Author Archives: Maia Nelson

Waste Not Want Not

Background: Informant is my mom, a middle-aged woman living in Seattle, raised non-religious, and this story was told to me via a phone call.

Informant: My dad always said “waste not, want not,” my entire childhood, about anything. Sometimes it was compounded with other phrases, like, if I wasn’t done with my dinner he’d say “there’s still a lot of meat on those bones” and that could sometimes be followed by “waste not, want not,” as well. He never said so, but it definitely came from him growing up in the depression era and growing up during World War II. 

Thoughts: I feel like the concept of “during the war,” is so familiar as World War II was such a massive event, however it’s not often talked about today just because it’s beginning to feel far removed. Especially from the perspective of someone who merely lived through it without any pin-pointed atrocity or horror story, but the general mindset of “waste not, want not,” and to be conservative and frugal. It’s also interesting to interact with someone who did fairly well for themselves and is living in a comfortable retirement to have that mindset and continue to be frugal and careful with money in a way that isn’t very necessary, but is also something that probably isn’t even greatly considered, just second nature.

Korean Fanda

Background: Informant was born and raised and Seattle and is not religious and of white descent. 

Informant: My mom picked up on a Korean superstition that if you sleep with the fan on it’ll kill you…Korean fanda

Me: Interesting… do you know where your mom picked up on that? 

Informant: Yeah, she backpacked in North Korea after college.

Me: Ahh, I see. So… do you ever sleep with a fan on still? Does she?

Informant: Well, I always sleep with a fan on. It blocks out my tinnitus. But she never does. She hasn’t since.

Thoughts: I love how little superstitions are picked up on and spread just like that, and superstitions above anything else are most likely to stick, as they always include a negative outcome if something isn’t done. Whether or not it’s something that is wholeheartedly believed by people after hearing it once, it’s something that will undoubtedly be remembered and likely spread again, even if only as a little fun fact. Even though my informant continues to sleep with a fan on, it’s interesting to me that his mother still does not, and clearly it’s something he still thinks about.

Moth Man

Background: Informant was born and raised in California, right outside of Los Angeles. I was told this story in person.

Informant: Alright, so… the legend of the moth man is that people see him…it? On the street at night, in like, unlit country roads in New Jersey. They just see these glowing eyes. Ummm, and uh yeah. People would see these eyes and see it as an omen that they would crash afterwards or something like that. It was like… only people driving would see it. 

Me: Interesting… do you have any connection to New Jersey or?

Informant: Hellllll no. I think I just picked it up from somewhere, I just know some weird stuff.

Thoughts: These superstitions and ghost stories are the ones that affect me the most, personally. Something about the unknown and the dark always have a bigger affect, since it’s always in the dark and later at night where it’s easy to fabricate things and see things. I wonder if the “glowing lights” seen by people were headlights of other cars, or eyes of animals that are getting reflected from their own headlights, and it’s right before they crash. It’s always interesting to think about the tricks that your brain will play on you in those situations, and almost even more interesting to think about what those tricks may be in reality.

War Eagle

Background: Informant is a middle-aged woman living in Seattle, who went to Auburn University. She told me this story on the phone. 

Informant:  I don’t really get it, but there’s a story about the War Eagle at Auburn…the mascot is actually the tiger, but The War Eagle (they have a great Vet school there and also rehab bird of prey) flies at the start of every game. Starts at the top of the stadium and lands in the center of the field, with 90,000 (yes, really) fans yelling Waasaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr, Eagle, Hey! It’s kinda cool actually.

Thoughts: It’s interesting to hear folklore from universities, especially because universities and schools can get so intense about their traditions. Even at USC, people think that the mascot is Tommy Trojan, but the real mascot is actually Traveler the Horse. It almost feels like another “in-the-know” piece of information that you have to be familiar with the school to know and not the commoner would know. It reminds me of the “Fight on!” Being so common and known among all USC students and alums, but to someone who isn’t familiar with USC as an institution, having someone scream “fight on!” At you would be jarring. 

The Devil is the Smurfs

Background: The informant was raised east of Los Angeles by a mother who was a practicing Jehovah’s Witness and was very active in the church. The informant was and is not religious herself, and her father was not a member of the church either. This was told to me in person.

Informant: I wasn’t allowed to watch the Smurfs as a child because my mom said they were demonic… but I don’t know if that’s folklore, that’s just my childhood.

Thoughts: I’d never heard of anything like this before, but I feel that anything that is viewed as demonic even though it isn’t specifically stated to be is very interesting to me. Looking into it, it also appears that this wasn’t just isolated to my informant and her mother. I found a book called Turmoil in the Toybox, written by Phil Phillips, who claims that many childhood books, shows, and toys have a satanic and demonic presence that are supposed to “program and influence the minds of our children towards the occult and witchcraft.” The show The Smurfs was included in this book, being branded as “undead corpses,” as they are “blue with black lips,” and the Lake Hamilton Bible Camp spreads the notion that children who have Smurf toys are more likely to be attacked by vampires. For more, there is a brief excerpt of the originally 90-minute long video interview between Phil Phillips, and Pastor Gary Greenwald included in this article:

Emmett, Neil. “‘Turmoil in the Toy Box’ Revisited.” Cartoon Brew, 23 Oct. 2013,