Sometimes Things can get more out of hand than one intended. You take a simple idea, a remark made out of jest, and it somehow gets inflated and slips out of your control. On October 18th, 1967 such a thing happened to Dallas talk-radio personality Chuck Boyles.
Inspired no doubt, by the spirit of the season, Halloween being less than two weeks away, Boyles actually invited people to help him find one of Dallas’ most elusive phantoms. The ensuing result was pandemonium, but we’ll get to that later. The Lady of White Rock Lake is probably the most popular of local legends as is the Donkey Lady of San Antonio. As with the Donkey Lady, she is also one of the hardest to pin down, and the two share much in common.
The Lady of White Rock Lake has eluded the most ardent of ghost hunters, but the legend doesn’t seem to want to die. Dallas residents have even tried to determine exactly who she is by researching obituary and area records. Her identity though still remains unclear and that only adds to the legend. It was this legend that Boyles set his sights on during that October.
During a broadcast Boyles asked the local community to help find the Lady of the Lake, to help him hunt her down and solve the mystery forever. He invited everyone to join him at White Rock Park near the lake of the same name in the early morning hours.
The story of the woman is a sad and interesting one. As mentioned, it’s a lot like numerous other stories of a young girl searching by the water’s side for an end to her haunting, and end to the misery. She is described as a young woman dressed in a long white evening gown, found wandering alone on roads near the lake in a state of confusion.
Drivers stop and offer assistance to the woman and she gladly accepts. She tells them that she’s been in an accident and her car is in the lake, explaining why her dress is soaked and that she desperately needs to get home.
She sits quietly in the back seat as the driver follows her directions home. She is silent as they pass beneath the streetlights and into a nearby neighborhood. The driver pulls up in front of the house she indicated only to find her asleep in the back seat. Trying not to wake her, the driver slowly exits the car and goes up to the house.
Several minutes pass as he waits for someone to answer, wondering why the parents of a young girl would be asleep if she was still out. The door opens and the driver is greeted by an elderly gentleman who is more than a little irritated at being woken at the late hour.
The driver explains his situation to the old man and indicates that his daughter is in the car asleep. The man’s face turns pale, and then his brow furrows with anger more intense than for just being woken up too early in the morning. He tells the driver that his daughter died in a watery car accident years before, and that if this was his idea of a joke then he didn’t like it.
The door slams shut leaving the driver speechless on the porch as the light snaps off as well. He hesitates for a moment wondering that maybe he just got the wrong house. It was a hell of a coincidence though that the old man’s daughter and the girl in the car both had been in car accidents in the lake. The driver goes to tell the girl that they have the wrong house only to find an empty seat, damp with lake water.
The story is played over many times and in various forms all close to the one mentioned above. While most of the time she is seen hailing passing motorists she has also taken other forms. People out on docks late at night have witnessed a body that floats slowly up to them.
The body, face down, slowly rolls over as they step up to investigate. It’s skin is bleached white, which stands out in stark contrast to it’s elegant evening gown. As the people look down at the apparent dead body it’s eyes spring wide open and the corpse emits a ghastly scream that sends shivers down their spines as fast as they run down the dock to safety.
Chuck Boyles invitation to search for the lady brought more responses than he bargained for. Mirroring what would happen in today’s age, an estimated 1,000 youths ranging in ages from 13 to 25 swarmed over the area in hundreds of cars. What was probably a harmless enough outing soon became, at least what the police referred to it as, a potential riot.
Police called in 47 officers to restrain the crowd and prevent them from overrunning the Cox Cemetery in search of the Lady of the Lake. The total riot potential of the crowd though amounted to a few people lighting off some firecrackers. The tenseness of the situation seemed to feed upon itself making it bigger than it was.
The police made few arrests and the incident passed without any damage to the area. Boyles was publicly chastised by city officials to the point where he made an official apology on the air two days later.
He created the biggest public stir over any single ghost in Texas history. While we all may get a chuckle out of the result he undoubtedly did a world to keep the small ghost story alive, if not enlarge it over the years. The incident with Boyles was forty years ago, and the legend of the Lady of the Lake lives throughout the Dallas area as strongly as the wind blows across the lake and onto the road, a wind that brings nightmares and an unusual hitchhiker, looking for help.