My informant is a student at USC who hails from Detroit, Michigan. He grew up in the suburbs around Detroit, attended a private Catholic school there, and has great pride in his city. He has a large family with whom he is very close.
In the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, my informant’s family has a lake house that they use for family gatherings in the summer. His family is rather large, so these gatherings involve three or four sets of grandparents, anywhere from four to six sets of aunts and uncles, plus my informant’s parents, and up to ten of my informant’s cousins along with him and his two siblings.
At these family gatherings one year, someone brought up a story that they’d heard about a man who leapt off a freighter into Lake Michigan and had never been found. No one knew who that man was, or why he jumped. The family together tried to research the incident online, but couldn’t find a single news story that sounded similar.
Over time the story has been brought up at the gatherings and has become a joke for my informant’s family. Someone in the family decided that the man’s name was Bob, and that somehow Bob was still hanging around the Upper Peninsula. My informant’s sister along with some other young kids from a nearby lake house once came across a large slab of broken rock that they declared “Bob’s Tomb.”
The story has circulated around the lakeside community, and has become a popular legend of the Upper Peninsula. But to my informant, it remains a family joke.