Urban Legends

Every town and city across America has its stories.  Whether the location is 300 years old or has only been around fifty years or less, when people come together to live in a community, rumors will spread.  Most of the time, events will occur that rattle the place to its very core.  Regardless of the scary stories each town has to offer, there are a few that remain constant.  These are called urban legends.

Firstly, every town has at least one cliche “spooky house” or location that is reportedly haunted.  Of course, the local teenagers will dare each other to go inside, and few will actually comply.  Perhaps these houses aren’t actually haunted, and just old, abandoned, and spooky.

For me, this house in my hometown of Livermore, CA, was one on an isolated country road.  I remember as a child always looking at it in wonder, assuming ghosts inhabited it.  In particular, I remember driving by it one night and seeing a light on.  Immediately, I alerted my mother, who wrote it off.  I remember it always being completely abandoned.  Perhaps this experience contributed to my contemplation of the spirit realm.

Additionally, I have noticed that in many communities there is some sort of story involving a prom queen or bride that met a tragic end.  Locally to me, there are two stories that have been prevalent throughout my lifetime.  One is located on the 84 highway through a forested area.  The story is that a young girl on her way to prom died tragically in car accident.  Now, she haunts the highway and asks unassuming travelers for a ride, then disappears once they pick her up.  So spooky!

Lastly, another common urban legend is one involving children, and weirdly enough, a school bus.  There was even a movie made about this particular urban legend.

Within my small community, the location is called “gravity hill,” and apparently if you put flour on your bumper, drive half way up this hill, and put your car in neutral, invisible hands will push you up the hill.  Afterwards, when you check your bumper, there will be tiny child handprints in the flour.  Personally, I’ve always been too chicken to try it out, although I’ve heard first-hand, flabbergasted, accounts of it being true.

In other towns, I’ve heard of this legend being across a railroad track.  Sometimes the legend says that a school bus full of children was hit by a train traveling at full speed.  Although in these towns it is often extremely difficult to find actual documentation of such events.

What purpose do urban legends serve in each individual community?  Perhaps it is to keep a healthy fear in the young generation to be careful, or to scare them out of getting into mischief. Additionally, urban legends tend to add character to any community.  Some can’t escape it, if there was an actual tragedy that occurred.  Others try to deny heinous legends that didn’t actually exist.  Either way, urban legends are a presence across the country and keep a healthy interest and “fear” of what lies beyond.

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