Informant’s grandfather loved to blow up flagpoles and porta-potties. On one particular flagpole spree, in most likely the 1950s, he would set fireworks at the base of the flagpole (old fireworks, so essentially bombs). They would go off and explode the flagpole over the park. Before exploding them, he would be wearing a ratty sweatpants type outfit. After exploding them, he would then run into a porta-potty (one that he wouldn’t blow up) or the nearest shop. He would get changed into a crisp blue suit and then walk back out, so that when the police got there, they would see a suave business man dressed in a suit, and when they asked what happened, he would say, “I don’t know, but I saw two hooligans go that way.” Then, two weeks after the incident, there would be an anonymous donation for a new flagpole or porta-potty.
This is a family legend that has been told often within the informant’s family. They apparently tell this story to a lot of people. Informant says they have heard the line, “I saw two hooligans go that way” spoken a lot within their family circles. Informant also notes, regarding the donations, that this man was rich, and is the reason they can go through college, so he was just doing this for the fun of it.
This piece of folklore was very unique to my collection, because it was a family legend. So this was my first time collecting something like this. It was really interesting to hear a narrative that came from a specific family and had recent roots. Since the story is about my informant’s grandfather, it has a terminus post quem of when he was born (and old enough to be doing these sorts of things). I don’t think I’ve heard of a family that I personally know having such a rich legend in their recent family lore, so that was really interesting to me. As well as that, the fact that the family keeps the story alive in their stories and general speech, through the reference of the ‘hooligans’ line, shows how legends can connect people through sharing of the knowing of a certain story, and how it can be enhanced if there are further bonds like familial ones.
There’s an arboretum called the Bartlett Arboretum. There’s a bunch of trails through it, and there’s one trail that has a boardwalk that goes over a swamp. Years ago, there used to be a plaque on it that had “18.” Most likely a former trail marker, that one plaque stayed up for some reason. The local kids in the area started calling the area “Swamp 18.” Once you go down the boardwalk of Swamp 18, there are tall swamp trees, so you can’t see the person once they go more than ten feet down. The legend is once you go into Swamp 18, you don’t leave. Once you step into the water, it’s like quicksand, and it grabs you and pulls you under. Newer lore suggests that if you disappear into Swamp 18, you become a plank of wood on the boardwalk. And also that planks that fall into the swamp represent someone that has died.
Informant lives next to Bartlett Arboretum, so they find that they live in the prime area for these types of supernatural legends. Informant found the boardwalk really pretty during the day, but creepy at night, and the name made the area sound a lot creepier to them than it actually is. The newer lore was added by informant’s age group when they were in elementary school. Since the legends have come about, the Bartlett Arboretum has had a lovely renovation, but the informant says they don’t think the creepy legends ever left the public consciousness.
A recipe of bread with dried fruit in it that gets baked every Easter and Christmas in informant’s family. Every Easter and Christmas, the day or two before, the entire maternal side of the family, including informant and her sister, goes to grandfather’s house. They make the dough, spend the night, let it set. The next morning, they punch it down, get it all ready, and then add all the fillings in, and bake the bread.
This tradition comes from informant’s mom’s side of the family. Informant’s grandfather was taught by his mother how to make this bread, and it’s been passed down through the family. Informant has a lot of good memories with this tradition. The recipe is the same every time, everyone always enjoys it. It’s always quiet hours around Easter or Christmas, and the holidays mean a lot because they’re very family-centered and food-centered. Informant describes it as a “sacred thing” that connects her to her grandpa, or opa.
I thought this was a really good example of a tradition to collect because my informant made it clear how much this tradition connected her to her family and was something special and meaningful to her, which I think is representative of the role traditions are usually supposed to serve in a person’s folklore. As opposed to some minor genres and narratives, traditions are typically big parts of people’s lives and identities. This tradition of baking bread, and how it is a very family-centric activity that connects a lot of the family together at specific times each year, shows how effective traditions can be in creating meaning in a person’s life.
It was a dark and stormy night, and this old lady was sitting on her porch, watching the storm come in. She goes, “who’s going to sleep with me on this dark and stormy night?” In the woods, she could hear someone reply, “I will.” So she scurries inside. Then she comes back out later on, smokes her pipe back outside, and asks again, “who’s going to sleep with me on this dark and stormy night?” She hears a little bit closer, “I will.” So she runs back inside. A little bit of time passes. She’s sitting in her family room, and she asks, “who’s going to sleep with me on this dark and stormy night?” Right outside her door, she hears, “I will.” So she runs upstairs and gets in bed. She asks again, “who’s going to sleep with me on this dark and stormy night?” Right outside her door, she hears “I will.” She hides under the covers, and then she hears footsteps walking towards her. One cover goes off… two covers go off… BOO!
Informant’s dad would tell this story to her. It was supposed to scare her. He would tell it often at bedtime. Her dad got it from his dad. She thought it was funny, but it didn’t scare her. She didn’t tell it to anyone else.
This tale is one that seems fairly specific to this person’s family, as she’s not exactly sure where it comes from and I can’t find it either. I think this tale is a great example of one to collect, because it provides a rich story and has a clear goal, of scaring the listener. My informant also provided a lot of context that makes sense for it, such as it being told to her at bedtime. I find it interesting that she never found the story scary, just funny. It makes me wonder if she was too old for it to be genuinely scary to her, and it would be better geared towards even younger children, or if the tale is just a little cheesy overall. Maybe a mix of both. I think this is great in terms of folklore because the informant told me about the specific ways it connected to her family and how her father enjoyed the story a lot and enjoyed telling it to her.
An urban legend in Connecticut that describes a creature called The Bunyip. The Bunyip was described to the informant as a weird mix between a platypus and a frog. It eats children. It dwells in swamps, rivers, lakes, marshy areas, etc.
Informant heard about this legend growing up in Stanford, Connecticut. They are aware of the legend dating from Australia, so it’s likely from Aboriginal or Eurpoean colonizers’ legends. But it somehow made it to Fairfield, Connecticut. Informant lives near a reservoir, so the legend was particularly scary to them, as The Bunyip was said to live in lakes and watery areas. Growing up, the informant would see pictures of the Bunyip that would illustrate the monstrous creature and it would scare them.
This legend is one that is geared towards scaring children, which is a common theme among legends. This one seems to not be driving the children to do something specific, rather just to put the fear of something bigger than themselves into them. It’s was really interesting to have an informant who lived close to where this specific legend was said to occur, because it meant they had a really personal connection to it, especially when growing up. So I could understand exactly what this legend was doing to the people that heard about it. It created a lot of fear. My informant said they were worried the creature’s “paws would go over the top of the hill” that was right next to where they lived. I had fun collecting this one because it’s a big, unnatural monster, so it was fun to think about it in relation to other legends like the Loch Ness and such, which helped me understand how these types of legends come to be so popular and effective at creating certain feelings and narratives.