Urban legends make their mark on the border
Published: Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Updated: Friday, May 17, 2013 13:05
Halloween is a season of rising frights and urban legends, spread throughout generations with their own personal touch. Along with black cats and breaking mirrors, some students believe in more wicked tales of the dead.
For Paloma Pelayo, sophomore communication studies major, walking under a ladder or opening an umbrella indoors all fall under her listed superstitions.
“Breaking a mirror gives you seven years of bad luck, Friday the 13th, these are all considered omens of bad luck,” she said.
One of the most renowned urban legends is that of La Llorona. Although there are many versions to this story, the most common is that of a young woman who drowned her own children to be with a rich nobleman. The rich nobleman wanted nothing to do with her so the young woman drowned herself in the same river. She now roams the land, weeping and wailing for her lost children.
Another legend revolves around a wealthy woman who asked for a taxi one evening. According to Pelayo, this woman is said to be wearing a beautiful black dress and her face is covered with an expensive veil. She asked the taxi driver to take her to the cemetery that was near her house, paying the driver with an old check.
“The next morning, the taxi driver went to the bank to cash his check. However, the bank declined it,” Pelayo said. “He was confused and returned to the lady’s house that evening and knocked at her door. An old guy opened the door and once he heard the taxi driver’s story, he was surprised. It turned out to be the 20th anniversary of the lady’s death the day before.”
Tanya Legarda, senior English and American Literature major, is familiar with the superstitions that accompany the Halloween festivities, but has a different mindset regarding them.
“My dad’s side of the family is from Baje de Agua, a small rural community in Chihuahua, Mexico and one of the well-known legends among the inhabitants is that of La Mujer Ensangrentada,” Legarda said. “My uncle who passed away earlier this year, Alfonso Legarda, or as we called him, Poncho, recounted that the figure of a woman with unkempt hair and a bloodied face appeared en un guarda ganado.”
According to the legend, if one drives through this area at night, the woman will appear in the back seat of your vehicle. It is not clear as to why she is bloodied and in such a distressed state, but for citizens of this community, it does keep them at bay from wandering too far into the night. For Legarda, she is not fazed by the fright that most legends entail, but sees it from a logical perspective.
“I do find the stories intriguing and it is most interesting to note that many of these legends, like that of La Mujer Ensangrentada or the more well-known legend of La Llorona revolve around images of women as sources of fear and anxiety.”
The El Paso High School student who committed suicide in a bookroom was said to be female, and now haunts it —moving objects around. According to Legarda, the portrayal of women in these legends and many others are characterized by a type of disfigurement. The female role usually poses an existential threat to whomever associates with her. This image is not only confined to urban legends, but also American and European folklore and horror films, she said.
Lorain Watters may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.