier by his wife.  Shades of the Magi.  [contributed by Paul Smith]



"Cubans forced to eat cats"  (Associated Press wire story), Evening Telegram, 16 Nov 1994, p. 36.  Datelined Ponce, Puerto Rico, the story quotes Nora Garcia, "head of the private Cuban Association for the Protection of Animals," that Cubans are finding dietary supplementation  to the strict rations by eating cats.  The new custom of catching and and killing cats has led to a boom in the rat population in Havana.






Alison Clayton (

Originally posted to Forteana News List, 11 May 1995


This was on the front page of my local freebie newspaper, the Hemel Hempstead, Berkhamsted and Tring Express, Friday, 28 April 1995: 


    "Fresh concern follows second house call by 'bogus' health visitor.  New mums are being warned to beware following a house call by a bogus health visitor last week.

    "Police fear it was an attempt to snatch an eight week old baby girl in St Albans ‑ just ten weeks after a similar scare in Bovingdon. 

    "Now medical staff are looking into the possibility that both babies could have been born at Hemel Hempstead Hospital.  If it proves to be the case, there are fears there may be a link between the incidents and that the phoney health visitor could be collecting confidential information illegally.

    "She struck in St Albans when a 29‑year old mum became suspicious of a woman at the door and demanded identification.  After the bogus health visitor became agitated and walked off, the mum called her GP surgery and was told no one was due to visit her and there was no one of that name working in the area. 

    "The mother then called the police who say there was a similar incident the day before in Harlesden. 

    "In February a Bovingdon mother of a newborn baby received a phone call from a woman who said she wanted to make an appointment to visit.

    "But the mum had misgivings about the stranger's tone of voice and the fact she didn't recognise the name and when she called her GP surgery it was confirmed the woman had been an impostor.

    "Elaine Fisher who is a primary care manager for West Herts Community Health NHS Trust said, 'We are urging all mothers to insist on asking health vivitors for identification because we believe it is vital, particularly at the moment.'

    "Police have described the bogus health visitor in St Albans as a white woman aged 40 to 45 years, 5ft 6ins tall of medium build with short brown curly hair and narrow brown eyes. 

    "She was wearing gold stud earrings and a beige trench-style raincoat, and is said to have a local accent."


p.s. It wasn't until I re‑typed this that I realised what dreadful grammar it has and how there's a distinct lack of meaty detail, as if the journalist has heard the story down the pub, second hand...   Oh well!



Arthur Goldstruck (

Box 93309, Yeoville 2143, Johannesburg, South Africa


[In early 1995 there was some discussion on the computer discussion list FOLKLORE about the South African hobgoblin known as Pinky-Pinky.  In response to a query, Arthur Goldstruck posted the following on 2 February 1995.]

I've been researching Pinky-Pinky, and will post my findings once I have something substantial.  This is an interim summary:  First reported at "white" schools in Johannesburg suburbs around September 1993,  it suddenly broke out at "black" schools in Pretoria townships in September 1994.  There was a big fuss in the newspapers and it was seen as an exclusively "black" experience.  The creature is half-male, half-female, half-human, half-animal  (with cat-like features on half of its face).  It is short and hairy, wears a dress along one side and trousers along the other, can be seen only by children, hangs around in school toilets, and is partial to girls with pink panties (hence "Pinky-Pinky").    Best explanation I've had:  it's a manifestation of examination tension, since it appears as schools start gearing up for end-of-year examinations, which in South Africa are a big deal as they decide whether you progress to the next schooling level.  It is related to the Tokolosh (which I discussed in my recent book on urban legends in the South African elections).



The "Hourly News" on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's radio service, 7:30 am NST, 31 January 1995, carried a report from their reporter Dick Gordon in Delhi, India.  Gordon reported that a kidney theft ring had been broken in Bangalore.  Two doctors at Bangalore's Victoria Hospital have been arrested in a scam that booked "blood donors" into the hospital, letting them go sometime later -- minus a kidney.  Gordon reported the value of a kidney on the Bangalore market is up to $2000. 

The story made it several weeks later to newspapers:  see for instance the story "Indian Police Find..." in this issue's "Recent Publications."  -PH]



William Hansen of Bloomington, Indiana, sends the following story clipped in April 1995 from the Bloomington Herald Times.  Entitled "Militia spots U.N. plot in state highway signs," it is an Associated Press story datelined Evansville, Indiana.

    Dots on state highway signs have inspired complaints by militia groups and spurred transportation officials to speed up plans to change the markings.

    Some militia groups say the reflective dots of various colors, found on the backs of signs, are designed to guide United Nations soldiers when they invade the United States to impose a "one-world" regime.

    "We've had threats from people who say they're going to pull down the signs," Maria Kalnbach, a spokeswoman for the Indiana Department of transportation, said Monday.

    Kalnbach said the dots actually indicate the age of road signs, which must be replaced periodically as their reflective materials age.  "The signs have a reflectivity life of seven years.  Our responsibility is to keep track of what their age is, so that we know when to replace them," she said.

    The state has planned to update the signs for some time, but Kalnbach says those plans were accelerated after the department began receiving the telephone threats.

    Indiana's six state-highway districts have their own codes, and some use colors to indicate the year the sign was installed.        Under the state's new system, the markings would be black and white and use numbers to indicate a sign's age.

[PH:  Readers will be interested that this rumour is also reported by Ted Daniels in his January 1995 issue of Millenmial Prophecy Report (III:7, p. 65).  He found it in a brochure from the American Freedom Network of Canton Mississippi.   The brochure asserts that "four massive crematoriums with their gas chambers and guillotines [are] ready to go" when the New World Order elites take over.   Says Daniels,  "It seems also there are mysterious blue and red marks on the backs of road signs.  They mark the way to these depots of doom. . . .  Actually, I recently noticed in upstate New York some cryptic black and white markings on the back of road signs. . . .   It was some time before I decided what they were:  instructions to line-painting crews on when to change their patterns.  At first this was conjecture, but observation showed a perfect match." ]



In the last issue of FTN (36: 13) we reported an article in Tutte Storie 4:7 about "kefir," a yogourt-like culture being passed from friend to friend in northern Italy, and the beliefs associated with it.  A discussion appeared in April on FOLKLORE (the email discussion group) focussed on shared yeasts and fungi in the Kentucky area.    Erika Brady ( said the Kentucky state board of health has issued a press release regarding the practice.  (FOLKLORE News List, 3 April 1995).  See also the article about kambucha tea by Martin Booe noted in Recent Publications, below.



Brian Rice (

Originally posted on newsgroup alt.folklore.urban, 1 March 1995


The old "woman backs into portable movie screen, its catch releases and the screen pulls up her dress" chestnut is repeated as fact in the current issue of Courtyard Club Notes,  a pointless newsletter sent to people who are frequently obliged to stay at "Courtyard by Marriott" hotels.  The story was sent in by "the Rev. Dale C. of Holland, Mich.," who claimed that he saw the incident at the Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. I seem to remember reading this one in a 50's‑vintage Art Linkletter book of my parents', even with the same framing: before the mishap, the woman says "Let me share a few things about myself"; and afterwards someone remarks "I think we know you a lot better already."

Thanks, Rev.

(Contributed by Alan Mays)



In the last issue (FTN 36: 9) we had some references to a recent spate of pets reportedly carried off by birds of prey.  The following clipping, received from Dr. J. L. Cambell, Isle of Canna, is a letter to The Scotsman in 1955 (presumably early June):

            The Owls and the Pussycat

                Broughton, June 2, 1955

Sir, -- I was working on the drive leading up to the house at a point where it is overhung by a large chestnut tree, when I heard the starlings making a great noise, but did not pay attention, as I knew they had a nest there.  But when I heard an owl give a peculiar cry I looked up.

    My cat, a tom weighing 12 lbs, was lying on one of the boughs 15 feet above the ground.  I was just in time to see a big owl come out of a hole higher up the tree and pounce on the cat.  At the same time another owl came out of a tree on the other side of the drive and also pounced on the cat.   The cat clung to the bough, but by gripping the loose skin of his back, the owls managed to dislodge him and fly off with him, his tail going round and round and his legs kicking frantically.

    The owls were too close together to be able to fly properly, but carried the cat a measured distance of 22 yards and gained height before they dropped him.  He fell on his feet and dashed under the nearest bush.  The cat had several tufts of hair pulled out, but was unhurt:  the owls' claws had not broken his skin.

    The cat was very frightened but recovered the next day.  He followed me down the drive without hesitation and with no apparent recollection of what had happend to him the previous day.

                            (sgd.) W.D.E.


[See also the article noted in Recent Publications, below, by Rajiv Chandrasekaran, on vulture attacks in Virginia, USA.  In Ralph Whitlock's bi-weekly column of 28 May 1995 in the Manchester Guardian Weekly he repeats the Lake Ontario reports (which were noted in the last issue of FTN) of great horned owls, tamed by human contact, attacking and carrying away pets,  including a Jack Russell terrier  ("Strange goings-on,"  p. 38).  - PH]



The St. John's Evening Telegram (6 May 1995, p. 56) carried a Reuter story datelined London, "Search for 'mystery beast' to go on."  Officials and experts are continuing their investigation into reports of cats that "resemble panthers, pumas and other animals" mangling farm and domestic animals on Bodmin Moor.  "Experts believe up to thirty big cats may be running wild in sparsely populated areas across Britain.  Some could have escaped from private zoos and others may have been pets who were released when they got too big."

    Of related interest is a television show in preparation for Channel Four (U.K.) on the topic of these cats and scheduled for broadcast this year.  (Perhaps it's already been aired.)  According to Richard Ranft ("Calls of the Wild," Playback: Bulletin of the National Sound Archive 9, Autumn 1994, which included a couple of photos) recordings in the U.K. National Sound Archive have been assisting researchers for the programme.  [PH]


And Bill Ellis contributes the following from Forteana News List.

It was originally posted by D. Arben, Queensland, Australia, 24 March 1995 (


While we're on the subject of cats, heard an almost certainly apocryphal FoaF on the radio yesterday (presented as news, so it must be true :). It concerns a mother who was always telling her daughter that if she prayed hard enough, Jesus might send her a cat (bugger it, worth a try). One day whilst having a picnic in some parkland near a church, both mother and daughter were rather startled to have a cat sail through the air and land in their hamper.  The rather shaken cat seemed to have come from the direction of the church. When the woman enquired of the vicar as to the possible source of the cat, he rather shamefacedly admitted that the cat had climbed a tree and, in an effort to get it down, he tied a rope from the tree to his car and slowly drove off. Something broke and the mog was (wait for it) catapulted (groan) through the air to land in the hamper. I take no responsibility for the veracity (or lack thereof) of this story. Anyone heard more?   [BE: See J. H. Brunvand, Curses! Broiled Again!  (NY: Norton, 1989): 162.]






Theo Meder and Eric Venbrux

Dept of Folklore, P. J. Meertens-Institute,

Royal Netherlands Academy of Sciences,

P. O. Box 19888, 1000 GW Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Fax: +31-20-6240639;  email:


    We would like to enquire about a FOAFtale in the making.  The story, dealing with "false teeth", has its origin in The Netherlands but has been broadcast and published in newspapers and popular magazines all over the world.  We are currently researching this tale and in order to trace its global distribution we would like to ask for your help.

    The story that could be called The False Teeth in the Cod runs as follows:  in the beginning of September 1994, a Dutchman went out fishing to the North Sea for a day.  He became seasick and had to vomit.  In the process his upper denture dropped into the sea.  Almost three months later, another man took a fishing trip with the same boat.  At the spot where the false teeth had been lost to the waves this man caught a huge cod.  In cleaning the fish, using his knife, the man found an upper denture inside the cod.  The remarkable discovery of false teeth within a fish was broadcast by a local station.  The man who had lost his false teeth heard about it.  He made himself known.  Thereupon, accompanied by a newsreporter, he went to see the other man.  It turned out the upper denture fitted him perfectly!  No doubt, the false teeth were his...

    A national newspaper (the Telegraaf) had a photograph taken of the two men, the latter holding his false teeth.  We have been told this photograph was sold to an international newsagency (AP) and shown by CNN.  The event of the return of the false teeth is said to have been reported -- by radio, television and newspapers -- in the USA (San Francisco in particular), the UK ("it was on the BBC"), Ireland, Australia, Egypt, Greece, France, Spain, Germany and probably a great many other countries as well.

    We would like to ask you if, and if so, where and when, you have heard about the story or read about it.  We would be grateful to receive newspaper clippings, references to where and when and in what (radio or television) programme the story has been recounted, and reports of this or a similar story being orally transmitted.  Furthermore, we would be very grateful for any information with regard to FOAFtales, stories and jokes dealing with "false teeth" or, more in general of objects lost into the sea and being returned in a fish or otherwise.  We are aware that our story in some way resembles the Aarne-Thompson type 736A ("The Ring of Polycrates").  The following published FOAFtales concerning "false teeth" are already known to us: "The Wrong Teeth" in Jan Harold Brunvand, The Mexican Pet, p. 87;  "Het kunstgebit" [="The False Teeth"] in Peter Burger, De wraak van de kangoeroe, pp. 91-92; and Stefaan Top, "Modern Legends in the Belgian Oral Tradition," FTN 17 (1990), p. 5.

    For those of you who think there's something fishy about this "False Teeth in the Cod" story, let us assure you:  there is!

 [Fortean Times 80: 45 carries the famous photograph.  Stories abound in the traditional culture of Newfoundland about objects found in the stomachs of large cod.  These range from watches and spoons lost overboard to souvenirs of ships wrecked in the area.  One story tells of a rabbit hunter finding false teeth in an otherwise never-used bit of woods. The explanation in the story runs thus:  the teeth fell overboard and were gobbled up by a fish which was later caught by a bird which carried the fish ashore, dropping it on the isolated spot  where, after the fish disintegrated, the teeth were found.   This story is in the Barrelman Papers, Centre for Newfoundland Studies Archives, Memorial University of Newfoundland.   Several stories tell of wedding rings found.   -PH]



Michael Max McLaughlin is interested in Folklore and the deaf community.  If any reader knows of studies of folklore of the deaf, especially their legends, please contact Mr. McLaughlin at

    44 Schneider Avenue


    Ontario N2G 1K8





Pierre Lagrange (

Centre de Sociologie de l'Innovation, Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Mines;  62, boulevard Saint‑Michel; 75272 Paris, FRANCE

Phone: (33‑1) 40 51 91 91;  fax:  43 54 56 28


    On 24 June 1947 Kenneth Arnold, a businessman and private pilot from Boise, Idaho, saw nine strange‑looking aircraft while flying in the vicinity of Mount Rainier, in the U.S. state of Washington.  He is at the origin of the "flying disk" controversy because he was the first person whose sightings of strange aircraft received wide media publicity.

    I am a sociologist investigating the very beginning of the flying disk debate, and would appreciate it if you could refer me to any sources that would answer the following questions.

*  Is Mount Rainier famous for legends or reports of anomalies?  Are there stories about this place similar to those regarding Mount Shasta in California (where divine beings from "The Great White Brotherhood" were reported to appear from the late 1920s on)?

*  Do you know if similar stories of strange phenomena were reported near or above Mount Rainier (and the area generally) before June 1947?  I know there have been Bigfoot sightings in this area (e.g., "Ape Canyon" of Mount St. Helens), but are other sorts of strange happenings reported there?

*  Could any other strange stories circulating among pilots during the time have influenced Arnold?  I doubt that he was interested in strange phenomena before his sighting, but he could have heard stories when meeting other pilots. Was the Pacific Northwest in any way suspected in rumour or legend of being the theatre of strange aerial events or military experiments?

I would be grateful for any help you or your contacts could provide. 





Contemporary Legend 3 contained a review of Demons, Doctors and Aliens.  As a result of that review we received the following letter (addressed to Paul Smith, Editor of CL) from Michael Shoemaker of the International Fortean Organization (INFO):

    Dear Dr. Smith,

    Thank you for sending us a copy of the review of Demons, Doctors, and Aliens.  However, despite statements to the contrary in DDA and in its ads, the claim that INFO is the publisher is false, both practically and legally speaking.  The publication was done by a cabal of three members without the knowledge or authorization of the INFO board of directors.  This fact has been documented both in the March 1993 board of directors' letter to the membership and in the editorial in The INFO Journal #70 (January 1994).  In May 1993, INFO agreed to forward orders to the actual publisher, Ray Manners, for a reasonable period, so as not to inconvenience INFO's friends.  At that time, Ray Manners agreed to remove all INFO identification from future ads or reprints.  After six months, in November 1993, at a time when no more orders were being received, we ceased to forward orders as a result of the fact that Mr. Manners had moved without giving us his return address.  The occasional orders that we still receive are returned to the sender with an explanation that INFO is not the publisher.

    We would appreciate it, and it would safeguard the credibility of Contemporary Legend, if you would publish a correction noting that INFO is not the publisher of DDA and cannot fill orders for it.


                                    Michael T. Shoemaker, Secretary,








    Not recent, but still a useful reference:  Russell Jones, The Eat a Pet Cookbook (Edmonton, Alberta: Plains Publishing, 1988) includes about two dozen whimsical recipes such as Goldfish Gumbo, Chihuahua Chili, and Ferret Flambé along with cartoon drawings.



    Fortean Times 79 announced that a usenet forum for Forteans has been set up as alt.misc.forteana and that an email-based Forteana News List has been organized at the address (a message "subscribe forteana" will get you on board).  [I subscribed to Forteana for about 24 hours in early May and found my mailbox accumulated three dozen postings in that time:   if you've time to read that much email, subscribe. - PH].  Also included in the issue are a bleeding statue of Mary in Wicklow (p. 15), Chinese yeti (16), John Heymer's continuing examination of spontaneous human combustion (40-44), and more.  Fortean Times 80 has a variety of "not just folklore" microwaved pets and children, as well as a documented alligator-in-a-sewer and a snake-in-a-potted-plant (p. 18).  A satanic cannibalistic group makes news in Buenos Aires (17).  Bob Rickard discusses claims since the 1940s of alien bodies in storage (22-26).  The spate of strange wild cat sightings in Britain is documented by Paul Sieveking (37-43).  The teeth-in-the-cod story queried on p. 12 of this FTN is noted, with a photo (45).  And Paul Sieveking presents an overview of recent investigations into vampire beliefs in New England in the 19th century, including discussion of folklorist Michael Bell's work (46-47).

    Interesting!: A Compilation of Things I Find Interesting is a 28 pp newsletter produced by Richard J. Sagal (Box 1069, Bangor, ME 04402-1069, USA;  $3 per issue) including choice bits culled from many sources:  'zines, photocopylore, and letters.  Issue 2 (late 1994) includes an article entitled "A Spiritist Speaks About Spontaneous Human Combustion", another on Holocaust denials, and at least two, maybe four, photocopylore items ("Proofreading Rules", "Guide to Safe FAX" and others).

    Millennial Prophecy Report  (from Ted Daniels, Box 34021, Philadelphia, PA 19101-4021 USA; email: reports in the January 1995 issue on recent events with the Solar Temple, and several "one-world" groups.  As noted elswhere in this issue, there is also a note about the current belief among some American groups that some highway-sign markings are secret instructions to invading military groups.

    MPR 4/1 (April 1995) is the first of the new quarterly format of MPR, somewhat larger than before.  It includes an article about the Japanese group Aum Shinrikyo (implicated in the sarin subway attack in Tokyo) and the Japanese rumours abounding about them,  and another about the Phildelphia-based Old Ship of Zion Christian group, led by Bishop Nathan Giddings who preaches "politically-impaired Biblical rant about women and sex, and ... 12th century cosmology."

    News of the Weird/View from the Ledge are publications (six-weekly compilations of weekly scripts for radio and a quarterly summary respectively) of Chuck Shepherd (Box 8306, St. Petersburg, Florida 33738 United States of America) and copyright United Press Syndicate.  Shepherd reports in NotW 34 (February 1995) that a tanning salon operator was found to be within the law in Missouri in videotaping his nude patrons and that in Tokyo a hexing kit has been recently marketed to school-children and housewives.   In NotW 35 (March 1995) he reports that cockpit transcripts of an Aeroflot jet that crashed  last summer showed the presence of the pilot's children, one of whom asked at the last moment "Daddy, can I turn this?"  [Shades of Challenger jokes...] 

    Promises and Disappointments,  is published quarterly by Kevin McLure, 42 Victoria Road, Mount Charles, St. Austell, Cornwall PL25 4QD, United Kingdom, at £7.50 p.a. in the U.K., £9 in the rest of Europe and $18 in the rest of the world.  Issue two (no date, but late 1994 or early '95) contains articles on alien abduction (including one comparing it to 19th century English West Country reports of being pixy-led), anomalous lights, memory and suggestion, a recent split in the British psychic community, and a listing of what's in recent publications on similar topics.

    Revista de Investigaciones Folklóricas 9 (diciembre de 1994) (published by the Fundación Argentina de Antropología, Buenos Aires; ISSN 0327-0734) includes Martha Blache, "Una leyenda contemporánnea a través de la communicación y la massmediática,"  (pp. 74-79, with a one paragraph abstract on p. 8: 

'A Contemporary Legend Through Oral and Massmediatic Communication.'  Legends about the kidnapping of children related to clandestine networks of organ transplants are widespread throughout Latin America, although generally such stories have been neglected by folklorists in this area.  Among the few studies devoted to such legends there is one that considers how they appeared in the international media.  Another one demonstrates that stories with similar function and motifs have circulated since the 16th century in the oral tradition of the Andean region of South America.  Some considerations are presented showing that a folkloric approach to these legends could provide an enlightening perspective of the socio-economic structure that supports them.

    This is True (formerly This Just In) is an email-distributed, copyrighted collection of odd bits chosen from news services and newspapers by Randy Cassingham.   They include scattered bits of legend-related material.  It is distributed once a week free-of-charge to Internet addresses.  It comes with a solid copyright warning; it is also sold to radio stations and and the like.  To subscribe, email to with the simple message "subscribe this-is-true" (no quotes).

    Tomb With a View is a new newsletter with the subtitle "A monumental experience."  It is published quarterly by Katie Karrick ($US15.00 p.a. from 2568 Overlook Road Suite #2, Cleveland Heights, Ohio 44106, U.S.A.)  "This is a newsletter about cemeteries, plain and simple ... to expand your knowledge of cemetery art, history, [and] horticultural and social mores of the past."  Besides a calendar of events regarding cemeteries in the northeast United States, vol 1, no 1 (Spring 1995) has an interview with cemetery manager and photographer Patrick Corrigan.






   We are interested in publications on any topic relevant  to contemporary legends, 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 Alan E. Mays, Heindel Library, Penn State Harrisburg, 777 W. Harrisburg Avenue, Middletown, PA 17057-4898 United States of America.   English abstacts of work in other languages would be appreciated.

   Items starred (*) are housed in a file in one of the editors' office and can be made available to qualified scholars for reference.  Books and articles from major publishers or standard journals are not normally starred.


   Ancelet, Barry Jean.  Cajun and Creole Folktales: The French Oral Tradition of South Louisiana.  Jackson:  University Press of Mississippi, 1994.  [Sections on legendary tales, historical tales, and jokes.]

*  Anderson, Dale.  "Professor Honored for Book on Satanism."  Buffalo News (5 Feb. 1995): Local, 4.  [Jeffrey Victor receives the H.L. Mencken Award for Satanic Panic.]

   Barrick, Mac E.  "Lewis the Robber:  A Pennsylvania Folk Hero in Life and Legend."  Foreword by Simon J. Bronner.  Midwestern Folklore 20 (Fall 1994): 69-138.

*  Beck, Ernest.  "In Gloomy Hungary, Suicide Takes on a Life of Its Own."  Wall Street Journal (10 March 1995): A1, A11.  [Hungarian song, "Gloomy Sunday," causes suicides.]

*  Belknap, Timothy.  "Why the Lion Is King in Vermont."  Business Week (10 Oct. 1994): 8.  [The elusive Vermont catamount, sighted recently in the state after an absence of over 100 years, has inspired product names like Catamount Amber Beer.]

   Bennett, John.  The Doctor to the Dead:  Grotesque Legends and Folk Tales of Old Charleston.  Columbia:  University of South Carolina Press, 1995 [1946].

*  Biffle, Kent.  "Urban Legends Play Off and Dispel Society's Fears."  Dallas Morning News (30 April 1995): 45A.  [J. Rhett Rushing discusses contemporary legends.]

Blache, Martha.  "Una leyenda contemporánnea a través de la communicación y la massmediática,"  Revista de Investigaciones Folklóricas 9 (dic. 1994):  74-79 (abstract p. 8).  [Child abduction and organ theft legends in historical and social context.]

*  Booe, Martin.  "Kombucha:  A Fungus among Us."  Washington Post (26 Dec. 1994): B1, B3.  [Miraculous health claims for kombucha tea, fermented from starter passed along from person to person.]

*  Born, Matthew.  "Cruel April Suffers Fools Gladly."  The European (31 March-6 April 1995): 5.  [April Fools' Day pranks, including a widely believed "European Commission directive to license garden gnomes."]

*  Boulware, Jack.  "Two-Headed Babies and Talking Fish."  The Nose, no. 26 (Jan.-Feb. 1995): 45.  [Interview with Bob Rickard of Fortean Times.]

*  "Bra Had Something Weird Inside It--65 Baby Snakes."  Orlando Sentinel (20 Jan. 1995): A10.  [Woman smuggles snakes to Sweden in her bra.]

*  Brinkley, Alan.  "When Thomas Met Sally."  Newsweek (3 April 1995): 70-71.  [Longstanding rumors of Thomas Jefferson's liaisons with slave Sally Hemings form the basis of the new movie, Jefferson in Paris.]

*  Brogan, Kathleen.  "American Stories of Cultural Haunting:  Tales of Heirs and Ethnographers."  College English 57 (1995): 149-65.  [Ghosts in African American literature.]

   Brunvand, Jan Harold.  "'Lights Out!':  A Faxlore Phenomenon."  Skep-tical Inquirer 19 (March-April 1995): 32-37. [Gang initiation rumours.]

*  Burnside, Mary Wade.  "Do Civil War Dead Haunt Battlefields?"  Sunday Gazette Mail (19 March 1995): 1E.  [U.S. Civil War ghosts.]

*  Bush, Trudy.  "On the Tide of Angels."  Christian Century 112 (1 March 1995): 236-37.  [Recent popularity of angels.]

*  Candori, Teresa.  "Protest against Conference of States Canceled."  [Harrisburg, PA] Evening News (24 March 1995): B1.  [William Cooper's antigovernment conspiracy theories.]

   Cantwell, Alan, Jr.  AIDS and the Doctors of Death:  An Inquiry into the origin of the AIDS Epidemic.  (Los Angeles: Aries Rising, 1988).  ["The only book that clearly explains why AIDS is a man-made epidemic produced by a genetically-engineered, laboratory-produced virus." -  blurb] *  Chandrasekaran, Rajiv.  "A Black Cloud over Virginia Farmers."  Washington Post (8 April 1995): H1, H2.  [Black vultures attack pets and livestock; cf. FTN 33-34: 13-15.]

*  Chase, Neal.  "The End Is Nearish!"  Harper's Magazine (Feb. 1995): 22-23.  [Series of failed apocalyptic predictions by a Montana religious group.]

*  Coates, James.  "Michelangelo's Bark Still Worse Than Its Bite."  Chicago Tribune (7 March 1995): Business, 1.  [Michelangelo computer virus warnings.]

   Cohen, Edmund D.  "Harold Camping and the Stillborn Apocalypse."  Free Inquiry 15 (Winter 1995): 35-40.  [Failed prediction that the world would end in Sept. 1994.]

*  Colton, David.  "Comic Twist to Apocryphal 'Legends'."  USA Today (22 Dec. 1994): 4D.  [Review of The Big Book of Urban Legends.]

*  Coughlin, Ellen K.  "Recollections of Childhood Abuse."  Chronicle of Higher Education (27 Jan. 1995): A8-A9, A16.  [Debate over the validity of recovered memories of childhood abuse.]

*  _____.  "Support Group for Accused Parents Plays Key Role in Memory Dispute."  Chronicle of Higher Education (27 Jan. 1995): A9, A16.  [The False Memory Syndrome Foundation.]

*  "Countdown to Systems Crash."  Newsweek (24 April 1995): 8.  [Date changeover at turn of the century will cause errors in computer systems.]

*  Crawshaw, Steve.  "Court Says Black Humour Is Nothing New."  The Independent (14 Jan. 1995): Europe, 10.  [The German short film Schwarzfahrer (Black Rider), about a black man who eats a white woman's bus ticket after she insults him, prevails in a lawsuit over plagiarism.]

*  Davidson, Keay."  Urban Legend: Disturbing Facts Amid Fiction."  San Francisco Examiner (5 May 1995): A-2.  [Patricia Turner comments on African American legends in the film Panther.]

*  Davis, Erik.  "Solar Temple Pilots."  Village Voice (25 Oct. 1995): 33-34.  [Apocalyptic belief and the Order of the Solar Temple massacre.]

*  Doyle, Jim.  "'Black Tax' Filers Mainly Californians."  San Francisco Chronicle (22 Oct. 1994): A18.  [African American rumours of a federal tax credit equivalent to the value of "forty acres and a mule," which were promised to freed slaves after the U.S. Civil War.]

*  Dragoon, Alice.  "True Lies."  CIO 8 (15 April 1995): 22, 24.  [Bill Ellis comments on the Good Times computer virus warning and other legends on the Internet.]

*  Drogin, Bob.  "Witch Hunts:  The Fatal Price of Fear."  Los Angeles Times (28 Dec. 1994): A1.  [Killings of suspected witches in South Africa.]

   DuBois, Thomas A.  "Insider and Outsider:  An Inari Saami Case."  Scandinavian Studies 67 (1995): 63-76.

   Ellis, Richard.  Monsters of the Sea.  New York:  Knopf, 1994.

   "Elvis Really Lives."  Boston Sunday Globe (8 January 1995): A30.  [Editorial on 60th anniversary of Presley's birth.]

*  "England's Euroanxiety."  Harper's Magazine (Jan. 1995): 22-24.  [Excerpts from European Commission booklet debunking "Euro-Myths," stories of alleged outlandish E.C. regulations.]

   Enns, Carolyn Zerbe, Cheryl L. McNeilly, Julie Madison Corkery, and Mary S. Gilbert.  "The Debate about Delayed Memories of Child Sexual Abuse:  A Feminist Perspective."  Counseling Psychologist 23 (1995): 181-279.  [With five reaction articles, pp. 280-314.]

*  "Exploring the Myths of the TMI-2 Accident."  Three Mile Island Community Report [Middletown, PA] 8 (March-April 1995): n.p.  [The 1979 accident at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant gave rise to stories of six-foot-tall dandelions and two-headed cows.]

*  Flannery, Thomas L.  "Make-A-Wish Says Chain Letter Is Bogus."  [Lancaster, PA] Intelligencer Journal (13 Jan. 1995): B-3.  [Craig Shergold appeals.]

*  Flinn, John.  "April Fool's On-line."  San Francisco Examiner (29 March 1995): B-1.  [Microsoft takeover of Catholic church, FCC modem tax, and other Internet hoaxes and legends.]

*  Flynn, Laurie.  "Software That Pits Alarmists against Devil's Advocate."  New York Times (12 March 1995): sec. 3, 11.  [The imminent release of "Satan," a new software program designed to scan computer networks and identify computers vulnerable to infiltration, is causing concern among some Internet users.]

*  Furr, Joel K.  "Pranks for the Memories."  NetGuide 2 (April 1995): 58-64.  [Internet hoaxes and pranks, including the FCC modem tax, Santa e-mail charity appeal, and the Microsoft bid to buy the Catholic church.]

___. "Stalking Chicken Little:  Myth, Reality, and Absurdity in alt.folklore."  Internet World (February 1995): 86-89.  [A good user's guide to reading alt.folklore.urban,  -.computers,,, -.military,   -.gemstones, -.herbs, and -.ghost-stories:  yes, they all exist on the Internet. Includes some of the in-jokes and esoterica.]

*  Garneau, George.  "Microsoft Denounces Bogus Story Carried on the Internet."  Editor and Publisher (21 Jan. 1995): 33. 

[Spoof claiming that Microsoft, the computer software company, planned to buy out the Roman Catholic Church was widely circulated on computer networks.]

*  "The Gates of Hell?"  Harper's Magazine (Feb. 1995): 24.  [Reprints Internet message showing derivation of the number 666 from Microsoft president Bill Gates' name, suggesting that he's the Antichrist.]

   Gelo, Daniel J.  "Recalling the Past in Creating the Present:  Topographic References in Comanche Narratives."  Western Folklore 53 (1994): 295-312.  [Places associated with supernatural beings.]

*  Gibbs, Nancy.  "The Message of Miracles."  Time (10 April 1995): 64-68ff.  [Cover story on belief in religious miracles.]

   Goodman, David G., and Masanori Miyazawa.  Jews in the Japanese Mind:  The History and Uses of a Cultural Stereotype.  New York:  Free Press, 1995.  [Anti-Semitism and conspiracies of Jewish world domination.]

*  Gould, Philip.  "New England Witch-Hunting and the Politics of Reason in the Early Republic."  New England Quarterly 68 (1995): 58-82.  [Historical and literary works relating to the Puritan witch-hunts.]

*  Greco, Tony.  "Lockup to Look At."  [Hazleton, PA] Standard-Speaker (20 March 1995): 19, 30.  [Jail in Jim Thorpe, Pa., containing cell with ineradicable handprint of hanged man has been sold and will be opened for tours.]

*  Hammond, Keith.  "Countdown to Germageddon!"  The Nose, no. 26 (Jan.-Feb. 1995): 32-35.  [Hantavirus, HIV, and other deadly viruses originated in U.S. government biowarfare labs.]

*  Harris, Hamil R.  Washington Post (18 March 1995): B7, B8.  [Washington, D.C., minister erects ninety-nine billboards warning of impending end of the world.]

*  Heard, Alex.  "The Road to Oklahoma City."  New Republic (15 May 1995): 15-20.  [Militias and conspiracy theories in the wake of the Oklahoma City bombing.]

*  Himelstein, Linda.  "That Sure Is One Devil of a Logo."  Business Week (10 Oct. 1994): 8.  [Arizona employee manual contains satanic symbol.]

*  Hoye, David.  "Virus a Big Hoax, So Let Good Times Scroll."  Phoenix Gazette (28 April 1995): C1.  [Good Times computer virus warnings continue to circulate on the Internet.]

*  "Indian Police Find Theft Ring Dealing in Human Kidneys."  Houston Post (14 March 1995): A-14.

   Ingwersen, Niels.  "The Need for Narrative:  The Folktale as Response to History."  Scandinavian Studies 67 (1995): 77-90.

   Introvigne, Massimo, with J. Gordon Melton.  "The Solar Temple:  A Preliminary Report on the Roots of a Tragedy."  Gnosis, no. 34 (Winter 1995): 88-89.  [Order of the Solar Temple massacre.]

   Iwasaka, Michiko, and Barre Toelken.  Ghosts and the Japanese:  Cultural Experience in Japanese Death Legends.  Logan:  Utah State University Press, 1994.

*  James, Cooper.  "A Hoax in the Post."  The Independent (8 May 1995): 21.  [Apologizes for an earlier article warning of the nonexistent Good Times computer virus.]

   Jeffrey, Grant R.  Prince of Darkness:  Antichrist and the New World Order.  Toronto, Ont. (P.O. Box 129, Station U, M8Z 5M4):  Frontier Research Publications, 1994.  [Apocalyptic belief.]

   Kaplan, Morton A.  "Pat Robertson's Conspiracy Theory."  The World and I 10 (April 1995): 394-413.  [Conspiracy theories promulgated by American televangelist and former presidential candidate Pat Robertson.]

   Keating, Susan Katz.  Prisoners of Hope:  Exploiting the POW/MIA Myth in America.  New York:  Random House, 1994.

   Keith, Jim.  Black Helicopters over America:  Strikeforce for the New World Order.  Lilburn, Ga.:  IllumiNet Press, 1994.  [Conspiracy theories.]

   Kinney, Jay.  "The Solar Temple:  A Postmortem."  Gnosis, no. 34 (Winter 1995): 90-95.  [Order of the Solar Temple massacre.]

*  Kinzer, Stephen.  "For a Revered Mystic, a Shrine Now of Her Own."  New York Times (5 April 1995): A4.  [Vanga, a Bulgarian seer, predicts the future and prescribes cures.]

   Krikler, Jeremy.  "Social Neurosis and Hysterical Pre-cognition in South Africa:  A Case-Study and Reflections."  Journal of Social History 28 (1995): 491-520.  [White fears of black revolt in the Transvaal Colony in 1904.]

*  Laurence, Ray.  "Rumour and Communication in Roman Politics."  Greece and Rome 41 (1994): 62-74.  [Political rumours in the Roman Republic.]

   Lewis, James R.  Encyclopedia of Afterlife Beliefs and Phenomena.  Foreword by Raymond Moody.  Detroit:  Visible Ink, 1995.  [Entries on apocalypse, apparition, deathbed visions, communication with the dead, ghost hunting, NDE, Ouija Board, Raelian movement, vision of tunnel, séance.]

   _____, ed.  The Gods Have Landed:  New Religions from Other Worlds.  Albany:  State University of New York Press, 1995.  [Religious movements derived from experiences with UFOs and alien abductions.]

*  "Like, a Virgin?"  Rolling Stone, no. 704 (23 March 1995): 69.  [Virgin legends at selected U.S. colleges and universities.]

*  Lind, Michael.  "Rev. Robertson's Grand International Conspiracy Theory."  New York Review of Books (2 Feb. 1995): 21-25.

   Lindow, John.  "Supernatural Others and Ethnic Others:  A Millennium of World View."  Scandinavian Studies 67 (1995): 8-31.

*  Loftus, Elizabeth.  "Remembering Dangerously."  Skeptical Inquirer 19 (March-April 1995): 20-29.  [Recovered memories and satanic ritual abuse.]

   Lowney, Kathleen S.  "Teenage Satanism as Oppositional Youth Culture."  Journal of Contemporary Ethnography 23 (1995): 453-84.

*  MacDonald, William L.  "The Popularity of Paranormal Experiences in the United States."  Journal of American Culture 17 (Fall 1994): 35-42.  [Déjà vu, telepathy, contact with the dead, and clairvoyance.]

*  Makeig, John.  "Houston Cabbie Hailed by Group as Driver of Year."  Houston Chronicle (13 Jan. 1995): A21.  [Cab driver recalls two fares who vanished from the backseat of his cab.]

*  Marchionni, Doreen.  "Big One Is a Whopper."  News Tribune (18 Feb. 1995): A1.

*  _____.  "Shock Radio:  Quake Rumors Traced to Talk-Show."  News Tribune (22 Feb. 1995): B1.  [A radio broadcast dealing with natural disasters resulted in rumours of an impending earthquake in Washington state.]

*  "Mary Wanjiru--God's Messenger."  New African, no. 326 (Jan. 1995): 22.  [Kenyan politician and prophetess who claims that the country's parliament has been infiltrated by devil worshippers and that Kenya faces an impending famine.]

*  Mathews, Jay.  "Controversy Follows Coor's Zima."  Washington Post (7 Feb. 1995): D1, D4.  [Rumours that Coors Brewing Company's new clear alcoholic drink Zima doesn't register on breathalyser tests are circulating among teenagers.]

   Mayor, Adrienne.  "The Nessus Shirt in the New World:  Smallpox Blankets in History and Legend."  Journal of American Folklore 108 (1995): 54-77.  [Poison-garment legends.]

*  McAteer, Michael.   "Beelzebub in a Bar Code: Antichrist Talk Grows as Millenium ends."  Evening Telegram (St. John's, Newfoundland) (11 February 1995): 68.  [Story originated in Toronto Star:  Quotes Bernard McGinn's book Antichrist: Two Thousand Years of the Hjuman Fascination with Evil, below.]

   McGinn, Bernard.  Antichrist:  Two Thousand Years of the Human Fascination with Evil.  New York:  HarperSanFrancisco, 1994.  [Apocalyptic belief.]

*  McHugh, Paul.  "Believers Still Pursuing the Legend of Bigfoot."  San Francisco Chronicle (8 Dec. 1994): B10.

*  Miller, Matt.  "Schools Inform Parents of Rumor."  [Harrisburg, PA] Patriot (4 March 1995): B1, B8.  [Blue Star Acid.]

   Milerska, Anna.  "Zbiór "brzydkich" i "jeszcze brzydszych" legend Paula Smitha;  Przegl_d tematyki."  Teksty z Ulicy:  Zeszyt folklorystyczny (published in Katowice, Poland) 1 (stycze_ - marzec 1995), 7-12.

*  "New Label, and Cat Food Now Tuna For Humans."  Evening Telegram (St. John's, Newfoundland) (18 Feb. 1995):  53.  [AP wire story, New York:  U. S. federal indictment against a "Chinatown food supplier" who relabelled deteriorating cat food, "even unfit for felines."  A consumer saw the catfood label under the human food label.]

   Norman, Michael, and Beth Scott.  Haunted America.  New York:  Tom Doherty Associates, 1994.  [True ghost stories from across the U.S.]

*  O'Neal, Kevin, and Rebecca Bibbs.  "Call It a Cold-Blooded Capture."  Indianapolis News (22 March 1995): D1.  [Alligator, thought to be an escaped pet, is captured in Indiana.]

*  O'Neill, Helen.  "For Some, 'Scary Stories' in Schools Go Beyond Deviltry."  Hartford Courant (21 Jan. 1995): A1.  [Alvin Schwartz's "Scary Stories" books, based on folklore and legend, are popular with American children but some parents object to content dealing with ghosts, monsters, etc.]

*  Oppegaard, Brett.  "Legendary Lore or, Did Prunes Kill the President?"  The Columbian (18 Jan. 1995): B1.  [Rumours and entertaining stories about UFO sightings, castrated boy at mall, and prunes causing the death of U.S. President Warren Harding.]

*  Penty, Charles.  "Spreading Fast, a Hair-Raising Myth."  Daily Mail (27 March 1995): 3.  [Marmite cures baldness.]

*  Pollack, Ellen Joan.  "Vince Foster's Death Is a Lively Business for Conspiracy Buffs."  Wall Street Journal (23 March 1995): A1, A5.  [Allegations of U.S. government cover-ups in the 1993 suicide of the deputy White House counsel.]

   Reeve, Andru J.  Turn Me On, Dead Man:  The Complete Story of the Paul McCartney Death Hoax.  Ann Arbor, Mich.:  Popular Culture, Ink, 1994.  [1969 McCartney death rumours.]

*  Reid, T. R.  "Edgy Japan Is Wary of the Ides of April."  Washington Post (15 April 1995): A11.  [Rumours of another attack by the Aum Shinrikyo religious group circulate in Tokyo following the group's 20 March poison-gas subway attack.]

*  Renard, Jean-Bruno.  "Entre fait divers et mythes:  les légendes urbaines."  Religiologiques [Université du Québec à Montréal, Canada] 10 (Autumn 1994): 101-9.  [Types of relationships between a particular event and its resulting legend.]

*  Roddy, Dennis R.  "Conspiracy Theories Are Groups' Lifeblood."  Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (30 April 1995): A-1, A-11.  [U.S. militia members' belief in imminent foreign invasion, microchip implants, government control of banking system.]

*  Rosenbaum, Ron.  "The Great Ivy League Nude Posture Photo Scandal."  New York Times Magazine (15 Jan. 1995): 26-31ff.  [Rumours of stolen nude photos of U.S. college students, some now famous, photographed as part of a study of posture in the 1940s to 1960s.]

*  Rossney, Robert.  "Don't Believe All You See on the Screen."  San Francisco Chronicle (23 March 1995): F6.  [Alt.folklore.urban and legends on the Internet.]

   Rouquette, Michel-Louis.  Chaînes magiques:  les maillons de l'appartenance.  Neuchâtel, Switzerland, and Paris, France:  Delachaux et Niestlé, 1994.  [Psychosocial approach to the chain letter phenomenon by a French specialist on rumours.]

*  Rubin, Elizabeth.  "Souvenir Miracles."  Harper's Magazine (Feb. 1995): 63-70.  [Virgin Mary apparitions in Medjugorje.]

*  Sale, Jonathan.  "Driving Home with a Ghoul in the Back." Daily Telegraph (25 March 1995): Motoring, 8.  [Vanishing hitchhikers and other automotive legends.]

   Schnabel, Jim.  Dark White:  Aliens, Abductions, and the UFO Obsession.  London:  Hamish Hamilton, 1994.

   Schnabel, Jim.  Poltergeists, Pranksters, and the Secret History of Cropwatchers.  Prometheus Books, 1994.

*  Shapiro, Joseph P.  "An Epidemic of Fear and Loathing."  U.S. News and World Report (8 May 1995): 37-41.  [Black helicopters, microchip implants, foreign invasions, and other elements of the American militia movement's antigovernment conspiracy theories.]

*  Smith, Willy.  "The Mattoon Phantom Gasser."  Skeptic 3: 1 (1995): 33-39.  [Examines the Mattoon, Ill., "phantom gasser" panic of 1944 and suggests alternatives to the usual mass hysteria explanation.]

   Spanos, Nicholas P., Cheryl A. Burgess, and Melissa Faith Burgess.  "Past‑Life Identities, UFO Abductions, and Satanic Ritual Abuse:  The Social Construction of Memories."  International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis 42 (1994): 433‑446.

   Sparrow, G. Scott.  I Am Always with You:  True Stories of Encounters with Jesus.  New York:  Bantam Books, 1995.

   Stokker, Kathleen.  "Between Sin and Salvation:  The Human Condition in Legends of the Black Book Minister."  Scandinavian Studies 67 (1995): 91-108.

*  Stone, Richard.  "Analysis of a Toxic Death."  Discover 16 (April 1995): 66-74, 76.  [Reviews possible causes of 1994 death of Gloria Ramirez, the Riverside, Calif., woman whose body apparently released toxic fumes.]

*  Strasser, Steven.  "A Cloud of Terror--And Suspicion."  Newsweek (3 April 1995): 70-71.  [Aum Shinrikyo group as "millennial cult" in wake of Tokyo subway gas attack.]

*  Swett, Clint.  "Hourly Tax for Modem Use?:  Just Another Bad Rumor."  Sacramento Bee (25 Jan. 1995): F2.  [Continuing rumour that the U.S. Federal Communications Commission is considering a tax on computer modem usage.]

*  Swisher, Kara.  "Dial and Save's Word-of-Mouth Toll."  Washington Post (6 Feb. 1995): Washington Business, 5.  [Long-distance telephone company copes with rumours that it provides free phone calls to Cuba.]

   Tangherlini, Timothy R.  "From Trolls to Turks:  Continuity and Change in Danish Legend Tradition."  Scandinavian Studies 67 (1995): 32-62.

*  Tomsho, Robert.  "Though Called a Hoax, 'Iron Mountain' Report Guides Some Militias."  Wall Street Journal (9 May 1995): A1, A15.  [Circulation of an alleged Cold War-era government document in the conspiracy community.]

*  Tilsner, Julie.  "Byte-Size Baloney."  Business Week (23 Jan. 1995): 8.  [Legends on the Internet.]

*  Treadway, Joan.  "Tales of LSD-Laced Tattoos Are Discounted by Experts."  Times-Picayune (13 Feb. 1995): B1.

   Twemlow, Stuart.  "Misidentified Flying Objects?:  An Integrated Psychodynamic Perspective on Near-Death Experiences and UFO Abductions."  Journal of Near-Death Studies 12 (1994): 205-23.  [Followed by five articles of critique, pp. 225-72, and a response by Twemlow, pp. 273-84.]

   Tyree, Benjamin P.  "Millennial Mania."  The World and I 10 (April 1995): 428-37.  [Ted Daniels, Gordon Melton, and others comment on millennialism and the year 2000.]

*  Van Deerlin, Lionel.  "Don't Make Cabbage into Sauerkraut."  San Diego Union-Tribune (6 Jan. 1995): B-5.  [Debunks item claiming existence of wordy U.S. government regulations on sale of cabbage.]

   Vankin, Jonathan, and John Whalen.  50 Greatest Conspiracies of All Time:  History's Biggest Mysteries, Coverups, and Cabals.  Seacaucus, N.J.:  Carol Publishing Group, 1995.

*  Vick, Karl.  "UFO Tales Entering Mainstream."  Washington Post (9 May 1995): A1, A16.  [Popularity of alien abduction accounts.]

*  Walker, Christopher.  "Arabs Flock for Billy Goat Elixir."  [London] Times (9 March 1995): sec. 1, 11.  [Hermaphrodite goat produces milk believed to cure impotence.]

*  Weinberg, Mark.  "Bogus Letter Nearly Nets CHS."  [Carlisle, PA] Sentinel (12 April 1995): A1, A4.  [Craig Shergold business card appeal surfaces at Pennsylvania schools.]

*  Wessel, Larry.  "Born of a Dead Horse."  The Nose, no. 26 (Jan.-Feb. 1995): 40.  [Satanic messages in popular music.]

*  White, John R.  "Today's the Day for Hoaxes--So Here's the Truth about Some of Them."  Boston Globe (1 April 1995): Automotive, 39.  [Pill that turns water into fuel, 200‑miles‑per‑gallon carburetor, and other automobile legends and hoaxes.]

*  White , Mimi.  "Women, Memory, and Serial Melodrama."  Screen 35 (1994): 336-53.  [Circulating story about a television technician who notices that a soap opera storyline involves an incestuous relationship, a circumstance that the producers of the show had overlooked.]

*  Wood, Anthony R.  "Winter of '95:  Lyin' in Wait for Storms That Didn't Show."  Philadelphia Inquirer (20 March 1995): A1, A8.  [Rumours of severe winter weather prove groundless.]





                         FOAFTALE NEWS



This issue of FTN is dated June 1995, a full five months after the date (but only three months after the publication) of the last issue (FTN 36). I hope you'll excuse this  in an effort to put it back on track.   Thanks to

Sharon Cochrane for typing! 

    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$18.00 or UK£10 to Paul Smith, Department of Folklore, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John's, Newfoundland CANADA A1B 3X8.  Members also receive Contemporary Legend, a refereed academic journal.

   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 the article.  FTN is indexed in the MLA Bibliography.  Send queries, notices, and research reports to a maximum of 3000 words to the General Editor;  send clippings, offprints, and bibliographic notices to the News Editor.  Text on disks is appreciated.

   General Editor:  Philip Hiscock, MUN Folklore & Language Archive, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John's, Newfoundland, CANADA A1B 3X8. 


   News Editor:  Alan E. Mays, Penn State Harrisburg,

777 W. Harrisburg Ave., Middletown, PA 17057-4898, USA.