Folk Beliefs
Legends
Narrative

The Red Whistle

MG describes an urban legend from her home town of Bergenfield, New Jersey in the 60s and 70s.

MG: “There was a deli in town that also sold candy, I think it was called Bob’s. The urban legend was that if you went into the candy store and asked him for a red whistle the guy behind the counter would go crazy and chase you out of the store. It was a dare if you could go into the store and ask him for a red whistle. It was mainly a boy thing, I heard about it from my brother. He did it once.”

What happened when your brother did it?

MG: “He got chased out of the store! He had to run for his life! But that was part of the fun, he was a grown man and the boys were in 8th grade, no one knew why it was a trigger point but it was the standing challenge so all the boys had to do it”

So no one knew why he would chase you out of the store?

MG: “I don’t think so, maybe someone 10 years older than me knew but all I knew was that you had to go ask for the red whistle. Someone told me it was because he was a child molester, but I don’t know if that was true. All the kids that I knew knew about it”

This legend was interesting because it was an example of how it is unclear whether the legend or the action came first. It isn’t clear whether the man would chase kids out of the store because he had been asked about the red whistle so many times and was fed up, or if there was an underlying meaning to asking for the red whistle that made him angry in the first place. The addition of the fact that they thought he was a child molester was a weird twist and maybe made their actions more ethical: they could continuously bother him because he was a bad guy.

 

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