Urban legends the folklore of our time Name


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urban legends

tekstthema met opdrachten

Jenny de Bode-van Vuren

Urban legends

the folklore of our time


Hoe moet je de assignments maken ?

  • Maak de opdrachten op blanko A4 papier

  • Neem voor elke tekst een nieuw vel papier en schrijf erboven welke tekst en welke opdracht het betreft, b.v. Text 4 , nr 2.

  • Beantwoord vragen in complete zinnen. (Engelse vragen in het Engels, Nederlandse vragen in het Nederlands)


Text 1 What is an urban legend?

Text 2 Urban legends as a warning

Text 3 Tales about basic human fears

Legend 1 A ski acciddent

Legend 2 The back-seat killer

Legend 3 Biscuits for Brains

Legend 4 The sauce that didn’t taste so nice

Legend 5 Watch out for the woman in white

Legend 6 The spiral staircase

Legend 7 The dead professor

Text 1

What is an urban legend ?

Urban legends are one of the phenomena of our society. An Urban Legend is a strange story that passes from person to person and usually has little basis in truth. Urban legends used to be told by word of mouth around a campfire or late at night in a college dorm room. However, with the invention of the computer, urban legends can be emailed around the world. What distinguishes an urban legend from an ordinary story is the fact that you can accept that all of these strange or funny things really could happen.... but it is very unlikely that they really did happen at so many different times and in so many different places as the legend tellers describe.....

Some examples

  1. One of the oldest and most popular Urban Legends is the “Guy with the Hook”.

In this story a young couple is told not to park in the woods because a one-armed psychiatric patient has escaped in the area. Not heeding the warning, the couple park in a secluded spot anyway and start to make love, fogging up the windows. The girl thinks she hears a sound like metal tapping on her window... They panic and drive off. They finally pull up in front of her house, laughing at themselves for getting so spooke. Then the boy gets out and walks around his car to open the passenger door for the girl. And there he sees a bloody hook hanging from the passenger door....

There are several variations of this story, some in which the psycho kills the guy, the girl, or both of them.

  1. Late nights, teenagers, and cars are part of more than a few urban legends. One of the most popular legends that have been recently recycled in a film named "Urban Legend" is that of a particular gang initiation.

In this tale, a gang drives around with their headlights off, waiting until some other driver will "flash" his own lights as a sign to turn on their lights. The first car that does this is picked as the gang’s victim. All the gang members have to run them down and shoot them. This tale caused much hysteria among car drivers and it is said that police departments are advising people in city areas not to flash their lights at cars driving in the dark. (although this has not been confirmed...)

  1. Another even more unbelievable urban legend...

This is the story of two roommates, one of which was very sexually active. She always left a scarf on the door to let her roommate know that she was entertaining. One night, the locked out roommate had a few drinks and was dead tired, so she saw the scarf on the door but entered anyway, heard some rustling of the sheets and moaning, but went over to her side of the room and crashed asleep. When she awoke she saw that the trampy roommate was brutally murdered and the blood was everywhere. A note was on the lamp table between the beds, which read “Aren’t you glad you didn’t turn on the light!”

Characteristics of urban legends

\Urban legends can be about all sorts of people, places and things. An Urban Legend can be based on a true story. They can be horrible, dirty, outrageous, spooky, funny or sad. A definitive characteristic of an urban legend is that it is almost impossible to track down its original source. The stories are changed, embellished and extended as they go from one person to the other. Most stories have two or more versions.

You can often recognise them by how they are told : in the first, second or third person or, as something that happened to a friend or to a friend's friend. In fact the ‘true’ event always happened to someone entirely unknown to the person who is telling the story.

Many Urban Legends only lead a short life and disappear as fast as they are started. But there are also stories, like “The Guy with the Hook” that seem to circulate forever. They are timeless bits of nonsense that continue to thrill and chill for generations....


Urban legends are in many ways the folklore of the people. They are spread by telling them from one person to another as well as over the Internet. Wherever ordinary people gather, such as at birthday parties, in schoolyards, at picnics and in coffee bars, urban legends will be exchanged.

Vocabulary bij Urban Legends tekst 1 What is an urban legend.
a phenomenon (mv.: phenomena) een verschijnsel

society maatschappij

they used to be told ze werden vroeger altijd verteld

a college dorm room slaapzaal op een kostschool

however maar, echter

to distinguish onderscheiden, onderscheid maken

it’s very unlikely het is erg onwaarschijnlijk

to describe beschrijven

a guy een vent, een knul

to escape ontsnappen

to heed a warning gehoor geven aan een waarschuwing

a secluded spot een afgelegen plek

to fog up the window het raam laten beslaan
to tap kloppen

to pull up the car de auto tot stilstand brengen, stoppen

more than a few heel wat

recently onlangs, pas geleden

recycled in a film opnieuw in omloop gebracht via de film

a gang een bende

an initiation een inwijding

to flash knipperen (van de lichten)

a victim een slachtoffer

to run somebody down iemand opjagen, proberen te pakken

to confirm bevestigen

a scarf een shawl

to entertain iemand vermaken, bezighouden

rustling geritsel

moaning gekerm

to crash asleep als een blok in slaap vallen

trampy ‘sletterig’

outrageous gewelddadig, over de grens gaand

to track down opsporen

a source een bron (van water), bron van herkomst

to embellish mooier maken, versieren

to extend uitbreiden

an event een gebeurtenis

entirely compleet, volledig

a timeless bit of nonsense een tijdloos stukje onzin

to thrill spanning oproepen bij iemand

to chill afkoelen,verkillen, koude rillingen geven

to gather bijeen komen

to exchange uitwisselen, ruilen

Assignment text 1 ‘What is an Urban legend’
1. Give a definition of an urban legend.
2. Give your opinion why so many people like these stories.
3. What is the reason that there are so many different versions of every urban legend ?
4. Make a list of all the characteristics of an urban legend that you can find in text 1.

(at least 5!)

Text 2
Urban Legends as a warning.....

On the Internet and in universities all over the world, you'll find a lot of people who are interested in the role of urban legends in modern society. Most of the stories are horrible, disgusting or gruesome. Many ‘folklorists’say that this has the following reason. The stories always have a subject that has to do with basic human fears. The legends give us a warning or a moral lesson telling us how to protect ourselves from danger. This is called the cautionary (waarschuwend) aspect of the urban legend.

Let’s look again at the most famous cautionary urban legend, the story of the "Hook-hand killer". In this story, a young couple on a date drive off to a lonely place to park the car and kiss and make love. Over the radio, they hear about a psychopath with a hooked hand who has escaped from a local mental institution. After a while, the girl thinks she hears a scratching or tapping sound outside the car. The boyfriend assures her it's nothing, but she doesn’t want to stay and they leave. When they get to the girl's house, the boyfriend goes around to the passenger side to open her door and there is a bloody hook hanging from the door handle.

The warning and moral lesson of this story are clear: Don't park in lonely places and don’t have sex before you’re married! If you do, something horrible will happen to you!

When the story first circulated in the 1950s, teenagers using cars and parking in isolated places was a relatively new phenomenon, and parents were terrified of what might happen to their kids. Most people who tell the story now don't take it seriously. From a real urban legend it has become a "campfire ghost story," that is told to others for amusement, not as a warning anymore.

Text 2 Urban Legends as a warning. Assignment

  1. What is the reason that folklorists give for the fact that most urban legends are horrible or gruesome ?

  1. They say that urban legends have a cautionary aspect. What is a cautionary aspect ?

What was the “caution” in the story of the “ski accident” ?

  1. Most children (and adults!) are afraid of the dark. Fear of total darkness is a basic human fear. Which other basic human fears can you think of ? Make a list of at least 10 ! (TV programma’s als “The Fear Factor” maken dankbaar gebruik van ‘basic human fears’!)

Text 3

Tales about basic human fears......

One of the most interesting characteristics of urban legends is that they always have to do with something that everybody is afraid of. All over the world young children (and most adults) are frightened of total darkness. This is a sort of universal feeling of fear that everybody knows and understands. Psychologists call fear of darkness a basic human fear. . But there are many more things that can terrify us. Some fears have been with us as long as Mankind exists. Through the ages we changed the way we live, and then there were new things to be afraid of..... New unknown things always brought on new fears that sometimes only lasted a short time. Stories were told about the first bicyles that were a danger for a men’s testicles. The first (open) automobiles were supposed to be very dangerous, because speed could kill you by taking away your breath!

Mad murderers and ghosts always have been very popular and there are also lot of stories circulating about food contamination. That has to do with the way we eat these days. Very often the food we eat has been prepared by people that we don’t even know. Do you have any idea who touched the vegetables in your deepfreeze meal or who washed and cut the potatoes for your chips? Even in a restaurant you don’t know what has happened in the kitchen or how your food has been treated before it was put on your plate! We know that we are putting a lot of trust in people that we know nothing about! Are they clean enough? Can we really trust them with our food?

We seldom know exactly what happened to the things we eat before they were put on our plate.... This fear is played out in our urban legends about people who find baby rats in bottles of milk, bloody bandages in hamburgers or chopped off fingers in a tin of carrots......

New fears are ‘hitting us ‘all the time. If a story is connected with something that many people suddenly are afraid of, it will spread like wildfire. Urban Legends about terrorism are very successful these days and ‘September 11th’ gave reasons for a lot of wild tales!

In this way, urban legends give an insight into the time and the culture that create them.

Text 3 Tales about basic human fears...... Assignment

  1. Why is it that everybody can be frightened by the idea that there is something wrong with their food?

  1. Computers are quite new in our lives. They did not only bring us a lot of possibilities and pleasure but they also brought us new fears. What sort of fear can you think of that has to do with computers? Explain what people - in your opinion- are afraid of.

  1. Kies één van de volgende drie opdrachten :

  1. Write a short urban legend that has to do with a modern fear.

  2. Write a poem about a special human fear..

  3. Translate alinea’s 2 and 3 from the text (start with : Mad murderers..... and end with : ….tinned food.)


Urban Legend 1 A ski accident ..

A friend of mine just got back from a holiday ski trip to Switzerland with a story that I thought to be very funny

This is what she told me :
The skiing conditions were perfect that day, 12 degrees below zero, a clear sky, a nice mountain slope and good company to be with.

One of the women in the group complained to her husband that she was in bad need of a bathroom. He told her not to worry, that he was sure there would be a facility at the top of the lift in the form of a sort of powder room for female skiers in distress. He was wrong, of course, and her trouble did not go away

If you’ve ever had nature hit its panic button inside you, then you know that a temperature of 12 degrees below zero doesn’t really help matters. So, with time running out, the woman thought of a solution

Her husband, who saw that she was in pain, suggested that since she was wearing a completely white ski outfit, she should go off into the woods. No one would even notice, he assured her. The white of her outfit would give her more than enough camouflage. No one would see her..! So she headed for the line of trees, began to unzip and unbutton her clothes and started to do her thing. Now, if you’ve ever parked a car on the side of a slope, then you know there is a right way and a wrong way to set your wheels so that you won’t move. That’s true for skis also... Yup, you got it. She had them positioned the wrong way.
Steep slopes are a real danger especially during embarrassing moments. Without warning, the woman found herself skiing backward, out

of control, racing through the trees, somehow missing all of them and onto another slope. Her derriere and her reverse side were still bare, her pants down around the knees, and she was picking up speed all the while.
She continued on backwards, totally out of control, creating an unusual sight for the other skiers. The woman skied, if you can still call it that..., back under the lift, and finally collided violently with a pylon. The bad news was that she broke her arm and was unable to pull up her ski pants. At long last her husband arrived, putting an end to her show, then went to the base of the mountain and called the ski patrol, who transported her to a hospital.

In the emergency room where she had to wait ,a man who had a broken leg was put in the bed next to hers. “So how’d you break your leg?” she asked, making small talk. “It was the dumbest thing you ever saw,” he said, “I was riding up this ski lift, you see and suddenly I couldn’t believe my eyes. There was this crazy woman skiing backward out of control down the mountain with her bare bottom hanging out of her clothes and her pants down around her knees. I leaned over to get a better look and I guess I didn’t realize how far I’d moved. I fell out of the lift.”

Assignments Legend 1 A ski-accident

  1. In the text you can find at least three expressions that are used instead of saying that somebody urgently has to pee (plassen). Find them and write them down.

  1. What is meant by the “right way for parking on a slope ?” (line 20)

  2. Translate:

... female skiers in distress” ? (line 8/9)

... she was picking up speed (line 26)

... she finally collided with a pylon (line 29)

....at long last (line 31 )

..making small talk” (line 36)

  1. Why (in line 28) says the storyteller .....”if you can still call it that...”?

  1. If you’ve ever had nature hit its panic button inside you, then you know that a temperature of 12 degrees below zero doesn’t really help matters “

How would you translate this sentence into Dutch ?

  1. What is meant by “putting an end to her show” (line 31) (Translate and explain it) .

Urban Legend 2

The Killer in the Backseat

One night a woman went out for a drink with her girlfriends. She left the bar fairly late at night, got into her car and drove onto the deserted highway. She noticed a lonely pair of headlights in her rear-view mirror, approaching at a speed just slightly quicker than her own. When the car pulled up behind her she looked at it and saw that it had the lefthand signal light on. The car was going to pass....,but suddenly it swerved back behind her, pulled up dangerously close to her and started flashing the bright lights!!

Now she was getting nervous. The lights dimmed for a moment and then the bright lights came back on again and the car behind her surged forward with a roaring sound.... The frightened woman struggled to keep her eyes on the road and fought the urge to look at the car behind her. Finally, she came to the exit where she had to get off the highway and she left the main road. But the other car continued to follow her, flashing the bright lights periodically.

Through every trafficlight and every turning of the road, it followed her until she drove into her own driveway. She thought her only hope was to make a mad dash into the house and call the police. As she flew from the car, so did the driver of the car behind her — and he screamed, "Lock the door and call the police! Call 911!"

When the police arrived the horrible truth was finally told to the woman. The man in the car behind her had been trying to save her life. When he had pulled up behind her and his headlights illuminated her car, he had seen the silhouette of a man with a butcher knife rising up from the back seat, ready to stab her..... Every time when he had flashed his bright lights the figure had crouched back down again.....

The moral of the story: always check the back seat!

Did You Know?

In another variant of this legend, the poor female (and it's always a female) pulls into a petrol station and is frightened by the strange behaviour of the attendant, who keeps trying to get her to leave the car and join him in the office. It turns out he has seen a knife-wielding murderer in the backseat and is trying to save her life.

Folklorists have traced the legend back to the 1960s. It was among the stories dramatized in the 1998 film 'Urban Legend.'

Assignment Legend 2 The killer in the backseat.

  1. Which expression is used in the first alinea to let you know that the car was coming closer and closer to the car of the woman ?

  1. Which expression tells you that the woman found it difficult to drive safely?

  1. Look up the meaning of :

to swerve -

to pull up -

to surge forward -

to fight the urge -

to make a mad dash -

to crouch -

odd behaviour -

to glimpse -

to wield a knife -

to trace -

  1. Read the variation on this urban legend under the heading “Did you know?”

Describe - from the point of view of the gas station attendant - what happened when he went out to serve the little car that just had arrived at the petrol pump. (Use the “I” form and the past tense!) (1/4 A4)
Urban Legend 3

Biscuits for Brains
As told by Vanessa Berger...

A few years back my uncle swore that this story happened to someone in his church...

There was a sweet old lady who would often do grocery shopping for the sick and elderly in her church. One hot summer day a lady asked her to pick up a few things and bring them to her house in a dangerous part of Baltimore City. The sweet old lady was tired but felt that she couldn't say no, even though she was terrified of driving in that part of the city that often had shoot-outs and other drug violence. Anyway, the woman went on her way, picked up the groceries and drove to the lady's house.

As she entered the lady's neighbourhood she noticed young hooligans standing together on every street corner. Although she had no air conditioning in the car, she rolled the windows up tightly (as a safety precaution) and suffered in the heat.

She drove on until suddenly she heard a loud "pop" and felt a jolt to the back of her head. She reached to feel the back of her head and came back with a wet oozing mess that she was sure was part of her brain! Knowing that she had been shot, the woman turned around and raced to a local hospital.

Somehow she made it to the emergency room and had the strength to walk right in. She told the attendant that she had been shot. Immediately she was taken to an exam room. Doctors whirled around and asked where she had been shot (since they saw no blood.) She said "my head," and the doctors found a mass of the oozing white substance the woman had first noticed.

Upon inspection the doctors realized that the white substance wasn't part of her brain but was instead a lump of biscuit dough (the kind in a can) that had exploded from the heat of her car!

Legend Biscuits for Brains Assignment

  1. Look up the meaning of the following words :

The elderly

She was terrified

A shoot-out

A jolt

A wet oozing mess

The emergency room

She rolled the windows up tightly

A safety-precaution

The white substance

  1. Why did the lady roll up the windows of her car in the heat ?

  1. Which basic human fear(s) is/are behind this story ?

  1. Kies een van de volgende twee opdrachten

  • Re-tell the story as if you were a nurse or doctor in the emergency room where the old lady was treated.

  • Make a new version of this legend by changing one or two of the ingredients

Urban Legend 4

The sauce that didn’t taste so nice.......

An Austrian family had moved to North America. Of course they kept in constant touch with their European relatives. Letters and parcels regularly made their way from one country to another.

After a long period of silence, a small box arrived from the United States. Inside, carefully wrapped in tissue paper, was a jar of grey powder. There was no letter, but since many of the previous parcels had contained ready-to-make packaged mixes, the European family members thought that this powder, too, was a mix that had to be prepared by simply adding water. The sauce was made and served, but it wasn't the best they had eaten!

Several days later, a letter arrived from the U.S. explaining that the father had died, and because he had always been homesick, he wished his ashes to be spread over his home town. Grandma hoped that the rest of the family would not be inconvenienced and that the letter would get to them before the ashes, which were being sent separately in a jar and were securely wrapped in tissue paper.

About this tale ;

This tale has circulated both as a legend and as a joke and always it contains the following themes :

  • The consumption of a disgusting substance while the consumer thinks it is something quite different.

  • Often the disaster is caused by unfamiliarity with modern technology

This urban legend was widespread in the years just after the end of World War II, when European families often received food shipments from relatives living abroad (and powdered food products were fairly new). The two main variants of this story involve a relative in an English-speaking country (e.g., Canada, Australia, the United States) shipping home the ashes of a family member who fled Britain to escape the war, or a relative in America sending the remains of an immigrant family member back to a country in continental Europe. (In the first version we often find the delayed letter; the second version often features the note that has to be translated.)

Legend 4 The sauce that didn’t taste so nice Assignment

  1. Zoek in de tekst hoe er staat in het engels :

Ze bleven constant contact houden met hun europese verwanten

Er werden regelmatig pakjes verstuurd van ’t ene land naar ’t andere.

Zorgvuldig verpakt in zacht papier…

Kant-en-klaar mengels in pakjes

Hij wilde graag dat zijn as over zijn geboorteplaats zou worden uitgestrooid…

Oma hoopte dat de rest van de familie het niet vervelend zou vinden…

2. Which basic human fear(s) is/are behind this story ?

  1. Vertaal deze urban legend in het Nederlands. Je moet het verhaal ‘vrij vertalen’ zodat het ook in het Nederlands als een grappig verhaal klinkt.

Urban Legend 5

Watch out for the woman in white

Butler Cemetery is located outside of Westland and along Henry Huff Road. It is a deserted and abandoned spot and if the stories of the local folk are to be believed, a very haunted one.

The cemetery is neglected and in poor condition, overgrown with weeds and choked with grass and fallen tree limbs. A wire fence that runs around it is grown over with vines and a rusty gate is broken at the entrance. There are no structures nearby, save for a deserted house, so it is easy to imagine why this cemetery has gotten such a reputation as a haunted place. Are the stories here simply imagination at work.... or something supernatural?

A witness reported a few years ago that he encountered a woman in white crossing the road in front of the cemetery. He swerved to avoid her and she vanished right in front of his eyes. A year later, he saw this woman again and this time, she was in the graveyard itself. He claimed to see her standing next to a tall monument and nearby was another apparition. This ghost was that of a man wearing some sort of uniform. He stopped his car for a closer look and the two figures faded away. Thinking that someone might be playing a trick on him, he quickly searched the area for either people or automobiles, but found nothing.

The stories of ghosts in the cemetery still continue today and researchers have pointed out that there have been an inordinate number of auto accidents along the stretch of road near the cemetery..... perhaps these drivers were swerving to avoid a woman in white who wanders out across the road?

(Assignment: see Legend 6)

Urban Legend 6

The Spiral Staircase

While I was a student at the University of Birmingham I came across a local ghost legend. I lived for two years in a student hall of residence known as University House in Edgbaston, Birmingham.

I kept hearing stories about a female ghost appearing on the spiral staircase in the main hall at around 3am each morning. She would appear at the top of the stairs and then walk down into the library where people had felt a presence. One girl told me how she had been studying late one night when she had heard footsteps coming towards the library - the corridors outside were stone and the library floor itself was wooden. The footsteps stopped outside the door and then started again as though they were inside the room itself. The girl said she had to pinch herself a few times before fleeing the room in a state of panic. Other sightings of the ghost have included students who were ill in bed. They have reported waking up to see a figure in white at the bottom of their bed. The result of a fevered imagination you may say. I would have agreed.

After hearing all these stories, several friends of mine decided to research the history of the House. They discovered that it was taken over as a hospital base in the first world war. Among records of incidents which took place around that time, it was reported that a young nurse had fallen to her death while running down the main staircase during a bomb alert. Her uniform was white.

Legends 5 and 6 Watch out for the woman in white and The spiral staircase Assignments

1. Look up the meaning of the following words and learn them :



To swerve

To vanish

To fade away


to wander
2. Which basic human fear(s) is/are behind this story ?

3 In the first alinea there are two words that say something about the loneliness of the cemetry . Which words ?
4. Kies een van de volgende drie opdrachten :

  • In de tweede alinea wordt de ‘cemetry’ beschreven… Beschrijf in het Nederlands hoe het er uitziet. Laat het zo spannend mogelijk klinken.

  • Make a drawing of the cemetry as you imagine it and write a scary sentence underneath it.

  • Write a poem about a (ghost) woman in white… (try to use words from the text)

5. Look again at “The spiral staircase”

Why is the last alinea important for the story?
6. Look again at ‘Beware the woman in white’. Write a last alinea for this legend which has the same effect as the last alinea in ‘The spiral staircase… ‘

Urban Legend 7

The Dead Professor

A female student at the Adelaide Univeristy campus was up all night finishing an assignment that had to be in before the next day. The deadline for it was 12 o'clock that night, and it had to be in the 'assignment completion' box outside the English Department on the University campus. The student finished the assignment with little time to spare and quickly ran off to the university to hand it in. It was nearly 12o'clock and, of course, it was raining. By the time the student reached the Napier Building, where the English Department was located, she was soaked.

The student decided to take the lifts as the English Department was on the sixth floor. The student became a little spooked when she noticed that the building was mostly empty -all the lights were off, all the doors were closed and nobody was around. When the student got out at the English Department floor (the sixth) she did note that the light was on in the last room at the end of the hall several doors away from the English Department's 'assignment completion' box.

The student handed in her assignment and pressed the button for the elevators to come to her floor. By the time that the elevator arrived a lecturer had come out of the door at the end of the hall, turned off the light and was running to catch the elevator that the student was on. The student was wet, cold, and a little self conscious about just the two of them being in the lift at this time of night when no one else was around, so when the lecturer wanted to step into the elevator she pressed the 'close doors' button saying "sorry you'll have to take the next one". The lecturer had a shocked and terrified look on his face as the doors closed but the student tried to put it out of her mind, running out of the building to get home to avoid having an argument with him.

The next day the student came to the university to apoligise to the

lecturer for being rude, but found his door locked. When she went to the English Department to find out where he was they said that he had had a heart attack last night and was found by one of the cleaners in the morning. Apparently the heart attack had not been that serious but he had been unable to press the button to call the lifts and collapsed outside of them. By the time the morning came he had died.

It is said that when you are waiting for the lifts late at night in the Napier Block at the Adelaide University they will always take you to the sixth floor where the English Department used to be (this does happen often), and if you look in the mirrors at the back of the lifts when the doors close you will see the shocked, terrified face of the lecturer who had the heart attack.

Also it is said that on really rainy nights at the university if you look from outside the Napier block at the sixth floor around 12 o'clock you will see the light at the end of the hall flash on and off several times as if the ghost of the lecturer shows his frustration.

Incidently I have spoken to the lecturer that now operates out of the office at the end of the hall on the sixth floor and she says that sometimes she leaves the light on just to continue the urban legend. But also she complains that often late at night when it is rainy the office does become very cold ...

I ‘m sending you this story because me and a few friends were wandering through the university late one night and dropped by the Napier block to see if the lights flickered - they did. (Of course we had consumed large amounts of alchohol.)

Legend 7 The dead professor Assignment

  1. Give three reasons why the student felt ill at ease (slecht op haar gemak) when she entered the building to post her assignment.

  1. What was the reason that she closed the liftdoor in the professor’s face?

  1. The student felt guilty the next morning. From which words from the text can you see that?

  1. What must have made her even more guilty ?

  1. Which other spooky things happen at the University of Adelaide since this event ?

For die-hards only.

Want More ? Go to the Urban Legends reference pages or Urban Legends research centre on the Internet.)

and...as you see in this newspaper-cutting...the legends still go on....)


Mijn leerlingen (de bovenbouw van een Vrije School) hadden veel plezier met deze opdrachten.

De hierna volgende tekst heb ik als binnenkomer gebruikt.

We hebben eerst de tekst met de foto samen gelezen en daarover gediscussieerd. Bijna alle leerlingen dachten dat het verhaal waar was. Slechts enkelen twijfelden.

Daarna heb ik de tweede tekst uitgedeeld waaruit blijkt dat het allemaal fake is. Iedereen komt dan met verhalen van andere zaken die ze gehoord of gezien hebben, meestal op Internet.

Pas daarna introduceer ik het begrip ‘Urban Legend’ en ‘link’ dat natuurlijk meteen aan het populaire programma ‘Myth Busters’op Discovery.

Zelf vond ik het erg leuk om de ‘legends’bij elkaar te zoeken en de opdrachten er bij te maken. Ik hoop dat anderen er goed gebruik van kunnen maken.

Met vriendelijke groet,

Jenny de Bode - van Vuren.

The Garfield of your dreams

Rodger Delaney, a former employee with AECL* in Chalk River, Canada could start a career as breeder of a new type of cat. Relaxing in his spacious home on the shores of the Ottawa River, Mr. Delaney remembers how 15 years ago he befriended two stray young cats on the old AECL research buildings at Chalk River. The kittens had appeared in late summer and apparently had gotten under a security fence around the old laboratories that stood abandoned since the late 1950's. With the help of his tuna sandwich, Mr. Delaney was able to coax the kitties close enough so that he could pick them up. As a real animal lover, he did not want to place the kittens in the local Animal Rescue Society. In this rural area, cats of all stripes and ages that are unwanted are humanely put to death after a few days.

Later that evening his wife Louise and their two children, Nicole and Kelly, came to a family decision to keep the kittens which they named Lost and Found. Lost turned out to be female and Found a male. When nature finally took it's course, a litter of kittens was born 6 years later. One of the litter was a big white female with unique black markings on her side and tail. Something about the kitten captured the hearts of the family and while her siblings eventually found homes with other people, Snowball stayed with the Delaneys.

In the 9 years of her life, Snowball's size has seemed to ‘snowball’. She is no ordinary cat, she measures 1.72 m from nose to tail and weighs 42,5 kg.

"She started out as a big kitty and she just seemed to keep growing. She always meowed for more food and would climb up on the kitchen sink to eat food which I forgot to put in the fridge. Chicken is her favorite. Once I left a cooked chicken on the table that I was going to use for a picnic, an hour later the chicken was gone", Louise said.

"We knew that Snowball wasn't an ordinary cat when the neighbour's German Shepherd dog ran yelping away when he first met her. She just isn't afraid of any animals. After we found a half eaten rabbit out by the garage, we decided that maybe Snowball should be kept fenced in. We soon discovered that we can keep Snowball in the yard, but we couldn't keep rabbits from Snowball. At least it kept the food bills down!" Rodger laughed. "Like all female cats she is very territorial, but with us she is just a big kitten" he said.

So what does a 42 kg cat eat? Snowball goes through about 1 pound of cat food a day, along with cooked chicken, supplemented with rabbits and birds that Rodger hunts in the autumn. "She likes fish a lot, so I don't throw them back any more." Snowball often accompanies Rodger when he goes fishing on the Ottawa river, eagerly peering over the side of the boat as soon as his line goes tight.

We asked the family what they think is the cause of Snowball's size.

Rodger says "Well, the vet thinks it could be her thyroid, but she isn't fat, she's just a real big cat. I think maybe her parents got into something at Chalk River that they shouldn't have...."

*AECL = Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd.

(This text belongs to your theme Urban Legends)


No, the photo isn't real, and it does not show what the text says it does. The text was somebody's creative writing, and it was added to the photo later on.

A. The AECL said about it :

Mr. Robert Delane, the owner of this cat, is not a former employee of AECL and the AECL Chalk River buildings have certainly not been abandoned for the past fifty years!

We do not know whether or not the size of the cat in the picture is accurate. If it is true, the size can likely be caused to a thyroid condition, as described in the article.

(The joke here is that AECL, the organization for which Snowball's owner supposedly worked, is Atomic Energy of Canada Limited, and at Chalk River in Ontario there are a couple of their research reactors. The explanation that is given for Snowball's tremendous size is that "maybe her parents got into something at Chalk River that they shouldn't have," (And Chalk River is the name of the so called “abandoned nuclear facility”.)

B. Turning to the Guinness Book of World Records, we find that they mention the world's largest domestic cat as a male cat from Queensland, Australia, a tabby named Himmy who was 24 kg and was 96 cm long.

C. According to the Ottawa Citizen newspaper, the picture actually shows a man from Edmonds, Washington, named Cordell Hauglie and his cat Jumper, and the photo was manipulated with PhotoShop to create the effect of a cat of much larger-than-ordinary size.

Mr. Hauglie said : "My daughter wanted to send an electronic photo of her cat to her friend. I fiddled about with the photo a bit. When we sent it to her friend, we never dreamed anyone would believe the photo was real."

He's had many laughs over the analysis of the photo. Some viewers are sure the cat appears stuffed, while others say it's standing, not being held. Some people suggest the man in the photo doesn't look as if he's holding a 40-kilogram object.
The truth is, he isn't. His son held up the cat for one photo, proving you can suspend a cat in that fashion, and Mr. Hauglie stood in the same light for the next picture.

So....don’t believe everything you see.......


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