She is a Lady from the Arthurian legend and like most mysterious women, an enchantress in both romantic and magical ways. Belonging to a separate realm — like a lake or forest that will never be truly human — is always alluring. So I’ve always been attracted to many legendary ladies who, in one way or another, belong to water, like La Llorona.
Turns out that White Rock Lake in Dallas also has such a legend, alhough the lady in question is not a powerful enchantress. According to the tale, a blond woman in her early 20s will appear at night, dripping wet in a 1920s evening dress and will flag a car passing along the road circling the lake. The woman will tell the driver she had an accident and needs to get home. The driver will then drive to the address given, but then the girl is gone, leaving only a puddle on her seat. The driver then knocks on the door of the house and learns that that she was the family’s daughter who died in a boat accident on the lake one night decades ago.
My friend and artist Marcia Cirillo told me about this legend and sent me reports about those encounters with the mysterious lady from Dallas-area newspapers in the 1950s and 1960s. The first report lists the address at Gaston Avenue, the car as a two-door sedan, driven by a respectable if unsuspecting Dallas couple. A reputable journalist following the story writes that the Lady of the White Rock Lake usually appears in spring or summer, in a Neiman Marcus dress and the couple who picked her up, Neiman Marcus executives themselves, recognized the gown from the store collection. A local psychic opines that the Lady comes back simply because nobody has told her she is dead. Alternative stories say that maybe she died in a suicide and she also likes to ring the doorbells of the houses around the lake.
The story lived an intense life, probably cultivated by a bootleggers’ stand in the area. In the early 60s a group of teenagers even organized a search for the mysterious ghostly girl. Their cars (more than a hundred) caused a big traffic jam on Lawther Drive and had to be dispersed by police. Then at some point the newspaper notices that sightings have become less and less frequent each year and laments this recession in ghostly stories. Whether meaningful or not, this period of legend decline coincides with the closure of the popular Bath House on the lake, before it opened again as one of Dallas’s cultural centers.
By the way, there is an art exhibition on the Lady of the Lake taking place there right now. Go visit it and see the legend coming alive 🙂