Tag Archives: Youth

Friendship Bracelets as Folk Art

Main Piece: 

The following is transcribed from a conversation between me (LT) and my informant (AT). 

AT: When I think friendship bracelets, I think of taking strands of embroidery floss, and you knot or braid them in these different patterns, and then when they’re like fully woven, you give them to your friends. The whole idea is you and your friends either make matching ones and swap them, or you can make different ones for each other. Part of the fun in that is picking the colors or patterns you think they’d like. 

LT: But either way you have to make them, and they have to be for the other person, right? 

AT: Yeah, you’re not supposed to make them for yourself… I mean maybe you can? Everyone I know always made them for other people… and honestly I’m sure you can buy them off Etsy or something, but the whole fun in it is the actual process of making them. 

Background:

AT is a 23-year-old female from Los Angeles. She first learned how to make friendship bracelets at a summer camp when she was six years old. Her favorite thing about making friendship bracelets growing up was exchanging them: “I loved how excited my friends would get when I gave them theirs, and I’d always feel really special when they’d give me mine… it was a way we could physically prove to each other that we liked each other I guess.” 

Context: 

AT is one of my relatives with whom I’m quarantining. This piece was collected in our living room as we were sitting on the couch. 

Thoughts:

American female friendships are often depicted in the media as being “catty” or fake, but I think that friendship bracelets show how pure they can be in real life. Having gone to an all girls high school, some of my strongest, most loyal relationships are the ones I have with my female friends. In the context of friendship bracelets, girls take it upon themselves at such a young age to learn special patterns and spend time making them for their friends. I still cherish having that experience with mine. When we all wore the same friendship bracelets, it felt like we were all wearing the same jersey, and we were on the same team. These bracelets are generally made by little girls who might not be eloquent enough to express their emotions accurately, and friendship bracelets are a beautiful way to nonverbally show your friends how much you care, knowing that they’ll understand and likely reciprocate. 

Playoff Haircuts

In high school sports, playoffs are consistently a big deal and represent a payoff for hard work and a good record during the sports season. This form folklore is both a folk practice and afterward, a folk object. The practice is giving certain haircuts during the time after the regular season but before playoffs begin. These are not normal haircuts but wild ones with different patterns and styles. Some of them include mohawks, bald heads, bowl cuts, words shaved into heads, monk haircuts, old man haircuts, and a plethora of others. They are not set haircuts but rather up to the imagination. This practice is similarly performed in other high schools across the United States, sometimes with other variations.

This folk practice is traditionally done by the upperclassmen within a team. The lowerclassmen get worse haircuts while the upperclassmen get better ones. In this way, it is a form of hazing. The informant said that the haircuts are typically shaved off or bettered once the playoff streak end because they are only to remain during the postseason. They learned it from the upperclassmen when they were younger and then performed this practice as an upperclassman. This is only typically done on varsity sports. The sports observed to do this include baseball, football, lacrosse, and some others. They remember it wholly fondly, even as a lower classman. It is not meant to be malicious but more a harmless rite of passage because it makes the kids feel like more of a coherent group. Another instance of this at different schools include bleaching the team’s hair during playoff time.

It seems to me that this sometimes is about a dynamic of power. Younger kids may be intimidated into doing this, but other kids may enjoy it because they are a part of a larger group and help self-identify with that. It is a physical way of making teammates more similar and improves as the kids get older, causing interest to do it for the first time.

Imagine you are in a Brick Room

Text:

Informant (R): I also used to do a bunch of riddles and stuff, like while hiking at summer camp, you know?

Collector (J): yeah, yeah, that was fun!

R: My favorite was the brick room one.

J: oh yeah, that one messed with me as a kid, I felt so dumb because I couldn’t figure it out.

R: I mean, it was hard!

J: How did it go again?

R: Ok, so imagine you are trapped in a solid brick room, with no windows, no doors, nothing. You have a single piece of rope and a paper clip and a note that says you must escape the room or you’ll die. How do you get out?

J: I mean, I know the answer, but can you say it?

R: Yeah, so I said imagine you’re in the room. Stop imagining.

Context: Both R and J went to summer camp together. They were recalling old games and riddles for the sake of this collection. R learned this riddle from a camp counselor who repeated this riddle while hiking with younger campers.

Analysis: As other riddles are, this riddle contains insider information for those who know the answer to the riddle. Those who “play the game” of trying to solve it are typically misguided and attempt to find ways out of the room with the rope or other tools. Depending on the performance, the “clues” to escape change, keeping those attempting to solve the riddle on their toes. However, those who know the riddle are quick to remember the keyword “imagine.”

99 Bottles of Coke

BACKGROUND:

The following song was sung by young children (kindergarten-middle school) in the Bay Area of California, traditionally on long car trips or bus rides. The song was often sung ironically to bother other members of the vehicle due to its obnoxiously long and repetitive manor. According to this source, the song often wouldn’t last more than 5-6 verses before someone would get mad and demand the song cease. The song is also known for using the word “beer” in place of “coke”. According to this source, the reason for the change to coke was due to fear of getting in trouble from teachers or parents for singing about consuming alcohol as a minor.

THE SONG:

99 bottles of coke on the wall, 99 bottles of coke.

Take one down and pass it around, 98 bottles of coke on the wall.

98 bottles of coke on the wall, 98 bottles of coke.

Take one down and pass it around, 97 bottles of coke on the wall.

97 bottles of coke on the wall, 97 bottles of coke.

Take one down and pass it around, 96 bottles of coke on the wall.

96 bottles of coke on the wall, 96 bottles of coke.

Take one down and pass it around, 95 bottles of coke on the wall.

95 bottles of coke on the wall, 95 bottles of coke.

Take one down and pass it around, 94 bottles of coke on the wall.

94 bottles of coke on the wall, 94 bottles of coke.

Take one down and pass it around, 93 bottles of coke on the wall.

93 bottles of coke on the wall, 93 bottles of coke.

Take one down and pass it around, 92 bottles of coke on the wall.

92 bottles of coke on the wall, 92 bottles of coke.

Take one down and pass it around, 91 bottles of coke on the wall.

91 bottles of coke on the wall, 91 bottles of coke.

Take one down and pass it around, 90 bottles of coke on the wall.

90 bottles of coke on the wall, 90 bottles of coke.

Take one down and pass it around, 89 bottles of coke on the wall.

89 bottles of coke on the wall, 89 bottles of coke.

Take one down and pass it around, 88 bottles of coke on the wall.

88 bottles of coke on the wall, 88 bottles of coke.

Take one down and pass it around, 87 bottles of coke on the wall.

87 bottles of coke on the wall, 87 bottles of coke.

Take one down and pass it around, 86 bottles of coke on the wall.

86 bottles of coke on the wall, 86 bottles of coke.

Take one down and pass it around, 85 bottles of coke on the wall.

85 bottles of coke on the wall, 85 bottles of coke.

Take one down and pass it around, 84 bottles of coke on the wall.

84 bottles of coke on the wall, 84 bottles of coke.

Take one down and pass it around, 83 bottles of coke on the wall.

83 bottles of coke on the wall, 83 bottles of coke.

Take one down and pass it around, 82 bottles of coke on the wall.

82 bottles of coke on the wall, 82 bottles of coke.

Take one down and pass it around, 81 bottles of coke on the wall.

81 bottles of coke on the wall, 81 bottles of coke.

Take one down and pass it around, 80 bottles of coke on the wall.

80 bottles of coke on the wall, 80 bottles of coke.

Take one down and pass it around, 79 bottles of coke on the wall.

79 bottles of coke on the wall, 79 bottles of coke.

Take one down and pass it around, 78 bottles of coke on the wall.

78 bottles of coke on the wall, 78 bottles of coke.

Take one down and pass it around, 77 bottles of coke on the wall.

77 bottles of coke on the wall, 77 bottles of coke.

Take one down and pass it around, 76 bottles of coke on the wall.

76 bottles of coke on the wall, 76 bottles of coke.

Take one down and pass it around, 75 bottles of coke on the wall.

75 bottles of coke on the wall, 75 bottles of coke.

Take one down and pass it around, 74 bottles of coke on the wall.

74 bottles of coke on the wall, 74 bottles of coke.

Take one down and pass it around, 73 bottles of coke on the wall.

73 bottles of coke on the wall, 73 bottles of coke.

Take one down and pass it around, 72 bottles of coke on the wall.

72 bottles of coke on the wall, 72 bottles of coke.

Take one down and pass it around, 71 bottles of coke on the wall.

71 bottles of coke on the wall, 71 bottles of coke.

Take one down and pass it around, 70 bottles of coke on the wall.

70 bottles of coke on the wall, 70 bottles of coke.

Take one down and pass it around, 69 bottles of coke on the wall.

69 bottles of coke on the wall, 69 bottles of coke.

Take one down and pass it around, 68 bottles of coke on the wall.

68 bottles of coke on the wall, 68 bottles of coke.

Take one down and pass it around, 67 bottles of coke on the wall.

67 bottles of coke on the wall, 67 bottles of coke.

Take one down and pass it around, 66 bottles of coke on the wall.

66 bottles of coke on the wall, 66 bottles of coke.

Take one down and pass it around, 65 bottles of coke on the wall.

65 bottles of coke on the wall, 65 bottles of coke.

Take one down and pass it around, 64 bottles of coke on the wall.

64 bottles of coke on the wall, 64 bottles of coke.

Take one down and pass it around, 63 bottles of coke on the wall.

63 bottles of coke on the wall, 63 bottles of coke.

Take one down and pass it around, 62 bottles of coke on the wall.

62 bottles of coke on the wall, 62 bottles of coke.

Take one down and pass it around, 61 bottles of coke on the wall.

61 bottles of coke on the wall, 61 bottles of coke.

Take one down and pass it around, 60 bottles of coke on the wall.

60 bottles of coke on the wall, 60 bottles of coke.

Take one down and pass it around, 59 bottles of coke on the wall.

59 bottles of coke on the wall, 59 bottles of coke.

Take one down and pass it around, 58 bottles of coke on the wall.

58 bottles of coke on the wall, 58 bottles of coke.

Take one down and pass it around, 57 bottles of coke on the wall.

57 bottles of coke on the wall, 57 bottles of coke.

Take one down and pass it around, 56 bottles of coke on the wall.

56 bottles of coke on the wall, 56 bottles of coke.

Take one down and pass it around, 55 bottles of coke on the wall.

55 bottles of coke on the wall, 55 bottles of coke.

Take one down and pass it around, 54 bottles of coke on the wall.

54 bottles of coke on the wall, 54 bottles of coke.

Take one down and pass it around, 53 bottles of coke on the wall.

53 bottles of coke on the wall, 53 bottles of coke.

Take one down and pass it around, 52 bottles of coke on the wall.

52 bottles of coke on the wall, 52 bottles of coke.

Take one down and pass it around, 51 bottles of coke on the wall.

51 bottles of coke on the wall, 51 bottles of coke.

Take one down and pass it around, 50 bottles of coke on the wall.

50 bottles of coke on the wall, 50 bottles of coke.

Take one down and pass it around, 49 bottles of coke on the wall.

49 bottles of coke on the wall, 49 bottles of coke.

Take one down and pass it around, 48 bottles of coke on the wall.

48 bottles of coke on the wall, 48 bottles of coke.

Take one down and pass it around, 47 bottles of coke on the wall.

47 bottles of coke on the wall, 47 bottles of coke.

Take one down and pass it around, 46 bottles of coke on the wall.

46 bottles of coke on the wall, 46 bottles of coke.

Take one down and pass it around, 45 bottles of coke on the wall.

45 bottles of coke on the wall, 45 bottles of coke.

Take one down and pass it around, 44 bottles of coke on the wall.

44 bottles of coke on the wall, 44 bottles of coke.

Take one down and pass it around, 43 bottles of coke on the wall.

43 bottles of coke on the wall, 43 bottles of coke.

Take one down and pass it around, 42 bottles of coke on the wall.

42 bottles of coke on the wall, 42 bottles of coke.

Take one down and pass it around, 41 bottles of coke on the wall.

41 bottles of coke on the wall, 41 bottles of coke.

Take one down and pass it around, 40 bottles of coke on the wall.

40 bottles of coke on the wall, 40 bottles of coke.

Take one down and pass it around, 39 bottles of coke on the wall.

39 bottles of coke on the wall, 39 bottles of coke.

Take one down and pass it around, 38 bottles of coke on the wall.

38 bottles of coke on the wall, 38 bottles of coke.

Take one down and pass it around, 37 bottles of coke on the wall.

37 bottles of coke on the wall, 37 bottles of coke.

Take one down and pass it around, 36 bottles of coke on the wall.

36 bottles of coke on the wall, 36 bottles of coke.

Take one down and pass it around, 35 bottles of coke on the wall.

35 bottles of coke on the wall, 35 bottles of coke.

Take one down and pass it around, 34 bottles of coke on the wall.

34 bottles of coke on the wall, 34 bottles of coke.

Take one down and pass it around, 33 bottles of coke on the wall.

33 bottles of coke on the wall, 33 bottles of coke.

Take one down and pass it around, 32 bottles of coke on the wall.

32 bottles of coke on the wall, 32 bottles of coke.

Take one down and pass it around, 31 bottles of coke on the wall.

31 bottles of coke on the wall, 31 bottles of coke.

Take one down and pass it around, 30 bottles of coke on the wall.

30 bottles of coke on the wall, 30 bottles of coke.

Take one down and pass it around, 29 bottles of coke on the wall.

29 bottles of coke on the wall, 29 bottles of coke.

Take one down and pass it around, 28 bottles of coke on the wall.

28 bottles of coke on the wall, 28 bottles of coke.

Take one down and pass it around, 27 bottles of coke on the wall.

27 bottles of coke on the wall, 27 bottles of coke.

Take one down and pass it around, 26 bottles of coke on the wall.

26 bottles of coke on the wall, 26 bottles of coke.

Take one down and pass it around, 25 bottles of coke on the wall.

25 bottles of coke on the wall, 25 bottles of coke.

Take one down and pass it around, 24 bottles of coke on the wall.

24 bottles of coke on the wall, 24 bottles of coke.

Take one down and pass it around, 23 bottles of coke on the wall.

23 bottles of coke on the wall, 23 bottles of coke.

Take one down and pass it around, 22 bottles of coke on the wall.

22 bottles of coke on the wall, 22 bottles of coke.

Take one down and pass it around, 21 bottles of coke on the wall.

21 bottles of coke on the wall, 21 bottles of coke.

Take one down and pass it around, 20 bottles of coke on the wall.

20 bottles of coke on the wall, 20 bottles of coke.

Take one down and pass it around, 19 bottles of coke on the wall.

19 bottles of coke on the wall, 19 bottles of coke.

Take one down and pass it around, 18 bottles of coke on the wall.

18 bottles of coke on the wall, 18 bottles of coke.

Take one down and pass it around, 17 bottles of coke on the wall.

17 bottles of coke on the wall, 17 bottles of coke.

Take one down and pass it around, 16 bottles of coke on the wall.

16 bottles of coke on the wall, 16 bottles of coke.

Take one down and pass it around, 15 bottles of coke on the wall.

15 bottles of coke on the wall, 15 bottles of coke.

Take one down and pass it around, 14 bottles of coke on the wall.

14 bottles of coke on the wall, 14 bottles of coke.

Take one down and pass it around, 13 bottles of coke on the wall.

13 bottles of coke on the wall, 13 bottles of coke.

Take one down and pass it around, 12 bottles of coke on the wall.

12 bottles of coke on the wall, 12 bottles of coke.

Take one down and pass it around, 11 bottles of coke on the wall.

11 bottles of coke on the wall, 11 bottles of coke.

Take one down and pass it around, 10 bottles of coke on the wall.

10 bottles of coke on the wall, 10 bottles of coke.

Take one down and pass it around, 9 bottles of coke on the wall.

9 bottles of coke on the wall, 9 bottles of coke.

Take one down and pass it around, 8 bottles of coke on the wall.

8 bottles of coke on the wall, 8 bottles of coke.

Take one down and pass it around, 7 bottles of coke on the wall.

7 bottles of coke on the wall, 7 bottles of coke.

Take one down and pass it around, 6 bottles of coke on the wall.

6 bottles of coke on the wall, 6 bottles of coke.

Take one down and pass it around, 5 bottles of coke on the wall.

5 bottles of coke on the wall, 5 bottles of coke.

Take one down and pass it around, 4 bottles of coke on the wall.

4 bottles of coke on the wall, 4 bottles of coke.

Take one down and pass it around, 3 bottles of coke on the wall.

3 bottles of coke on the wall, 3 bottles of coke.

Take one down and pass it around, 2 bottles of coke on the wall.

2 bottles of coke on the wall, 2 bottles of coke.

Take one down and pass it around, 1 bottle of coke on the wall.

1 bottle of coke on the wall, 1 bottle of coke.

Take one down and pass it around, no more bottles of coke on the wall.

No more bottles of coke on the wall, no more bottles of coke. 

Go to the store and buy some more, 99 bottles of coke on the wall.

 

MY THOUGHTS:

I too sang a variation of this song on long car trips, typically in elementary school on the way to a field trip. I love that a fear of getting in trouble caused a lyric change from the version you normally hear, “99 Bottles of Beer”. I think that its humorous intentions of getting on someone’s nerves makes sense for the young demographic that this song was performed by.

For an adapted, published version of this folk song, see:

Williams, Zane. “99 Bottles – Zane Williams.” YouTube, 14 May 2012, www.youtube.com/watch?v=qVjCag8XoHQ. 

A juvenile Knock Knock joke involving Bananas

My informant told me the following joke, which she claims to have heard from a six-year old boy:

Informant: Knock knock

Me: Who’s there?

Informant: Banana

Me: Banana who?

Informant: Bannana in your face! Haha

 

While not as intrinsically complex or cultural revealing as much other folklore, given that my informant heard this joke from a six year old child at an Elementary School, it serves to illustrate the developing humor of adolescents, a difficult test subject to gather information from. Furthermore, given that the informant remembered this joke and still finds it humorous, it shows how sometimes the simplest amusements carry a charm which transcends all age boundaries.

Gravity Hill

“In Chino Hills, there’s a ghost story sort of thing, um, where, uh, we have a lot of hills in Chino Hills and there’s one hill that, um, it’s almost as if it’s like two hills in a row. So there’s like a ‘U’ between the two hills. Um, and there used to be a road that goes up and over them, um, and you kind of go down and then back up, um, and supposedly there was a car accident, um, I don’t even know how long ago, um, where, like, 3 or 4 children ended up dying in the car accident in-between these two hills.  Um, and supposedly, now there’s no longer a road, um, but if there– supposedly if you go in-between with your car and you kind of go down into where the ‘U’ is at the bottom and you set it up so that your car is in neutral, kind of facing upward toward the second hill, um, so that you’re– as if you’re going to go up the second hill, um, and then you put it in neutral and kind of go up slightly, um, supposedly you’re going to go back down… Supposedly the kids’ ghosts, the children’s ghosts, come and push your car back the opposite direction so you go back up the hill backwards, um, and so tons of, like, teenagers try to do this with their cars all the time um and supposedly, I’ve actually had a couple friends that told me it works, um, and everyone flips out, um, because everyone thinks these children’s ghosts come and, like, push your car, um, but in actuality it’s probably just gravity.” Laughs

 

My informant is a former resident of Chino Hills, California. This is a popular legend spread amongst the youth in the area and my informant first heard it from friends her age when she was a young teenager. My informant doesn’t have much patience for ghost stories, but enjoyed sharing the tale anyway. This is a legend that seems to have been around for awhile in the area as the father of another informant I spoke to remembers this story from when he was a teen. This secondary informant refers to the site mentioned in the legend as ‘Gravity Hill’ and adds a new detail: supposedly, when the ghost children are pushing the car up the hill, handprints can be seen on the windshield.

The Gravity Hill story is not unique to Chino Hills. Reportedly, there are several haunted hills throughout Southern California and, likely, the rest of the country. It’s an urban legend that is adapted for whatever area in which the story is told.

Cow Tipping

“Basically, you run up to the cow and tip it over” -informant

Cow tipping is a hobby usually found in rural areas where cows are common. The idea is to surprise the cow and push it over, because it looks funny.

The informant tried to go cow tipping with her friends on a weekend up in rural California. However, she found that it is harder than it sounds, because cows are easily frightened and will run away if you run up to them. Furthermore, cows sleep lying down, so you can’t surprise them when they’re asleep. The informant, although disappointed that she could not successfully cow-tip, still had fun with her friends in the adventure. She learned about cow-tipping from back home in Washington, because she lives near rural areas where the custom is more popular.

I have heard of cow-tipping before, because my father grew up on a farm and told me about the custom. However, he also warned me that it is very dangerous, because cows are heavy and might try to kick you. I believe that I’ve seen cow-tipping in literature before as well. I feel a little bad for the cows who are tipped, because it sounds painful and annoying to get stuck on your side like that. I don’t think I would ever actually attempt to go cow-tipping, although it is kind of funny when you talk about it. I think it reflects the need of rural youth to find creative ways to entertain themselves, because they don’t have access to many of the distractions that are available in a city or even a suburb. It would be exciting to get in a little trouble and do something mischievous like cow-tipping, which probably would annoy the dairy farmers. I doubt that adult would partake in this custom, as it seems more suited to the humor of children and older youth.

Pirate’s Cave

Here my informant recounts a tradition among the local youth he knew in Point Loma to visit a place they called the “Pirate Cave” he describes the historical basis for the tradition, and the reasons people are still drawn there.

“Alright, well I grew up in Point Loma San Diego, and there’s this thing called sunset cliffs, and it’s a bunch of like 40 or 60 foot cliffs, big and really pretty, and, um, in the 1920’s during prohibition, it was like a major smuggling destination for alcohol, and there’s a really cool cave that’s connected to where boats could land at the cliffs, and has like access at low tide only, and then it goes up to the top of the cliff like through and under and um its really cool cause like you can go in and explore and um people have like found bones in there, and there’s like notches in the wall where they used to put candles to light the passage ways, and what’s really sketchy is like, its been known about for a while by locals, and they [the smugglers] tried to catch them, so they have like pitfalls in the path like inside the cliffs  like, that were traps for police forces which were set up, um, yeah, pretty awesome. We just call it pirate’s cave because of people who pirated the alcohol brought it in that way and, now they stopped using it. And there’s like carved steps, yeah it’s really cool.”

The informant enumerates undeniable draws to explore this former bootlegging hideout. From rotting bones to booby traps, many of these rumors are so adventurous  they seem likely to be fabricated. However, regardless of their accuracy, there must be some foundation for rumors, and my informants’ description of “Pirate Cave” shows how tradition can develop from a desire for adventure.

Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary

When my informant was little, she had heard about the legend of Bloody Mary. At her elementary school, one of the girl’s bathrooms was supposedly haunted by the ghost of Bloody Mary and those who were brave enough could go in, turn the lights off and then spin around three times yelling out her name. If they did this correctly they would see Bloody Mary dressed in white in front of them in the mirror.

Bloody Mary is a classic folklore figure amongst youths. I know that I had heard about Bloody Mary when I was in grade school as well and my friends and I would all go into the bathroom together to try to see her. Although the true origins of Bloody Mary are unknown, the story my informant had heard was where a woman named Mary had committed suicide because one of her children was stolen from her. All of the stories involving Mary, however, seem to be associated with children and childbirth, which is possibly why she is “Bloody” Mary. Like we discussed in class, mostly girls knew about this myth, especially since Bloody Mary resided in the girls’ bathroom.