Joel Beckwith February 13, 2001
In this paper I will explain exactly what an urban legend is,and
give some examples of very popular ones that have been passed by
word of mouth for decades across the United States.
1 " An urban legend is a story that is so bizarre,horrifying,or
unexplainable, that it makes something inside of us want to believe
it." Urban Legends can have traced origins from other countries,
universities, states, or people,that just decided to made up as
incredible story and pass it on to their friends and family members.
Many of these legends were started in the sixties and seventies,
and still continue to be passed on to this day. A good example, is
the horrifying Pop Rocks death. 2"In the seventies ,school kids
passed on the rumor that if Pop Rocks candy was eaten with any
kind of soda,the person's insides would explode". A legend that
eventually forced the candy company company to prove as untrue.
Most urban legends are began with "friend of a friend", which is
a key in realizing that what you are going to hear is probably untrue.
When I was in second grade, a famous legend was passed to
me, the story of the ''well to Hell''. Reportedly, down in Mexico, a
group of men were drilling holes in the ground looking for oil. These
holes were thousands of feet deep, and the men heard horrifying
screams coming from the depths below. Supposedly these
these terrible sounds were coming from Hell. This story caused
much debate among the Christian community, and was repeating
in news letters, and radio talk shows around the country. Eventually,
an urban legend investigator traced the story to a school teacher
who admitted that she made the whole thing up.
As legends are passed from person to person the stories are
modified and changed until several versions of the story actually
A good example of a mixed story is the classic urban legend
of the vanishing hitch hiker. Most versions of the story are told of a
tall thin hitch hiker walking down the road until he gets picked up.As
the stranger is in the car he stays quiet and doesn't speak until he
says ''The end is near'' and disappears right before the drivers eyes.
Other versions are told of a young girl who does the same thing
sometimes the hitch hiker claims ''Jesus is coming again ''right
before he goes,but anyway it's told this story is simply a legend
that has been passed on and on for many years.
Many legends include psychotic elderly people who decide to
kill people or things.One story is of an elderly woman who decides
to dry her wet dog in the microwave(the dog explodes.) Other
legends with the elderly include a crazy woman that kills taxi drivers
as they pick her up, and old men that eat little children!
Many urban legends involve gruesome deaths and murders.This
particular legend was supposed to have happened at the University
of Illinois campus. A girl got off one evening and made the way to
the door where she lived. She and her room mate had an agreement
that if either one or them brought a guy back to their dorm,they would
put a rubberband on the doorknob.When the girl got to the door, she
found a rubberband and walked in without turning on the lights.She
heard moving and heaving breathing,so she decided to go right to
bed.The next morning the girl woke up only to find her roommate
gruesomely murdered. The girl screamed and ran for the door,but
before she walked out she looked at the wall.Written in blood was
a this message,''are'nt you glad you didn't turn on the lights?''
Not all urban legends are completely untrue. There are many...
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