Thursday, March 31, 2011

I don't know if these technically qualify as "urban" legends, but...

Legends that I heard about first-or-second-or thirdhand whilst growing up in Ashland (aka, things I haven't bothered to actually
research but which I'm going to write about anyway):
  1. There are tunnels underneath Main Street and between some of the older buildings downtown.

    FACT OR FICTION: Fact. I think. Maybe I'm half-imagining this, but I recall there being a summer school class offered once or twice when I was still at Beaser Elementary where kids got to go downtown and tour some of the subterranean "tunnels." I'm not sure if they were literally tunnels, per se, or just some passages between buildings (did they actually go underneath the street?), but I do think that they existed (and maybe some continue to exist?).

  2. If you jump into the diamonds out on the oredock, they'll suck you down to the bottom of the lake and you'll drown.

    FACT OR FICTION: Fiction. (I hope.) The diamonds, as they're referred to, have something to do with the engineering of the dock...but I don't think falling into one would mean an automatic trip down to Davy Jones' locker. (I've seen too many beer cans floating in them over the years to believe otherwise.)

  3. A former mayor had...relations...with his livestock.

    FACT OR FICTION: I lean toward fiction on this one, but then again, maybe I don't really want to know. It's ultimately a case of he-said, sheep-said.

  4. When they run out of meat at the Chinese buffet, they serve seagull and turtle, according to the senior citizens in my grandma's apartment building.

    FACT OR FICTION: Fiction. I mean, the buffet's right next to the grocery store - if they were in a bind, it would be easier to just walk over and buy some chicken than it would be to drive out, find some secluded spot along the lakeshore, and go to the trouble of hunting turtles & seagulls. Right? Right.

  5. One time, Chubby Checker was supposed to come & perform at the Supergold Sock Hop during Bay Days, but he drank so much during the limo ride from the Duluth airport to Ashland that by the time they got him to the civic center, he was too drunk to get out of the car.

    Fact. I wasn't there, but I distinctly remember this rumor going around (and heard it from a number of reliable sources) because it was right around the time "Kokomo" was popular and my 4th grade class was forced to perform an elaborately-staged lip-synch performance to it at a school board meeting. Which, admittedly, is a story I'm bringing up just so I can post this unfortunate picture of me in my poodle skirt:

    Even at 10 years old, I knew it was dubious for them to call this "educational."

  6. During a Halloween haunted house in the old Ashland High School building on Ellis Avenue, a kid ran into a nail and impaled himself (and/or died).

    FACT OR FICTION: Although the version of this story I heard as a little kid varied depending on who was doing the telling - sometimes, it was embellished to the point where the kid's brains were falling out of his head in gruesome fashion, other times he was being chased by Freddy or Jason or Chuckie or Michael Myers or gremlins - it wouldn't surprise me if some kid did run into a nail at one point, but I don't think he, like, died or anything.

  7. In other old-high-school-building and tunnel-related gossip, there was a tunnel that ran between the former high school building (torn down in the early 90s) and the "new" building (now known as the Latimer Building, the three-story one in the middle of the complex).

    FACT OR FICTION: Fact! I saw it with me own two eyes, I did, the summer I worked for the school district, cleaning classrooms & such. It's off-limits nowadays, but when we did some cleaning in the basement area underneath the stage in the gym, the janitors let us walk back there to take a look.

  8. The Pizza Pub used to employ a little person as their pizza delivery guy.

    FACT OR FICTION: Fact. He worked there in the mid-90s, and I remember seeing him driving around town like a bat out of hell.

  9. Santa used to fly in for the Christmas parade.

    FACT OR FICTION: Fact. Santa and his "elves" would come in on a little prop plane, make a few loops around the airport, then land. Then, after a short meet & greet and candy cane distribution, he'd be escorted down to Main Street where he'd mount his majestic sleigh-shaped float. I don't know why he quit doing that - maybe fuel got too expensive, so he went back to just using his reindeer & sleigh to get here?

    Santa at the airport.

    When Santa flew in.


Jess said...

#1 is true, sort of. You know that parts of downtown are built on landfill and over the years the street level has been raised. I took a "College for Kids" class through Northland in middle school where we covered the architecture of Ashland. We went into the basement of a building on the same block as Huhn Rx (it was Home Electric when I was wee, then a ceramics place) and saw some of the places where it was connected to neighboring buildings. I seem to remember that there was a cigar factory or similar in the upper part of the Book World building.

When I was in 4th grade, we put together an elaborately-staged St. Patrick's Day program, which we took to all of the other elementary schools and St. Agnes. Costumes included little pleated green skirts for us girls that I swear were made out of bedskirts. I think your poodle skirt looks pretty great, and your expression is priceless!

Ranger Bob said...

Got a real kick out of this-- so much so that I read the whole thing aloud to Ranger Sue, who enjoyed it as well and told me to make sure and click "like." Had to explain that blogs aren't like FB that way. :)

Mary said...

I should put a little more effort into researching some of these, but's so nice outside now! haha