Author Archive
Legends
Narrative

Casa del Prado Cinderella

Informant: Joshua is a 24-year-old student living in Southern California. He formerly lived in San Diego before moving to Los Angeles. He used to work at the Casa del Prado, a prominent theater in San Diego. Notably, the Casa del Prado is attached to a tall clock tower.

Main Piece:
Josh: “Supposedly, at the Casa del Prado, they were putting on a performance of Cinderella. The lead actress went missing one night and they were looking all around for her. Apparently, over by the clock tower, when the clock hit 7, people saw her body fall from the tower and hit the ground.”

Interviewer: How did she fall?

Josh: “Well, nobody knows, but according to some people, it looked like she was pushed out by somebody.”

Interviewer: And there was no sign of who pushed her?

Josh: “That’s just it. The doors to the clock tower were all locked. She shouldn’t have even been able to get up there. Nobody came out of the tower after, but some people said that occasionally you could see her ghost backstage.”

Background Information about the Performance: The informant was told this story as a teenager while working as an actor at the Casa del Prado. It was his first show and the piece was performed to him by the stage manager.

Context of Performance: The piece was performed backstage in the dark.

Thoughts: This story almost seems to be part of a hazing experience. The informant was young at the time and just started acting at the Casa del Prado. The stage manager could have intended to scare him as part of his induction into the group of people working at the theater.

Myths
Narrative

Bridge Devil

Informant: Liz is a 24-year-old student born and raised in Southern California. Her mother is from a town near Guadalajara, Mexico.

Main Piece: “When I was maybe like…8 or 10, my mom, she shared with my sister and I, she shared that at the ranch where her grandmother lived, there was a bridge nearby. But sometimes at night, when you went to cross the bridge, the devil would appear. And he had the…head of a pig, legs of a rooster, and some other part of a goat. He would ask questions and try to hurt you. Now, she never saw the devil, but she had a friend who did. And the friend was lucky because she got away before the devil got to her.”

Background Information about the Performance: The informant was deeply affected by this piece as a child. She was afraid of leaving the house after dark, even though she did not live near the bridge in Guadalajara.

Context of Performance: This piece was performed by the informant’s mother when her children were acting irresponsibly.

Thoughts: I find it interesting how similar this piece is to stories about bridge trolls, especially given that the devil would ask questions.

Folk Beliefs
Signs

White Spot in Hair

Informant: Joshua is a 24-year-old student living in Southern California. His father is from the Philippines and moved to California before Joshua was born.

Main Piece:

Josh: “My sister, underneath the brown of her hair, has a spot of white about the size of a quarter. And so the thing is, when you are born and somebody else dies, the white spot is where the dead person touched your hair and it died with them”

Interviewer: Is it an omen for anything? Is the baby cursed?

Josh: “I don’t think so, although my sister might be cursed. He laughs. I think it just changes the hair, though.”

Background Information about the Performance: The informant was told this by his father when he was younger. His father had noticed the white spot in his sister’s hair and pointed it out. When she asked why it was that way, this was his explanation.

Context of Performance: This piece was performed when trying to explain a white spot of hair to a child.

Thoughts: For me, this piece almost seems like a scary story, since it involves the dead. However, since nothing bad happens to the child, it’s less scary. This might be due to a difference in the perception of death.

 

Festival
Rituals, festivals, holidays

中秋节 (Mid-Autumn Festival)

Informant: Hannah is an 18-year-old student, born and raised in China before moving to Los Angeles for college. Her parents now live in Japan, but they return to China to visit family during the summer.

Main Piece: “For the Mid-Autumn Festival, we all eat mooncakes and stare at the moon and think of our family. The circle, like the full circle, symbolizes wholeness. When you’re staring at the moon, you’re all thinking about the same moon, so you can send your love to each other.”

Background Information about the Performance: The informant still performs this tradition, even though she now lives in the US. She considers it important since she lives so far away from her family. She learned it from her parents and grandparents when living in China.

Context of Performance: The festival occurs in the middle of autumn on the lunar calendar, around late September to early October.

Thoughts: This festival reminds me of other harvest festivals around the world, such as Holi or Thanksgiving, in which the intent is to promote togetherness.

Folk Beliefs
Folk medicine

Papaya Leaves for Jellyfish Stings

Informant: Uluwehi is a 21-year-old student from Hawaiʻi. She is from the island of Oʻahu.

Main Piece: “So, a good medicine is that if you get stung by a jellyfish, you should crush up papaya leaves and use that on the sting. I know they do it in the Molokaʻi races since it’s not good to bring in chemicals, and also they just generally do it.”

Background Information about the Performance: The informant learned about this medicine while researching Hawaiian medicines. She uses it if she can when she or somebody she knows gets stung.

Context of Performance: The medicine is given to sufferers of jellyfish stings.

Thoughts: Doing further research, I found that papaya leaves contain papain, a chemical that has some use for pain and inflammation relief. Although no sting-related medicines have been made from it, the leaves could offer some pain relief from the sting as a result. I also think it is noteworthy that the papaya is not native to Hawaiʻi and yet it is still part of their folk belief.

Folk Beliefs
Protection
Signs

Chew on a Piece of Thread

Informant: B is a 20-year old born and raised in Southern California. He and his family are Jewish, and are all involved in theater.

Main Piece:

Informant: “Something my mom always told me is: if you’re wearing a garment of clothing that is actively being sewn or mended or stuff of that nature, you need to chew on a piece of thread.”

Interviewer: What happens if you don’t?

Informant: “Well, bad luck. There are all sorts of associations to death shrouds and dying, so it’s pretty bad to do.”

Background Information about the Performance: The informant’s mother told him this superstition when he was younger. The family frequently sews clothes due to their involvement with the theater.

Context of Performance: The piece is told as a warning against bad luck, mostly during situations in which people are mending clothes.

Thoughts: The informant noted that although he is not very superstitious, he very much believes this superstition. I was not aware of this superstition, but was aware of other sewing-related superstitions, such as knotted threads signifying an argument in the future, or not leaving something unsewn through New Years.

Legends
Narrative

Hotel del Coronado Ghost

Informant: Meagan is a 23-year-old screenwriter, born and raised in San Diego. She is an active member of various ghosthunting and cryptid-related groups, although she admits that she is not sure if she fully believes in them. The Hotel del Coronado is a hotel on Coronado Island famous for being haunted.

Main Piece:
Informant: “This is what I remember: Kate and Tom Morgan were a married couple in the late 1800s. They were con artists. One day, they checked into the Hotel del Coronado. Tom was supposed to meet Kate, but she didn’t show up…because she was dead. They found her in Room 302, and now she haunts that room and the halls.”

Interviewer: How did she die?

Informant: “Nobody knows. Some historians say it was suicide, some say it was disease, and some say she was murdered by her husband. But nobody really knows.”

Background Information about the Performance: The informant first heard this piece from tour guides when visiting the hotel. After seeking more information online, she visited the Hotel del Coronado again with a friend and had an experience with the ghost, in which she saw it in the mirror and felt as though she had been scratched by it.

Context of Performance: The piece is told both by tour guides around the Hotel del Coronado and by members of various San Diego-based ghost hunter groups.

Thoughts: I know of this piece from visiting the Hotel del Coronado, but I have never experienced ghostly activity myself. I was also unaware of the background of the piece, knowing only that the hotel is haunted. The Hotel del Coronado promotes this haunting, and is part of various haunted house tours based in San Diego.

 

general

Lone Pine Mountain Devil

Informant: Meagan is a 23-year-old screenwriter, born and raised in San Diego. She is an active member of various ghosthunting and cryptid-related groups, although she admits that she is not sure if she fully believes in them.

Main Piece:
Informant: “There are certain types of cryptids that are known as ‘old-worldly’. They’re creatures that should be extinct but aren’t. Apparently, in the mountains of California, there’s a pterosaur-like creature with like…the head of a T-Rex.”

Interviewer: Is the head the same size as a T-Rex’s?

Informant: “No, no…here, let me draw it for you. It’s hard to explain.” See below for drawing. Some people say it has feathers, some say it doesn’t. But one thing’s for certain, and that’s that it’s carnivorous. It leaves very distinct bite marks on its prey. And sometimes it…sort of turns its prey inside out, but mostly it’s known for the bite marks.”

EPSON MFP image

Background Information about the Performance: The informant learned of this piece through various online communities of cryptozoologists. The informant noted that she was interested in hiking around the area where the cryptid has been sighted.

Context of Performance: Often, stories of this cryptid are told as personal experiences on online forums or cryptid-related books.

Thoughts: Upon further research, I learned that the Lone Pine Mountain Devil was created by a team of Youtubers for a video in 2010. However, it is important to note that it is still very widely believed by the crytozoologist community, showing how an authored work can become folklore. The informant also noted that the Lone Pine Mountain Devil and the Jersey Devil were often considered related in some way, showing how two separate elements of folklore can become tied together.

Legends
Narrative

Ghost Dog of Devon

Informant: Valerie is a 61-year-old, born and raised in Dorking, England. She moved to Pennsylvania at 40, and to San Diego at 45. She still regularly visits England, where all her family still live. Her father was from the county of Devon in England.

Main Piece: “When I was younger, my family and I would take trips to around Devon. And sometimes when it was nighttime, my dad would tell us about a big, black dog that would go around Devon. It was a ghost dog, and it would go around howling at night. Seeing it would be dangerous, so we always got very scared when we heard a dog howl around there.”

Background Information about the Performance: The informant was told this as a child by her father. She remembers having been scared by the story, and would go on to recount the story later when she visited Devon again.

Context of Performance: The piece is told as a scary story to children – and presumably others – around the Devon region.

Thoughts: The black dog story is common around Britain, and my father had heard a similar story around Leeds. I am reminded of the Sherlock Holmes story, The Hound of the Baskervilles, which takes place around Devon.

 

Folk Beliefs
Folk medicine

Guggle Muggle

Informant: B is a 20-year old born and raised in Southern California. He and his family are Jewish, and are all involved in theater.

Main Piece:
Informant: “My grandma used to, when we were sick, make this drink called guggle muggle. It was milk, honey, and egg.”

Interviewer: And it was supposed to cure sickness?

Informant: “Yeah, yeah, for things like a sore throat or a cold or whatever. You’d drink the guggle muggle, and usually it’d be warm. It was supposed to make you feel better.”

Background Information about the Performance: The informant was given this folk medicine by his grandmother when he was younger. He still will make it if he is feeling sick even though his grandmother has passed away.

Context of Performance: The medicine was given when suffering from a minor illness like a cold or a sore throat.

Thoughts: I know of other folk medicines that involve giving hearty but sweet food or drinks when sick, such as toast with jam for a sore throat. The informant actually made this for me, as I was sick at the time, and it tasted very much as one might expect.

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