The Woman in White Motif

It is only a matter of weeks until it is Halloween. Here is a discussion to begin to set the mood for that fun autumn holiday.  It is a time for horror marathons, trick or treat events, and dress up.  It is also a time for storyelling (folk, historic, or urban tales).

Some tales are merely that - tales.  They have no true paranormal aspect to them, other than the ability to live forever as each new generation comes of age and the tale is retold.  One of the most prevalent themes in all of paranormal research and literature is the 'lady in white', 'the woman in white', and other similar descriptors.

Wilkie Collins in 1859 published what is considered to the the first mystery novel, The Woman in White.  It ranks as an  important book for that reason, along with the 1764 The Castle of Otranto, considered by many as the first Gothic horror novel.  Both are quick reads and full of the language and values of their respective time periods. They set the stage for decades of  high literary and popular strangeness.  

He no doubt drew inspiration from tales through out the British Isles of such women dating from medieval times.  The Irish Banshee may be a version that dates further back and reflect an older tradition still.  Other tales and legend of sightings of ghosts can easily fall into the category of this classic woman in white tale and include often a women wronged or harmed who restlessly wanders around in perpetual grief or remorse

Hispanic cultures may reflect the motif in their weeping mother or similar tales associated with the violation of innocence.  The La Llorna story pool with its versions of the woman who kills her children to join  a younger lover (harlot motif) and the mother whose children are robbed from her (the saint) may reflect the dichotomy of woman in a patriarchal society.  Although she is sometimes seen and reported as more sound than body, some legends suggest a pale waxen creature mourning and searching.

The famed "resurrection Mary' version from Chicago, and its many locale variants, may be inspired by ancient tales, Collins ,or be a manifestation of some ofter process at work in society.  The resurrection Mary story emerged at a time when young ladies were first gaining freedom to go out without chaperons and in wild automobiles to dance to hot music and drink cold liqueur.  There may be a tinge of a morality tale created to keep them 'down on the farm'.  She is often reported in a white dress, although some versions in Chicago and elsewhere will have the girl in a blue or red dress.  These, however, appear as mere attempts to separate their particular and regional version from the older Chicago story.

One local version of this woman in white motif in Oklahoma is set near Conners College, near Warner, Oklahoma.    There is supposedly (I have not verified any of this in the tradition of sharing a good story....) a College road that runs past the institution and passes a cemetery.  There, a 'white woman' has been seen by generations of people....

The informant told me the story "has been told for many years."

Marilyn A. Hudson, Historian and Storyteller....


Roosevelt School OKC

"No man is happy if he does not work. Of all miserable creatures the idler, in whatever rank of society, is in the long run the most miserable." -- Theodore Roosevelt, 1903 speech to the YMCA in Topeka, Kansas.  

The carved engraved stones on this school built as a memorial to the Rough Rider President, retains a silent message about the ethics and values that helped shape American society in Oklahoma City.  These ideals were chiseled into the lives of students and community as deeply as into the stone of these markers.  The question is what replaced them and were they of study stuff or easily eroded materials that lost their stamina?

Gymnasium entrance
"We have in our scheme of government no room for the man who does not wish to pay his way through life by what he does for himself and for the community. If
he has leisure which makes it unnecessary for him to devote his time to earning his daily bread, then all the more he is bound to work just as hard in some way that will make the community the better off for his existence. If he fails in that, he fails to justify his existence. Work, the capacity for work, is absolutely necessary; and no man s life is full, no man can be said to live in the true sense of the word, if he does not work. This is necessary, and yet it is not enough. 

If a man is utterly selfish, if utterly disregardful of the rights of others, if he has no ideals, if he works simply for the sake of ministering to his own base passions, if he works simply to gratify himself, small is his good in the community. I think even then he is probably better off than if he is an idler, but he is of no real use unless together with the quality which enables him to work he has the quality which enables him to love his fellows, to work with them and for them for the common good of all."
NW corner


Jefferson School OKC - NW 23 and Western

This site was closed by 1956 and housed some district offices and then sold.

Interesting links so far -

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