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In April I sat down with a friend at my house and asked about any urban legends or ghost stories he had encountered. After a couple legends he had seen in movies, he mentioned a haunted bridge about ten minutes away from downtown. He is a twenty-one year-old White male; his father owns an appliance store and his mother helps out with the books. He first heard this story in the ninth grade from a couple of friends. Supposedly, they had heard from kids who had actually been to the bridge and heard strange things at night. The bridge is located off of Uniontown road, between a couple old farms. He has not encountered the bridge first hand but still remembers the story surrounding it:
About thirty years ago there was a young girl in love with her boyfriend. One day, he convinced her to take their relationship to the next level, telling her how deeply he cared. A couple weeks later, she found out that she had become pregnant, and decided it was best to hide it from him. They kept in close contact over the next few months, and he told her that they would be together forever. When her father realized that she was having a baby without marriage, he made her leave the house until she came back with a husband. When the baby girl was born, she decided to tell the boyfriend about the child, by bringing her to his house. He lived on a small farm right outside town and you had to pass over a small river on a bridge to get back to his house. As she opened the door, she walked in on him with another girl. Filled with anger, (pause) she gets in her car and speeds off. Now she could not return home unmarried and had lost her only love because of this one child. As she looked over at the baby, she is only reminded of her boyfriend and the image of him with the other girl. (tone increases) Finally, she reached the bridge, then slammed on the breaks. She got out and in a moment of rage threw the baby over the bridge to rid her of the baby girl’s troubles. Later that night, the police were tipped off about a murder at the bridge and came to find the girl hanging from the bridge.
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"Urban Legend of Cry Baby Bridge." 123HelpMe.com. 22 Jul 2018
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While telling the story, my friend used his hands and a soft tone of voice to enhance the reaction to the story. Then as the girl began to get angry he increased his tone to portray her feelings. At first, it took him some time to recall all the parts of the story. He had not really thought about this story since high school, so he forgot some details. At the end, he did go back and add things he had forgotten, such as the boy living on the farm at the end of the road. This did not take away from his performance, but added more insight into the context. Also, he used several pauses in his speech, for instance after the girl walked in on her boyfriend, in order to let the story sink in and add suspense. Overall, he was a good storyteller, and his performance made the story more enjoyable.
After researching other Cry Baby Bridge stories, I was surprised to encounter the number of occurrences that I did. There were two basic stories that followed the different bridges. One was similar to the one my friend told me, involving a girl being turned down by the father of the child, and the other had the girl being cast out by her father who was a preacher (Litsinger). It is interesting that the story I was told involved both a father and a boyfriend. Somehow, both had been incorporated into this version of the story. Every story I encountered involved the mother throwing the baby into the river. The difference I found in a few versions was the way the mother died. Many of the stories had the mother jumping into the river after the baby, while my friend’s story had her being hanged from the bridge without anyone knowing if she had committed suicide or had been murdered. Another interesting difference in all the stories was the location of the bridge. The state of Ohio alone had twenty-four listed Cry Baby Bridges. In Maryland, there is one near Bowie, another next to Annapolis, and a third outside of Hollywood. Another student found a story from Crofton, Maryland, which was also similar (Schlossman). In both stories, the girl hid the pregnancy from her boyfriend and ended up throwing the baby into the water because of his rejection. In my friend’s story, it was the sight of him cheating on her that made her murder her child so that she did not have to be reminded of him.
Although this is a good scary story, it also implies about some of our societies fears and anxieties. I would say the main relevance is to teen pregnancy. Around the time this story would have taken place, it was considered immoral to have a baby out of wedlock. There were not many single moms raising children, such as we are accustomed to today. That explains the father’s reaction of being disgraced by his daughter. From his old-fashioned point of view, she brings shame to his house by having a baby without being married. This story shows the turmoil the girl faced after having the child, which eventually led her to murder her own baby. This applies to today’s standards with the idea of unprotected sex. It has become an issue with AIDS and abortion that both boys and girls need to deal with when having sex without protection. According to the text of the legend as told by the storyteller, the baby in this story represented the problems the girl was facing, and she tried to simply throw them away instead of trying to get through them. (This can be seen when she looks at the baby but can only see her boyfriend cheating on her. To her the baby is not a living being but merely everything that has gone wrong with her life. Because of the baby, she had been kicked out by her father and lost her boyfriend. The baby girl had caused only troubles since it was born.) Therefore, the story reveals a great deal about our societies fears and anxieties about teen pregnancy.
Gilbert, Rowena. Castle of Spirits. March 2005. http://www.castleofspirits.com/stories04/spiinvestigates.html
Litsinger, Beverly. Maryland Ghost & Spirit Association. April 2005. http://www.marylandghosts.com/submit.php/561/pub
Schlossman, David. University of Maryland Legends Collection. October 2004. http://www.wam.umd.edu/~dschloss/Legends/crybaby.htm