Heard about the one about ATM envelopes poisoned with cyanide? How about the one about the Hawaiian tourists who have taken rocks or sand from the island, and angered the goddess of fire and volcanoes, Pele, and have been followed by bad luck since? Or perhaps you’re more familiar with the one about Donald Duck being banned from Finland because he didn’t wear pants?
Well, two of them are false, and one of them is supposedly true. So here I go busting these urban legends…
The rumour goes something like this; a customer died after licking an envelope at a teller machine to make a deposit, and according to the police, Dr. Elliot at the Women’s College Hospital found traces of cyanide in the lady’s mouth and digestive system. Police traced the poison to the glue on the envelope she deposited that day, and upon further inspection, found six more. The poison was mixed with the glue and was colourless and odourless. They suspected some sicko was targeting a particular bank and had been putting these envelopes beside machines at different locations. It was sent by Kimberly Clarkson from the Crime Unit, Department for Public Health. It even gave a number-416 563 9905.
This warning begin circulating on the internet in 1999 (and I thought chain-mails were the invention of some new generation nincompoop…turns out not, maybe like it’s an old family tradition or something?). There was no such death and there were definitely no such envelopes. When asked about the emailed warning, Women’s Health and Sciences Centre said it is not connected with the note, and they don’t even have a Dr. Elliot on their staff. And that’s not all, Kathleen Harte, manager of communications for Toronto Public Health claimed that, ” It’s a hoax. We have no such person on staff. The Public Health Department doesn’t have a crime unit. There is no death to our knowledge that occurred. If somebody had died of cyanide poisoning we would have heard about this.” Well, all I have to say to that is, if you’re going to make up a scarelore, at least do some research first!
This one, is said to be true. It’s a Hawaiian legend-anyone that removes a piece of rock from the Hawaiian Volcanoes National Park will incur the wrath of the Goddess Pele. Terrible curses will follow those that do prompting them to soon abandon the rock(s) in the interest of self preservation.
Now, although I am slightly skeptical of this, I certainly do find it very interesting. Can a souvenir, pocketed with no immoral intention result in a horrible series of unforgiving tragedies? Well, thousands have come to believe that yes, they can.
Why it all happens? Well, legends say that Pele, the Goddess of fire and volcanoes is angered when the rocks (which she sees as her children) are taken from her that she puts a terrible curse on the thief, as a way to get even. She is especially protective of volcanic rock and sand, two of the items tourists thoughtlessly purloin as a token of their holiday.
To prove that I’m not just spinning this out of thin air for my amusement, I have proof from a reliable source (snopes.com) about this. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and numerous other hotels are flooded with packages containing sand, shells and rocks from guilt-ridden vacationers who attempt at breaking the sudden downpour of bad luck and disasters that have ensued them. Some of these packages are accompanied by notes begging for forgiveness and mercy of the goddess as such;
☠ Please take this sand and put it back somewhere on you island. I have had very bad luck since it came into my life and I am very sorry I took it. Please forgive me and I pray that once I send it back where it comes from, my bad luck will go away.
☠ Please return to soil. I have been having bad luck.
☠ Ever since we have taken items, we have had nothing but bad luck and medical problems. We apologize for taking items, so we are returning them to Hawaii.
☠ We placed the rock last fall on a cast iron chair in our garden, this spring the chair’s leg had fallen off. This is the least of the problems we have had since we have taken the rock.
Pele’s professed jinx is not of the mild kind either. Those allegedly afflicted by it have had grievous things occur; pets have died, jobs have been lost, houses burnt down, sudden deaths and illnesses striking loved ones, marriages broken…scary huh?
What comes to mind after researching and writing up this report? Unfortunate things happening right after you pick up a rock from a Hawaiian volcano-sheer co-incidence topped by desperate and superstitious attempts at trying to turn their ‘bad luck’ around or Goddess Pele’s jinx? Personally, I’m not so sure that I’m one of the thousands who believe this curse to be real.
Donald Duck was once banned in Finland because he doesn’t wear pants. And also because he cavorted with an unmarried female duck. That’s one we frivolously love to believe. And I hate to break it to you, but it’s nothing more than a speculation-and it gets slightly political, too as I discovered.
This myth begins in 1977, when Helsinki found itself in a bit of a financial tight spot. This lead to Mr Markku Holopainen, a local Liberal Party rep, proposing a meeting of the board of youth affairs. There, he suggested they stop purchasing Donald Duck comics for youth centres. A year later, while Holopainen was in the midst of an election campaign for a seat in the Finnish parliament, information was leaked to the press that he was responsible for the ‘ban of Donald Duck from Helsinki’ (now I wonder who told…). The chairman of the board failed to defend Holopainen (not surprised-he was a candidate himself). Holopainen made a futile attempt at explaining that the decision to discontinue the purchase of the comics was solely due to monetary reasons and was made concordantly. Holopainen failed to convince the press and lost the election to the board chairman (hmmm…see what I mean about it being just a teensy bit political?).
When a similar incident had taken place in the town of Kemi, Finland, the international press had mirthfully exaggerated the story with headlines such as, ‘Finland bans Donald’ and ‘Donald Vanishes from Libraries,’ reporting that Donald was expelled due to concerns over his lack of pants (it’s funny, really, what the media assumes and what we are prepared to believe) and questions about his marital status (he’s a duck for Gods’ sake, not to mention a cartoon!). As the foreign news filtered to Finland, the local tabloids didn’t attempt to verify the story-instead they just ran articles on the reaction it was receiving abroad. ‘Donald Not Married; Politicians Outraged!’ and ‘Donald, Where Are Your Trousers’ were also among the headlines in papers overseas, Finns were told.
But the hullabaloo was gone as instantly as it came. Disney cartoons became more popular on Finnish television, leading the more cynical to wonder if this had been a publicity stunt by Disney. If it was, you have to give it to them, it was pretty guileful and quirky.
The whole no pants business turned out rather political and unethical than you would assume.
Tell us what you think about these legends and rumours. Have you heard of the cyanide envelopes? Do you believe in the curse of Hawaiian Goddess Pele? What about Donald Duck? 😀 So feel free to drop a comment on this because we’d love to hear some different opinions on this topic. Urban legends, myths and rumours-there’s some pretty interesting stuff that you can uncover if you just do a little bit of research. And if you’ve heard a few other rumours you’re wondering about, feel free to let me know and I’ll try to dig it up!!