USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘automobile’
general
Legends
Magic

Gravity Hill

JC: “Gravity Hill is a place in Mentor, Ohio, which is upa round the Lake Erie shore, north of Cleveland. And I have no idea why, how we planned the trip that got us all the way up there, four and a half, five hours up from Dayton. But we had heard about it, and I believe we had even seen it on That’s Incredible, which was a TV show that sort of anthologized folklore and weirdness and Guinness Book things and so on. So we drove up to Mentor Ohio, a group of us, in high school. And the road it’s on, I don’t remember what the road is called, but we had to look it up on a map–a paper map, cause there were no Internets, and we got to the place on the road where it was, and we had to take the car, and put it in neutral, at the bottom of what looks like a hill, and then the car slowly goes up the hill and gathers a little bit of speed. Apparently, somehow, it’s just an unbelievably convincing optical illusion, but it really feels like your car is being pulled uphill. Like it looks like it’s uphill, it really does look that way. So that’s Gravity Hill.”

Background: JC is an Ohio native. He and his friends likely heard about this Gravity Hill, or a similar phenomenon, from television.

Interpretation:

The Gravity Hill phenomenon is fairly common, and dozens of these stretches of road exist around the world. The conditions required to maintain the illusion come about naturally or unintentionally in many places in the United States, and most of these places likely have their own set of stories surrounding them, with some similarities and more variations. JC had no further information about this particular hill with regards to any stories surrounding it. This particular feature was considered just an illusion by JC and his friends.

Interestingly, there is a Gravity Hill nearby in Altadena, California, which has further folklore surrounding it. A range of ghost stories involving crashed school buses or cars of cheerleaders claim that this particular hill is haunted, and perhaps the “magnetic” effect is ghostly hands pushing your car to ensure you don’t meet the same fate as they did. A common practice of “ghost hunters” is to put baby powder or flour on the front or back of their car, and see if handprints show up while rolling “uphill.”

 

For more information on Gravity Hill in Altadena, see another local account of this gravity hill: http://folklore.usc.edu/?p=34587

Game

Punch Buggy

Whenever you see a Volkswagen Beetle car, you have to yell “Punch Buggy” and punch another person.

I found out about this game when I saw my informant’s girlfriend yell out, “Punch Buggy,” and proceeded to punch him. I asked them what this punching business was, my informant informed me of this game.  I asked him where he had learned this game, and he told me that his cousins had taught him.  On the other hand, his girlfriend told me that he had learned of this game from the recent commercials made by Volkswagen that featured this game.

Currently, the true origins of this game are unknown.  However, they have been able to determine that it probably started around the 1960s.  My theory on how this game began is that it might have started as a marketing ploy from Volkswagen to popularize their Beetle car.  Eventually, the game became so widespread that the original origins became obsolete.  In 2009, Volkswagen utilized this game into their commercials which only helped to further popularize the game.

Game
general

Game – Claremont, California

Driving Game

Participants include everyone in a car, excluding the driver for safety purposes.  When on the road, if people within the car see a car that has a headlight out, then that person yells “sex” and everyone participating hits the roof.  The last person to hit the roof takes off a piece of clothing.  Play ends when the car ride is over.

The informant claimed that this game is played for fun at night in cars, usually when the car is full or there are several people in the car.

I think this game probably came about as a way to make a boring car ride more interesting.  It is common probably only with younger, teenage to twenties, crowds because of a sort of obsession and fascination this age group has with sex and nakedness.  I would guess that there is a link between the acknowledgements of a headlight being out and the word “sex” being yelled, since headlight is often using as a metaphor for female breasts, hence the game involving a taking off of clothes.

[geolocation]