Author Archives: Kathleen Juarez

Chuckie Bathroom

Chuckie Bathroom

Informant: I first heard it from one of my friends, but then it kind of like turned into a game. So there is a bathroom downstairs at my school which weird because there is a toilet where every time you flush it, it makes a burping noise. So it goes like “zzzzzzzzhhhhhhh . . . UGGGH!” So my friends said the toilet is possessed by Chuckie, so that it always tries to swallow you. So now every time I go to bathroom, I like go to the bathroom and then run out of the stall before it like, makes the noise. And then rinse my hands and then run out as quickly as I can. They say the bathroom is possessed because when you put your hand in sometime on the sink for the automatic faucet, the other one, another sink turns on. So they say that he is coming after you, but he always has to wash his hands first.

Interviewer’s notes:

This is an instance were the unknown or “strange” has been demonized. The “Chuckie Bathroom” toilet has deviated from what the children usually expect from a toilet. To cope the children created a story to explain the unusualness which in turn has sparked a legend, and a whole set of corresponding behaviors like running away before the toilet can make “the burping noise”. It is interesting to note, that in creating the legend, they assimilated the bathroom to popular culture through “Chuckie”, which it turn makes it more familiar. Later, what began as a compulsive ritual is reclaimed from the participants as they consciously make a game out of it.

Buried Teacher

Buried Teacher

Informant: I heard this going into 4th grade. So before Mrs. Stern there was a teacher, and she was the best teacher ever. So this was before the school was going to go under construction. You know how it happened? So she went on vacation for one week and had a sub. So on vacation the principal sent a letter to everybody saying that there is no school one day because they are going under construction, but the teacher, the best teacher, didn’t get it because she was on vacation. So one day she went to school and it was quiet. So then she was there and she was like “Okay, let me just do some work”, but then a big wrecking ball comes and it HITS THE SCHOOL! It buries her in it. So in the fourth grade classroom they say that you can her murmmering below the floors

Interviwer: Where did you hear this story?

Informant: from the 8th graders

Interviewer: where and when did you hear the story?

Informant: It was at drama camp, two years ago.

Interviewer: Do you tell this to other kids?

Informant: yes

Interviewer: like who?

Informant: like new kids

Interviewer’s notes:

The fact the that the story was told to the informant during the summer before fourth grade, indicates that this tale can be seen as a type of initiation story for the younger kids in the school. The eighth graders endow the younger kids with “knowledge” as they enter into the later grades of their elementary education. This reaffirms the hierarchy as the younger children enter into the space of the older kids, the eight graders possess knowledge that the younger kids don’t, therefore they should defer to them.


The Doctor and the Architect

The Doctor and the Architect

Informant: Okay so there are two friends, best friends and one grows up to be an architect and one’s a doctor. Then they grow apart because the architect is jealous of the doctor’s success. So the doctor says to the architect that he wants a house and he say’s that he will pay for the supplies. He says he wants the greatest house in the greatest location. So the architect is like, “oh, well, this is my chance”. So they architect goes no to the best location for the “Great house”, and buys the cheapest wood for the “Great house” and buys the cheapest paint for the “great house”. Then he would charge the doctor for the price of the good stuff and keep the cash for himself. So at the point that the house was done, it was a good house, not a great house. So when it was done, the architect presented it to the doctor, but the doctor said, “this house is for you”.

Interviewer’s notes:

This tale is moralistic and fable-esque, in keeping with the Christian traditions of YMCA camp. It implies that a person should always put their best effort forward because one only gets what he gives. Since there is no overt reference to Christianity, this also could coincide with the idea of karma, which would connect the story across religions. The story is told at camp to indoctrinate the kids with a strong moral compass. The setting of camp, the tradition it has as being told orally, means that the tale has the advantage to be really resonate with the campers-which is evident in the young informant’s ability to recall the story. Also, this could be a bit of occupation folklore, playing off of the stereotypes of the respective careers and being inherently and being unsuccessful.

Cabin 2: The Haunted Cabin

Cabin 2

Informant: I was in there as a C.I.T with Christina and I slept through it, but as I recall. . . because remember I’m really old . . .but its one of those things where the lights kept going on, during the night. It wasn’t the light switch. Like the light switch wasn’t up, but the lights kept going on, so its not like some kid was messing with us. So it wasn’t like Christina would wake up and the light switch would be on type of thing. The lights were going on, but it wasn’t from the light switched being switched within the cabin. And I remember we kind of talked about, oh maybe it was from outside . . .  Let’s put it this way, the lights kept going on  . .  no one took credit for turning the lights on and Christina actually made us change cabins to Cabin 3 because Christina was so freaked out about the cabin.

Interviewer: Approximately what year did this happen?

Informant: O.K . . . if I was a C.I.T, I was probably fifteen. So fifteen, so that would be 1986.

Interviewer: Is there a history of it being haunted?

Informant: Well you always hear, everybody kind of always hears or talks about, one of those first three cabins, though people say different cabins. I say #2, that’s the one in the middle I say #2 other people say different ones. There are always rumors, every year everyone talks about one of those cabins up there being haunted. In my personal experience, it was Cabin 2, so much to the extent that we actually changed cabins.

Interviewer’s notes:

This legend is a perfect example of the multiplicity and variation of folklore. Every year, the story comes back, but with slight variation, especially regarding which cabin is actually haunted. It is this speculation, which keeps the legend alive year to year. Campers think “well it could be true, it could be my cabin”. It could happen to any camper in any cabin since the actual location of the “haunting” has not been pin pointed, which keeps the excitement and the story going. The fact that this tale has persisted since 1986 is testament to that fact. Also, this tale could be an outward projection of many fears that campers face when confronted with being away from home. The various “hauntings” could stem from the generalized anxiety of many campers.

To a Sweet Performance

To a Sweet Performance

Informant: Every time before a performance, our band teacher will pass out licorice or some form of candy, usually licorice, then raises up the licorice and says, “this goes to a sweet performance”. Then we all raise up our licorice and then we eat it.

Interviewer: And why does he do it?

Informant: Because that’s what his college band director did.

Interviewer: and what college did he go to?

Informant: I’m not sure if it was his high school or college, but I’m pretty sure its his college . . . U Mass? It’s U Mass.

Interviewer: Typically what setting does this take place in?

Informant: It happens before a performance so usually in the band room or on a bus in the parking lot.

Interviewer’s notes:

The eating of food, has come to be a sort of protection ritual for the performance of the band. As a folk metaphor, the actual “sweet” of the candy can be transferred to a metaphorically “sweet” performance, possibly as a type of contagious magic. Additionally, the proliferation of the ritual is evident as it moves from Massachusetts to Southern California, with the band director who has chosen to share this particular tradition with the kids.