Author Archives: Jacob Treat

Challenge Coins

Informant Background:

This informant is a Junior at USC in the Naval ROTC program. he considers himself the typical college boy and often enjoys attending the numerous parties around campus.

 

Informant’s Story:

“Something I know that a lot of people do in the navy, but I’ve seen frat guys do too is the whole “challenge coin” thing. Challenge coins are, like, these large coins that represent a group or person. There’s normally, like, some design with the group or persons name on there. Anyways, the way challenge coins work is that you always keep a challenge coin on you for when you go to the bar. If someone starts tapping their challenge coin on the counter, everyone else has to too. The last person who takes their coin out, or if they just straight don’t have it, they have to buy the next round.”

 

Analyses:

The Challenge coin is a tradition held very near and dear to the U.S military, though no one loves the game more than navy chief petty officers. Challenge coins are created for every unit, and high ranking military officials. This can range from a small platoon, to an entire command. As it turns out, from the informant’s story, this practice is beginning to take hold in non-military organizations as well, namely frats. Many theories exist as to the origin of the challenge coin, the oldest one being WWI, where it is said an American pilot was shot down over france and was subsequently stripped of all valuable items,by Germans as they thought he was dead. All except a coin with his squadrons insignia. Eventually he met a group of french who thought him to be German. Having no ID, he held up his coin to which they recognized his squadrons insignia. Instead of giving him an execution, they gave him wine.

 

The Forbidden Forest

Informant Background:

This informant is a senior at USC in the Naval ROTC program. The daughter of a navy chaplain, she spent a lot of her life traveling. Despite having to move, she still claims she had a every enjoyable childhood and made many lifelong friends because of it. She can easily recount the many games and stories her and her friends would play.

Informant’s Story:

“In elementary school, we had this massive play ground that was divided into like, three sections. There was a blacktop section, a jungle gym section, and a soccer field. the on the edge of the soccer field was this forest that we weren’t allowed to go into because then the monitors couldn’t keep track of us. Us being kids, we came up with stories as to what was in those mysterious woods. We thought there were monsters in there so we made a attempted to make a fence at the opening of the path that lead into the forest out of sticks and branches we found lying around. When we found the next day that the sticks were moved so there was a hole that someone walked through, oh man, our imaginations absolutely exploded. We made different groups who would defend the play ground and who would bravely walk into the forest in spite of the teachers rules to fight the monsters and stuff. Oh man, I’m suddenly sad now because I miss being a kid [she laughs].”

 

Analyses:

This story is a classic example of how powerful a childhood imagination is and how from a young age we are intrigued by the unknown. A story like this is a very common story among children. When an authority figure tells us not to do something, we are suddenly intrigued whatever it is we’re not supposed to do, especially when that something can so easily be turned into a mystery. A forest that we can’t go into begs the question why? simple; because there’s monsters in there. Kids being kids, they decide to do something and create a barrier. At this point, we’re still unsure if there really are monsters in the forest. When the next day comes though, and there’s a development and the barrier has been altered mysteriously, well that confirms it, there’s something in there and we must protect our domain. The fact that kids are able to make that kind of logical thinking using only their fantastical imagination, shows just how creative the child’s mind is. What this story also demonstrates is how this child like wonder then carrys with us through our adult life. When we’re told we can’t do something, our instant response is “why not”. This idea of “why not” leads us to create and discover using our technical ability acquired through schooling and life experience. We find new locations, create incredible inventions, and push the limits of what we “can’t” do.

The Bunny Man Bridge

 

Informant Background:

This informant is a senior at USC in the Naval ROTC program. The daughter of a navy chaplain, she spent a lot of her life traveling. Despite having to move, she still claims she had a every enjoyable childhood and made many lifelong friends because of it. She can easily recount the many games and stories her and her friends would play.

 

Informant’s Story:

“I used to live in Northern Virginia for a bit, and there was story that always freaked me out, but at the same time really interested me. So there’s this bridge in NoVa [northen Virginia] called “The Bunny Bridge”, Where apparently some escaped mental patients escaped from the local insane asylum. I dont know how he got the stuff that he got, but really that’s not important, just know that he’s a dangerous insane person. Apparently, people started finding mutilated animal corpses along the road, like cats and rabbits. When someone stopped at the bridge to check it out, a crazy guy wearing a bunny costume came out of the woods with a bloody hatchet, yelling at him at him to get off his property, and the person sped off in their car before the bunny man could get to him. Legends says that if you stop at the bunny man bridge you can still be confronted by the bunny man yelling at you to get off his property, while waving a hatchet. I never went there but a lot of people I used to know would go there on Halloween. I was kind of a chicken.”

 

Analyses:

The legend of the Bunny Man Bridge is incredibly intriguing as it has a large element of possibiliy. Timothy Forbes actually signed a descriptive story that there actually was a local asylum for the criminally insane, in Fairfax Virginia, which was in the process of being shut down. The story goes that in 1904, a bus transferring some convicts crashed, killing all but 10. Eight were caught, but two were still at large at this time; Marcus Wallster and Douglas Grifon. shortly after, locals in the area of the crash reported finding half eaten rabbits being strung up in trees and on the bridge which would later be known as the bunny man bridge. Things took a turn  when the remains of one of the two still missing convicts, Marcus Wallster, hanging in a tree nearby the bridge. It is assumed that the two were traveling together before Grifon turned on his companion. As it turns out, this story and it’s details are false. It is important to note the importance of the fact that a company like Forbes wrote a story like this, however. In writing this story in such a way that it used descriptive details, those local to the area could figure out it was fake, but to those who dont know the are very well, these details provide believably and perpetuates it as a true story. The events that inspired this story, could have been several real accounts in that occured in the 1970. One story is about an Air force cadet and his fiance were parked near the location of the bridge, talking, when a figure shattered the passenger side window. The cadet claims that the the figure was wearing a bunny suit yelling at them to get off his property, to which the cadet  obliged, flooring the car all the way to the police. A hatch was found on the floor of the car where the glass was shattered. This is just one of over 50 accounts that occured in this area in 1970, and adds evidence as to how this legend came to existence.