The Black Volga

To say that I am posting this to prove a point is a little more aggressive than what I mean (or is relevant, since it’s not as though anyone actually challenged me on it).

There is a habit throughout folklore and urban legend for ideas, themes, and motifs to keep repeating, with the only major shift being the images used in the story slowly updating and changing to match era and location. That way you end up with stories being similar, with similar structures, but an occasional change of image and potential message (the spiders in the up-do is an evolution of a story told in earlier centuries about spiders in the wigs of women too vain to show up at church on time if it meant giving up primping [I’m not the first person to say that, but I’m forgetting the original source. If you have it, let me know and I’ll cite them.])

This story is basically the death coach set in Eastern Europe. It’s probably not originating out of the same root legend, but the roots probably run parallel (and it is possible that it’s rooted in a Slavic tradition of faerie lore, since there were similar patterns to what went on in Celtic lore. Or not. The Slavs didn’t actually write anything down, so it’s really hard to tell).

The Black Volga is a story that was at its height of popularity in the 1960s and the 1970s. The story goes that there was a black car (normally a Volga) that would drive through neighborhoods and slow down when it spotted a child. The driver (who varied, but was always a member of a group distrusted in the area of Eastern Europe the story was being told in, up to and including the Pope and the Devil) would call the child over. There were some variations in what happened next-the child would always end up dead but at various times in the interaction and with different motives. Some of the motives reflected social or political stances of the time, including a heavy Othering of Americans (the children were killed to cure them, for example).

There’s a weird dynamic in that it’s not just that the Volga was an expensive car being driven by an American or other out-group, the Volga was actually a governmental car. More modern variations just make the car ‘upper class’, but the Volga had a very specific implication: the KGB or similar was doing this. This was the ultimate boogeyman: the group hated within the culture was acting for the motives of the groups hated without the culture.

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