No. 39                                                                                                                             June 1996

ISSN 1026-1001







Bill Ellis: Goatsucker spreads

Barbara Hamel Mikkelson: Wives on planes

Alan Mays: Gyno-glitter

Dan VanArsdale: Old chain letter texts

Tom MacGuire: Valencia report



How does "folk post-modernism" spread?

Furs, blankets and other disease carriers

Mad Cows and CJD



Magic trading cards

Deaths & satanist belief

More on Route 666, New Mexico



"Could it be my fault?" - Biscuit bullets

Something old anew: burglar legends

Body parts archive catalogued

The Beverley Veronica

The Radnor lie detector redux

The cookie's return;  yes, Virginia



Blue Star acid redux redux

More Lost & Found in fish

Death by iced whiskey

Still more escaped video

Regina's hidden assailant

Pigeon pie at Trafalgar Square

Good Times Virus again

Craig keeps going and going and...

Bizarre suicide story traced

The clown report

Internet rumour panic

       Inadvertent phone calls, toilets, cats,

          dangerous customs, Mr Gorsky, and more



[Carrots > good eyes] < [Brits + radar]?

Rowan Atkinson is dead?

"Bloody Mary"

Big ship, little light

Too small ham pan

At the customer service counter

Rat bites at the cinema



Widow's revenge in 1558

New book by 1965 UFO-abductee

Counter-O'Hair petition, 1976




ISCLR home page on the Worldwide Web

ISFNR Folk Narrative Congress, 1998

       Skeptics' conference











          FoafTale News aims at being a quarterly newsletter.    Unfortunately,  news can be slow in coming in, and then often comes in a flood.  This issue is being distributed six months after the last.   I hope the tardiness of this issue has not been a problem for any of our faithful readers.   Early editors of FTN were canny about their frequency:  "FoafTale News is an occasional publication," was written in the masthead.   Perhaps that will be the motto of the future, too.

          We always welcome contributions, preferably written in a style we can simply drop into the text of the following issue without too much reformatting.  Nonetheless, all contributions are appreciated -- research notes, queries, responses to queries, or whatever.   I especially like to see informal reports from local areas that describe what legendry and related phenomena are in the wind.

          I hope to see many of you in Bath next month.

 Philip Hiscock




Chupacabras Mania Spreads

Bill Ellis

Penn State Hazleton Campus

Hazleton PA 18201‑1291 USA


          In Puerto Rico, public concern continued to grow over the chupacabras or "goat sucker," a mystery animal blamed for killing and mutilating numerous domestic animals and pets.   (By the way, according to Terry W. Colvin []  the word "chupacabras" is used in Puerto Rican Spanish  for "goatsucker," the family of nocturnal birds that includes the nightjar and the whippoorwill, birds rumoured to steal domestic goats' milk at night, as well as for "prostitute" or "loose woman.") A Reuters text, released in November 1995 (and reprinted in FTN 38: 14) described sightings of the animal, which had hairy arms, glowing red eyes, and the ability to disappear.   El Vocero, Puerto Rico's largest circulation newspaper, was reporting new incidents daily, though official statements termed the affair "collective hysteria" and blamed a colony of wild monkeys for the animal deaths.

          However, by March 1996, interest in Puerto Rico and Hispanic communities in Florida had mushroomed.   According to a newspaper article by David Adams in the 21 March 1996 St. Petersburg Times, "chupacabras sandwiches" and T‑shirts with an artist's rendering of the chupacabras were selling briskly, and morning radio reports were accompanied by a Spanish‑language "Chupacabras Song" in which the singer planned to "have fun and party / In case the chupacabras gets me." Hector Armstrong, a Puerto Rican attending Princeton University, created a Worldwide Web site devoted to the creature, with an artist's rendering of the beast and links to press coverage and a (mostly Spanish language) e‑mail chat group.   The "chupacabras home page" ( had generated so many visits that in May it was rated among the top 5% of popular web sites.

          The phenomenon received a media boost with the 18 March broadcast of a Miami‑based Spanish language talk show "Cristina."  Hosted by Cristina Saralege, who announced her conversion from skeptic to believer, the hour‑long show included Jose Soto, mayor of Canovanas (near San Juan) who had gained a reputation as a "chupa" expert by leading weekly hunts for the monster in nearby hills.  Also interviewed were a Puerto Rican veterinarian, who described the puncture wounds found on animals as "totally abnormal," and a UFO expert who blamed the mutilations on aliens drawn by the world's largest radio‑telescope at Arecibo.

          Personal experience stories from Canovanas described animals disembowelled and completely drained of blood, along with sightings of a strange three- to four-foot creature with multi‑coloured spines down its head and back, which doubled as wings.

          When sixty‑nine animals, including goats and domestic fowl, were found slaughtered in a Hispanic neighbourhood in South Miami, residents believed that the chupacabras had jumped to the mainland.  Authorities announced an investigation, but discounted the "mystery" of the event.  One zoologist who inspected the carcasses, blamed a feral dog and noted that, rumour to the contrary, dead animals had been left full of blood.  He believed in UFOs and alien life forms, he explained to residents, adding, "I'm not one of those pure scientists who say, 'No, we are the only ones with the truth and all that stuff is ludicrous.' . . . It's just in this case that [the paranormal] was not it [the explanation for the mutilations]."

          Nevertheless, media attention focussed on an elderly woman from the neighbourhood who described a strange creature that "stood up on two legs and was hunched over ...  with big arms and [that] looked at me with these red eyes."  Email messages from the area reported numerous rumours of animals killed inside locked pens and second‑hand accounts of winged creatures with a row of spines and, in one case, a hooked tail used to grab animals.  One message speculated that the creature "is a pet of the real aliens and that he is not the main chupa but a mere robot.  It exists and is being covered [up] by the authorities."

          Talk of the chupacabras had spread throughout Hispanic communities in the United States.  Alisa Valdes reported in the 13 April 1996 Boston Globe that reports had spread up the East Coast to Spanish-speaking neighbourhoods in New Jersey, New York City, and Cambridge, Massachusetts, where a resident reported seeing the creature drinking a cat's blood.  The creature was also said to be causing incidents in San Antonio and Los Angeles.   In Miami, concern grew to the point that on 8 April the University of Miami and the Metro Zoo conducted a "public necropsy" of animals supposedly killed by chupas.  The event was "well‑attended and well‑covered" by both Spanish and English media.

          By early May, Mexican press was reporting widespread incidents based on the chupacabras.  On 2 May, a video report circulated of mutilated cattle and sheep found in Sinaloa State and described a one- to one-and-a-half-foot flying creature.  Other media reports located incidents in Veracruz and Agua Prieta and gave vague reports of a human fatality.  The video was picked up by KVOA‑TV in Tucson, Arizona, and a local incident soon followed.  Terry W. Colvin reports that a 9 May evening news report by Norma Cancio and Sal Quijada on KGUN‑TV (Channel Nine) described the early morning experiences of the Espinoza family.  Either the father or older brother opened a door around 2:00 AM and saw a bipedal creature:  three to four feet tall, it had scaly skin, clawed hands, red eyes, and a row of spines from the skullcap down the back.  The older Espinoza stated the creature "mumbled and gestured."  At dawn a seven-year-old boy in the same house said the creature stood on his bed and briefly on his chest.   [This sounds like the "Old Hag" phenomenon well documented by David Hufford and others ‑‑ BE.]  All family members described a smell "like a wet dog."  The key element in this story is that the 911 emergency number was called, and the metropolitan Tucson police did respond, but a search of the immediate neighbourhood and questioning of residents turned up nothing.    [C: Loren Coleman (, Debbie Nathan (, Terry W. Colvin (

          History.  The phenomenon seems to be identical to a previous panic that occurred in February to July 1975 in Puerto Rico, described in a report by Puerto Rican Sebastion Robiou Lamarche, "UFOs and Mysterious Deaths of Animals," in Flying Saucer Review 22:5 (June 1975): 15‑18.  Then as now the primary target was domestic animals, predominantly chickens, ducks, and geese, but also frequently including goats.  The animals were killed in close proximity to houses, often without a noise, though some owners said they heard a "loud screech" or heard the flapping of gigantic wings.  In most cases, the animals' bodies were completely drained of blood, and the wounds appeared to have been caused by a "sort of punch" that not only pierced the flesh but removed it.

          El Vocero, then as now, took a central role in publicising the incidents and called for an official investigation.  A number of academics and detectives examined the carcasses and interviewed witnesses, and variously blamed unbalanced humans, snakes, and vampire bats.  But residents nicknamed the assailant "The Vampire of Moca" after the town in northwest Puerto Rico where the incidents initially clustered.  Accounts of sightings, often connected with UFOs, were widely publicised, but no consensus on the creature's appearance emerged.  Some described a gigantic bird;  others a large hairy creature.  Jacques Vallee, summarising further reports from Lamarche in Messengers of Deception (Berkeley: And/Or Press, 1979), tells of how one Puerto Rican saw a strange dwarfish being, floating in the air, that partially paralysed him when he tried to strike it with a shovel (169).

          These incidents came to attention in the middle of a much broader panic that occurred 1973‑76 in the Great Plains area of the United States.  Here it was cattle that were being mutilated and drained of blood, and the most common explanation was technological in nature:  variously aliens, satanists, or secret government scientists were using high‑tech methods to stun, kill, and exsanguinate cows.  In a few places (such as Montana), mystery animals were blamed, but this explanation never seems to have been popular.  For more background, see Bill Ellis, "Cattle Mutilation: Contemporary Legends and Contemporary Mythologies," Contemporary Legend 1 (1991): 39‑80.


And as reported in England...

Posted to the Usenet group alt.folklore.urban by Nick Spalding ( and spotted by Alan Mays:

"Mexicans go bats after vampire gets their goats"

Quentin Letts, Times, London, 10 May 1996: 

          Goat farmers in Mexico claim that their livestock is under attack from a large, but as yet unseen, vampire bat.

          The mysterious creature has been nicknamed chupacabra (goatsucker) after the discovery of dead goats with twin tooth marks a third of an inch apart on their necks.  Local witnesses have said that the animals have been left drained of blood.

          In the southern state of Chiapas on Wednesday, 28 rams were found with the tell‑tale puncture marks.  The dead animals are to be studied by the Mexican‑American commission for the prevention of exotic diseases.  According to a Mexican Agriculture Ministry statement the rams' blood had been taken from their veins.  Similar attacks have been reported in six other states.  In Sinaloa, farmers have formed vigilante squads to watch over their goats at night.  Ranchers have been in a state of disquiet and peasants are said to be in a state of fear.  The goatsucking demon has entered popular song and has been hailed in lurid newspaper headlines.  There is even a chupacabra video game. Some government officials have sought to play down the animal deaths, however, and dismiss talk of the chupacabra as little more than a Mexican version of the "Beast of Bodmin," which occasionally pops up in the West Country.  They suggest that the alleged vampire bat may in reality be a wolf or some form of cat.


Wife on the Flight?

Barbara Hamel Mikkelson

Apt 245

5737 Kanan Road

Agoura Hills, California 91301 USA


          I think I've unearthed the earliest printed version of "The Wife On The Flight" urban legend.  I submit the following just in the form I posted it to alt.folklore.urban.

          After giving us a view of how this legend was circulating in the 70s and 80s, Jan Brunvand's Baby Train (pp. 166‑168) goes on to tell how after relating this story on the air in 1989, John Robert Colombo (a Toronto radio commentator and columnist) heard from a listener who called to tell him a much older version:

          The caller, an American woman married to a Canadian, said that when she worked as an air cargo manager at La Guardia Airport in New York City from 1942 until the end of World War II she heard the same story told as true.

          She said that a sales manager for American Airlines launched a promotion aimed at getting returned servicemen's wives to try commercial flights.  The woman claimed that about two hundred free tickets were issued to servicemen‑turned‑businessmen, all earmarked for their wives to use when accompanying them on business flights.

          A follow‑up survey, she said, showed that most of the wives who had been listed as ticket users had never actually taken a business flight with their husbands.

          I stumbled across a telling of this tale in Reader's Digest Treasury Of Wit And Humor (Reader's Digest Association, 1958).  Here it is as it appeared on page 144:

          When airlines were young and people were wary of flying, a promotion man suggested to one of the lines that they permit wives of businessmen to accompany their husbands free, just to prove that flying was safe. The idea was quickly adopted, and a record was kept of the names of those who accepted the proposition. In due time the airline sent a letter to those wives, asking how they enjoyed the trip. From 90 percent of them came back a baffled reply: "What airplane trip?"

Wonder of wonders, this Reader's Digest compilation referred me to And So To Bedlam by Marguerite Lyon (Bobbs‑Merrill, 1943), a book filled with unattributed anecdotes from the advertising world.  What follows is supposedly a conversation among five women at a dinner party, four of whom are advertising copy writers for different agencies (pages 280‑281):

          "Remember that campaign a long time ago when businessmen were first beginning to use airplanes?"

          "You mean the one where the airplane company allowed a man's wife to accompany him free, just to prove there was no danger in airplane travel?"

                "Yes, that's the one!  Did you ever hear the payoff on          that?"

          Everyone was interested.

          "Well, it seems the company kept a record of the names of the wives who made the trip.  And about six months later they wrote to all of them asking how they had enjoyed their airplane trip.  And ninety per cent of the letters came back with the question, 'What airplane trip?'"

          It's interesting that in a book published in 1943, this tale refers to "that campaign a long time ago."  It's impossible to tell how long the story had been circulating prior to that but it would be reasonable to guess the legend had been around for some time ‑‑ Colombo's caller said this took place in New York City yet And So To Bedlam appears to be set in Chicago.  Back in the pre‑fax, pre‑modem days of the forties it would take time for a story from New York to reach Chicago and be independently heard by two women working for different firms.

          What's also interesting is how who's telling it alters the details.  For instance, Colombo's caller's experiences at La Guardia took place during the war years so in her telling it's "returned servicemen turned businessmen" and not just "businessmen."  It's also interesting that in summarising And So To Bedlam's telling of this tale, Reader's Digest automatically attributed this brainstorm to "a promotion man" yet this

detail wasn't part of the book it was quoting from.

          Amazing how these things mutate, isn't it?



Kathy Roland

P.O. Box 68

Barnesville, PA  18214 USA


   I heard a story that has all the markings of a legend.  It was told by my aunt, a Maryland resident, who claimed to have heard it from her daughter, who lives near San Francisco and insisted that it actually happened to a "friend of a friend."

   It goes like this: A young woman returned from her annual visit to her gynecologist in a state of some humiliation.  She almost tearfully recounted to her roommate (another woman, it seems) that when the doctor viewed her in the awful position women must achieve on the examining table, he exclaimed, "Fancy!!  Faaannnnncyyy!!"  She reported she was too embarrassed to ask what inspired the outburst and just skulked away after the exam.

   Her roommate asked if he'd ever acted weird like that before and was assured that he certainly hadn't -- he was the soul of discretion.  She next asked her distraught friend if she had done anything different in preparation for her exam.  "No, not at all.  Well, I did borrow some of your feminine hygiene spray."  She gestured to an aerosol can on the dresser.

   "That's not feminine spray!  It's glitter spray for my hair!"  Fancy, alright.

   My aunt was certainly convinced it happened.  I wonder if any FoafTale News readers have heard versions of it.


The Glittering Gynecological Examination

Alan E. Mays

Heindel Library, Penn State Harrisburg,

777 W. Harrisburg Pike,

Middletown, PA 17057‑4898 USA


          The story [above] that Kathy Roland asks about has circulated since at least 1994.  It's a variation of the "Green Stamps" legend, in which trading stamps provoke the remark from the gynecologist ("I didn't know they gave Green Stamps nowadays") [see Jan Harold Brunvand, The Choking Doberman (1984), p 139, and "The Green Stamps," The Mexican Pet (1986), pp. 122-25].  My own unfamiliarity with glitter spray and the virtual disappearance of trading stamps at stores here in Pennsylvania leads me to wonder whether the spray is simply a new product that has replaced the obsolete stamps in the storyline of the legend.  Interestingly, the "Fancy!" punchline doesn't appear in the earlier versions, though it seems to be present in most of the recent variants I've encountered.  The following examples come from Internet postings and published sources.

  •      More of a rural than urban legend, but, I think, worth it.  A friend of mine who worked on the West Coast of New Zealand told me this, swearing it was true.

          The West Coast is an isolated area, and the doctor does the rounds about once a month, depending on where you live. One day a woman was having her cervical smear test.  She didn't have time to go home after work, so she grabbed a facecloth from beside the sink and took it with her.  After work, she went to the bathroom and gave herself a quick wash, then went off to the doctor.

          As he finished her examination, she noticed he was grinning.  "I appreciate the thought, but you really didn't need to bother," he said.

          Mystified, she said nothing, and went home to find that her four year old son had been playing with glitter that morning and had wiped his hands on the facecloth.  [Liz Hale,, alt.folklore.suburban, 28 May 1994.]

  •      A GP reports that a patient who turned up for a cervical smear thinking she used her daughter's feminine freshness spray, had, by accident, used a disco glitter spray.  [Dr. Vernon Coleman, "Strange but True Scientific Facts," The People (7 Aug. 1994): 38.]

  •      An apocryphal story, we hope, from Ayr [Scotland] about a lady who has to attend her doctor for a routine smear test.  After showering, the lady decided to apply some female deodorant from her daughter's vast collection of fragrant unguents and applications.

          She was mystified when her doctor smiled and said he wished more of his patients had her sense of humour.  She was too embarrassed to ask [what he meant] and was somewhat shocked to discover later that the spray she had borrowed from her daughter was in fact glitter for use at a forthcoming party.  [Tom Shields, [Glasgow] Herald (1 Nov. 1994): 10.]

  •      Another version of the trading stamps at the gynecologist's:

          I heard this about fifteen minutes ago on the Don and Mike radio show, originating on WJFK‑FM in Washington, D.C., and syndicated in many markets.  The wife of D.J. Don Geronimo, Frieda, called to describe something that "really isn't an urban legend; though it sounds like it, it happened to my friend's mother."  Uh huh.

          The woman went to the gynecologist and got onto the table and when the gynecologist came into the room and looked at the appropriate area, he said "My, aren't we fancy today."  She didn't know what he was referring to so she "blew it off."

          When she got home she told her daughter (Frieda's friend) about it.  The daughter said, "Well, were you wearing frilly underwear or something" to which mom replied no.  "Were you wearing some fancy perfume?" she inquired.  "Well, I did use that feminine deodorant you have in the bathroom," mom says.

          "What feminine deodorant?" asks the daughter, and mom goes to show her the can under the sink in the bathroom.

          Spray glitter.  She said she'd been using it every day for a week and so it had built up quite a bit.  [JoAnne Schmitz,, alt.folklore.urban, 11 July 1995.]

  •      Recently this story was told to me as actually having happened to this person's grandmother.  I didn't classify it as an UL at the time because of the direct contact the person claimed to have had.  But since then I have heard the same story repeated.  Is it a UL?  Has anybody else heard this story going around?

          The story goes: A young lady who happens to be a hair dresser is taking her grandmother for a gynecological checkup.  When the doctor comes in he lifts the sheet, peers between her legs, and says, "My, my.  Aren't we fancy!"  The rest of the examination goes on without incident.

          On the way home the grandmother asks her granddaughter what she thought the doctor meant.  The young lady replies, "I don't know, did you do anything different?"

          "No," says the grandmother, "I took a good bath this morning, and then I used some of your feminine hygiene deodorant."

          "But grandma," she says, "I don't have any deodorant like that at home."

          When they arrive at the young lady's house she asks her grandmother to show her what she used.  She points to a can in her bathroom.

          "That's not deodorant!" she exclaims.  "That's hair glitter!"  [Keith Gilbert,, alt.folklore.suburban, 5 Sept. 1995.]


Early Chain Letter Sources

Dan VanArsdale

Box 179

Port Hueneme, CA 93044, USA

Telephone: (805) 488‑7336


          With the help of Michael Preston and other folklorists, I have assembled a collection of over 130 dated "prayer" or "good luck" chain letters.  These range in date from the beginning of this century to the present.  They will be published in diskette form later this year.  An annotated bibliography on chain letters and related phenomena is also in preparation and currently has 190 entries.

          If any readers have datable chain letters, I would greatly appreciate receiving copies for this database.  Particularly needed are examples from 1930 to 1970.  I collect all types of chain letters, including money, exchange, and parody types.  I have also saved hundreds of frequently forwarded email messages in the past eighteen months.

          Recently discovered sources shed some light on the origin of chain letters as we know them now.  I have listed these below accompanied by notes.

          "Easier Than Working."  Denton (Md.) Journal (18 June 1892): 1.  The complete text of a student's solicitation for dimes is given.  The chain letter is to self‑terminate after ten transmissions.  The editors regard it as a complete novelty and no disapproval is expressed.  This reference was provided by Neal Coulter of Chattanooga.

          Fogel, Edwin M.  "The Himmelsbrief."  German American Annals 10 (1908): 286‑311.  Near the end of this article on "Letters from Heaven" Fogel provides the complete text of an "Endless Chain of Prayer" very similar to the letter Lawrence gives (see below).  However, it may be older since it reads, "This prayer was sent to Bishop Lawrence...."  A longer version is mentioned.  This reference was provided by Alan E. Mays.

          Lawrence, William.  Memories of a Happy Life.  Boston

and New York: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1926.  Lawrence, the Episcopal Bishop of Massachusetts, describes being harassed from 1906 to 1909 by a prayer chain letter that read, "This prayer was sent out by Bishop Lawrence..." (pp. 282-83).  A full text is given.  The Associated Press cooperated in his efforts to deny any connection with the letter.

          "Superstitious and Profane."  Outlook.  86 (11 May 1907): 48‑49.  A letter very similar to the one described by Lawrence (see above) is denounced.  Again, it states it was "sent out" by Lawrence.  I have collected six examples of a subsequent version of this chain, all on postcards dating from 1910 to 1916.  Other examples appear in the New York Times.  This postcard chain is usually titled "An Ancient Prayer" and the name of Bishop Lawrence no longer appears.  In a 1911 example, "Copy it and see what will happen" first appears.  This continues in almost the same form on contemporary prayer chain letters.

          Thomas, John L.  Lotteries, Frauds and Obscenity in the Mails.  Columbia, Mo.: E. W. Stephens, 1900.  "Chain letter schemes" are described (p. 121) in which one receives a prize if some small amount is sent to the promoter by the recipient and by all recipients in a pyramid afterwards.   I have not been able to locate a text.  This is the earliest known example of an "endless" chain and the earliest use of the term "chain letter."  The scheme may have influenced the 1935 Denver send‑a‑dime letter.

          Wickets, Donald Furthman.  "Chain Letter Madness."  Liberty 12: 29 (20 July 1935): 30‑33.  Wickets relates the earliest known prayer chain letter (ca. 1902), a protest of Sabbath violations.  He seems to be using an unrevealed source, perhaps a missionary publication.  Any additional information on Wickets or his sources would be very helpful.



Circulating in Valencia: pet food and filched child

Tom McGuire

Apartado 194

46400 Cullera, Valencia


          It was serendipitous to see your society listed in Friday's (19 April 1996) Independent.  I have been trying to locate a research group on contemporary legends for some months now. 

          I became aware of the phenomenon when I found myself repeating a report I took to be fact but later saw in a local paper here in Valencia, even after Dear Abby or Ann Landers had put the lie to it.   I had read of the elderly retired couple from Germany (Italy, Wisconsin, fill in your own), travelling with their beloved poodle (or any small breed of dog) to some far eastern country.  They go to a restaurant with the dog and through sign language indicate to the waiter they want food for themselves and for the dog.  The waiter takes the dog to be fed only to return to the couple's table with the now-killed and -cooked dog.  It was only after having the same story repeated to me with other details of country, etc., that I realised it was one of those stories people have heard from a friend of a friend and repeated as fact -- as I had done.

          I have more recently become aware of a more disturbing legend.  Several years back Levante newspaper in Valencia ran the legend of the missing girl in the department store, found in a men's room stall with a stranger who was trimming her hair and dressing her in boy's clothing.  Levante later ran an article saying  the story had been published without confirmation.  In other words:  it never happened.

          I was living in America when the first outbreak of "strangers" kidnapping children hit the media.  Back then the FBI was quoted as giving astronomical figures of stranger abductions.  But it proved to be false:  society has found that its children have more to fear from the devils they know than from the devils they don't.

          I have been out of America for eight years now and I need to ask, has this scenario taken on the status of "legend"?  And has there been any documented case like this prosecuted in the courts of North America?




How Post-Modern Exempla and Thought Are Passed Along

John J. Kane of the New Hampshire Skeptics Association asks whether readers of FoafTale News have any ideas on the folkloric processes, legendary in some sense, that have contributed to a generational rise in "post-modernist thought" among young students.   "This appears to fall squarely into folkloric studies.  It's not 'tales,' but it's transmitted assertions about the nature of reality. "  His email address is


Furs and Blankets as Disease Vectors: Poisoned Prom Dress Variants Sought

Egle Zygas

338 East 70th Street, #3B

New York, NY 10021, USA


          In the legend of the Poisoned Prom Dress (Baughman Z551), a young girl goes to a dance, feels faint, and dies.  Upon examination, it is discovered that her death was caused by formaldehyde in her dress, previously worn by a corpse, seeping into her blood.

          I have been researching this legend for over a decade, have assembled a number of US variants as well as literary parallels, and would now like to publish my findings.  In order to present the most complete data possible, however, I am interested in learning if there is any record of this legend having been told in Canada.

          Furthermore, in some analyses of this legend, death through contact with infected clothing is coupled with xenophobia. Have any texts been collected regarding infection from clothing originally worn by persons with AIDS?

          All help is sincerely appreciated and, should my findings be published, will be cited.   Thanks.

          [PH:  Paul Smith has a leaflet (The Dangers of Fur) from the Animal Brothers' Guild (of Bristol, England), without a date but apparently from the turn of the century.  In it a section, "Plague-Infected Furs", reveals that the "present outbreak" of plague in China is a result of beaver furs shipped from the Lake Baikal area.

          Not quite exactly on the mark of this query is an Associated Press story datelined Lviv, Ukraine, and printed in the St. John's, Newfoundland, Evening Telegram 1 March 1996, p. 26.  "Spoof Spurs Rat Pelt Fever" tells of a satirical Chinese New Year's story in a Lviv newspaper that fashionable ratskin coats were selling well in a store in town.  Many local people began to collect rats and deliver them to the store in hopes of selling them.  The store in turn posted a notice that only the newspaper was buying the skins.

          See also the item on Rat Bites in the Cinema, in this issue of FTN.]

          [AEM:  No doubt Adrienne Mayor's comprehensive JAF article dealing with variants of this legend is already on the list:  "The Nessus Shirt," JAF 108:427 (winter 1995), pp. 54 ff.]


Mad Cows and Englishmen

John J. Kane, New Hampshire Skeptics


          May we assume that you folks have your feelers out for details of current Popular Delusions and the Madness of Cows?

          Howard Scrimgeour <>, one of our Skeptics,  is a fountain of wisdom on this entire matter, being connected with the lab in Canada which autopsies cows with degenerative brain disorders.  (They have of course been following the progress of UK research over the past decade, and have the advantage of being well‑informed and yet relatively disinterested.)

          In a nutshell?  Notwithstanding an unsupported leap‑of‑faith conclusion in a UK report, there is strong reason to believe that the human cases of CJD could not have been the result of consuming BSE‑tainted beef.  Among other things, cows apparently acquire BSE solely from consuming scrapie‑infected sheep protein.  Humans have been eating infected sheep for centuries, yet the rate of transmission is zero.  The much‑touted  "link" between Mad Cow BSE and CJD is purely chronological.

          Our conclusion?   "A spectre is haunting Europe..." 




          Jeffrey Victor sends along several references to psychological materials relating to satanic panics.  The first group, he says, are methodologically sound and scientifically reliable.  The second are by "believing" psychologists.


Bottoms, Bette L., Phillip R. Shaver, Gail S. Goodman, and Jianjian Qin.  "In the Name of God:  A Profile of Religion-Related Child Abuse."  J of Social Issues 51:2  (1995), 85-111.

Lowney, Katheleen S.  "Teenage Stanism as Oppositional Youth Subculture."  J of Contemporary Ethnography 23:4  (1995), 453-484.

Mulhern, Sherrill.  "Satanism, Ritual Abuse, and Multiple Personality Disorder:  A Sociohistorical Perspective."  International J of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis 42:4  (1994), 265-288.

Ofshe, Richard J.  "Inadvertent Hypnosis During Interrogation:  False Confession due to Dissociative State;  Mis-Identified Multiple Personality and the Satanic Cult Hypothesis."   International J of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis 40:3 (1992), 125-156.

Rogers, Martha L.  "Evaluating an Alleged Satanic Ritualistic Abuser:  What We Don't Know."  Issues in Child Abuse Accusations 3:3  (1991),  166-177.

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 J of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis 42:4 (1994), 433-446.

"The Recovery of Memories in Clinical Practice:  Experiences and Beliefs of British Psychological Society Practitioners."  The Psychologist (May 1995), 109-214.

deYoung, Mary.  "One Face of the Devil:  The Satanic Ritual Abuse Moral Crusade and the Law."  Behavioral Sciences and the Law 12:4  (1994), 389-407.


Frankfurter, David.  "Religious Studies and Claims of Satanic Ritual Abuse: Rejoinder to Stephen Kent." Religion 24 (1994), 353-360.

Juhasz, Susan.  "Coping Skills of Ritual Abuse Survivors:  An Exploratory Study."  Smith College Studies in Social Work 65:3 (June 1995), 225-269.

Kent, Stephen A.  "Deviant Scripturalism and Ritual Satanic Abuse;  Part One:  Possible Judeo-Christian Influences."  Religion  23 (1993), 229-241.

Leavett, Frank.  "Clinical Correlates of Alleged Satanic Abuse and Less Controversial Sexual Molestation."  Child Abuse and Neglect 18:4 (1994), 387-392.

McCulley, Dale.  "Satanic Ritual Abuse:  A Question of Memory."  Journal of Psychology and Theology 22:3  (1994), 167-172.

Noblitt, James Randall, and Pamela Sue Perskin.  Cult and Ritual Abuse:  Its History, Anthropology, and Recent Discovery in Contemporary America.  Westport, Conn.:  Praeger, [1995?].

Noblitt, James Randall.  "Psychometric Measures of Trauma Among Psychiatric Patients Reporting Ritual Abuse."  Psychological Reports 77:3, Pt. 1 (1995), 743-747.

Pike, Patricia L. and Richard J. Mohline, eds.  "Ritual Abuse and Recovery:  Survivors'  Personal Accounts."  J of Psychology and Theology 23:1  (1995), 45-55.

Stroh, Gayle M.  "Ritual Abuse:  Traumas and Treatment."  In Mic Hunter, ed. Child Survivors and Perpetrators of Sexual Abuse:  Treatment Innovations.  Sage Publications, 1995.



MAGIC in NY:  Followup

John J. Kane of the New Hampshire Skeptics Society sends along a copy of a news story from the New York Times News Service, ca 21 November 1995.  It follows on his report in FTN 38: 7-8.

          The NYT article tells of a meeting (apparently Monday 20 November 1995)  of 1100 parents and children in Bedford, New York, "Bedford, a town known for its expansive estates and horse‑country elegance." At the meeting the trading cards Magic: The Gathering were denounced as pagan mind control.   The teaching of comparative religion and the making of ethnic masks were denounced for the same reason.  Nonetheless, the majority of those present were not moved by the arguments of the anti-cards speakers, members of a group called Concerned Parents:  Citizens and Professionals Against the Seduction of Children.   In turn, the school board apparently did nothing to ban the cards.

          Says John:

          Here is a bit more material on the M:TG trading card hysteria.  Note that this is the Bedford/Pound Ridge school district in NY which is home to the Concerned Parents group, the unofficial headquarters of the revived anti‑magic/antifantasy movement.   It could be considered a successor organization to Bothered About Dungeons&Dragons (BADD) although it's more like a functional resemblance;  they have no members in common.  The group has ties to the Christian Coalition, Concerned Women for America, and the activist Catholic League.   Many of their arguments are inherited from the 1950s book Seduction of the Innocent, which smeared horror comics and was responsible for driving EC / Mad magazine to the verge of bankruptcy.  It is recommended reading for any anti-occult folklorists.


Anti-Satanists with Web Page

John J. Kane ( also points out the following for readers' information.

We suggest directing some of your www‑equipped rumour hunters to the portfolio at which covers the dangers of ouija and heavy metal.

[PH:  At the Web site you will find a four thousand word polemic on satanism and teenagers, giving the view that it is a "growing problem" (the name of its first section).  Among other things, it lists signs of young people's involvement in the occult, including symbols like goats' heads and black roses.  The essay lists fifteen books published by Christian groups on satanism.]


California Satanic Murder?

An Associated Press wirestory by Deborah Hastings, "Teens charged in suspected satanic slaying" appeared in the St John's Evening Telegram 4 May 1996 (p. 30).  It detailed the case against three San Luis Obispo, California, teenagers who were charged with killing a fifteen-year-old virgin girl in order to purchase a "ticket to hell." 


Exorcism death gets jail

A Canadian Press wirestory carried by the St John's, Newfoundland, Evening Telegram, 13 April 1996, p. 7, was entitled "Mom Gets Year in Jail for Daughter's Death."   Datelined Kitchener, Ontario, it begins, "The mother of a two-year-old girl killed during an exorcism showed no emotion Friday as a judge sentenced her to one year in jail."  The death of Kira Canhoto occurred in January 1995 "during an attempt to purge her of what her family believed to be a demon.  She had been restrained and force-fed water until she choked and died."  A neighbour was given six months in jail;  the child's 43-year-old grandmother was sentenced earlier this year to two years less a day in jail for the same death. 


Kick Route 666

A story by Sue Anne Presley of the Washington Post, "Questions of demons, or demon rum, on Route 666" (Boston Globe, 23 November 1995, p. A6)  reports in more detail than we reported in last issue (FTN 38: 7) on the local controversy in New Mexico about the highway with the unfortunate number 666.   The highway was named in the 1930s, taking its designation from being the sixth road off the larger Highway 66.  In 1992 neighbouring Arizona renamed the highway "Route 191" within its own boundaries, not out of religious feeling, but for consistency in numbering within its own borders, said a Highway Department spokesman.  A high rate of accidents on the New Mexico portion is mooted locally:  it is caused either by the devilish highway number or by drunk pedestrians along the road and drunk drivers on the road.  A Texas trucker who drives Route 666 is quoted:  "I don't like it out here;  it gives me the creeps.  It's a beautiful road, nice asphalt, great scenery, but I'm glad when I can get off it."




"The Biscuit Bullet Legend:  is it my fault?"

Randy Kaelber  

Miami University  (but posted from an email account in Ohio)


Posted in the Usenet newsgroup, alt.folklore.urban,  22 May 1996

          Perhaps I can shed some light on the "Grain of Truth" that may be found in stories like this.  I wonder if this one is my fault.

          It was 1987 and I worked as a customer service rep for a convenience store distributor.  One of my duties was to pick up old merchandise and issue the retailer credit for it.  At one place, they happened to have a couple of tubes of the biscuits that had passed their expiry date.  No problem... I wrote up the credit, took the merchandise, and loaded it into the back seat of my car.  It was a sunny, hot summer day, and I had made a few stops after that.  I was buzzing back to the office when I heard a *CRACK!* that scared the bejeezus out of me.  It sounded just like a small caliber weapon firing.  I look for bullet holes, and relieved, don't find any.

          Five minutes later, I look in my rearview mirror, and by the back window of the car is this odd whitish blob sitting there.  "What the hell?" I mumbled, then I put it all together.  It was that damned Pillsbury biscuit tube.  My theory was proved when the other one popped off a few minutes later, spraying the passenger side with tenth-baked biscuits.

          I frequently related this story to coworkers and friends, and now, almost ten years later it seems to have a life of its own.  Is this whole mess my fault?


That same old burglar legend

Philip Hiscock

MUN Folklore & Language Archive

Memorial University of Newfoundland

St. John's, Newfoundland A1B 3X8  CANADA

          Re-circulating in the winter of 1995-96 in the St. John's, Newfoundland area, was the following legend, reported here by Clara Burke Byrne of St. John's.  She had heard it from her sister in late January 1996:

          A couple from the East End of St. John's [a well-to-do area] were out one evening.  When they returned home they found their barbecue missing from their patio.  They didn't know when it had been stolen but it turned up a few days later with an envelope attached.  In the envelope was a note thanking them for the use of their barbecue which the writer of the note had borrowed on short notice while the owners were away.

          Enclosed were two tickets to a St. John's Maple Leafs game.  [The Leafs are an AHL farm team for the NHL team of the same name.]  When the couple went to the hockey game their home was broken into and everything stolen.

This legend has periodically resurfaced here in St. John's.  I first heard it in the early 1980s when the theft was of a car (to get an expectant mother to hospital) and the tickets were for a concert by the very popular band the Irish Rovers.  A related legend was circulating at the same time that burglars were scanning newspaper obituaries;   burglaries were timed to occur when all the members of each family were at the funeral.   Precisely this modus operandi was used by a Toronto, Ontario, burglar in early 1994, according to a Canadian Press wirestory reported in the St. John's Evening Telegram 14 March 1994, p. 22:  "Man robbed homes while families mourned."  The three-sentence story tells of an unnamed burglar, described as an "unemployed welfare recipient," who was caught early the previous Friday morning "between two homes" with "break-in tools and an obituary from a Toronto newspaper in his pocket."


A new burglar legend?

          According to This is True (3 March 1996) the Burbank, California, Leader carried a story recently:

A 55-year-old man in Burbank, California, put an ad in a sex magazine catering to sadomasochists, and was happy when a woman responded to his offer of a blind date.   When she arrived at his home, he allowed her to strip him, handcuff him, and strap him to a proctology table he had in his 'playroom.'  Then she put a hood over his head and REALLY went to work:  she and an accomplice robbed the house.  The man wasn't found until the next day, when the mailman heard him calling for help.


Check out those legends of body parts...

          And, from the exact same source, attributed to Associated Press, probably picked up from the AP wire within a week previous to the date of the distribution of This is True, 3 March 1996:

          First‑year Yale medical student Christopher Wahl heard the stories in the dorm just like all the first‑year students had for years.  A spooky legend about hundreds of brains stored in bottles in the dorm's basement.  But, unlike the thousands that came before him, Wahl decided to check ‑‑ and found the stories were true.  "I could just see telling my parents I got thrown out of medical school for this," Wahl remembers.   But, "No one really asked, 'What were you doing skulking around the bottom of the dorm?'"  The archives contained not only brains, but photographs and 50,000 pages of records of Dr. Harvey Cushing, a pioneer in neurosurgery at Harvard who finished his career at Yale.  Wahl took a year off to catalog the extensive find;  Cushing died in 1939.  "It's fun for me just because there are generations of physicians who never knew the brains were down there," Wahl said.

This is True  is an email-distributed, copyrighted collection of odd bits chosen from news services and newspapers by Randy Cassingham.  To subscribe, email to with the simple message "subscribe this-is-true" (no quotes). 


The Beverley Veronica?

Ted Daniels of the Millennium Watch Institute (Box 34021, Philadelphia, PA 19101‑4021  USA; email: passes along a posting to a UFO discussion group (i_ufo‑ -- send "subscribe  i_ufo‑L" to  The posting was by Stephanie Gunn ( and was an article that had originally appeared in The West Australian newspaper on 15 December 1995.

                            JESUS IMAGE ROCKS TOWN  

                                by Janine MacDonald

          Turin has its shroud, Lourdes its holy waters and now Beverley [western Australia] has its sacred slab ‑- a piece of granite perched on a rockpile with a face bearing a remarkable resemblance to Jesus Christ.  At first glance and in full sunlight, the image appears as a collection of dark smudges.  But from a distance and in shade, it looks like a face in the most commonly accepted likeness of Jesus.  To the touch, the dark patches are slightly moister than the surrounding rock, but they do not rub off.  Wheatbelt businessman Julian Webb, 42, and his 20‑year‑old son Adrian said the face first appeared from beneath a white light, about five weeks ago when they were taking an evening walk along a private road near their property.

          On the two previous evenings, they had received messages that something momentous was about to happen.  On the first evening, a voice, which they took to be the voice of God, said to them from the rockpile:  "Let I the Lord show you the way."  Understandably surprised, they returned home and spread the words to friends and family.

          On the second night they believe the voice said: "Let this be a sign for those of true faith."  They said that when they reached the site on the third night they heard nothing.  Then the face materialised and they now believe they have been chosen to help restore people's faith in God. [...]  The Webbs kept their discovery low-key until yesterday's media launch of the 'Beverley miracle.' 

          For many of the bemused residents of the township, about 140 km east of Perth, the arrival of a television crew's helicopter signalled the event.  To protect their privacy and the serenity of the surrounding bush, the Webbs have decided to move the stone to the local town hall.  It was to be on display there yesterday, but after a last-minute change, journalists and curious onlookers were directed to the Webb's property, 15 km from town.

          According to Julian Webb, only about 60 people have seen the stone,  including about 15 who saw it in Perth when he took it there a few weeks ago.  He said he had not dismissed the idea of having tests done on the rock.  The two men describe themselves as non‑denominational Christians and infrequent churchgoers and said they believed that could be the reason they were chosen to witness the "miracle."

          They denied they had plans to set up a new church, but said they were interested in stimulating discussion on faith in God.  "It is not my place to try to change a sceptic into a believer and vice versa," Adrian said.  The pair said donations sought by a brochure they had distrirbuted would be used to build a shelter at the site where the stone was found.

                The stone is on display at the Beverley town hall.


About those Policemen in Radnor...

Chuck Shepherd,  News of the Weird


Re: Radnor's Police Techniques, FTN 38: 12

                Despite the conventional wisdom among Legendeers, I am not sure the Radnor incident didn't happen.   I have an authentic‑looking newspaper clipping referring to a specific judge in a specific court throwing out a case against a man for just such police misconduct "in Radnor."  The paper is not dated, however, and I have not made the field investigation to nearby Pennsylvania towns to match typefaces.   I did verify that there was such a judge, but he died in 1985 or 1986, about six years, I estimate, after the incident.   I have read previously that the Radnor police department denied the incident, and that is powerful evidence that it did not occur, in that an incident like that, though the result of unlawful behavior by the police department, might be one that would nonetheless be a source of pride for the department.   However, there are potential explanations, e.g., it is not clear from my clipping that it was the "Radnor police department" that did the tricking (might have been state troopers or the arrest was made in Radnor but the interrogation conducted by another jurisdiction's police).  However, the main reason it was not obvious to me that this was a Legend is that nearly every cop you talk to has in fact arrested not one but many people he would concede are stupid enough to fall for something like that.


And that Cookie in the Globe...

          In the last issue of FTN we mentioned that the Toronto-based national newspaper in Canada, the Globe and Mail, had last fall carried without a skeptical blink the Neiman-Marcus $250 cookie recipe story.  As followup to the Globe's story, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation national television programme Undercurrents did a story on the journalistic acumen involved in carrying a well-known "urban legend" like the recipe story and running it straight.  The Undercurrents programme was aired Tuesday 14 December 1995, and several times since then.  The tape is available for purchase from CBC Enterprises, Box 500, Station A, Toronto, Ontario M5W 1E6 CANADA.

          The Globe's failure to recognise "an urban legend" was also mentioned in an article by Peter Dienstmann, "Abort, Retry, Fail:  Data Error in Technology Reporting:  Accuracy and Balance Not Found" (Ryerson Review of Journalism [Spring 1996], 45-47).

          In November 1995 the cookie legend turned up in the weekly column "The View From Here" by Evening Telegram columnist Ed Smith.  The following week I noted his use of it on my weekly spot on CBC radio.  A week later, the following appeared.  For your amusement, and with Ed Smith's permission, here it is. [- PH]


"Yes, Virginia, there is a Neiman-Marcus cookie."

Ed Smith.

St. John's, Newfoundland,  Evening Telegram (9 Dec.  1995), p. 64.

          CBC radio is a grinch.  You know what a grinch is.  In the Dr. Zeuss story, the grinch stole all the presents on Christmas.

          Today, a grinch is anything or anyone who steals the fun and magic out of anything.  CBC radio is a grinch.

          Tens of thousands of you will recall that a couple of weeks ago, I told the story of the lady who got stuck with paying $250 to Neiman-Marcus, a department store in the States, for a cookie recipe.  She got even by putting the recipe on the Internet and in the papers for anyone who wanted it.  Great story.  Great cookies, too.  There was more than the usual response to a normal column.  That week I got two letters, and neither of them from Mom.

          Several of you told me you had tried or were about to try the recipe in question.  Some of you, the more generous types, even indicated you were sending me a sample.  This is as good a time as any to point out that I haven't received anything yet.  That, of course, is the fault of the Post Office.  Those of you who haven't finished baking should perhaps send my share via Day and Ross [shipping company].

          Some of you will find this next bit difficult to believe, but I tell you the truth.  Less than a week after my column appeared, the CBC radio grinch took to the airways on a popular afternoon local affairs program.  The story, they said, wasn't true. Chuckle chuckle.  The whole thing, they said, was a hoax.  Heh heh heh.  A legend that made the rounds every decade or so with some variation in the story but always the same recipe.

          The recipe, they admitted, was good, but the story was just one of these little fables that keeps popping up every once in a while and sucks some well-meaning columnist into believing it.  Ho ho ho.  Neiman-Marcus doesn't even make cookies.  Ha ha ha.  And stay tuned for the news.

          I told my daughter what had happened -- out of earshot of my granddaughter, of course -- and she was shocked.

          "Blasphemy!" she sputtered.  "And on the blessed Sabbath!"

          Personally I am outraged.  So outraged that I have decided to take umbrage.  How can even a CBC grinch be so insensitive to the need of people everywhere to believe the beautiful and the good?  I know they've had cutbacks, but haven't we all.

          Have they had a cut in their belief in miracles?  Hasn't anyone watched a feel-good movie lately?  Has The Little Match Girl been scrubbed from the late-night movie list?  Will there be no Mary Poppins this Christmas?  Is the next thing to go The 10 Commandments at Easter?

          Thousands of happy housewives, thousands of normal housewives, thousands of women who aren't housewives at all, and thousands of men who'd rather do it themselves, have hurried to supermarkets, groceterias, corner stores and confectionaries to purchase Hershey bars and chocolate chips, the prime ingredients of this miracle cookie.

          Even as we speak, even as you read, Neiman-Marcus cookies are piling up in their thousands all over the Greater St. John's Metropolitan Area, on the Bald (Bauld? Ball? Balled?  Bawled?) Diversion in Corner Brook, on the East Side of St. Anthony, in Forteau and Nain, in Caplin Cove (Hant's Harbour), on Church St. in Grand Falls-Windsor and in my cousin's (older cousin's) house in Kippens.  Everyone is baking Neiman-Marcus cookies.  And most of them will share with me.

          Tell them, CBC grinch, that there are no Neiman-Marcus cookies.  Tell them there is no Pigeon Inlet and no Uncle Mose.  Break some cook's heart this Advent season and tell him and her the cookies do not exist.  That the little bags of chocolately goodness stored in the 'fridge for Grandpa and Uncle Harry and Cousin Rachel aren't really there because Neiman-Marcus does not even make cookies.

          No Neiman-Marcus cookies?

          Why, CBC grinch, you might as well say there's no Aunt Jemima, no Betty Crocker, no Jolly Green Giant.

          No Neiman-Marcus cookies?

          You might as well say, CBC grinch, that the Three Wise Men had a roadmap, that there's no plump little gray-haired idiot who owns Wendy's and makes lousy commercials, that Gandhi invented the sit-in because he flunked out of fencing school.

          Of course there are Neiman-Marcus cookies.  I have them in a little cookie tin on my counter.  Daughter Number Three put them there after she made them.  Neiman-Marcus cookies exist just as surely as Scotty can beam me up.

          Perhaps the CBC grinch will grin broadly at all this and say, "I do not dispute the existence of the cookies as such, only the fact that they are supposed to be Neiman-Marcus cookies."  But that is the same as saying that while we believe in teeth, we do not believe in the tooth fairy.  That while we believe in babies, we do not believe in the stork.  Or most important of all, that while we would never dispute the existence of Christmas gifts, Santa Claus himself is a matter of some doubt.

          Ah CBC grinch, the world is too full of doubters.  There are many who will burst the bubble and scorn the columnist.  And as long as they doubt and scorn, they will never know the joy or the fullness of a grated Hershey Bar mixed with three cups of chopped nuts and two teaspoonfuls of vanilla.

          Is there a Neiman-Marcus cookie?

          Yes, Virginia, as long as women purchase Cream of the West [flour], as long as men sift and stir, as long as children lick the bowls and steal the spoons, there will be a Neiman-Marcus cookie.

          Would the Pillsbury Doughboy lie?

Ed Smith is a freelance writer living in Springdale, Newfoundland.




Blue Star redux redux

          On 18 January 1996, Constance Cochran in Effingham County (near Savannah), Georgia, USA, reported to the Folklore Discussion List ( that her child had that week brought home from school a flyer that began:  "A WARNING TO PARENTS:  A form of tattoo called 'blue star' is being sold to school children."  It continued with the listing of cartoon characters and patterns we are familiar with.  "Each one is wrapped in foil.  These are laced with acid.  DO NOT HANDLE THEM."  Her report touched off a few other reports to FOLKLORE:  from El Cerrito, California where it was said the alert had been posted for the past five years in a local grocery store;  South Central Pennsylvania;  Jefferson Parish, Louisiana;  and Dade County, Florida.   The Louisiana report placed it "a number of years ago," and the Florida one simply in the past.


What Once Was Lost

Philip Hiscock

MUN Folklore & Language Archive

Memorial University of Newfoundland

St. John's, Newfoundland A1B 3X8 CANADA


          In the second-last issue of FoafTale News (37: 14)  there was a request for references to the widely-reported news story of false teeth supposedly found in a codfish in Norway.    Following this were references to several teeth- and rings-in-fish stories.   Since then I've come across a few more.  In an interview by Greg Pretty of Mr Nix Rossiter of Fermeuse (near St. John's, Newfoundland) in 1976, Mr Rossiter tells of his father finding a ring in a codfish he had caught and was gutting.  The fish was caught near the wreck of the Florizel;  engraved on the ring was the name of a woman who had died on the ship, which was wrecked at Fermeuse in February 1918.  Nix's brother caught another codfish in the same area and inside the fish's stomach was a knife with S.S. Florizel engraved on it.   The interview is MUNFLA C2681/76-496.

          Robert Chambers's Book of Days (London, 1876) has recovered-ring stories at January 13th.  Chambers refers back to Notes and Queries (21 December 1861) as his source.

          The Folklore Society's newsletter, FLS News 23 (June 1996) has a note by Jennifer Chandler, "The Ring in the Fish" which follows on a previous item in FLS News 22.  Several more references are given to objects found inside fish.

          The St. John's Evening Telegram carried a short Reuters item "Mussel delivers ring" (30 March 1996, p. 56) datelined Stockholm. Quoting the Swedish news agency TT, it reports that fisherman Peder Carlsson found a mussel in a catch of shellfish and traced it back to the owner who had dropped it two years before.  The owner was "fire chief Bengt Wingstedt" whose fiancée had engraved her name on the inside.

          A letter from Dr Peter G Beninger, Department of Biology, University of Moncton, Moncton, New Brunswick, appeared in the Saturday 6 April 1996 edition of the Globe and Mail (p. D7).  Entitled "Mussel Mouth" it refers back to that Reuters story ("Mussel-Bound Ring Returned to Owner") as delivered by the Globe and Mail in the 29 March edition;  the story claimed an engagement ring had been found in "a catch of shellfish, having been consumed by a mussel."   Dr Beninger notes the esophagus of a mussel is about 60 microns, 0.06 mm,

 ...or about 250 times smaller than the average engagement ring....  I write this in case the article has inspired some readers to begin cooking vast quantities of mussels in the hopes of discovering Spanish doubloons, gold ingots, or other sunken treasure.

Dr Theo Meder in Amsterdam reports that the mussel  item appeared 1 April 1996 in the Danish newspaper Frederiksborg Amts Avis (p. 16) as a journalistic April Fools joke, entitled "Ringen sluttet."


Death by Iced Whiskey

In FTN38 Michael Borek mentioned the story current in British Columbia that hikers had died after drinking from mountain streams in which the water was still running but at a temperature much colder than freezing;  autopsies discovered blocks of ice in their stomachs.  Steve Siporin (Utah State University; email: notes the following:

          I heard not exactly that but something similar a few days before receiving that [issue of the] newsletter.  My sixteen-year-old son, Lev, was visiting home, back from his first six months in a remote high school in Alaska.  Among other horrible things, he told me that people in Alaska sometimes die a horrible death when they go out to their car in minus-60 degree weather and take a drink from a bottle of whiskey or other booze that they left in the car.  The alcohol is not frozen but it is minus-60 degrees so when it hits your stomach it immediately freezes your organs and you die.

          I took it at face value.  It still sounds reasonable to my unscientific mind, but after I read "Death by Iced Water" I began to wonder.   This one should be easily verifiable.

How widespread is the drinking custom is of keeping liquor (like vodka, tequila, and perhaps others) in the deep-freezer and serving it very cold?   I wonder if the legend runs interference on the custom?  [ - PH]


Watch those transit toilets

The Guardian carried a Reuters news item 26 January 1996 entitled "Miracle baby."   The entire text of the piece was as follows:

A Chinese woman whose baby was flushed down the toilet when she gave birth prematurely in a train lavatory found her son alive and unhurt on the tracks, the Beijing Evening News said yesterday.


More on the video/email strip

          The Toronto Globe and Mail runs "Social Studies: A Daily Miscellany of information"  compiled by Michael Kesterton.   On 27 March 1996 (p. A24) the column noted that

          A story in high-tech circles has it that a woman away with her lover on a business trip hooked up a video camera to her personal computer and dialled his hotel room.  She proceeded to strip, says the London Observer.  Unwittingly she dialled into all the computers of her business colleagues in the hotel and the preview of her coming attractions "is now available on disc."

[See also FTN 38: 5. - PH.]


Everyman a Tom: marketing peeks

In his 24 March 1996 This Is True, Randy Cassingham reports an item printed in the Washington Post (probably within a week previous to 24 March):

          Some say Britain has more security cameras per capita than any other country. Now, an enterprising British company is buying up as many security camera tapes it can find and marketing copies of excerpts. "Caught in the Act" shows couples having sex in unlikely locations, people using department store changing rooms, robberies, and drug dealers fighting each other. Parliament is outraged, which has helped sales. "We sold 60,000 in the first morning" after Parliament objected to the first tape, James Hunt, one of the video's "researchers", said. "We've ordered another 125,000 copies." A sequel, "Really Caught in the Act", prompted more complaints from Parliament, making Hunt gleeful at the publicity. "We're hoping we can keep this [controversy] going," Hunt says.

On subscribing to This is True see above, p. 8.


Why the Big Toe?

Thanks to Derek Froome (Altringham, England) for sending the clipping from the Guardian Education (20 February 1996) in which Peter Kingston reports in his column "Diary" that

          A third-year Bristol university student is enjoying a bout of congress with his girlfriend.  At the critical moment, reports the campus mag, one of his feet involuntarily knocks his mobile phone off its cradle and his big toe nudges the button pre-set with his parents' number.  Back at the homestead, his dad picks up the receiver and is greeted with the full noisy finale.


Dogs dialling

          An Associated Press news item datelined Salisbury, England, was in the St. John's Evening Telegram, 18 May 1996, p. 52:  "Dogs dial emergency number."  It tells of two dogs ("Rokey and Archie") who were more than their usually frisky selves one day while their owner was at work.  The delinquent, housebound dogs pulled books off shelves and otherwise ransacked their home.  Then the dogs knocked down the telephone and called the local emergency 999 number -- only to gurgle and breathe heavily into the receiver.  The police were called by the 999 people.  In turn, they called the homeowner who asked them to visit the house because there should have been no one home at the time.  Upon arrival, the police thought the home had been burgled, but after investigation they decided the dogs had done it all, including the confessional call.


Hot cats

          Also from Derek Froome, a clipping from the Guardian (10 February 1996).   "Atomic kittens" reports an Associated Press story that four kittens of a cat that had strayed under the fence of a California nuclear power plant were found to be radioactive themselves.


Regina's Hidden Assailants

          On the morning of 27 May 1996 I did a short, live interview with Sheila Coles, host of Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's morning radio programme in Regina, Saskatchewan.   For the past few months the citizens of Regina have been hearing and telling rumours of police and media cover-up of a string of sexual assaults in the city.   The police have denied the incidents happened.   According to what I learned from the programme's producer beforehand, the Regina cycle includes a version of the woman who, coming out of a parking lot, is followed by a truck whose driver keeps trying to force her off the road.  When he succeeds, he jumps out and explains there is someone hiding with a weapon in her back seat, someone he was able to see because his truck was so high.  The would-be assailant got away and, at least in legend, continues his attacks.    I talked about other rumour panics regarding violent crime, including a similar cycle here in St. John's, Newfoundland, in the early 1980s;  it also included the trucker saving the woman driver, and covered-up rapes.  I also mentioned the ankle-slasher stories of the mid-1990s.  I do not know if the Regina cycle has subsided. [ - PH]


Pigeons et?

          An Associated Press story ("Pigeons disappearing from under Nelson's nose") appeared in the St. John's  Evening Telegram (11 March 1996, p. 12).  Accompanied by a photograph of a tourist covered in pigeons in Trafalgar Square, London, the story reported suspicions that "pigeon snatchers are at large, scooping up the friendly birds in batches of forty at a time and taking them off in a large box" for restaurants.  Policeman Roy Riggs was quoted: "There is a strong suspicion these pigeons are ending up in pies rather than in races.  They are probably being sold on to Greek restaurants as they are some sort of delicacy out there."  The story was repeated by Randy Cassingham in his weekly email compendium This is True, 17 March 1996 (



More Good Times Virus Scares and the CIAC

          One of the Internet panics of 1994-95 was the "Good Times Cathy Virus"  (see Bill Ellis's note,  FTN 36: 4-5).  Although it was poohpoohed by the Internet illuminati, written up as a scam by popular culture net-watchers, and disclaimed even by the managers of America On-Line (AOL), whence it sprang, it has continued through 1995 and 1996 to reappear in the form of warnings posted to widely-read newsgroups and listservers.   Posters are typically "newbies" -- people with little experience on the nets. 

          One such posting was made to the FOLKLORE discussion list ( in early March 1996 by Katy Grant, an AOL subscriber.  Upon being told that it was a mere rumour panic, Ms Grant apologised, did some research, and posted an interesting document from the United States Department of Energy, Computer Incident Advisory Capability [division?].   Dated 24 April 1995, it is entitled "CIAC Information Note:  Good Times Virus Hoax."  The document explains the unlikelihood of the "virus" and gives addresses and phone numbers to contact CIAC, which was established in 1989 to provide free computer security services "to employees and contractors of the DOE" (the U.S.A. Department of Energy).  It is located at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, California, where its email address is   It maintains a Web site at  (and an ftp site, where the Good Times document is available.   

          In November 1995 one such chain-letter warning was passed along to Alan Mays by Henry Koretzky who had found it posted on a list devoted to radio disk jockeys of folk and bluegrass music (   It carried many tags from previous senders and the signatory names of several Dr.-entitled people in England and Belgium.   Without the tags and signatures, here is the text.  Because an entire text of this warning has not been printed in FTN so far, I include it here [PH]:


          There is a computer  virus that is being sent  across the Internet.  If  you receive an e‑mail message with the subject  line "Good Times",  DO NOT  read the message, DELETE  it immediately.  Please read the messages  below.

          Some miscreant is sending e‑mail under the subject title "good times" nation‑wide. If you get anything  like this, DON'T DOWN LOAD THE FILE!  It has a virus that rewrites your hard drive, obliterating anything on it.

          Please be careful and forward this mail to anyone you care about ‑‑ I have. 

          WARNING!!!!!!!!!: INTERNET VIRUS

The FCC released a warning last Wednesday  concerning  a  matter of major importance to any regular  user of the InterNet. Apparently, a new computer virus has been engineered by  a user of America Online that is unparalleled in its destructive capability.   Other, more well‑known viruses  such as Stoned, Airwolf, and Michaelangelo pale in comparison to the prospects of this newest creation by a warped mentality.  What makes  this virus so terrifying, said the FCC, is the fact that no program needs to be exchanged for a new computer to be infected.   It can be spread through the existing e‑mail systems of the InterNet.  Once a computer is infected, one of several things can happen.  If the computer contains a hard drive, that will most likely be destroyed.  If the program  is not stopped, the computer's processor will be placed in an nth‑complexity  infinite binary loop ‑ which can severely  damage the processor if left running that way too long.  Unfortunately, most novice computer  users  will not realize what is happening until it is far too late.   Luckily, there is one sure means of detecting what is now  known as the "Good Times" virus.   It always travels to new computers the same way in a text e‑mail message with the subject line reading simply "Good Times".   Avoiding infection is easy once the file has been received in not  reading it.  The act of loading the file into the mail server's ASCII  buffer causes the "Good Times" mainline program to initialize and execute.  The program is highly intelligent ‑ it will send copies of itself to everyone whose e‑mail address is contained in a received‑mail file  or a sent‑ mail file, if it can find one.  It will then proceed to trash the computer it is running on.  The bottom line here is ‑ if you receive  a file with the subject line "Good Times", delete it immediately!  Do not read it!  Rest assured that whoever's name was on the "From:" line was surely struck by  the virus.  Warn your friends and local system users of this newest threat to the InterNet!  It could save them a lot of time and money.

In passing this text along to FTN, Alan Mays pointed out :

          Henry also alerted me to an article in today's Washington Post, 16 Nov 1995,  p. B15, about an allegedly official warning from America On-Line regarding e‑mail with attached files containing a virus that, when downloaded, damages information on the hard drive.  The attached files are named "AOLGOLD" or "Install.exe," according to the article.  Obviously, these files couldn't do any damage unless the e‑mail system is one that automatically downloads and executes attached files (is this how AOL works?) or if you intentionally download and execute the file yourself....  In any case, I haven't seen any online warnings yet about this new AOL virus.  It should be interesting to see how this new warning plays out in relation to the ongoing Good Times scare.


Pleas for Craig Shergold keep arising

Philip Hiscock

MUN Folklore & Language Archive

St. John's, Newfoundland CANADA A1B 3X8


          A new flurry of activity for the Craig Shergold appeal arose in late winter 1996 in Newfoundland when schoolteachers began chain-faxing an appeal to set "in-class assignments" to their students and to send the accumulated get-well notes to Craig Shirgold [sic] at the Children's Wish Foundation in Atlanta, Georgia, in the United States.  One such fax from a Manuels schoolteacher to a Placentia one (both places within 80 miles of St. John's) said the writer had been contacted by the local Children's Wish Foundation after they had received a request from their U.S. Head Office.  "I have never seen my classes so enthused!"  wrote the teacher to his colleague.  He had 206 notes ready to ship the following day to the seven-year-old child with inoperable brain cancer who "wishes for thousands of Get Well notes."   This fax was forwarded 13 March 1996 to a local radio station in an effort to spread the campaign, but they sent it along to me instead.

          Soon after this I posted a note on the Internet discussion group FOLKLORE wondering how the Atlanta Post Office was coping with this most recent activity.   A correspondent living in Atlanta posted a note to the effect that he'd heard nothing locally about the campaign nor about any problems.

          In mid-April I called the St. John's office of the Newfoundland chapter of the Children's Wish Foundation of Canada and spoke with Derek Delouche who has worked for several years to kill the "infestation" of the rumour.  The March 1996 wave was the third major outbreak he'd seen, and the first to revert to the original "Get Well" appeal.   It was also the strongest wave yet ("totally nuts"), partly because it was propagated not only through teachers' networks (faxes and a provincial educational computer net) but also through the two police forces stationed throughout the province.  Credibility was further increased when the appeal was preached from several pulpits. 

          A large proportion of the Foundation's time in the month of March was spent trying to quell the storm.  Although there is no corporate connection, the local Foundation has been in close contact with the Atlanta-based Make A Wish Foundation (whose actual address is being used in the appeals) and the American body has denied anything to do with it.   

          The local Foundation has been concerned all along that money is being sent by some people with their get well cards, money that is never acknowledged -- even when it is sent to the "correct" Atlanta office.   Another concern was suggested by the Better Business Bureau:  that someone is using these appeals to build a gigantic mailing list to sell to list buyers.   This sounds like it could be the beginning of a new rumour that the Shergold appeal really is a commercial scam.

          Here at Memorial University the issue arose (again!) when a graduate student posted the appeal to a local newsgroup, mun.general.  Her university computer account was immediately closed as a result of posting "chain mail" and the following day, 7 March 1996, her husband began a discussion on the matter in the same newsgroup to protest her account being locked out.  He had no sense that such a humanitarian appeal could be against University policy.   He said his wife had talked, a few nights before, on the phone with her mother in Moncton, New Brunswick.  Her mother had heard at her own church ("one of the largest Roman Catholic churches in New Brunswick") about the Shergold appeal.   For her daughter to copy down the Atlanta address, the mother had read it to her from the parish newsletter.  The husband pointed out that he was later told that at the University of New Brunswick (in Fredericton, N.B.) the appeal was freely circulating on the computer bulletin boards.  One of the correspondents to his discussion wondered why the UNB people "didn't know better." 

          The entire episode showed the level of awareness by computer aficionados of at least this contemporary legend/rumour cycle.  One computer systems manager drawn into the discussion wrote that he had pulled up over 900 "hits" on the Web on Shergold's name, and quoted at length from the Shergold "FAQ" (file of "Frequently Asked Questions") generated on alt.folklore.urban, the debunkers paradise.  


"Most Bizarre Suicide" Story Traced?

          In the last issue of FTN (38: 13) we  printed the text of a story in circulation purporting to be an excerpt from a speech to a 1994 coroners' conference and telling the supposedly true story of a bizarre suicide.  Via the debunking newsgroup alt.folklore.urban, its guru "Snopes" (, and Alan Mays, comes reference to a Washington Post story by Tracy Thompson, 21 February 1996.  The story ("World Wide Web: the Craziest Rumors Fall Through the Net") quotes the author of the suicide story, Don Harper Mills, to the effect that he made up the fictional story for the entertainment of the 1987 conference of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences.    Thompson calls such stories "netmyths."   She suggests they are a peculiarly modern phenomenon, a result of the incredibly rapid dissemination possible through the internet, and therefore different from other kinds of legend.   (The terms "Internet legend" and "cyber-legend" have also been circulating for these stories.)  Thompson discusses several such legends, including one that became popular in the summer of 1995 to explain a statement that Neil Armstrong, the American astronaut, apparently made upon putting his feet on the moon surface in 1969.  His enigmatic words were "Good luck, Mr. Gorsky."  The legendary explanation, now debunked, is that when Armstrong was a boy, his next-door neighbour, Mrs. Gorsky, was overheard to exclaim to her husband in the seeming privacy of her home, but through an open window, "Oral sex?  Oral sex, you want?  You'll get oral sex when the kid next door walks on the moon."  Unfortunately Thompson does not suggest an origin to the story;  rather she repeats the legend's own explanation that Armstrong himself told the truth in a speech in Florida, willing now that Mr. Gorsky is dead.


Legends (?) of customs that kill

The Boston Globe, 3 January 1996, p. 4, reported two cases of accidental death by customary activity at New Year's Eve. The first was an Associated Press story ("New Year's cakes kill 4 in Japan...") about the choking deaths of elderly people, some number of which occur each year, from eating rice cakes ("a traditional delicacy").  The second was a Reuters story ("...and grapes kill woman in Spain") about the choking death of a Madrid woman at midnight December 31st.  "Spaniards swallow one grape with each stroke of midnight, making a wish each time."



The February 1996 issue of Fortean Times (#85, p. 17) has a useful compendium ("Fears of a Clown") of newspaper clippings and reports of rumour panics of clowns capturing children for the international organ trade.  The rumours were reported from Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Essex in England, and Virginia, Maryland, D.C. and Minnesota in the United States.    They were all during 1994 and 1995.  Included is a drawing by John Wayne Gacy, the Illinois multi-murderer, showing himself as a clown.


Internet rumour panic

          In early May 1996, the following email flyer was sighted being passed chain-letter fashion (and spam-fashion, that is, being sent to as many Lists and newsgroups as possible without regard for their topical charters) around the Internet.  It came to my attention with a headnote by and for Canadians pointing out, blason-fashion, how paranoid Americans must be to believe such a thing.  It is a joining of two messages, passsed along as a single warning.  I have not visited the web site mentioned.  Although I have edited out most of the structural paraphernalia of email chains, I have left the spelling, punctuation and expurgations as found.  - PH.

          Just this morning, our wonderful President Clinton passed into LAW an outrageous bill regulating what con be said and done on the internet.  This INCLUDES your OWN PERSONAL E‑MAIL!!!  It prohibits the use of profanities, or the mention of ...well... I can't say it (the premature termination of a pregnancy). Whether you know it or not, for every e‑mail you send, an exact copy of that message is sent to the FCC.  Notice the messages on your computer screen the next time you send an e‑mail.  I have included below a copy of a letter I recieved earlier in the day that explains it maybe in more detail.  Anyway I ask that EVERY one of you who recieve this letter, forward it to as many people as possible, and PLEASE E‑mail the big‑man himself at PRESIDENT@WHITEHOUSE.GOV.  I'm sure he'd love to hear from all the people who helped get him elected.  Well, thank you for your time, and uh... oh yeah.  If you want more info. on how this law affects YOU, then visit, and click on the words "Why is this page black?"  It has a nice summary, and the entire bill, If you would like to read it.


                One outraged m____r f____r.

          Yesterday, Feb. 1, 1996, Both houses of our congress passed a telecommunications bill which had a provision in it making it illegal to discuss AB__TION of all things on the Internet.  That means that no web sites, FTP sites, Gopher sites, OR E‑MAIL MESSAGES (!!!) Can contain any reference to abortion.  Not even in a clinical manner.  A doctor is not allowed to Email a patient with a recommendation on wether or not to have an abortion.  Wether or not you are for or against abortion does not matter, abortion in itself is not the issue.  The issue is the curtailing of EVERY AMERICANS FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHTS.  Clinton has said that he will sign this bill into law, possibly even today.  The bill calls for jail time and heavy fines of ANYONE caught discussing abortion in any way on the net, even in the international news groups.

          This is a horrible abuse of legislative power against the American people, and we can do something about it.  Please, Write the president at, and let him know that you are outraged about this bill passing (if indeed you are outraged, which I sincerly hope you are.)

          Also, mass forward this message to as many people as possible, anyone you know who uses the net.  With this bill, and the development of the Compuserve Newsgroup blackout, our freedom on the net is being seriously curtailed.

          Please help, and spread this message.  Thank you.

          From Alexander Russell Warner, Vassar, Class of '99




Carrot-eyes belief an intentional disinformation?

          Via the sharp eyes of Martin Lovelace (Dept of Folklore, Memorial University of Newfoundland) we have a clipping from the Toronto Globe and Mail (27 March 1996, p. A4) containing the regular column "Body Works Interactive" (  In it David Slocombe, a Toronto reader, gives his version of the origin of the widespread belief that carrots are good for vision.  It was, he writes, "an urban legend intentionally created during the Second World War by British Intelligence" in an effort to hide the existence of radar from the Germans.  Mr Slocombe reports hearing this story in the mid-1970s while studying engineering at the University of Toronto.  His professor, John Abrams "had been a member of the original Operational Research Group, formed to investigate 'difficult' problems faced by the Allies."  In order to hide just how far along the radar scheme was, "an elaborate disinformation campaign was undertaken."  They "let it be known that airmen were being force-fed carrots to improve their night vision....  As a result most people in the Western world absorbed this legend."



New Celebrity-Is-Dead Legend: Rowan Atkinson, Mr Bean, is Dead?

          In late March 1996 a rumour was circulating among schoolchildren in St. John's, Newfoundland, that Rowan Atkinson, the comedian who plays "Mr. Bean" on television, recently died, soon after completing his last show.  According to the rumour, he had been drinking and was killed in a resulting car accident.   The rumour turned up as a query to the weekly phone-in "Trivia" programme on CBC Radio Noon and was denied by the show's host who had done some Web-research on the topic of Atkinson's public appearances in the recent past.   [ - PH]


Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary,...

Philip Hiscock

MUN Folklore & Language Archive

St. John's, Newfoundland,  CANADA A1B 3X8


          Also circulating among school-age children in the St. John's area this spring has been the "Mary Worth" incantation cycle of legend and belief.   My six-year-old nephew, David Galway, phoned me on 13 June 1996 to tell me he'd heard about it at his after-school daycare centre, Child's Play, in The Goulds (about eight miles outside St. John's).  All the children were talking about it, he said, and the boys were shouting it about. The girls were not as interested as the boys and David himself did not believe in it.   David's older brother said he'd heard about Bloody Mary when he was in Grade Five (four years ago) at St Kevin's School in The Goulds. 

          The gist, according to David, is that if you stand in front of a mirror and say "Bloody Mary" ten times in succession, she will appear to you.  Just who or what Bloody Mary is, David was not sure.  Nonetheless he'd heard that one boy, somewhat older than he, claimed that he'd seen something red on a window when he performed the ritual.

          David thought most of the children were not frightened by the stories, but some of the more feckless children were scared;   perhaps they just do not have a folklorist uncle. 


The big ship and the light

Philip Hiscock

MUN Folklore & Language Archive

Memorial University of Newfoundland

St. John's, Newfoundland, CANADA A1B 3X8


          Just as this issue was going to press there were several reports of a piece of recent photocopylore (or "frequently forwarded email" as Dan VanArsdale in this issue appropriately calls the phenomenon) being taken as news.  The bit of lore is a short "transcript" of a conversation purportedly between a ship's captain and the operator of what turns out to be a light station. A typical version is the following:

  •The following is a transcript of a radio conversation between a US Navy ship and a Canadian source off the coast of Newfoundland last fall, as released by the Chief of Naval Operations:

Ship 1:  Please divert your course 15 degrees to the            North to avoid a collision.

Ship 2:  Recommend you divert YOUR course 15 degrees.

Ship 1:  This is the captain of a US Navy ship.  I say            

                again divert your course.

Ship 2:  No, I say again divert YOUR course.

Ship 1:  This is an aircraft carrier of the US Navy.  We

                are a large warship.  Divert your course now!

Ship 2:  This is a lighthouse.  Your call.

This particular version was posted to the usenet group rec.humor on 7 June 1996 by Tomoe Gozen (, Mount Holyoke College, and is attributed to Dan Beaulieule of the Montreal Gazette.  It differs from most versions in being placed off Newfoundland -- other versions place it in the Puget Sound area of the West Coast of North America.  Instead of "last fall," most other versions give a specific date:  10 October 1995.  

          It is apparently this version, or something similar to it, that found its way into the Toronto Sun during the few days before I got a phone call on Wednesday 12 June.  The caller was Mr John Butler of the Canadian Coast Guard here in St. John's.  He in turn had been phoned from Ottawa by Newfoundland Member of Parliament George Baker.  Mr Baker had told him that as a result of the Sun's (undated) report, Ottawa and Toronto were abuzz with the rumour that an American aircraft carrier had actually struck a Newfoundland lighthouse.  He was trying to sort it out.  Mr Butler was able only to say two things:  it had not happened in Newfoundland, and it sure sounded like an old joke he knew.  The old joke, as he recounted it to me, was very much like the above-quoted "transcript."  I agreed it sounded like a contemporary legend, growing out of traditional jokes about modern technologies and their operators:  big-shot people who know how to drive an aircraft carrier (run a space shot, do brain surgery or advanced maths, etc), but cannot read plain signs that any joe-layman can.

          On Sunday 16 June I did a few quick searches of Web and Usenet sources and found the transcript has been in active circulation on the Internet for at least a month.  In early May it had started turning up as part of several posters' "sig files" -- the little witticisms that people often append to every bit of email they send out and that also include their name and address.  The transcript appeared in that form in such newsgroups as,,  and rec.aviation.military.  Later, it was posted to standard humour groups (as above to rec.humor).  Finally it made it on to several Web home pages.  (See,, and, for examples.  Other URLs can be found by using the standard Web search engines.)

          In the early hours of Sunday 16 June, a posting to alt.folklore.urban by John Turner ( pointed out that the Toronto Globe and Mail once again "vectored" a contemporary legend.  (See FTN 38: 10 for the Globe's November 1995 version of the $250 cookie.)   Quoting Canadian Senator Pat Carney speaking in the Senate on 30 May, they apparently repeated the text of the transcript, placing the transaction in Newfoundland waters.  Turner points out that Carney, to her credit, used the term "alleged transcript."  He dates the Globe article by saying "today's" paper and, although this seems to refer to the Saturday 15 June paper,  I searched it in vain.

          Any other "vectors" of this legend would be appreciated.


The pan was too small

Alan E. Mays

Heindel Library, Penn State Harrisburg,

777 W. Harrisburg Pike, Middletown,

PA 17057‑4898, USA


          Jan Harold Brunvand, in Curses! Broiled Again! (1989), pp. 191-92, relates a "bungling bride story" that's based on the "stereotype of the inept newlywed woman."   The novice cook cuts the ends off a roast before cooking it, since that's the way her mother always did it.  Later, she finds out that her mother (and sometimes her mother's mother, too) cut off the ends because the pan or oven was too small and the roast wouldn't fit.  In other variations, the meat may be ham, turkey, chicken, or leg of lamb.  Often it's the husband who exposes his wife's foolishness.  The three versions below demonstrate that the story continues to circulate on the Internet and in the media.

  •      Reading [other postings in] about trying to duplicate Grandma's recipe for soup or knishes or whatever reminds me of my all‑time favorite joke, better posted here than in [rec.]humor.

          The new Jewish bride is making her first big dinner for her husband and tries her hand at her mother's brisket recipe, cutting off the ends of the roast the way her mother always did.  Hubby thinks the meat is delicious, but says, "Why did you cut off the ends ‑‑ that's the best part!"  She answers, "That's the way my mother always made it."

          The next week, they go to her mother's house.  She serves the same brisket, prepared the same way with the ends cut off.  When asked why she cut off the ends, she says, "Well, that's the way my mother always did it."

          The next week, they go to the old bubbie's house, and she prepares the famous brisket recipe, again cutting off the ends.  The young bride is sure she must be missing some vital information, so she asks her grandma why she cut off the ends.  Grandma says, "Dahlink, that's the only way it will fit in the pan!"  [Marcy Hirsch,,, 10 May 1994.]

  •      "The Commish," the police commissioner who is the central character in the U.S. television show of the same name, asked one of his police officers why he was making five photocopies of each document and throwing away the fifth copy every time.  The officer replied, "That's the way we've always done it."  In response, the Commish told a story.  When he first got married, he asked his wife why she always cut the ends off the roast.  She told him that it cooked better and that's the way her mother did it.  When he questioned his mother-in-law about it the next time he saw her, she said the same thing -- that's how her mother always did it.  When he checked with his wife's grandmother, she told him that she cut the roast ends off so it would fit in the pan.  [The Commish, ABC-TV, episode aired 28 May 1994.]

  •      The day before Christmas was nice for the young couple who was planning a dinner for some immediate family.  The young woman asked her husband to go to the store to get a ham.  The young man obliged.  When the man returned the wife said "Honey, you didn't get the end of the ham cut off."  To which the man replied, "I got the right kind, didn't I?"


          "Then what is the problem?"

          "You didn't get the end of the ham cut off."

          "Why do you need the end of the ham cut off?"

          The young woman, exasperated, responded, "Because my mother always got the end of hers cut off."  The young man asked why her mother got the end of the ham cut off, and the young woman didn't know why.  So they decided to call up her mother.

          "Mom why did you always get the end of the ham cut off?"

          "I don't know ‑‑ my mom always did."

          So then the three of them did a conference call to the grandmother, and when asked why she cut the end of the ham off, [she] replied, "Because my pan was too small."

          "Oh!"  [Elizabeth Cawhern,, rec.humor, 7 Dec 1995.]

          For published versions, see Mike McGrady, The Husband's Cookbook (New York: J. B. Lippincott, 1979), p. 54 (chicken legs are removed), and Stephen Steinberg, "Ethnicity in Contemporary America: A Critical Appraisal," in Governor's Conference on Ethnicity: A Conference to Explore the Impact of Pennsylvania's Cultural Diversity on Public Policy, June 8-9, 1990, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: Proceedings, ed. Shalom Staub (Harrisburg, Pa.: Pennsylvania Heritage Affairs Commission, 1990), p. 7 ("a chunk of meat" is thrown away).

          Another bungling cook story also reflects a misunderstanding about a cooking practice but involves potatoes rather than meat.

  •      My parents met, and got married while working in Venezuela for Shell Oil.  Shell provided their North American employees with North American houses, Venezuelan maids, and a company store that sold North American food, like potatoes.

          My mother taught her maid how to prepare baked potatoes.  In some families, people poke the uncooked potatoes with a fork [to prevent them from exploding in the oven], other families cut an "X" in them.  In my family we cut an "X" in them.

          Anyhow, one day my mother heard an explosion in the kitchen!  She ran in to see what was going on.  The maid was hysterical, and there was baked potato all over the oven.

          "Seńora!" she cried.  "I am so sorry, I knew how religious you were, but this time I was in a hurry, and I didn't think God would notice."  [Gwen Eckman,, UGA Humor List, 22 Feb. 1995.]


 Customer Relations 101

Bill Ellis passes along the following, culled from a folklore discussion list at Ohio State University,  folklist@magnus.acs.ohio‑

The first part was posted 31 Jan 1996 by Chris Antonsen  (  who entitled it "Customer Relations 101" and who wrote the introductory words.  The second was posted by Inez Cardoza-Freeman (, 14 Feb 1996.

  •      Does the text below look like in‑house corporate legendry to you too?  It seems unusual that the "moral" of the story is that any group of disgruntled customers can be won back with good (witty, assertive) service but that what the employee actually does is probably enough to get her fired.  Classically improbable.  Any of you legendeers out there know of other legends like this?   --  Chris Antonsen

          This is apparently a true story...   

          An award should go to the United Airlines gate agent in Denver for  being smart and funny, and making her point, when confronted with a passenger who probably deserved to fly as cargo.

          During the final days at Denver's old Stapleton airport, a crowded  United flight was canceled.

          A single agent was rebooking a long line of inconvenienced travelers.  Suddenly an angry passenger pushed his way to the desk.  He slapped   his ticket down on the counter and said, "I HAVE to be on this flight and it has to be FIRST CLASS."

          The agent replied, "I'm sorry sir.  I'll be happy to try to help you, but I've got to help these folks first, and I'm sure we'll be able to work something out."

          The passenger was unimpressed.  He asked loudly, so that the passengers behind him could hear, "Do you have any idea who I am?"

          Without hesitating, the gate agent smiled and grabbed her public address microphone.

          "May I have your attention please?" she began, her voice bellowing throughout the terminal.  "We have a passenger here at the gate WHO DOES NOT KNOW WHO HE IS.  If anyone can help him find his identity,  please come to the gate."

          With the folks behind him in line laughing hysterically, the man glared at the United agent, gritted his teeth and swore "(Expletive) you."

          Without flinching, she smiled and said, "I'm sorry, sir, but you'll have to stand in line for that, too."

          The man retreated as the people in the terminal applauded loudly.

          Although the flight was canceled and people were late, they were no  longer angry at United.  Chris Antonsen  [, 31 Jan 1996]

  •Hello: Your airline story was very funny so I passed it on to my ex‑brother‑in‑law who told his son.  His son, in turn, told him a story his boss told him about something that had happened to her.  Here is what he said:

          "Here's another funny about the woman behind the airline ticket counter.  It was sent to my by my son Charlie and the woman in the story is his boss.  She was standing in line at the counter behind a guy who was giving the agent a very bad time about something or other and after the guy had left, Charlie's boss asked her [the ticket agent] how she was able to keep her composure with that kind of harrassment and the agent said, "This job has its small rewards, he is going to LaGuardia, his bags are on their way to Tokyo."

          Send more of these across the "net"!   [Inez Cardoza‑Freeman]


Rat bites at the cinema

Philip Hiscock

MUN Folklore & Language Archive

St John's, Newfoundland A1B 3X8


          During May and into June 1996 the St. John's area was teeming with rumours of a covered-up infestation of rats at the city's biggest cinema.  The story varied from teller to teller and over time, but the basic story was that a young girl had gone to "Twister" or "Mission Impossible" in the Avalon Mall's main, largest, and oldest theatre.  That theatre is about thirty years old, but has been renovated several times to have the appearance of the four theatres more recently built in the same complex.   Upon returning home she found either blood on her leg or an inexplicable swelling of her leg.  Her mother took her to the hospital where a doctor proclaimed it to be a rat bite.  The explanatory motif that the rats were "driven up from below the theatre by construction" also occurs.  There is no such construction but there is a largish stream that is diverted underground through the mall's parking lot;  its rats may be providing some of the legend fodder.

          The manager of the cinema, Ron Flynn, told me that he first started hearing the legend about 18 May.  He told all who asked that the story simply wasn't true -- they had no signs of rats, and no one had complained to him or his staff.   In order to stand ground against the rumours he immediately called in the local pest control company with which he has a contract for regular inspections.  As it happened they showed up the same time that the provincial government health inspectors arrived.  They'd too heard the rumours and were springing a check on him.  They all went together through all the cinemas, projection rooms, food preparation areas, etc., and all agreed there were no signs of rodents.

           The rumour reached its peak in the following week.  The Folklore Department here at Memorial University of Newfoundland was alive with the rumour and detective work started on all fronts.  Likewise the media started trying to track down the patients who had gone to the Emergency wards, or seen their doctors.   No one could track down anyone with first-hand knowledge.  As the debunkers made known what they knew, new motifs appeared that increased the original number of bites, and that tried to make sense of the cover-up.

          Television and radio reports started 30 May. They all took the form of quotes from health inspectors and mall management, etc., to the effect that no rats are known about and no bites have been reported.    I do a weekly folklore item for the regional Newfoundland and Labrador network of CBC radio and in my pieces on 6 and 13 June 1996, I put the rumour panic in the context of other such anti-business and anti-individual rumour panics.  In the past few years there have been several such destructive rumours in the province and  several individuals have gone public with their plight in an effort to stop them.  Included were a doctor in Clarenville, who was battling a rumour that she and her young son were HIV-positive, and a schoolteacher and Scout leader in Grand Falls fighting a rumour that he was about to be charged with paedophilia. 

          Local phone-in shows were still carrying calls about the purported infestation in the second week of June, but the counter-rumour was already spreading that the rat story was just another "urban myth" or "urban legend."   Enough people recognise these now-traditional terms that they seem to work as a counter-legend inoculant within the tradition.   Nonetheless new motifs were still appearing in the first two weeks of June, including that of the wound that won't heal (or, alternatively, blood that won't stop flowing and explained by the pseudo-scientific assertion that rat saliva has an anti-coagulant), and the assertion that some customers had stopped buying clothing from stores in the mall, for fear of catching disease.  [See also Furs and Blankets, p. 4, above.]





Widow's Revenge

Paul Smith has brought to our attention an early redaction (ancestor?) of the cheap-Porsche-as-revenge story normally told today of a left wife.  It is from The Heptameron of the Tales of Margaret, Queen of Navarre, originally printed in 1558.  The story is Tale 55 in the 1898 edition (London: Gibbings) in a "translation ... from the authentic text of M. Le Roux de Lincy, ... first issued by the Society of English Bibliophilists in 1894."  In this tale the rich but moribund husband (in the city of Saragossa) asks that a particularly valuable horse be sold, the proceeds of which should be given to the poor for the sake of his soul.  The widow follows his wishes by selling the horse extremely cheaply, but including in the bargain a cat at a very high price, the sum being a reasonable price for the horse.  The smaller price goes to the poor.  The 1898 editorial notes (by George Saintsbury) suggest that Queen Margaret had heard the story on a trip to Spain in 1525.


UFO Abductee writes book

          According to a news item ("Voices of New England:  'UFOs have been flying around here for years'" based on an interview by Clare Kittredge) in the Boston Globe (4 February 1996, pp. 39-40), Betty Hill has published a memoir.  Hill and her husband were media celebrities in 1965 when they claimed to have been abducted four years earlier by a UFO in the New Hampshire White Mountains.  A book was published at the time, The Interrupted Journey.  Hill's new book, A Common Sense Approach to UFOs, tries to "clear up myths and fears about aliens....  They're not offensive.  They won't attack."


The O'Hair Petition

          The resurgence of Craig Shergold appeals and their effects on mailrooms somewhere brings to mind the problems of the American Federal Communications Commission (FCC) which regulates, among other things, the broadcasting networks of the United States.  In the mid-1970s an appeal went out among Christians in that country to try and stop the efforts of the famous atheist Madalyn Murray O'Hair who was purportedly petitioning the FCC to have all religious broadcasting banned.  The weekly TV Guide (24 July 1976, pp. 4-6) published a short investigative story by Jim Castelli on the subject entitled "The Curse of the Phantom Petition."  It outlines the history of the appeal and reports that in 1975-76 the FCC had received 3.7 million pieces of mail about a petition that never existed.  Castelli quotes a few sentences from one of the flyers carrying the appeal and notes the active role of the trade association, the National Religous Broadcasters, in spurring it along.   Normal mail to the FCC was being filed away but because of the extraordinary costs involved in handling the avalanche of mail,  the commission sought and received permission from the National Archives to destroy all anti-O'Hair-petition mail after thirty days.    [For more recent O'Hair rumours, and the resurgence of the petition, see the article by Maryann Struman listed in "Recent Publications" at the end of this issue of FTN.]




ISCLR Annual General Meeting

          At the Bath Conference in late July 1996, the annual general meeting is scheduled for Wenesday 31 July at 4:15.   All members are encouraged to attend the AGM.


Buchan Essay Prize Awarded to Kimberly J. Lau

          The International Society for Contemporary Legend Research announces that its first annual student essay prize has been awarded to Kimberly J. Lau.   A second‑year graduate student in the Department of Folklore at the University of Pennsylvania, Lau received the award for her paper, "On the Rhetorical Use of Legend:  U. C. Berkeley Campus Lore as a Strategy for Coded Protest."

          The University of California at Berkeley was a hotbed of student rallies during the 1960s but Lau notes that controversies of the 1990s have drawn only a handful of protesters.  Does this mean that students have stopped rebelling against authorities?

          Lau argues that students have turned instead to folklore that can express social protest in an indirect way.  Her paper analyses widely known legends about Berkeley campus landmarks told by students who conduct tours.

          The legends tell a tale of unfinished plans and architectural follies.  One building, known for labyrinthine corridors and unpredictable passageways, was said to be the result of two quarrelling architects.  Unable to work together, each of them planned half of the edifice, and the administration had no choice but to connect the two inconsistent blueprints.

          Another structure has the campus's motto in mirror image on its ceiling, so it could be reflected in a pool of water below.  But a wealthy patron supposedly pointed out that male students could also use the pool to look up coeds' dresses, so the plan was aborted.

          Even one of the architectural landmarks of the campus, the elaborate decorated ceiling in the library's circulation room, is said to have been obscured for many years by an ugly false ceiling.  In fact, the story goes, when it was rediscovered years later, no one in the administration remembered that the ornamentations were there.

          Lau dates the rise of such legends to the period after the 1960s, as open protests declined in popularity.  Even though they focus on buildings rather than people, they all suggest that administrators who oversaw their construction have strayed from U. C. Berkeley's original aims.   They portray campus officials as blundering, prudish, and unconcerned with art, while their policies are as much of a confusing maze as the corridors of their buildings.  Yet the anonymous nature of folklore lets such criticisms circulate in a socially acceptable way.

          "Lau's essay is clear, well‑informed, and ground‑breaking," ISCLR President Bill Ellis said in announcing the award. "Legends about the 'incompetent architect' have been found all over the world, but rarely have they been linked so clearly with students' concerns at a specific campus."

          "The essay's attention to performance and context make it a model for future work," he added.

          The prize honours the work of Dr. David Buchan, a leading international ballad and contemporary legend scholar who died in 1994.  Lau will receive $250 and an engraved glass goblet for her effort.  She will be given a year's free membership in ISCLR, and her essay will also be considered by the society's journal, Contemporary Legend.


ISCLR Home Page on the Web

The ISCLR, with the help of Jeff Mazo of Hisarlik Press, which publishes the ISCLR journal Contemporary Legend, now has a home page on the World Wide Web.    Point your web browser to http:\\\~hermes\hisarlik\isclr.htm.  The page is still "under construction" and comments are welcome.


Call for papers

          The Enzyklopädie des Märchens (EM), aligned to the Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Göttingen, and the Seminar für Volkskunde, Georg-August-Universität, Göttingen, will be hosting the XIIth Congress of the International Society for Folk Narrative Research (ISFNR).  The Congress will be held at Göttingen University 26-31 July 1998.

          The general topic will be "Horizons of Narrative Communication."  Specific topics:

                - Narrating the Future

                - Narratives in Everyday Communication

                - Narrative Communication and Gender

                - Transcultural Communication

                - Narrative Communication and the Media

                - Folk Narrative Research and Mentality

          Members of the ISFNR are invited to contribute to the congress by presenting papers on recent investigations.  Abstracts shall be accepted at the discretion of the organisation committee.  Papers are welcome in English, French, or German.


          Registration and fees:                   1 July 1997

          Title of paper and abstract:           1 July 1997

          Accomodation:                              1 March 1998

          Publications for exhibition:             1 March 1998

 Registration fees for the Congress are:

          DM 250  (DM 150,   for accompanying person;

          DM 200,  for students)

Organisation committee:

          XIIth ISFNR Congress,  Enzyklopädie des Märchens

          Friedländer Weg 2

          D - 37085 Göttingen

          Tel.: *49551 395358

Fax: *49551 392526;  Email:


First Skeptics World Congress

          The State University of New York at Buffalo is hosting the First World Skeptics Congress 20-23 June 1996.   More than sixty speakers are listed in the pamphlet advertising the congress, entitled "Science in the Age of (Mis)Information."

"For anyone interested in the folklore of deviant groups, conspiracy theorists, and people who are just a little off base, ... a conference ... on erroneous & unsubstantiated belief systems and how they interact with the media."   Speakers include Stephen Jay Gould and James Randi.  For information, email J. J.  Kane ( or telephone 716-636-1425.





Books and Monographs

Carl G. LiungmanThought Signs: The Semiotics of Symbols: Western Nonpictorial Ideograms.  Amsterdam: IOS Press;  Tokyo: Ohmsha, 1995.  pp. 698.  ISBN 90 5199 1975 (IOS Press).  Contents: Part I, Graphic Indices: 5-93; Part II, Ideographic Dictionary: 95-550; Part III, Appendices: 551-640, An annotated bibliography: 641-45; Part IV, Word Index: 647-98.  For over twenty years, Swedish scholar Carl G. Liungman has collected and studied Western ideograms, from prehistoric signs carved in rocks to modern computer signs, passing through astrological symbols, alchemical signs, international ideograms on household appliances, manufacturing logos, signs used in comic strips, and many other systems of signs.  This dictionary represents about 2,300 symbols and their meanings, which are more numerous because many graphic signs have multiple meanings.  A useful tool for professionals working with graphic communication, but also for anyone interested in our Western heritage, symbolism, and history.  Contemporary legend scholars will be particularly interested in the esoteric and satanic symbols, hobo and gypsy signs, signs of secret societies, symbols sprayed on walls by political activists, "smilie" signs, and even crop circles.  [Jean-Bruno Renard]


We've received a new edition of Kevin McClure's The Angels of Mons, The Comrade in White, and Other Mysteries of World War I:  Visions of Angels and Tales of Bowmen (24 pp.).  It is available from the author for Ł3.00 (including postage) for addresses in Europe, or US$5.00 (cash only) for anywhere else in the world.  Write to Kevin McClure, 23 Strawberrydale Avenue, Harrogate, North Yorkshire  HG1 5EA UNITED KINGDOM.


The Fund for UFO Research, Inc., (Box 277, Mount Rainier, MD 20712 USA) distributes books, reports, videotapes and government documents relating to UFOs, investigation of them and belief in them.  A list is available from their address.


Journals and Newsletters

          Enigmas del Hombre y el Universo is a glossy, full-colour, 98-page magazine from Spain containing stories of strange occurrences.  It has a cover price of 400 Pesetas.  The advertising content of the magazine indicates an audience tuned to "New Age" concerns.   FTN has received two issues,  1:1 and 2:1, both undated but evidently 1995 and 1996.   Each issue has a section, "Leyendas Urbanas" ("Urban legends").  In the introductory issue, this section is Jean-Bruno Renard's "Aviones Ladrones de Nubes"  ("Planes that steal clouds") (pp. 68-71), an article on the rumours of mysterious planes wreaking havoc on weather over agricultural lands.  The second issue has Peter Burger's "La Inmaculada Concepción:  Leyendas de Fecundación y Alumbramiento" ("Immaculate conception:  legends of pregnancy and childbirth") (pp. 81-85) about legends of impregnation in hotel bathtubs and public pools.

          Fortean Times  will henceforth, from issue 86 (May 1996), be a monthly, rather than bi-monthly, magazine "of strange phenomena."  As a result, its subscription rate has increased to US$59.40 (Ł26.40).  It is now available on newsstands.  The UK distributor is UMD:   tel. 0171 638 4666.   A North American toll-free number will give information on American newsstands:  800-221-3148.   An email address for subscription information is   Issue 85 (Feb/Mar 1996) includes the usual assortment of stories culled from news and correspondents:  crop circles in Czechia, Holland, and particularly artistic ones in England;  the Puerto Rico goatsucker (see also FTN38: 14 and Bill Ellis's note in this issue);  the catapulted cat that answered a child's prayer;  organ theft rumours in Brazil (FTN36 & 37 have similar stories from India and Central America);  reports of a koala, a stag, and a snow leopard wandering about Welsh countrysides;  the involvement of clowns in organ theft rumours in Central America, Mexico, the United States, and England (see for more details "Clowns", above in this issue);  wolverines in Wales and binaturongs on Exmoor;  pumas and panthers in Australia.

          Fortean Times  86 (May 1996) and 87 (June 1996) have all the usual sparkle.  Number 86 has flying manhole covers,  a new Loch Ness photo, rumours in Iran that the Fatima Marian shrine in Portugal actually commemorates a visitation by Fatima Zhara, Mohammed's eldest daughter, a photo of the Beverley "miracle rock" [on which, see elsewhere in this issue of FTN], and a report on Fr. M. Kennedy, the Waterford, Ireland, priest who spread the AIDS Mary legend from his pulpit.  Number 87 includes a shower of frogs, a ghost photographed in a burning building, a legless ghost in Tuzla, an investigation of runaway-nun stories, and more.

          L'Observatoire des Parasciences (B.P. 57 -  La Plaine, F-13244 Marseille Cedex 01, FRANCE) publishes an illustrated French-language magazine devoted to UFO studies, OVNI-Présence.  We have received issue no. 54  (février 1995)  and it includes a long article on the Roswell crash rumours/legend-cycle/media-blitz.  Shorter articles and notes include those on the end of the hope for a European centre for the observation of UFOs, and beliefs in mythological monsters.  Cover price is 35FF.

          Skeptical Briefs is the quarterly newsletter of the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal, which also publishes the magazine Skeptical Inquirer.  The latter has longer pieces;  the former short notes, queries and single-page articles on a variety of subjects.  The December 1995 issue of Briefs (5:4) has items on Arthur Conan Doyle's dinosaur hoax of 1922, the death of skeptic Denys Parsons, the myth of pilots' discerning visual powers, popular fears of electromagnetic fields, and a Zanzibar demon that rapes skeptics.  Skeptical Briefs is subscribeable by toll-free telephone at 800-634-1610 (a number that works from Canada as well as the United States;  likely the rest of the world must use 716-636-1425) or by mail at Box 703, Amherst, New York 14226-0703, USA.  The annual rate is US$18.




          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 Pike, Middletown, PA 17057‑4898 United States of America.  English abstracts of works 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.


*  Adler, Jerry.  "Hold the Kidney Pie."  Newsweek (1 April 1996): 59.  [Panic over mad cow disease in Great Britain.]

   Alver, Bente Gullveig.  "The Bearing of Folk Belief on Cure and Healing."  Journal of Folklore Research 32 (1995): 21-33.

           .  "El diablo y su reputación:  Hechos y ficción en la narración popular"  [The devil and his reputation: Facts and fiction in popular narratives].  Revista de Investigaciones Folklóricas  [Buenos Aires, Argentina]  10 (diciembre de 1995), 9-13.

*  Anders, John.  "No Way to Trick or Treat a Lady."  Dallas Morning News (27 Oct. 1995): 1C.  [Local legends of Dallas, Texas, including the Lady of the Lake, a hitchhiking ghost who haunts White Rock Lake.]

   Anderson, Richard W.  "Social Drama and Iconicity: Personal Narratives in Japanese New Religions."  Journal of Folklore Research 32 (1995): 177-205.

*  Angell, Roger.  "True Tales -- Well, Maybe."  New Yorker (22 Jan. 1996): 37-40, 42-43.  [Contemporary legends that Angell has heard over the years.]

   Anthony, Susan, and Spencer Gibbins.  "Believability and Importance as Determinants of Rumor among Deaf College Students."  American Annals of the Deaf 140 (1995): 271‑78.

   Arnold, Larry E.  Ablaze!: The Mysterious Fires of Spontaneous Human Combustion.  New York: M. Evans, 1995.

   Baker, Ronald L.  From Needmore to Prosperity: Hoosier Place Names in Folklore and History.  Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1995.  [Place-name legends.]

*  Barrientos, Tanya.  "Urban Myths Are Adapting to Computer Age."  Philadelphia Inquirer (24 March 1996): H1, H6.  [Bill Ellis comments on the Good Times computer virus warning and other legends transmitted over computer networks.]

*  Barry, Dan.  "St. Joseph as Patron of Real Estate."  New York Times (19 May 1996):sec. 1, 27.  [Burying St. Joseph statues in front yards as a way to ensure sale of homes.]

*  Beaumont, Peter.  "Parish Priest Hoaxed over Devil Shampoo."  Observer (29 Oct. 1996): 5.  [Priest in East Anglia passes along the Procter & Gamble satanism alert.]

*  Benefiel, Candace R.  "Fangs for the Memories: Vampires in the Nineties."  Wilson Library Bulletin 69 (May 1995): 35-38.  [The vampire in literature, with a bibliography of recent works.]

*  Berlin, Eric, and Andrew Kantor.  "Shipped Disks."  Internet World 6 (Dec. 1995): 28.  [Joking online appeal, á la Craig Shergold, for America Online computer disks; see]

*  Bickers, Robert A., and Jeffrey N. Wasserstrom.  "Shanghai's 'Dogs and Chinese Not Admitted' Sign: Legend, History, and Contemporary Symbol."  China Quarterly, no. 142 (June 1995): 444-66.  [Apocryphal sign supposedly banned dogs and Chinese from municipal parks in Shanghai.]

*  Birnbach, Lisa.  "How Nutty Can He Get?"  Parade Magazine (9 June 1996): 4-5.  [Actor Eddie Murphy talks about "The Elevator Story."]

   Boelderl, Artur R., and Daniela F. Mayr.  "The Undead and the Living Dead: Images of Vampires and Zombies in Contemporary Culture."  Journal of Psychohistory 23 (1995): 51-65.

*  Bourke, Angela.  "Reading a Woman's Death: Colonial Text and Oral Tradition in Nineteenth-Century Ireland."  Feminist Studies 21 (1995): 553-86.  [Fairy abduction legend.]

*  Bradley, Mary O.  "Campus Folklore Part of Student Life: Rumors Not Just Tall Tales."  [Harrisburg, Pa.] Evening News (2 Nov. 1995): C1, C7.  [Simon Bronner discusses college legends.]

   Brednich, Rolf Wilhelm. Die Ratte am Strohhalm. Allerneuste sagenhafte Geschichten von heute [The rat in the straw: The latest contemporary legends].  München:  C.H. Beck, 1996. 181 p. (Beck'sche Reihe, 1156).  [Brednich's fourth collection of contemporary legends:  129 texts, index to vols. 1‑4].

   Brauner, Sigrid.  Fearless Wives and Frightened Shrews: The Construction of the Witch in Early Modern Germany.  Edited by Robert H. Brown.  Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1995.

*  Brett, Regina.  "Urban Myth of Race Attacks Lives on after Stories Die."  Houston Chronicle (28 Nov. 1995): 2.  [False accusations of racial attacks, such as the Susan Smith case, exacerbate racial tensions.]

   Bronner, Simon J.  Popularizing Pennsylvania: Henry W. Shoemaker and the Progressive Uses of Folklore and History.  University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1996.  [Local and historical legends collected in Pennsylvania by the colourful folklorist and historian Shoemaker.]

    Burger, Peter.  "La Immaculada Concepción:  Leyendas de Fecundación y Alumbramiento."  Enigmas del Hombres y el Universo 2: 1 [1996], 81-85. [Accidental conceptions in hotel baths and swimming pools.]

*  Campbell, Roy H.  "Tommy Hilfiger Will Be Honored Tonight as Menswear Designer of '95."  Philadelphia Inquirer (12 Feb. 1996): F5, F7.  [Clothing designer Hilfiger is the subject of a rumour, also associated with Liz Claiborne, alleging that he announced on television that his clothes weren't intended for African Americans.]

*  Carrigan, Henry.  "To Hell with Publishing."  Publishers Weekly (13 Nov. 1995): 31-32.  [Recent popularity of books about the devil, satanism, end times.]

*  Chelminski, Rudolph.  "A Lie That Won't Go Away."  Reader's Digest (June 1996): 188-92.  [Organ theft rumours.]

*  Chenoweth, Doral.  "Legendary Pizza Mugger Reminds Us to Be Careful."  Columbus Dispatch (15 Feb. 1996): 15.  [Stories of muggers impersonating pizza delivery drivers to rob customers.]

*  Cleary, Catherine.  "Town Stands by Local Hero despite 'Angel of Death' Hype."  Irish Times (19 March 1996): 6.  [Father Michael Kennedy, curate of Dungarvan, Co. Waterford, spread an AIDS Mary tale; cf. FTN 38:8.]

*  "A Comedy of Errors."  Popular Science (Jan. 1996): 78.  [Reprints list of student bloopers that's currently circulating on the Internet.]

    "Cops show high profile."  Ashtabula [Pennsylania] Star-Beacon (25 February 1996).  [Rumours that gans were planning attacks on young blonde girls denied by police.]

*  Corrales, Scott.  "Human Mutilations in the Americas."  Paranoia: The Conspiracy Reader, no. 12 (Spring 1996): 33-35.  [Mutilated human corpses are the result of UFO activity in Latin America.]

        .  "The Monster That's Stalking Puerto Rico."  Fate 49 (April 1996): 50-53.  [Chupacabras reports.]

*  Cox, Billy.  "Vet: 'Stupidity' Key to Lost Patrol."  Florida Today (29 Dec. 1995): 1A, 2A.  [The mystery of the "Lost Patrol," five U.S. Navy bombers that vanished without a trace over the Atlantic Ocean in 1945, was caused by careless navigation rather than alien abduction.]

*  Darnton, John.  "The Logic of the 'Mad Cow' Scare."  New York Times (31 March 1996): sec. 4, 1, 5.

*  Day, Pam A.  "Internet Resources in Folklore and Folklife."  College and Research Libraries News  57 (1996): 204-7.  [Email discussion lists, Usenet newsgroups, and Web sites related to folklore, including some, such as the newsgroup alt.folklore.urban and ISCLR's Web site, that deal specifically with contemporary legends.]

   Dégh, Linda.  Narratives in Society: A Performer-Centered Study of Narration.  FF Communications, no. 255.  Helsinki: Suomalainen Tiedeakatemia, Academia Scientiarum Fennica; Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1995.

*  Dell Valle, Fernando.  "The 'Goat Sucker' Legend Claws Its Way into Texas."  USA Today (15 May 1996): 4A.  [Chupacabras panic along the Texas-Mexico border.]

   Dienstmann, Peter.  "Abort, Retry, Fail:  Data Error in Technology Reporting:  Accuracy and Balance Not Found."  Ryerson Review of Journalism (Spring 1996): 45-47.  [On the transmission of legends and other unverified information by modern journalistic media.]

   DeLoach, Charles.  Giants: A Reference Guide from History, the Bible, and Recorded Legend.  Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1995.

*  Downs, Jere.  "Body Is Left Defaced in Phila."  Philadelphia Inquirer (20 Nov. 1995): B1, B5.

        .  "Mutilated Body's ID Remains a Mystery."  Philadelphia Inquirer (27 Nov. 1995): B1.  [Body of a man with a cross cut into his torso stirs rumours of witchcraft in Philadelphia's Latino community.]

*  Ecenbarger, William.  "Apocalypse Pretty Soon."  Philadelphia Inquirer (7 Jan. 1996): Inquirer Magazine, 12-13, 16, 20.  [Apocalyptic beliefs.]

   Felton, Debbie.  "The Ghost Story in Classical Antiquity."  Ph.D. diss., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1995 (DAI order no. AAC-9538396).  [Haunted house legends in works by Plautus, Pliny the Younger, and Lucian.]

*  Fletcher, Michael A., and Hamil R. Harris.  "Farrakhan Builds Zeal for March At S.E. Church."  Washington Post (18 Sept. 1995): D1.  [Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan tells how a vision of an encounter with a UFO made him decide to hold the Million Man March in Washington, D.C.]

   Fontenot, Wonda L.  Secret Doctors: Ethnomedicine of African Americans.  Westport, Conn.: Bergin and Garvey, 1994.  [African American folk medical beliefs in Louisiana.]

*  "For Real?: An Engine That Runs on Water?"  News Tribune (13 Feb. 1996): A6.  [Inventor Rudolf Gunnerman of Reno, Nevada, claims that he has developed an inexpensive gasoline substitute made from naphtha and water.]

*  France, Mike.  "Forging Legal Links."  National Law Journal (22 Jan. 1996): A4.  [Attorneys and judges pass along a good luck chain letter.]

*  French, Ron.  "Odds Are It's a Myth."  Detroit News (4 Jan. 1996).  [Legends and rumours about casinos and gambling.]

*  Gabler, Neal.  "How Urban Myths Reveal Society's Fears."  Los Angeles Times (12 Nov. 1995): M1.  [The "Bridegroom's Revenge" and other recent legends.]

*  Gammage, Jeff.  "It Was 26 Years Ago; A Story Said Paul...  Oh, No!"  Philadelphia Inquirer (3 Dec. 1995): H1, H4.  [Parodies the Paul McCartney death rumours of 1969.]

   Gardiner, Robin, and Dan van der Vat.  The Riddle of the

Titanic.  London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1995.  [Conspiracy theory alleging that another ship similar to the Titanic was sunk in its place.]

    Gardner, Jule.  "Rumble Rumors More Like 'Urban Myth'."  Erie Times-News (Erie, Pa.) (24 February 1996).  [Rumours of gang recruitment at local malls denied.]

*  Gimple, Scott M., and Bill Morrison.  "Fatal Reception."  TV Guide (21 Oct. 1995): 20-22.  [A Simpsons comic strip incorporates contemporary legend themes.]

*  Godden, Jean.  "Bit Stuffy, But He Sure Gets Around."  Seattle Times (27 Aug. 1995): B1.  [Roaming gnome-type prank involving a stuffed squirrel.]

*  Goodavage, Maria.  "In Search of Bigfoot."  USA Today (24 May 1996): 8A.  [The Bigfoot Research Project searches for evidence of Bigfoot in the northwestern U.S.]

*  Grigsby, Darcy Grimaldo.  "Rumor, Contagion, and Colonization in Gros's Plague-Stricken of Jaffa (1804)."  Representations, no. 51 (Summer 1995): 1-46.  [Wartime rumours during the Napoleonic Egyptian campaign of 1798-1801 as they relate to Gros's painting.]

   Grover, Kathryn.  Make a Way Somehow: African-American Life in a Northern Community, 1790-1965.  Syracuse, N.Y.: Syracuse University Press, 1994.  [Sammy "Butter-in-the-Hat" Thornton, a black man who lived in Geneva, N.Y., in the 1850s, was the subject of a shoplifting legend told by whites; see pp. 261-64.]

   Haberstroh, Jack.  Ice Cube Sex: The Truth about Subliminal Advertising.  Notre Dame, Ind.: Cross Cultural Publications, 1994.  [Challenges the widespread belief in the existence of subliminal advertising and attacks author Wilson Bryan Key's writings in books such as Subliminal Seduction (1973) and The Clam-Plate Orgy (1980).]

*  Harakas, Margo.  "A Medical Center Disavows as Dangerous the Diet That Bears Its Name and Rides the Fax Lines across the Country -- But Dieters Are Eating It Up Anyway."  [Fort Lauderdale, Flor.] Sun-Sentinel (22 Oct. 1995): 1E.  [The cabbage soup diet, also known as the Sacred Heart Medical Center diet, is circulating again; cf. Brunvand, "The Dolly Parton Diet," in The Mexican Pet (1986), pp. 186-90.]

*  "A Haunting We Will Go."  Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (31 Oct. 1995): D-1, D-2.  [True ghost stories sent in by readers to commemorate Hallowe'en.]

   Hay, Colin.  "Mobilization through Interpretation: James Bulger, Juvenile Crime, and the Construction of a Moral Panic."  Social and Legal Studies 4 (1995): 197-223.

*  Hecht, Esther.  "Laughing Matters."  Jerusalem Post (5 Jan. 1996): 10.  [Anthropologist Sharif Kanaana collects Palestinian jokes and legends.]

   Henken, Elissa R., and Mariamne H. Whatley.  "Folklore, Legends, and Sexuality Education."  Journal of Sex Education and Therapy 21 (Spring 1995): 46-61.

   Herz, J. C.  "Campfire Tales."  In Surfing on the Internet: A Nethead's Adventures On-line, pp. 33-42.  Boston: Little, Brown, 1995.  [Alt.folklore.urban discussions.]

*  Hewitson, Jim.  "Now, about Santa."  [Glasgow] Herald (10 Feb. 1996): 39.  [Scottish architectural legend of the Prentice's Pillar at a chapel in Roslin.]

*  Hope, Jack.  "Urban New Agers Have Taken Over the Art of Dowsing."  Smithsonian (Jan. 1996): 66-70, 72, 74-75.

*  Horgan, John.  "Bill Gates's Apocryphal History: The Road Ahead Perpetuates a Myth about the Road Behind."  Scientific American 274 (Feb. 1996): 32B.  [Microsoft founder Gates's book includes the story about a commissioner of U.S. patents who supposedly said in 1899 that "everything that can be invented has been invented."]

*  Horiuchi, Vince.  "Urban Legends Utah: Tattoo Tale Is Laced with Folklore."  Salt Lake Tribune (8 June 1996): A1.  [Jan Harold Brunvand discusses Blue Star acid.]

   Hyman, Michael.  PC Roadkill.  Foster City, Calif.: IDG Books Worldwide, 1995.  [Computer lore, including legends, jokes, Easter eggs, folklore from the Internet.]

*  Jenkins, Philip.  "'Spy Mad'?: Investigating Subversion in Pennsylvania, 1917-1918."  Pennsylvania History 63 (1996): 204-31.  [Rumours and fears of subversive activities in Pennsylvania during World War I.]

*  Johnson, Tracy.  "A Phantom Fear?: Tampering with Halloween Candy Is Rare, Officials Say."  Los Angeles Times (2 Nov. 1995): B3.

*  Jones, Robert A.  "Swallowing the Truth at Capistrano."  Los Angeles Times  (14 Feb. 1996): B2.  [Origin of the legend of the return of the swallows to the Mission at San Juan Capistrano in California each year on 19 March.]

*  Keith, Jim.  "Black Helicopters -- What Are They Hiding?"  Fate 49 (April 1996): 28-31.  [Black helicopters and conspiracy theories about the U.S. government.]

*  Kelley, Lane.  "Refund Form Hoax Survives."  [Fort Lauderdale] Sun‑Sentinel (22 Oct. 1995): 1B.  [Joel Best and Gary Alan Fine discuss an alleged Florida gas-tax refund and compare it to other reparation rumours.]

*  Kelly, Katy.  "Ripley's Great Expectations."  USA Today (17 Jan 1996): D1.  [Touching the African fertility statues on display at the Ripley's museum in Orlando, Florida, helps women become pregnant.]

*  Kelly, Sandra Brown.  "Chain Letter Has Life of Its Own."  Roanoke Times and World News (16 Dec. 1995): B1.  [Craig Shergold.]

   af Kilntberg, Bengt.  "El gato en la argamasa:  acerca de las interpretaciones pseudocientíficas modernas de folklore antiguo"  [The cat in the mortar:  Modern pseudo-scientific interpretations of old folklore].   Revista  de Investigaciones Folklóricas  [Buenos Aires, Argentina] 10  (diciembre de 1995), 14-17.

   Koller, Michael.  "Authoritarianism, Perception, and Person Perception: What Do Authoritarians Infer from Another's Attempt to Rebut a Rumor?"  Basic and Applied Social Psychology 17 (1995): 199-212.

   Konstantinos.  "Ghost Voices: Exploring the Mysteries of Electronic Voice Phenomena."  Popular Electronics (Oct. 1995): 37-41.  [Capturing paranormal voices on audio recordings.]

*  Kreck, Dick.  "A Biscuit with Her Name on It."  Denver Post (6 April 1996): D-8.

        .  "It's Like a Biscuit to the Head."  Denver Post (22 April 1996): F-8.  ["Urban legendologist" Jan Harold Brunvand debunks the "Biscuit Bullet" story.]

   Kruesi, Margaret.  "Symptoms, Signs, and Miracles: Narratives of Illness and Healing at the St. John N. Neumann Shrine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania."  Ph.D. diss., University of Pennsylvania, 1995 (DAI order no. AAC-9532224).  [Examines miracle narratives in terms of David Hufford's experience-centred theory of folklore and argues against the classification of these narratives as saints' legends.]

*  Kuehner, John C.  "It's a Fax, and Untrue, Police Say."  Plain Dealer (15 March 1996): 1B.  [Gang initiation rumour circulating by fax claims that a blonde‑haired, blue‑eyed woman will be abducted and killed.]

*  Langland, Connie.  "Cougar Patrol Is Hot on Trail of 'One Cool Cat' in Delaware."  Philadelphia Inquirer (5 Jan. 1996): B2.  [Wildcat thought to be the Philly cougar (see FTN 36:9-10) is sighted in Delaware.]

*  Lee, Donna.  "Neiman‑Marcus Cookie Tale Is Making the Rounds Again."  Providence Journal‑Bulletin (10 Jan. 1996): 2G.

*  "Lenin for Sale."  Forbes (23 Oct. 1995): FYI supplement, 30-31.  [A 1991 hoax article about the Russian government's plans to sell Lenin's embalmed corpse received worldwide attention.]

*  Lewis, Christopher.  "Hoax Gives Veterans False Hope of Money."  [Harrisburg, Pa.] Evening News (1 Nov. 1995): A1, A12.  ["Veteran's Insurance Dividend" in Pennsylvania.]

   Lewis, James R., and Evelyn Dorothy Oliver.  Angels, A to Z.  Edited by Kelle S. Sisung.  New York: Gale Research, 1996.  [Dictionary of angels, with references and a brief filmography.]

*  Lewis, Kate Bohner.  "Good Samaritan Wins Big."  Forbes (12 Feb. 1996): 18. [Donald and Marla Maples Trump in a version of "The Celebrity's Car Breakdown."]

*  Lewis, Peter H.  "So Who's Afraid of Good Times?"  New York Times (27 Feb. 1996): C10.  [Good Times computer virus.]

*  Lippmann, Thomas W.  "Despite U.S. Efforts, Sketchy Story Gets New Life."  Washington Post (19 March 1996): A3.  [U.S. officials protest a Spanish journalism award for a Brazilian newspaper series on human organ thefts.]

   Love, Spencie.  One Blood: The Death and Resurrection of Charles R. Drew.  Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1996.  [Investigates the legend that Drew, a black surgeon and blood plasma researcher, died following an automobile accident in 1950 when he was refused treatment at a whites-only hospital.]

*  "LSD Tattoos Sold to Unsuspecting Kids."  Key West: The Newspaper (15 March 1996): 3.  [LSD tattoo warning in Florida.]

   MacDonald, William L.  "The Effects of Religiosity and Structural Strain on Reported Paranormal Experiences."  Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 34 (Sept. 1995): 366-76.

*  Macintyre, Ben.  "Mad Puma Scare Grips France's Forbidden Forest."  [London] Times (18 May 1996): 13.  [Wildcat sightings in the Foręt de Chizé in western France.]

*  Marin, Rick, and T. Trent Gegax.  "Saucers in Their Eyes."  Newsweek (22 April 1996): 65.  ["Extraterrestrial Highway" is the new official name for a Nevada road known as a place for UFO sightings.]

*  Martin, Jorge.  "The Goat Sucker: Animal Mutilations and Government Disinformation in Puerto Rico."  Paranoia: The Conspiracy Reader, no. 12 (Spring 1996): 28-32.  [Government cover‑up of UFO link to chupacabras panic.]

*  "Masons, O.J., and the Numerology of Oppression: Excerpts from a Speech by Minister Louis Farrakhan."  Paranoia: The Conspiracy Reader, no. 11 (Winter 1995-96): 15-17.  [Farrakhan, in his speech at the Million Man March last October, discussed Masonic conspiracies.]

*  May, Thomas.  "Out, Damned Curse! Out, I Say!"  Washington Post (29 Oct. 1995): G10.  [Theatrical legend of the Macbeth curse.]

*  Mayor, Adrienne.  "Mad Honey!"  Archaeology 48 (Nov.-Dec. 1995): 32-40.  [Ancient Greek and Roman accounts of naturally toxic honey that causes intoxication or death when consumed.]

*  McArthur, Benjamin.  "'They're Out to Get Us': Another Look at Our Paranoid Tradition."  History Teacher 29 (1995): 37-50.  [Conspiracy theories in American history.]

   Moench, Doug.  The Big Book of Conspiracies.  Introduction by Rev. Ivan Stang.  New York: Paradox Press, 1995.  [Conspiracy theories presented by comic artists.]

   Moore, James.  The Darwin Legend.  Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books, 1994.  [Refutes the story that Charles Darwin recanted his theory of evolution on his deathbed.]

*  Mulkins, Phil.  "Shergold Business Card Hoax Lives."  Tulsa World (8 March 1996): A2.

*  Nathan, Debbie.  "Justice in Wenatchee."  New York Times (19 Dec. 1995): A25.  [Calls the trial (and acquittal) of a Wenatchee, Wash., preacher and his wife on child sex-abuse charges "a throwback to the wave of 'satanic ritual abuse' trials in the 1980's."]

    National Insecurity Council.  It's a Conspiracy:  The Shocking Truth About America's Favorite Conspiracy Theories.  [Available from WFMU, Box 1568, Montclair, NJ 07042 USA for US$10.]

*  Navarro, Mireya.  "A Monster on the Loose? Or Is It Fantasy?"  New York Times (26 Jan. 1996): A10.  [Chupacabras reports in Puerto Rico.]

*  Neusner, Noam M. M.  "Chain Letter Leads Firms on Bogus Trail."  Tampa Tribune (3 May 1996): Business and Finance, 1.  [Craig Shergold.]

   Noblitt, James Randall, and Pamela Sue Perskin.  Cult and Ritual Abuse: Its History, Anthropology, and Recent Discovery in Contemporary America.  Westport, Conn.: Praeger, 1995.

    Ofshe, Richard, and Ethan Watters.  Making Monsters:  False Memories, Psychotherapy, and Sexual Hysteria.  Berkeley:  U California Press, 1996.

   Okonowicz, Ed.  Possessed Possessions: Haunted Antiques, Furniture, and Collectibles.  Elkton, Md. (1386 Fair Hill Lane, 21921): Myst and Lace Publishers, 1996.

*  Paik, Angela, and Kristi Nelson.  "Cougar Glimpse Reported in Aston."  Philadelphia Inquirer (7 March 1996): B3.  [Philadelphia cougar sightings continue (see FTN 36: 9-10).]

*  Pińa, Phillip.  "Grateful Teen Calls a Halt to Get-Well Cards."  USA Today (13 Dec. 1995): 7D.  [Craig Shergold.]

*  Plimpton, George.  "A Twisted Tale."  New Yorker (22 April 1996): 39.  [Wildlife educator Jim Fowler tells how he accidentally locked himself out of his hotel room wearing nothing but a snake.]

*  "Pursuing the Paranormal."  CQ Researcher 6 (29 March 1996): 265-88.  [Belief in UFOs and alien abductions.]

*  Ranallo, Anne Brooks.  "Selling Houses with St. Joseph: Custom Touts Burying Statue."  Plain Dealer (5 Nov. 1995): 1F.  [Use of St. Joseph statues to help owners sell homes.]

*  Renard, Jean-Bruno.   "Aviones Ladrones de Nubes."  Enigmas del Hombre y el Universo 1: 1 [1995], 68-71.  [Legends in France and Spain of rainclouds being rendered impotent by mysterious planes.]

           .  "De l'événement ŕ la légende: la formation des légendes contemporaines" ["From Event to Legend: The Formation of Contemporary Legends"].  Sociétés 47 (1995): 29-36.

   Renner, Craig J.  "Mother Leeds' Curse: The Legend of the Jersey Devil."  The World and I 10 (Nov. 1995): 202-9.

*  Rockett, Karen.  "Hospital Plea on Bogus Chain Letter."  Evening Standard (18 Jan. 1996): 12.  [A chain letter requesting money for the Great Ormond Street Hospital in London continues to circulate, even though the hospital does not condone it.]

*  Rose, Allen.  "Tale Unbelievable and That's a Fact."  Orlando Sentinel (1 Nov. 1995): D1.  ["Bizarre Suicide" story; see FTN 38:13.]

*  Ross, Karl.  "Mystery Creature Ravages Puerto Rican Livestock."  Washington Post (26 Dec. 1995): A5.  [Chupacabras hysteria in Canovanas, P.R.]

*  Sale, Jonathan.  "Travel: You Won't Believe This, But...."  Sunday Telegraph (10 Dec. 1995): 23.  [Contemporary legends involving vacations or travel.]

*  Sauerwein, Kristina.  "Safe Treats?: Hospitals End X-rays for Candy, Cite Lack of Recent Incidents."  St. Louis Post‑Dispatch (31 Oct. 1995): A1.  [Hospitals discontinue x-ray screenings of Hallowe'en candy for harmful objects.]

   Sebald, Hans.  Witch-Children: From Salem Witch-Hunts to Modern Courtrooms.  Amherst, N.Y.: Prometheus Books, 1995.

   Selberg, Torunn.  "Faith Healing and Miracles: Narratives about Folk Medicine."  Journal of Folklore Research 32 (1995): 35-47.

   Sjöberg, Richard. L.  "Child Testimonies during an Outbreak of Witch Hysteria: Sweden, 1670-1671."  Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines 36 (1995): 1039-51.

*  Solomon, Alan.  "Queen of Cuisine."  Chicago Tribune (10 May 1995): 6N.  [TV chef Julia Child denies persistent stories that she dropped a duck or swigged wine from a bottle on her cooking show.]

   Spanos, Nicholas P., Stacey A. McNulty, Susan S. Dubreuil, and Martha Pires.  "The Frequency and Correlates of Sleep Paralysis in a University Sample."  Journal of Research in Personality 29 (1995): 285-305.

    Staheli, Paul.  "Tales of the City."  20:20 The Intercity Magazine for West Coast Travellers (free in-train magazine, United Kingdom)  April/May 1996:22, 25-26.  [Quotes Rick Glanvill and Phil Healey -- of Guardian 's Urban Myths column fame -- and Gillian Bennett.]

*  Struman, Maryann.  "Missing Atheist Still a Force: Faithful Use O'Hair's Name to Stir Other Believers to Action."  Detroit News (3 March 1996).  [Petitions warning of a ban on religious broadcasting in the U.S. continue to circulate as atheist Madalyn Murray O'Hair, named in the petition, is missing or incommunicado.]

*  Sullivan, Kevin, and Mary Jordan.  "Japan's Not-So-Itsy-Bitsy Panic."  Washington Post (2 Dec. 1995): A1, A16.  [Redback spiders from Australia cause alarm in Japan.]

*  "Super Bowl Battering Myth Won't Die."  Wisconsin State Journal (26 Jan. 1996): 7A.  [Despite stories to the contrary, there is no measurable increase in domestic violence against women during the U.S. football game on Super Bowl Sunday.]

*  Terrell, Steve.  "Urban Legend Tricks Judge, Stirs LSD Fear."  Santa Fe New Mexican (2 May 1996): B1.  [Blue Star acid.]

*  Trotti, Hugh.  "Alchemists' Gold and Hallowe'en 'Ghosts': What the Past Has to Teach Us."  Skeptical Briefs (Sept. 1995): 6.  [Antecedents of current Hallowe'en beliefs and practices.]

   Tucker, Elizabeth.  "Tales and Legends."  In Children's Folklore: A Source Book, ed. Brian Sutton-Smith, Jay Mechling, Thomas W. Johnson, and Felicia R. McMahon, pp. 193-211.  New York: Garland Publishing, 1995.

   Tumminia, Diana Jean.  "Brothers from the Sky: Myth and Reality in a Flying Saucer Group."  Ph.D. diss., University of California, Los Angeles, 1995 (DAI order no. AAC-9524407).  [History and mythology of the Unarius group in California.]

*  Ver Berkmoes, Ryan.  "Theologians Worry Their Popularity Could Overshadow Traditional Beliefs."  Chicago Tribune (25 Dec. 1995): sec. 5, 1.  [Belief in angels.]

    Victor, Jeffrey S.  "How Should Stories About Satanic Cults Be Understood?"  Harvard Mental Health Letter (February 1996), 8.

*  Viets, Elaine.  "Biscuit Bullets: Quite a Messy Tale."  St. Louis Post‑Dispatch  (15 Nov. 1995): 3E.  [Jan Harold Brunvand comments on the "Biscuit Bullet" legend.]

   Walker, Barabara, ed.  Out of the Ordinary: Folklore and the Supernatural.  Logan: Utah State University Press, 1995.  [Includes contributions by Shelley Adler, David Hufford, Barre Toelken, and Gillian Bennett.]

   Wassil-Grimm, Claudette.  Diagnosis for Disaster: The Devastating Truth about False Memory Syndrome and Its Impact on Accusers and Families.  Woodstock, N.Y.: Overlook P, 1996.

*  Weinraub, Judith.  "The Cabbage Soup Diet."  Washington Post (21 Feb. 1996): E1, E8.

        .  "A Closer Look into the Cabbage Soup Diet."  Washington Post (6 March 1996): E5.

*  Wheen, Francis.  "Wanting the Moon."  Guardian (15 Nov. 1995): T5.  [Apocryphal story about astronaut Neil Armstrong saying "Good luck, Mr. Gorsky" as he walked on the moon.]

*  White, Luise.  "'They Could Make Their Victims Dull': Genders and Genres, Fantasies and Cures in Colonial Southern Uganda."  American Historical Review 100 (1995): 1379-1402.  [Vampire rumours and beliefs about medical treatment.]

           .  "Tsetse Visions: Narratives of Blood and Bugs in Colonial Northern Rhodesia, 1931‑9."  Journal of African History 36 (1995): 219‑45.  [Vampire accusations.]

   Wiggins, William H., Jr.  "Reflections on Two Afro-American Narrative Cycles."  Journal of Folklore Research 32 (1995): 290-95.  [Reviews John Minton's "Big 'Fraid and Little 'Fraid" (1993) and Patricia A. Turner's I Heard It through the Grapevine (1993).]

*  Williams, Mike.  "Mystery of Blood‑sucking Beast Causes Frenzy in South Florida."  Atlanta Journal and Constitution (19 April 1996).  [Chupacabras panic in the Miami area.]

   Wilson, William A.  "Mormon Narratives: The Lore of Faith."  Western Folklore 54 (1995): 303-26.

   Wing, Yun-Kwok, Sharon Therese Lee, and Char-Nie Chen.  "Sleep Paralysis in Chinese: Ghost Oppression Phenomenon in Hong Kong."  Sleep 17 (1994): 609-13.

   Wojcik, Daniel.  "'Polaroids from Heaven': Photography, Folk Religion, and the Miraculous Image Tradition at a Marian Apparition Site."  J American Folklore 109 (1996): 129-48.

   Woods, Vicki.  "The Mother of All Chain Letters."  Spectator (16 Sept. 1995): 23, 26.  [The Great Ormond Hospital chain letter.]

*  Yazigi, Monique P.  "Melt Pounds with Cabbage Soup, a Diet from Nowhere."  New York Times (20 March 1996): C3.




                             FoafTale News




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 UKŁ10 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.  Most back issues of FTN are available from the Editor at a charge of US$3 each.


FoafTale News always welcomes contributions, including those which document legends' travels on electronic media and in the press.  All research notes and articles are copyright by the individual authors who reserve all rights.  For permission to reprint, contact them at the addresses given in the headnote of 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 Pike, Middletown, PA

17057-4898, USA. 



ISSN 1026-1001