This was told to me after I asked about the informant’s shirt. The shirt had some slang that I was unfamiliar with. The informant is from rural Eastern Oregon.
“Um, so basically, my slang is “Cattin’” like “Cat-ting” like cats and felines because we have a lot of cats around the house, they’re all outside, and we and my sister are bored, we’ll be like “hey, wanna go cattin’?” which means we go outside and find all the cats and pet them and have fun with them. And then, that’s cattin’. My sister made me a t-shirt for Christmas one year”
Although a very niche reference, the whole family and the informant’s wide range of friends have taken on this piece of slang and are able to reference it when relating to the informant. This shows how slang can move very easily between groups – now he uses it in college as well which means it has reach an even larger audience than just in rural Oregon – all the way in southern California.
This story is from a small private, all-girl’s school in Ohio. The informant is now in college.
“Ok so, at my high school it’s very small, so like sixty girls a grade, and in the lower school it’s less than that like 20 girls. so like everyone really knows everybody especially in the upper school even the teachers. And the headmistresses, she started when I was like when i was really young and before I got there, but by the time I got there she had been the headmistress for like ten years and everybody loved her and she was widely known for like, turning the school around like before that it had all these weird scandals, like prep-schooly scandals which she like made it more artists and empowering, and she’s the reason why the school is what it is and stuff, and there’s this like story about her about, her name is Ann, and there’s this story that Ann found a girl in the bathroom doing coke. which is like, it’s not like crazy, but like I didn’t know anybody who did coke at my school and it was like a weird thing so like, apparently she found her doing coke and then brought her to her office and was like I will pay for your read therapy rehab, and i won’t tell your parents but you can’t do coke again, you can’t do it on schoolgrounds and you have to go to all your therapies and if you like don’t do all those things i’ll tell your parents but like I’ll take care of everything else. and like, i don’t know if that’s true, but like i feel like it was girl that was two years older than me and i like had friends in that grade and stuff and yeah, so that was the crazy part. And it was plausible that she was able to do it because she was super rich.”
The idolisation of the Headmistress is clear in this story because of all the good work that she has done. She is seen as a caring and benevolent ruler. Although perhaps not true, the story shows that the girls are able to trust and be cared for by the headmistress, if not more, than their parents. This places the faith and dedication and loyalty to the school and headmistress than perhaps before the girls heard this story.
This ghost story was told when the informant was retelling the local legends that inspires her writing.
“Ok, so my mom is from this dinky little town called Bulls Gap Tennessee,and it’s real rural, real small and all the roads are like one lane pretty much but kind of shitty and there’s this one particular road that cuts through this forest, and it leads to a waterfall that the locals call “Serenity”. And that particular road is called Chop N Holler. The legend is, is that there was a guy who lived there and there was a family who lived across the way from him and they were really really loud, annoyed him so much, that he took is axe, uncrossed the way, and murdered them all. And obviously he hung for it after, and if you roll down your windows all the way at night and play your music very, very loud, he’ll stand in the middle of the road with his axe, that’s the legend and I remember my mom would take me down that road, and obviously she was fucking with me but she would be like “I’m going to turn the music up” and I would be like “ah, no please!” and I think that it impacted my life in the sense, that idk, my mom got me really interested in ghouls and goblins and stuff like that to this day I still write horror stuff in that weird vein.”
The story was told so simply that it shows that there is an element of supernatural horror within these small towns and local places. Every place has a name that is different from the official name because of the heritage of the people living there. This name is obviously quite macabre, but it is still used as a simple fact of life.
The informant told this story when recounting the local legends of her rural upbringing in Eastern Tennessee. Ghosts are a big part of the local, little traditions that are passed down between family members.
“Okay so there’s another place in Bullsgap that my mom used to take me after we visited my great-grandmother who lived there still, um, and it’s a little, another background that cuts through a bunch of cornfields and there’s a cemetery i think used during the civil war, i don’t know, but it’s old a shit and theres a bunch of unmarked graves there, and once you go past the cemetery there’s a huge drop in the road and it leads to what used to be a train tunnel I think, I don’t know like, if it had a train running through it or what, but it was this concrete thing and the train would pass over it I guess, under it people could walk through. So there’s a legend that because one night, because it drops down really low, like it goes below the water level in the town, when it floods, when it rains, the river floods up and fills the like the road under the tunnel. So there’s a rumour that there’s a family that like, the 50s 60s something like that, and they were driving at night and they had an accident and crashed into the tunnel or something like that, or the tunnel wall, all of them died. and they say if you go into the tunnel at midnight, and turn off all the lights and your entire car and just sit there in the dark in for five minutes when you get out of the tunnel you’ll see handprints from children and the adults, who you know, had an accident there, and the legend is that they’re trying to push your car out, because they think that you’re car is stopped. It’s kinda scary. I don’t know I’ve never done it because my mom was like we can do it, but I was like no, no, no, k, but that one was another [local legend] that i fell in love with the local flavour of where I lived and appreciated it for the quirky little place that it was.”
Although spooky, it seems the ghosts are trying to help push the car out of the tunnel. This tale also serves as a warning to those who drive recklessly during the night and rain, showing the consequences of what could happen if one was to crash.
This story was told when the informant was explaining the local legends of growing up in Eastern Tennessee.
“So there’s other little town called Jefferson city, it’s pretty small, pretty rural, all farms and shit, it’s kinda like midway between Bullsgap and Morristown which is my hometown, it’s kind of off the map places in east tenessee, but Jefferson City is particularly interesting because there’s this very, very big beautiful victorian house that’s like white and has a sprawling landscape and whatever, and nobody lives it, ever, it’s never ever been bought and I don’t think it’s even for sale anymore but that’s because there was a lady who lived in the house, and she had like fifty pets I think? Like, very many cats and dogs, so she died one day, because she was old, and then no one really, and she didn’t have family or anything, so she just, like, stayed there, dead, and eventually her pets, once they ran out of things to eat they started dying too. So by the time anybody came, they came because they could smell like the rot, overwhelming, so they come, and see this absolute horror scene of rotting bodies and stuff and they clean it out eventually and try to put the house back on the market. And every time it goes on the market and someone moves in, they say they cannot sleep because they hear the dogs and the cats all night rattling and moving around the house all night, and you can smell the rot and the decay still. Which is crazy! But there it is.”
The story is interesting because the house is empty now, and the local legends have become so engrained in the culture that it would be strange to occupy the house because you of the suggestion of the cats and dogs running around, you’d probably hear them!