Introduction to True Urban Legends
True urban legends are, as their name imply, factually represented and accurate. These can fall in line with other categorizations for urban legends, even scary urban legends – as there are a lot of scary things that turn out to be true about our culture. Even some of the most popular urban legend stories turn out to be true, or at least have elements of truth from them. These become known as a derivative testimony of the folklore, and are generally a retelling of something a person has been told.
Not everything with elements of truth can be called true urban legends. Discretion is needed to determine the veracity of any story. Just a few detail changes can morph fundamental aspects about something that happened. Still, with regards to urban legends, the ones with truth to them can be the most interesting. This following section will cover two of those such legends.
True Urban Legends #1: The Halloween DecorationSee also the Bloody Mary urban legend. This one hinges on a Halloween decoration in a small hometown that shows what appears to be a woman dangling from a tree, and passersby chalk it up to being an eerily realistic decoration. As it turns out though, this urban legend is a true one. The woman in question was a 42-year-old from Delaware, in the province of Frederica. She committed suicide by hanging on a busy roadside on a Tuesday night, and her body hung there until the next day. It just so happened to fall in line with Halloween, or perhaps it was intentional. Many people viewed it up until someone realized it was actually not a decorated body, but a real one. What sets this real urban legend apart from others is the sheer amount of unwillingness that the spectators showed. These days, one would reasonably expect even a depiction of a hanging body to be distasteful enough to look further into.
True Urban Legends #2: Buried Alive
Everyone has heard of these true urban legends. It has been repeated in the media several times over. It goes that a person is placed inside of a coffin (presumably after being in a paralyzed state) and literally buried while still alive. For some reason, the coffin is exhumed and scratch marks from their fingernails are found on the surface. Usually this story involves gravediggers.
People will be surprised to find that this not only has occurred before, but it has occurred with alarming repetition back in the day. It does not happen now, since there are more advanced ways to determine if someone has truly died. Back in, say, the 19th century? Doctors had no such advances. There were a total of 149 cases found by researcher William Tebb where people were buried prematurely. In fact, there were a dozen where the patient was going through the process of an autopsy and embalming while being technically alive!