Vanishing Hitchhiker, the


Vanishing Hitchhiker, the
   A common international *contemporary legend, first so named by American scholars in 1942; it became famous as the title-story in Jan Brun-vand's The Vanishing Hitchhiker: American Urban Legends and their Meanings (1981). It has two basic forms, the first being as well known in England as America. A car driver picks up a girl who is hitching a lift home; she chooses the back seat, but disappears while they are in transit. He goes to her home anyway, where he learns she had died years before, in a car crash; sometimes in the cemetery he finds a jacket he had lent her draped over a grave. In the second form (rare in England), the hitchhiker is male, and supernatural, not ghostly; he foretells some large-scale event such as war, and then adds a minor prophecy before disappearing; the latter soon comes true, and the driver realizes his passenger was an angel, or Jesus.
   Both versions are often told with full belief; the first draws on the widespread current belief in *ghosts, while the second circulates in more restricted groups where its religious implications are credible. How old the story is depends on how you define it; if the criterion is not car travel but the sudden appearance and disappearance of a spectral or supernatural fellow traveller, parallels from the 19th century or earlier are easy to find (Bennett, in Bennett and Smith 1984: 45-63).
   Hitching a lift features in a tale of an allegedly true encounter in Lincolnshire in 1918: two women in a gig take up a weary-looking man, who silently leaves once they reach an inn; it turns out it is the ghost of a drowned man, whose corpse is laid out in that very inn (N&Q 12s:5 (1919), 205-6).

A Dictionary of English folklore. . 2014.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Vanishing hitchhiker — The vanishing hitchhiker (or phantom hitchhiker) is a reported phenomenon in which people travelling by vehicle meet with or are accompanied by a hitchhiker who subsequently vanishes without explanation, often from a moving vehicle. Vanishing… …   Wikipedia

  • The Church of Satan (book) — The Church of Satan: A History of the World s Most Notorious Religion is a book by Blanche Barton. It provides a history of the Church of Satan. The author is an administrator of the Church.It was published in a 200 page paperback by Hell s… …   Wikipedia

  • The Hunting of the Snark — (An Agony in 8 Fits) is a nonsense poem written by Lewis Carroll (Charles Lutwidge Dodgson) in 1874, when he was 42 years old. [ [http://www.literature.org/authors/carroll lewis/the hunting of the snark/ Poem as presented by Literature.org]… …   Wikipedia

  • Vanishing Point — Infobox Film name = Vanishing Point image size = caption = Theatrical poster director = Richard C. Sarafian producer = Norman Spencer Michael Pearson writer = Guillermo Cain Malcolm Hart (story outline) Barry Hall (uncredited) narrator = starring …   Wikipedia

  • Peter's Got Woods — Infobox Television episode Title =Peter s Got Woods Series =Family Guy Caption =Peter is given a T shirt by James Woods. Season =4 Episode =11 Airdate =September 11, 2005 Production =4ACX14 Writer =Danny Smith Director =Chuck Klein Zac Moncrief… …   Wikipedia

  • Belchen Tunnel — The Belchen Tunnel is a motorway tunnel in Switzerland, and forms part of the A2 motorway from Basel to Chiasso. It is 3.2 km long, and lies in the northern (slightly northwestern) part of Switzerland. It links Eptingen in the canton of Basel… …   Wikipedia

  • List of Torchwood characters — The following is a list of characters in the BBC science fiction television series Torchwood, including supporting characters, and important human villains. Main articles Captain Jack Harkness Main article: Jack Harkness Captain Jack Harkness,… …   Wikipedia

  • Auto-stoppeur fantôme — Auto stoppeuse fantôme L auto stoppeuse fantôme appartient à la famille des dames blanches. Il s agit presque exclusivement d apparitions de jeunes femmes, même s il existe quelques cas d auto stoppeurs. Dans le scénario le plus courant, il s… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Auto-stoppeuse fantôme — L auto stoppeuse fantôme appartient à la famille des dames blanches. Il s agit presque exclusivement d apparitions de jeunes femmes, même s il existe quelques cas d auto stoppeurs. Dans le scénario le plus courant, il s agit d une jeune femme… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Autostoppeur Fantôme — Auto stoppeuse fantôme L auto stoppeuse fantôme appartient à la famille des dames blanches. Il s agit presque exclusivement d apparitions de jeunes femmes, même s il existe quelques cas d auto stoppeurs. Dans le scénario le plus courant, il s… …   Wikipédia en Français