It's time once again to bring you up to date on some of the bits and pieces that have shown up in my "in" box--the letters and clippings tha contain stories I've heard just once or twice. That's not quite enough times, nor is there sufficient variation in these stories to positively identify them as forlklore. But all of them sound like they may be.
Perhaps some helpful readers will recognize these five suspicious stories:
-"The Runaway Model Plane"
David J. Russell of Los Angeles heard this one years ago as a high school student in Riverside, Calif.
A model airplane enthusiast was flying his radio-controlled model, putting it through various aerial maneuvers. At one point when the model was very high in the sky, a commercial airliner flew above it.
The model airplane lost the comparatively weak raido signal of the ground controller and locked on to the much stronger signal of the real plane. The model was last seen following the giant airliner off toward the horizon.
-"The Bullets in the Ballpark"
Chicago Tribune columnist Mike Royko wrote about this story in December.
An unverified story going around Chicago was that there were bullet holes in some of the seats in the new Comiskey Park, which is still under construction. Supposedly, people living in public housing projects facing the ballpark had been amusing themselves by shooting at the seats.
When the baseball season opens, the story claimed, someone is going to get killed by one of those shots.
Royko consulted officials of the police district where the ballpark is located and of the White Sox, who will begin playing there this season, and he concluded that "nobody is turning Comiskey Park into a shooting gallery."
-"The Explosive Rumor on the Bus"
I received this story in electronic mail from a couple of people who said they heard it on a public radio program. No further details were provided.
A homless person managed to get into the back of a city bus, where he hid behind a seat. Sometome later a lady got on the bus and sat in one of the few vacant seats, near the back.
When she realized there was someone crouching behind her seat, she exclaimed, "There's a BUM on this bus!"
By the time her remark filtered through the crowded bus up to the driver, it had become, "There's a BOMB on this bus!" The driver pulled over, hastily evacuated the bus, and called the bomb squad.
-"The Floating Runaway"
Susan Ingle of Bountiful heard this tory last summer.
People water-skiing at Lake Powell in southern Utah were picking up a fallen skier, and while their boat's engine was stopped they heard a baby crying. They followed the sound around a bend and founfd a baby wearing a life preserver, floating around and crying its little head off.
They rescued the baby and took it to a houseboat that they saw some distance away. On the deck was a group of people who were eating and enjoying themselves. When the water-skiers held up the baby and asked if anyone recognized the child, one woman keeled over in a dead faint. It was her baby, who she thought was sleeping safely inside the cabin.
It seems that the baby had been put down for its nap waring its life preserver. But it climbed out of the crib, fell overboard and floated away unnoticed while the adults were having lunch.
-"A Date with Bart"
The story appeared in the Jan. 11 edition of Comic Buyer's Guide, a publication for comic-book dealers and hobbyists, and a variation of the story was reported in the New York Times.
"It's probably an urban myth--it's too good to be true--but Baghdad Betty, who tries to demoralize U.S. troops by broadcasting over Persian Gulf radio, reportedly told those troops that `while you are here, your wives and girlfriends are dating American movie stars. Move stars like Tom Selleck, Paul Newman...and Bart Simpson.'"
--"Curses! Broiled Again," Jan Harold Vrunvand's fourth collection of urban legends, is now available in paperback from Norton. Send your questions and urban legends to him in care of the Deseret News.