A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006. Now a Popeyes fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Entry from June 02, 2008
La Llorona (The Weeping Woman)

La Llorona (“the weeping woman”) is a Mexican (and perhaps Spanish) folk tale that is sometimes given a South Texas location. There are many variations to the story: a poor, beautiful woman becomes the secret lover of an accomplished man and gives him several children. The man abandons the family and has to move away; the woman drowns her children in the river and kills herself. When God asks her where her children are, the woman becomes fated to be a ghostlike figure on earth, forever weeping for her drowned children.
The La Lorona story has been filmed several times.
Wikipedia: La Llorona
La Llorona (IPA: [la ʝoˈɾona], or approximately “lah yoh-ROH-nah”, Spanish for “the crying woman”), sometimes called the Woman in White or the Weeping Woman is a figure in Mexican folklore, the ghost of a woman crying for her dead children that she drowned. Her appearances are sometimes held to presage death and frequently are claimed to occur near bodies of water, particularly streams and rivers. There is much variation in tales of La Llorona, which are popular in Mexico and the United States (especially in Mexican American communities), and to an extent the rest of the Americas.
Many versions of La Llorona’s origin exist. Some describe a beautiful young woman in Mexico or New Mexico, who married or was seduced by a local man, by whom she had several children. The woman is sometimes given a Christian name; Sofia, Linda, Laura, and María are sometimes used. The man leaves her, sometimes for another woman, sometimes for reasons of employment, and sometimes just to be away from La Llorona and her several children. At any rate, La Llorona chooses to murder her children, almost always by drowning, either to spare them a life of poverty, to free herself to seek another man, or for revenge against their absent or stray father.
The tales vary mostly in the several motives they give to the mother and father for the murder. The version popular in Las Cruces, New Mexico and El Paso, Texas says that “La Llorona” drowned her children in the Rio Grande when she could no longer support them. On nights with a full moon, says the story, La Llorona can be heard crying near the river.
United States
In South Texas, however, the story of La Llorona is that of a beautiful young woman who attracts the attentions of a wealthy man’s son though she is very poor. The lovers secretly marry and set up a household; they have several children. Unfortunately, a day comes when the young man’s father announces that he has arranged a marriage for his son to a young woman within their social class (in many tellings, La Llorona is a Native American peasant maiden and her man leaves her for a Spanish lady). The young man tells his secret wife that he must leave her and that he will never see her again. She is driven mad by anger and a broken heart, and takes their children to a river where she drowns them to spite her husband. When her husband finds out he and several townspeople go to find her, but she kills herself before they can apprehend her. She goes to Heaven and faces the judgement of God. God asks her, “Where are your children?” to which she replies, “I do not know.” God asks her three times and she replies with the same answer. God then damns her to walk the earth to search for her children. According to this tale, it is wise to avoid La Llorona, as she is known for drowning passers-by in an attempt to replace her dead children. Alternatively, right after she drowns her children, La Llorona realizes what she has done and, overwhelmed by grief and by guilt, she runs alongside the river trying to find her children, but never does, and she dies or disappears in her search for them.
Another popular version of the legend takes place sometime in 19th century. A beautiful young woman with two small children was living in the poorest section of Juarez, Mexico, the town across the border from El Paso. She was madly in love with a very rich man. He felt the same way about her, but he, having no interest in children, refused to marry her. So, late one night, the woman took her children to a bridge over the Rio Grande. In the dead of the night, she heartlessly stabbed her children and threw them in the river to drown. Still wearing her bloody nightgown, she went to her lover’s home to show him the great lengths she had gone to be with him. The man, seeing her blood-streaked nightgown, was horrified and rejected her. Then, finally realizing the horrible mistake she had made, she ran back to the river screaming, crying, and tearing at her hair, desperately trying to save her children. But it was too late. The woman stabbed and drowned herself in the same river. The legend has it that as punishment for her unspeakable sins she was given the head of a horse, and was to wander the banks of the Rio Grande for all of eternity looking for her lost children.
In yet another Texas version of the story, La Llorona had several children from her first marriage. Her husband died and she was left lonely. Soon she met a suitor who swept her off her feet. He promised her a wonderful life together, but only if she agreed to get rid of her children. After much soul searching the woman decides to follow the man in a new life together and drowns her children in the Rio Grande. After a few months the suitor grows tired of La Llorona and leaves her for another woman. Realizing that her selfish actions brought about the end of those who truly loved her, she dies in grief with her soul eternally looking for her long lost children.
In another variant, La Llorona is a naive but innocent woman forced into a shotgun wedding with the father of her child; in this case, it is La Llorona’s father or her husband who kills the children. La Llorona attempts to stop the murders, and dies in the attempt.
Handbook of Texas Online
LA LLORONA. The ghostly woman who wanders along canals and rivers crying for her missing children, called in Spanish La Llorona, “the Weeping Woman,” is found in many cultures and regions. Her story includes some strong similarities to that of Medea. She is perhaps the most widely known ghost in Texas. Her New World history goes back to the time of Hernán Cortés and links her with La Malinche, the mistress of the conquistador. As tradition has it, after having borne a child to Cortés, La Malinche, who aided in the conquest of Mexico as a translator for the Spanish, was replaced by a highborn Spanish wife. Her Aztec pride plus her jealousy drove her, according to the story, to acts of vengeance against the intruders from across the sea. Sometimes the story is told about a Spanish nobleman and a peasant girl. Some years ago, the story goes, a young hidalgo fell in love with a lowly girl, usually named María, who over a period of time bore him two or three children. She had a casita-a little house-where the young man visited and brought his friends, and in almost every way they shared a happy life together, except that their union was not blessed by the church. His parents, of course, knew nothing of the arrangement and would not have allowed him to marry beneath his station. They urged him to marry a suitable lady and give them grandchildren. Finally he gave in, and sadly he told María that he must marry another. But he would not desert her, he promised-he would still take care of her and the children and visit them as often as he could. Enraged, she drove him away, and when the wedding took place she stood veiled in her shawl at the back of the church. Once the ceremony was over she went home, and in a crazed state killed the children, threw them into a nearby body of water, and then drowned herself. But when her soul applied for admission to heaven, el Señor refused her entry. “Where are your children?” He asked her. Ashamed, she confessed she did not know. “Go and bring them here,” the Lord said. “You cannot rest until they are found.” And ever since, La Llorona wanders along streams at night, weeping and crying for her children-”Ay, mis hijos!” According to some, she has been known to take revenge on men she comes across in her journey. She usually dresses in black. Her face is sometimes that of a horse, but more often horribly blank, and her long fingernails gleam like polished tin in the moonlight.
The story of the Weeping Woman is told to youngsters as a “true” story of what might get you if you’re out after dark. But the most frequent use of the story is to warn romantic teenage girls against falling for boys who may have nice clothes and money but are too far above them to consider marriage. The Cortés variant is said to be used in the late twentieth century to express hostility to European culture. La Llorona’s loss is compared to the demise of indigenous culture after the conquest of Mexico by the Spanish.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Francis Edward Abernethy, ed., Legendary Ladies of Texas, Publications of the Texas Folklore Society 43 (Dallas: E-Heart, 1981). Wilson M. Hudson, ed., The Healer of Los Olmos and Other Mexican Lore (Dallas: Southern Methodist University Press, 1951). Jon Manchip White, Cortés and the Downfall of the Aztec Empire: A Study in a Conflict of Cultures (London: Hamilton, 1971).
John O. West  
La Llorona - Weeping Ghost of the Southwest
La Llorona in Texas
As we noted above, La Llorona doesn’t limit her travels to New Mexico.  Seemingly, she follows Hispanic people wherever they go, as evidenced by the story that Pete Sanchez shared with us about crossing the San Bernard River Bridge in East Bernard, Texas.  East Bernard is southwest of Houston in Wharton County.  This old community built its first residence around 1850 on the east side of the San Bernard River.  Today the San Bernard Bridge spans the river.
Several years ago, Mr. Sanchez was driving along in East Bernard with the radio blaring.  As he was crossing the river bridge he was startled as he looked to the right to see a semi-transparent woman sitting in his passenger seat.
Dressed all in black, the spirit’s face was covered by a lacy black veil.  Obviously frightened, Sanchez hit the gas hard, speeding past the bridge, and not looking back into the passenger seat.  It wasn’t until he was past the bridge that he found the courage to look again.  The spirit had vanished.  Mr. Sanchez readily admits that he is still freaked out today by that ghostly image.
When Mr. Sanchez read the story above, about the Garcia brothers encountering a tall woman wearing a black tapelo and a black net over her face, who appeared on the wagon seat between them, he obviously saw similarities.  We agree!
OCLC WorldCat record
La llorona : cuento histórico mexicano
by José María Marroqui
Type:  Book; Spanish
Publisher: México : Impr. de I. Cumplido, 1887.
8 December 1906, Denton (MD)

, “The Wailing Woman: A Queer Old Lengend of the City of Mexico,” pg. 1, col. 6:
As is generally known, senor, many bad things are met with at night in the streets of the city, but this wailing woman, La Llorona, is the worst of them all. She is worse by far than Vaca de Lumbre, that at midnight comes forth from the potrero of San Sebastian and goes galloping through the streets like a blazing whirlwind, breathing forth from her nostrils smoke and flames, because the fiery cow, senor, while a dangerous animal to look at, really does nobody any harm, and La Llorona is as harmful as she can be.
Seeing her walking along quietly—at the times when she is not running and shrieking for her lost children—she seems a respectable person, only odd looking because of her white shirt and the white reboso with which her head is covered, and anybody might speak to her. But whoever does speak to her in that very same moment dies!
No one who has stopped to talk with her ever has lived to tell what happens at that terrible encounter, but it is generally known that what does happen is this: Slowly she turns toward the one who has spoken, and slowly she opens the folds of her white reboso, and then is seen a bare grinning skull set fast to a bare skeleton, and from her fleshless jaws comes out one single icy cold breath that freezes into instant death whoever feels it. After that, shrieking again for her lost children, she rushes onward, the white gleam of her gashing the darkness, and in the morning the one who spoke to her is found lying dead there with a look of despairing horror frozen fast in his dead eyes.
What is wonderful is that she is seen in the same hour by different people in places widely apart, one seeing her hurrying across the atrium of the cathedral, another beside the Arcos de San Cosme and a third near the Salto del Augun, over by the prison of Belen, and all in the very same moment of time.
She is generally known, senor, and so greatly feared that nowadays few people stop to speak with her, and that is fortunate. But her loud, keen wailings and the sound of her running feet are heard often and especially on nights of storm. I myself have heard them, senor, but I have never seen her. God forbid that I ever shall!—Thomas A. Janvier in Harper’s.
OCLC WorldCat record
La Llorona, o, El espectro de la media noche.
Type:  Book; Spanish
Publisher: San Antonio, Tex. Editorial Quiroga [©1916]
Internet Movie Database
Llorona, La (1933)
Internet Movie Database
Herencia de la Llorona, La (1947)
Internet Movie Database
,i>Llorona, La (1960)
Internet Movie Database
Llorona, La (1998)
OCLC WorldCat record
La Llorona in Chicano art
by Xavier Garza;  University of Texas at San Antonio. Department of Art and Art History.
Type:  Book; English
Publisher: 2007.
Dissertation: Thesis (M.A.)—University of Texas at San Antonio, 2007.
OCLC WorldCat record
There was a woman : La Llorona from folklore to popular culture
by Domino Renee Perez
Type:  Book; English
Publisher: Austin : University of Texas Press, 2008.

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • Monday, June 02, 2008 • Permalink

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