Tuesday, November 3, 2009
The importance of ghosts
After watching the hilarious history channel special about Chicago ghosts, I began to think about the point of all this ghosty stuff I enjoy so much. It's true, there is little evidence outside of personal accounts that warrant any belief in any of the ghost stories I love. And we all know people lie, so it's very possible that none of these stories hold any water. I have always realized that ghost stories are quite possibly all false, yet I still find them fascinating. I never really thought about what intrigues me so about these tales, but after watching that movie, I think it's the fact that ghost stories are a sort of oral tradition, and they create a folklore of Chicago that is quite unlike anything you would find in a history book. These stories that we pass down are relics of the past, and offer a little insight to how people in Chicago used to live. They give a mythology to the town that would not exist otherwise, and are often passed down for generations. My grandmother told me the original Resurrection Mary story when I was about eight years old; I don't know if she intended to scare me or if she truly believed, but I know that it has always remained vivid in my mind. They also pepper the landscape with stories, and often they are very similar. I found out that Forest Park, the town I live in, has their own version of Ressurection Mary, and the story is almost identical to that of the real Ressurection Mary. What is the point of having two almost identical ghost stories only a dozen or so miles apart? It is possible that there really are apparitions that haunt both Forest Park and Archer Ave, but I find it a lot more likely that these stories were created and adapted for a reason, maybe to serve as a lesson to girls about going out at night alone, or to men about picking up strange women. All across the nation stories that resemble the Resurrection Mary tale haunt towns. How is it that an almost identical tale is told in different parts of the country, where people surely haven't heard of the real Resurrection Mary? It has something to do with the art of storytelling, and the way that humans pass down ideas through oral tradition. I don't know if it's really the ghost stories that capture my attention, but the idea that these stories have endured for so long and have the power to make people believe that they are experiencing something supernatural. Whether you are a skeptic or a believer, you have to admit there is some reason that the ghost stories have endured. Regardless of the existence of ghosts, the stories that spring from their existence or non-existence create an interesting set of tales that helps to define and commemorate Chicago through the years.