The Not Quite Adventures of a Professional Archaeologist and Aspiring Curmudgeon

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Where do the Stories Come From?

In researching stories for my other blog, I have come across this site, which I have decided that I love and think is hilarious. But this nature of this site also leaves me pondering what I think is a rather interesting question about folklore.

The site's authors describe the mission this way:

At we believe that everybody has the right to read about ghost sightings in their own towns or cities. So for the towns and cities around the country that are not lucky enough to have their own sightings we have made up fictional sightings as a public service.

Like I say, hilarious, and alot of fun.

However, they seem to either have the same stories for every location, or else have a simple program set up that combines bits and pieces of different stories into various combinations to create the stories. Most of the stories are just this side of allegedly true stories, and so it sometimes take reading a few to get that these are jokes. Here's a few examples.

A female having a machete in her head was made out in Groveland Wayside Park before dawn hauling a dead body over rocks. The ghost did not appear to be agonized by the witnesses. Residents here argue that this ghost likes startling foolhardy people who come looking for ghosts in Big Oak Flat.


The terrifying phantom of a Barbarian was perceived at a coin operated phone in Big Oak Flat using the phone. When witnessed the phantom approached the viewer who then escaped. One of the residents steadfastly alleges that this ghost could be a well-known former time native of Big Oak Flat. One thing is for sure, this ghost certainly is creepy; one that you shouldn't go trying to find.


A man's body having the head of a raccoon was spotted going bananas in Leroy E Botts Memorial Park before sunrise. There are additional accounts concerning this phantom in the area. No matter what, this ghost sure is menacing; one that you wouldn't want to run into very late at night.


A headless woman is regularly perceived down by Codfish Falls at the stroke of midnight reading a newsletter. Well, this phantom sure is frightening; one that you do not want to bump into on a dark night.


The ghost of a 10 foot tall enormous person is rumored to have been spotted on several instances peeking through building windows in Foresthill late at night.

A barbarian using a pay phone...hmmm....

In case you take issue with my assertion that these stories are close enough to allegedly true stories to be nearly mistaken for them, look through a repository of supposed hauntings such as this one and you'll quickly see that these spoof stories are just slightly on the outlandish side.

Anyway, on to what this may say about folklore...

Although items of local folklore often have at least some basis in fact (dealing with real-life residents, are exxagerations of actual events), many are simply old stories transplanted from elsewhere (for example, how many places have a crybaby bridge, La Llorona, or vanishing hitchhiker story?), and some appear to be the result of hoaxes or tall-tales gotten out of hand. And so that gets me thinking about this site.

The site is set up to invite people to submit their own stories, and it is set up in such a way that it is likely to collect alot of folklore, and the joke stories are distributed in the same site, making it look as if they may also be part of the local folklore. So, I find myself wondering this: will some of these nonsense stories eventually be adopted into the folkore of some of these communities?

Perhaps not, folklore is unpredictable after all, and it's never clear what stories will or will not find traction. However, should I be pumping gas in Foresthill and hear about a sighting of a headless skeleton smoking a cigar while reading a newspaper...well, I think I'll know where the story orignated.

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