The Informant and I were driving while she told me these stories about her home town, San Francisco, and her family’s cultural history as being Norwegian American, so there was not much that I could observe of her actions, as she was at the wheel and I was behind her in the back seat. But she was very passionate about these stories, and eager to share her history as both a San Francisco Native and her family’s Norwegian background. This particular story was a ghost story about a road called Hick’s Road, nearby where she lived at the Base of the Santa Cruz Mountains. It was a fun story for her to tell, as she remembered her friend trying to find these ghosts, and so had good memories of her friend’s account of his encounter with the ghost, though she herself has not encountered the ghosts. What was especially fun about the story was that it has to do with driving, and so being in a car at the time made myself, and the Other Party, very scared upon the Informant telling of it.
Informant: Okay so there’s an–I live right at the base of the Santa Cruz Mountains, so we have a lot of very desolated, dark areas um around the valley, aaaaand, we have this one road, called Hick’s Road, that goes right up to the summit. And it’s known for being very dark, very few streetlights and very few people. So someone, I’m not sure when, created the myth that there was a herd of cannablistic albinos
Informant: Living in a CULT on Hick’s Road.
[Diverting Conversation Ensues]
Informant: ….Anyway, so there’s a lot of Ghost Stories about Hick’s Road, but that was number one. And it’s said that when you pass where it’s rumored to be, the…
Author: Right, uh-huh.
Informant: I dunno what you call it, the commune, I guess. Your car will stall, even if it’s an automatic. And it will start rolling down the hill.
Author: OH NO!
Informant: If you BREAK, you can put the parking break on and it will stop, and you get out of the car, you look at the back, of your uh, car, and it will have hand prints on the back.
Author and Other Party: NO. NO NO NO.
Informant and Other Party: [Laughs]
Author: That is too scary, I am never doing that!
Informant: My friend did it for senior year, she was doing a whole uh project on, you know, myths and urban legends in our area, and there was like two. There was the Winchester Mystery House and the Hick’s Road Albino Commune.
[Laughter all around]
The stories we tell about abandoned places are always fairly out of this world. I know in my own home town, we had an abandoned neighborhood that was said to be the home of militant incestuous Mormons who didn’t speak to anyone or leave their commune, despite no one actually living there. It is interesting who a community will choose to otherize by placing them in the frightening area of town. For my home town in Arizona, it was poor Mormons (of whom there is a decent population in Arizona), and for San Francisco, it was Albino people. I do not know the statistics of Albino residents in the area, but it seemed from my Informant’s story that someone long ago invented this story, and then it was told as folklore from then on. It is likely not based on any prejudice towards Albino people, rather that was simply the most outrageous thing the person so long ago could think of.