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The vanishing hitchhiker legend


so stop me if you’ve heard this one
before a young man spots a beautiful woman on the side of the road and gives
her a ride home but after he drops her off he realizes she left her jacket in
his car so he goes back to her house only to be greeted by an older woman who
says the girl doesn’t live there once he describes his former passenger the woman
says he just perfectly described her daughter who died in a car accident
years ago on that very stretch of road he picked her up on sounds familiar
right the vanishing hitchhiker legend has been
around for at least a hundred years and its origins probably stretched back even further let’s explore the legend of the vanishing hitchhiker [music] there are literally
hundreds of different versions of this legend all with different details but
the basic story at least here in the United States goes something like this
a man is driving alone late at night when he sees a beautiful woman on the
side of the road looking for a ride he picks her up and she gives him
directions to her house when they get there she thanks him for the ride and
goes inside but later that night or the next day the man realizes that she left
something in his car usually an item of clothing like a jacket or scarf maybe a
pack of cigarettes now knowing where the woman lives he
goes back to her house to deliver the object she forgot but once he gets there
he’s greeted by a relative of the woman her mother may be her sister the
relative explains to the man that the woman actually died years ago on that
same stretch of road sometimes the man will learn that the clothes she was
wearing were the clothes she was buried in or that she appears every year on the
anniversary of her death in some versions the man actually gives the
woman his jacket but she forgets to give it back when he goes back to the house
he learns the truth about the woman then he goes to the cemetery where she was
buried having been given the directions from the woman’s mother or sister and he
finds his jacket on her gravestone folded neatly at the bottom so that’s
the basic version that you’ve probably heard a
million times there are way too many different versions to go over here it
would take all day but I want to talk about just a few different variations
some of them you may have heard of some of them not believe it or not the
earliest similar story appears in the Bible a passage in the book of Acts
tells the story of the Apostle Philip who is travelling to Gaza and meets an
Ethiopian man so this story is a little bit different than the one you’re
probably used to hearing but another more modern story that more closely
follows the traditional formula tells of a woman known as Lydia the phantom
hitchhiker Lydia is said
to haunt a curvy stretch of us 70-A in North Carolina
she wears a white evening dress and desperately tries to flag down motorists
if someone offers her a ride she gets in and introduces herself as Lydia saying
she’s on her way home from a dance in some versions she’s a bit younger and is
on her way home from prom Lydia gives the driver her address
but if the driver attempts to make conversation beyond that Lydia seems
like she is in another world when the driver gets to Lydia’s house she’s
disappeared from the backseat the driver usually a man rings the
doorbell and is greeted by an older woman he explains what happened and the
woman shows him a photograph of her daughter Lydia who died in a car
accident on that stretch of road in 1923 she also informs the driver that Lydia
has done this before she thinks her daughter doesn’t realize she’s dead and
is just trying to get home but as with many of these legends
it can’t be historically verified nobody named Lydia died in a car crash in 1923
in that area however a 30 year old woman named Annie
Jackson did die in a car crash on that same stretch of road in 1920 other
sources say the girl’s real name was Mary perhaps there was a mixing up of
the names but if the ghost is real is she really the ghost of Annie Jackson
I’ll let you decide another popular vanishing hitchhiker story is
Resurrection Mary which I’ve talked about in a video before Mary story dates
back to the 1930s when usually male drivers would report seeing a beautiful
woman outside a dance hall in the suburbs of Chicago when they picked her
up Mary would tell them she was leaving a
dance and give them her home address but when the driver arrived at the address
Mary had given him he was parked in front of Resurrection Cemetery he would
park the car and Mary would get out and walk a few steps to the cemetery before
disappearing into thin air just like Lydia it’s not really clear who Mary was
in real life unsurprisingly she is said to be buried in Resurrection Cemetery
and there are a few different women there
who people believe she might be like I said I did talk about this in an older
video it’s not very good but if you want to check it out for yourself feel free I
don’t know if you’re familiar with the show beyond belief fact or fiction the
premise of the story involves a narrator presenting the audience with five
different short dramatizations always some sort of bizarre seemingly
inexplicable happenings at the end of the show viewers get to find out whether
these stories were based on true events or made up and see if their guesses were
correct I used to watch the show all the time when I was a kid I couldn’t find
the exact episode but there was one that featured a story similar to the
vanishing hitchhiker legend the man who picked the woman up was greeted at the
door by the woman’s sister who told him that the woman had died in an accident
the man and the sister of his dead passenger ended up getting married but
as romantic as this is the story of course turned out to be complete fiction
there is another popular legend that’s similar to the vanishing hitchhiker
story a motorist again usually male is flagged down by a woman while he’s
driving at night the woman seems desperate and tells the man that she’s
just been in a car accident and her baby is still trapped inside she leads the
man to the wreck but then disappears the man of course finds the baby inside and
is able to save them but he also finds the woman’s body in the car and it’s
clear that she died in the car crash or shortly thereafter
Hawaii has its own version of this legend in this one motorists encounter
an old woman climbing a volcano they offer her a ride and she accepts but
later disappears from the backseat as it turns out the woman is
Pele the Hawaiian goddess of fire and volcanoes she often appears to mortals
and asks for their aid punishing those who refuse in African tradition the
vanishing hitchhiker usually turns out to be a Jinni which I really hope I’m
pronouncing right it’s the singular form of a Djinn which is a word you may have
heard before probably on supernatural the Jinni or
Genie is a popular mythical
creature in Africa and the Middle East Jinn are evil spirits that sometimes took
the form of animals and were often said to possess men the last version I want
to share is a Spanish urban legend called la chica de la curva or the curve
girl not because she was curvy but because she haunted a particular curve
in the road there are a few different versions of this one but this is the one
I could find the best translation for a man is making his way home from work one
night and it’s storming outside as he drives down a particular stretch of road
he remembers the legends of the girl who supposedly haunts it but he never really
believed them that is until the woman appears in his
backseat this is reminiscent of the woman in white of Stockton California
which I’ve also talked about before but it’s difficult to feel too bad for this
man as it turns out he was actually the one who hit this girl and killed her on
that road so she kills him in revenge honestly I did not see this ending
coming the first time I heard this story maybe I’m just an idiot so clearly the
vanishing hitchhiker legend is very widespread with stories from all over
the world but where did it originally come from in the early 1940s two
researchers set to find out just that Richard K Beardsley and Rosalie Hankey
did two Studies on the legend trying to connect it to an origin story but
ultimately failing to do so their first study the vanishing hitchhiker was
published in 1942 in a journal then known as California folklore quarterly
Beardsley and Hankey connected 79 stories from 60 different cities across
the United States and one from Mexico trying to find the one the story
originated from they also compared and contrasted different versions they
initially thought the origin story came from one of the stories they collected a
story that happened in Berkeley California in the 1930s but once they
researched the story they’d heard it turned out no fatal accidents of that sort
had occurred in Berkeley at the time they ultimately concluded that the story
had modern origins since they couldn’t find any versions of it that
definitively dated any further back than 1912 their next study was called a
history of the vanishing hitchhiker and was published the next year in this one
they further solidified their conclusion that the story was a modern one the
story may have gotten inspiration from older stories but was essentially a
newer story at least in the incarnation we’re used to hearing they also noted
that the phenomenon of ghosts appearing in human form was also a relatively
modern thing not really happening very frequently until the 1800s or so so is
the legend really a modern one well sort of this story usually involves an
automobile which would kind of give that away but the story has been appearing in
various versions even further back than Beardsley and Hanky knew remember they
collected stories largely within the continental United States along with one
in Mexico and one in Hawaii they even admitted in their second study that they
hadn’t been able to collect stories from places like Europe South America and
Canada and as we’ve already seen these story stretches a far wider across the
globe than that in 1998 another paper was published in
that journal now called Western folklore two more researchers found several more
versions of the story that dated far further back than the 1800s
one I found particularly interesting came from Sweden and dates back to 1602
in which two travellers encountered a girl on the road who predicted Wars and
plays before promptly disappearing there are many different versions even of the
modern legend that involved prophesying vanishing hitchhikers or hitchhikers
that turned out to be some sort of angelic beings I’m not familiar enough
with Swedish history to know if these prophecies actually came true but given
how many wars and plagues there have been throughout history they probably did so
we’ve talked about the story different versions and potential origins but one
other question remains why is the story so compelling
why have people kept retelling it for dozens maybe even hundreds of years all
over the world regardless of the version regardless of the version or details most of these stories have some sort of element we can easily identify with the driver is usually an
ordinary person giving the impression that something like this could happen to
us it also speaks to the dangers of hitchhiking which are all too real
even today I recently did a video on the Santa Rosa hitchhiker murders in which
at least seven young women were brutally murdered while hitchhiking in or near
Santa Rosa California those murders remain unsolved to this day hitchhiking
is clearly dangerous for passengers but something that’s not often talked about
is the potential danger for drivers the vanishing hitchhiker legend reminds
us that if we pick up a hitchhiker no matter how good our intentions we never
really know who we’re letting into our cars as I’ve noted several times already
the standard version of this story usually involves a male driver picking
up a beautiful young woman and offering her a ride
obviously this man’s intentions could be less than honorable he might want to get
into more than just her house if you know what I mean but it could also say
something about the instinct that most men have to protect women the versions
with prophesying hitchhikers speak to our desire to know what’s coming and ghost
stories in general speak to our uncomfortableness with tragic deaths
nobody likes hearing about a young person dying or anyone dying a violent
death ghosts in Western culture are often thought to have unfinished business and
surely they would come back to earth to finish doing whatever they were doing
when their lives were cut short the similar version with the ghost mother
saving her baby could speak to a mother’s instinct to protect her
children most mothers wouldn’t be able to come back from the dead to save their
babys’ lives but they would certainly give their own lives to keep their
children safe another interesting theory I found deals with how the
story morphed from an ordinary one to something paranormal I found it on
reddit which as I’ve been discovering over the past two months is a very
interesting place the post was made by a user named winnowingwinds on a post
about the vanishing hitchhiker legend of course I already
discussed the theory about the dangers of hitchhiking but this possible
explanation for the truth behind the stories is as this user said
surprisingly simple it reminds me of those stories you hear where a man
catches a fish that gets bigger every time he tells the story or the game
telephone that you may have played in elementary school where one person
whispers a message to a person in the class and then the message goes around
the class and by the time it gets to the last person it’s completely different
the game is usually done by teachers specifically to show how rumors get
started and really this theory could apply to a lot of the paranormal stories
I talk about on this channel the last story I want to revisit is the biblical
one even though I grew up in church and have read the Bible okay most of the
Bible I wasn’t actually familiar with this story before I started researching
this video remember the story involves Philip encountering an Ethiopian man on
the way to Gaza the Ethiopian is reading a Bible passage and asks
Philip to explain it Philip ministers to the man who decides to be baptized then
after the baptism Philip promptly disappears this story is apparently
supposed to be about how God often has plans for us that we don’t expect and
also about how if we really want to be baptized and become Christians nothing
is really going to stop us note the water
conveniently appearing when they needed it obviously not everyone watching my
videos is religious so this might not apply to you but I do wonder if this
story at least partially influenced the vanishing hitchhiker legend we know
today or if it is in fact maybe even the oldest version of the story hey everyone editing Mary here, please excuse my more disgusting than usual appearance so I’m an idiot and probably should have thought to do this before i filmed the video but as I was editing i decided to ask my dad about the story who of course was a Methodist
pastor for more than forty years and he said the story was basically just
another example of how the message of Jesus was spread throughout the world
so obviously the story was never really meant to be a ghost story but I do
wonder if it had any sort of kind of unintentional influence on the vanishing
hitchhiker story that we know today so what do you think of this ubiquitous
legend what other versions have you heard that you found interesting have
you ever had your own experience with an incident like this whether directly or
hearing it from a friend or a friend of a friend as the saying goes let me know
in the comments if you enjoyed this video be sure to like and share it and
for more dark content I hope that you will consider subscribing and hitting that
bell thanks so much for watching and have a creepy day bye guys that game is usually done by teachers [phone rings] oh
my god

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4 thoughts on “The vanishing hitchhiker legend

  1. Here in Belém, capital of the state of Pará, north of Brazil we have our own similar legend: the taxi girl. According to popular accounts and also the book, loosely translated, Specters and Hauntings in Belém, this girl, usually in white, hails a taxi on a specific day of the year, and goes around the city. At the end of the ride she tells the driver to get the money from her father at their house the next day. Of course when the driver gets to the house he finds out the girl has been dead a long time with the family even taking him to the cemetery to see her grave. Turns out it was her father's tradition to give her a taxi ride around the city for her birthday (back then it was a big deal to take a taxi).
    This legend is so popular down here that some people take flowers and candles to the grave of the girl who is believed to be the taxi girl.
    I had no idea this story and its variations were so popular around the world!

  2. U deserve so many more subs & views…u do such a fantastic job esp with ur research on the subject. I hope many, many more will cross ur channel soon 💞

  3. A friend of mine picked up a young woman hitch hiking once , unknown to him it was a an stretch of road used by sex workers to turn their trix , even 30yrs later we still laugh at him and his good intentions

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