Author Archives: Jasper Mott

“The squeaky wheel gets the grease…”

Folklore/ Text: “The squeaky wheel gets the grease…” 

Explanation/ Context: My parents have always told me that “the squeaky wheel gets the grease.” It’s an old proverb that has been passed through my family for generations and has a greater metaphor. In other words, the proverb tells us that if you work hard, speak up, and vocalize interest toward obtaining or achieving something, your needs will be met and your hard work will serve you well. It’s almost like saying “the early bird gets the worm.” When I complain that I don’t like my meal at a restaurant, my parents will say “the squeaky wheel gets the grease,” which translates in my mind to “if you want something different to eat, you gotta speak up!” Or, when I was dying to go to USC in high school they would say “the squeaky wheel gets the grease” which ultimately told me that “I need to work hard and do well in every aspect of my high school career if I wanna achieve the USC acceptance.” This folklore in my family has been verbally passed along to me by my parents, whose parents also passed it down to them. It’s familial folklore, although I’m sure it is used by other people in many other contexts.

The Banyan Tree Ghost

Folklore/ Text:

TM: “When you [post author] were about four years old, we took you to an Italian restaurant in Lahaina, Maui called Basil Tomato. We were seated at a booth against a large window facing a courtyard with a grass field and a banyan tree, and you were closest to the window. Out of nowhere, you screamed ‘ghost!’ at the top of your lungs, which we attributed to your recent obsession with the tv show Scooby-Doo. We kind of brushed past what happened, until the waitress came to our booth and said ‘What did your son just say?’ Then your Mom had to explain, ‘So sorry for the disruption, our son is just being funny and thinks he saw a ghost outside…’ and the waitress’s face dropped. She continued, ‘That’s interesting you say so, because that’s not the first time we have had a guest see some kind of figure or apparition out at that Banyan tree recently. Apparently, someone who visited that tree often has passed away, and seems to be visiting that tree still in the afterlife.’ And then the whole table and restaurant went silent.”       

Explanation/ Context: Whenever my family tells me this story, it gives me chills. I actually vividly remember seeing a sort-of transparent/ holographic/ shimmery/ glowing figure at the Banyan Tree that night; it has sort of been ingrained into my mind because I was so taken aback by the experience. But it’s interesting to consider how this same story has traveled through my family, to my cousins, aunts, and uncles. It’s an anecdote people love to re-tell. And it’s especially interesting considering there’s this notion that young children are more susceptible to seeing paranormal activity because of their innocence. And my story, as told by my family members, confirms that belief to some extent.

The Curse of the Billy Goat

Folklore/ Text:

TM: “You can’t be a Cubs fan without knowing the lore surrounding the curse of the billy goat. During the world series in 1945, the owner of the Billy Goat Tavern (William Sianis) brought his pet goat, Murphy, to the game. The goat was messing with some fans in the stands, so Sianis and the goat were asked to leave the stadium. But before they left, he declared a curse upon the Chicago Cubs to never ‘win no more…’ The Cubs lost the game that day and never won another World Series again until 2016. It took 71 years for them to win, all because of the curse of the billy goat.”   

Explanation/ Context: This is an interesting piece of sports folklore, and gives Cubs fans everywhere an explanation as to why they hadn’t won the baseball World Series for such a long time. It’s lore that has been passed on since that unfortunate day in 1945– it certainly helps justify the team’s lack of performance in their games.

Annotation: The unfortunate story of the Curse of the Billy Goat has been adapted to authored literature, like The Cubs Win the Pennant!: Charlie Grimm, the Billy Goat Curse, and the 1945 World Series Run by John C. Skipper. The novel recounts the curse and its effects on the Cubs team over time.

The Legend of Macbeth

Folklore/ Text: “Macbeth!”

KM: Uttering the word “Macbeth” within a theatrical setting immediately brings bad luck to your day. This legend dates back to the early 1600s during the first-ever performance of Macbeth. The actor that was intended to portray Lady Macbeth suddenly passed away before the show, forcing Shakespeare himself to play the part. Later, the person playing King Duncan was stabbed with an actual dagger, and killed in front of a live audience. Many more unfortunate events like riots and murders have occurred during the runs of Macbeth, upholding the strange folklore surrounding the play. The only remedy is to exit the theater after saying the word, spin around three times, spit over your left shoulder, and either swear or recite a line of Shakespeare dialogue.  

Explanation/ Context: After over 400 years of Macbeth being performed on stages all over the world, the continuous accidents and occurrences further exemplify the grim lore of the play. It’s almost common knowledge that the word is cursed, whether you’re involved in theatre or not. No accidents are the same, but somehow exclusively happen during performances of Macbeth. When something goes wrong– someone said “Macbeth!” Even the remedy is widely known and allegedly stops oncoming.

Hatchet Annie and the Banana Man

Folklore/ Text: Hatchet Annie and the Banana Man

KM: “Basically, the banana man is a person dressed in a yellow rain suit. He was known for sneaking around below the intermediate girl’s shower house (bathroom cabin). He would grab their feet and toes through the gaps in the floorboards and occasionally stab their feet. Allegedly he was an old counselor who was fired for sneaking around and stalking girls, so he would break into camp during rainstorms with his yellow rain jacket and stick his fingers through the floorboards of bathrooms to scare them. Hatchet Annie was an old camper who had gone for many years, but was bullied by her fellow campers. Eventually, she stopped returning to camp, but grew up and returned to camp with an ax to kill the campers. She needed a place to hide the bodies, so she would tie rocks to the bodies of the victims, and she would throw them into a swampy marsh by the old shed that she had taken over as her base of operations. Forevermore, this swamp would be known as Lake Anne.”

Explanation/ Context: Despite being scary stories to tell around a campfire at night, they also serve as a way to ensure that campers are behaving. Because of Hatchet Annie and the Banana Man, campers are less likely to be misbehaving out in the woods late at night or act recklessly during storms. Likewise, it would keep campers away from Lake Anne, where younger kids may be likely to drown. If they think there are bodies at the end of the swamp, they won’t swim in it! These scary stories employ immense fear for the young campers especially… because they don’t know better than to understand they are fictional. They are examples of camp lore that have been passed along to generations, including my mother and my sibling. I certainly remember being freaked out by the prospect of stumbling upon Hatchet Annie in the woods, or seeing the Banana Man peak up at me from beneath the floorboards of a cabin. And it was always fun to speculate about whether one of these monsters were spotted around the camp property, too.