Author Archive
Childhood
Customs
general
Initiations
Legends

Murder in John Adams Middle School

 

Material

In 5th grade I was told that some girl was killed in the girl’s restroom at John Adams Middle School. I was also told that a guy killed the girl and that there was a lot of blood.

Context

This legend is told to the 5th graders right before they go on to middle school. Both boys and girls are told this legend.

Informant Analysis:

The informant cannot remember exactly who told her the story all she remembers is that it was a fellow classmate and that everyone in the 5th grade knew about. The informant, as a current student at John Adams Middle School, does not believe that this event ever happened. She believes that this legend was told to the fifth graders so as to scare the incoming students of John Adams Middle School.

Analysis from Collector:

I agree with the informant that this legend is told to only the fifth graders who are about to go into John Adams Middle School. When I was about to go into middle school, I too was told about a murder that was committed in the middle school I was going to attend. Even though the place in which the murder was committed is different in both legends and there are different details to the legends, both legends do include a death of a student that attended the middle school. I further agree with my informant that this legend was told to scare the incoming students because at that age, the student is going through a major transition, that transition being  going into a different ‘bigger and harder’ school. This major transition would already put some fear into the students and to further scare them it would make sense to tell them about a death that occurred in that middle school. Being told this legend about the middle school can also be considered an initiation rite of becoming a middle school student. Once the student goes into the school he/she would be a middle school student because he/she would know the legend about someone being murdered in the school. If the student is never told about the legend, he/she will never fully be part of the group because he/she would not know the legend that everyone else knows.

Childhood
Folk Beliefs
Folk speech
Humor

If you don’t eat your rice….

Material

If you don’t eat all of your rice then when you’re sleeping your soul will leave your body and look for the rice cooker (laughs) and then you will get trapped in it or something like that (laughs).

Context

The informant told me that her friend told her this belief when the informant was nineteen but that the belief is usually told to little kids when they do not want to eat their rice.

Informant Analysis

According to the informant she believes that this folk belief is told to kids by their parents so the kids will eat all of their rice and not be wasteful. She believes that the parents tell their kids this because they think scaring their kids will work. Although my informant heard about this saying from a friend her friend was told about this belief from her parents. The informant’s friend is Chinese born in the Philippines so the informant believes the belief exists among all Asians, although in different forms. She believes this because she was also told about a belief pertaining to not eating rice by another friend who is Asian as well. I asked the informant if her parents ever told her anything pertaining to something bad happening if she did not eat her rice and she said no, her parents just told her to eat her rice.

My informant is currently 20 years old and is a student at USC. She is of Asian descent but does not speak any other language besides English. She is very involved in the USC Nikkei Association which is an Asian club on campus.

The other belief

 If you don’t eat your rice….then….they said something about worms like eating…eating your soul or something weird like that (laughs)

Analysis from the Collector

I enjoyed hearing about these beliefs because I have never heard any of them before. I agree with my informant that these beliefs are mainly told to little kids as an effort from their parents to get them to eat their rice. Not knowing many Asians myself, I would not be able to say whether these beliefs are common among all Asian groups like my informant believes. I think these are the type of beliefs that are taken very seriously when the person is young but are taken as being silly when the person grows and are just remembered as childhood folklore.

 

general
Legends
Narrative

La Llorona

 

Material

One day there was a lady a lady by the field her name was la llorona she was screaming…where are my sons she was crying she was saying where are my sons because she murder she she put them in the water and she killed them she used to live in the mountains she came outside in the midnight all people in the village were scared of la llorona they told her sons to don’t come out.

Context

The informant’s grandfather told this legend to the informant when he was age 7. His grandpa told him the legend because the informant and his cousins were at his house and it was raining outside. My informant told me the legend was communicated primarily as a pastime.

Informant Analysis

The informant believes in the existence of this lady. When I asked him why he believed in her existence he said because when he goes out at midnight in Mexico there are a lot of noises and people screaming. I asked him if he goes to Mexico often and he said he goes every vacation. According to him, la llorona only exists in Mexico.

Analysis from Collector

I like how the informant emphasized that he only hears the llorona in Mexico even though nowhere in the actual story that he told me did he mention that the llorona lives in Mexico. I believe that because he learned about this legendary person in Mexico he has always connected the legend to that place. This has led to his belief that she only exists in Mexico and that she can only be heard there.

 I also find it interesting that the informant began the legend with the llorona crying and screaming then going on to explain why she was acting like that. I found this interesting because from studying some other folklore and hearing other versions of the same legend, the story begins with an act being committed then the after effects of that act being said. The fact that she cries for her children is usually not told until the very end of the legend in contrast, my informant began the legend with her crying, explained why she was crying then ended the legend with her crying. His version of the legend is very circular.

Other places this legend is found

·         An entry submitted by Melanie Frakes

·         A book called La Llorona: the wailing woman by Victor Zubeldia published by Instituto Oaxaqueño de las Culturas

Adulthood
Legends
Narrative

En el Cerro

 

Material (In Spanish)

Bueno esta es una historia de una pareja que eran muy pobres y vivían en un en un digamos en un cerro solo ahí tenían su casa un iglito y entonces el señor dijo esa ves sabes esposa mía me voy me voy a ir a los estados unidos a trabajar y tú te estás aquí pues si se fue, se fue el señor. Entonces ella vivía sola con su niño y ya con sus llaves se enseraba en la noche y ya pues un día entonces su su señor no le fue tan-le fue bien y le mando su dinerito y lo fue a sacar al correo y entonces alguien la vio que andaba sacando dinero del correo y como estaba sola en la aldea en el cerro donde vivía, en la noche fue alguien y quiso escarbar, tumbar la casa era de adobe y la quiso tumbar para entrar a serle daño a ella y quitarle su dinero…y entonces ella….ella pensó como le hago entonces se acordó que tenía una hacha con que cortaba leña pa su lumbre y dice me voy prevenir cuando cuando este señor entre o la persona que sea entre quiera entrar va entrar de cabeza y yo le voy a dar un hachazo entonces le escarbo le escarbo y estuvo lista y entonces ya cuando cuando quiso ya entrar el señor ella agarro el hacha y le dio el hachazo  entonces ella ahí lo dejo entonces ella se fue a la cuidad a reportar a la a la autoridades que le dijo hice hice mate a este cristiano en defensa propia ahí estaba en mi case de mi casa y vengo y entonces a la señora no la detuvieron ni nada lo que si la sacaron de ahí de ese lugar y la llevaron a y le llevaron y le compraron una casa y la sacaron de ahí porque ahí estaba en peligro… y al señor se le lo llevaron pues si a sepultar pero a ella no le echaron causa porque ella estaba en defensa propia en su casa y así termino la historia.        

Translation

Well this is a story about a couple that were very poor and they lived in well let’s say in the woods where they only had their house and then the husband told his wife one time I am going to the United States to work and you will stay here and so he left, the husband left. Then she lived on her own with her son and with her keys that she locked herself inside the house at night; and then one day it went well for her husband and sent her some money so she went to the post office to pick it up and then someone saw her taking out the money and because she was alone in the woods where she lived someone went at night and wanted to dig their way into the brick house and wanted to take down the house so they could harm her and take her money…and then she…she thought what do I do, until she remembered that she had an axe that was used to cut wood for her fire and then she thought how am I going to protect myself when the, when the guy or whoever it is gets in, that person would want to enter head first and then  I will cut his head off so he dug and dug and she was ready and then when when he wanted to enter she grabbed her axe and cut his head off then she left him there and went to the city to report to the authorities that she had killed a Christian man in self-defense and that he was at her house, they did not withhold her instead they took her out of there and bought her a new house because she was in danger….and to the man they took him to bury him but she was not at fault because she was acting out of self-defense and that is where the story ends.

Context

This story/legend is usually told by the elders to the young adults.

Informant Analysis

The informant was told this story when she was 17 years old by several older people. According to my informant this tale was told to people as they were growing up as a way to tell them of the rights they had. She views this as a caution tale for what might happen and what should be done if an occurrence like this does happen.

My informant grew up in Mexico and lived in the ranch for a while with her husband and her kids. She immigrated to the United States with her husband in the year 1973. She is now a widow who lives with one daughter and son and his family. She currently resides in Los Angeles, California. She is a natural performer.

Analysis from Collector

I think this is an interesting legend because I have never heard one like this, that deals with the rights people have. My informant told me that I am the first person she has told the story to since she heard it. I assume this is because in the 1950s in Mexico, many people were not aware of the legal rights they had especially in the rural areas in which information was a lot harder to come by. They would tell this story as a means to communicate the legal rights they had. Being in the United States and in this time and age most, if not all, people know about their rights so I believe she did not bother to tell others this legend because they already know about their legal rights. It is fascinating to think that information was spread through stories and legends told by the people. It is also interesting to see that even if the legend has been retold many times, the main principle of the story is still fully understood.

Childhood
Folk speech
general
Gestures
Musical

A bag of potatoes

 

Context

This short song/lullaby is performed to a child of the ages 0-3 years of age for no particular reason. When sung, the adult is usually hugging the child and swaying along to the beat of the song.

Material

Yo vendo un costal de papas, ¿quien me lo quiere comprar? Lo vendo por diabluriento y porque me ha pagado mal.  

Translation

I sell a bag of potatoes, who wants to buy it? I sell him for mischief and because he has paid me wrong.

Meaning of the Song

The child is being referred to as a bag of potatoes that the adult wants to sell because the child is always getting into trouble and doing wrong.

Analysis by the informant

The informant is unsure as to where she learned the song but she believes it was once a romance song but she changed the wording of a section of the song so it would be a childhood song instead. The informant does not remember singing it to her daughters but she does sing it now to her grandsons whom live with her and are of ages 2 and 4. Her youngest grandson sometimes sings along with her as she sings it to him. The informant performs the song as a playful form with her grandsons because she carries them and they sing it with her. It is a playful form in which she tells them how much of troublemakers they are but that she still loves them.

Analysis by the interviewer

I think this is a nice short song that is not exactly a lullaby but not a full song or proverb, just a short saying which has a lot of meaning to both the informant and the child. Seeing it in its original context, I believe that the children get the same meaning from the short song as the informant because the children are always smiling and in a good mood when it is being sung to them.

[geolocation]