Author Archives: Scarlett Reade

Tahoe Tessie

Background: The informant frequently visited Lake Tahoe growing up. She knows a lot about the Lake itself and told me she’d heard this legend.

SD: So this is the story of Tahoe Tessie, uh, named after Nessie which is, uh, the more colloquial name for the Loch Ness Monster, they like to call–I don’t know who they is in this scenario–the people of the Loch, I guess, like to call her, I believe it’s a woman, I believe that the Loch Ness Monster is a female according to the lore. But yeah, so it’s Tahoe Tessie, it’s Lake Tahoe, the supposed monster that lives in Lake Tahoe, I would assume it’s akin to the Loch Ness Monster–kind of a vague, dinosaur-esque crypted. No one has confirmed a sighting, I don’t believe that anyone actually believes in it, uh, but the lake is one of the like deepest lakes in California, uh, or the US I think, uh, there’s an underwater forest, all that good stuff.

Me: And how did you hear about Tahoe Tessie?

SD: I don’t know, actually. I think it’s just, you go somewhere a fair amount, you pick up the lore. Who knows which time I picked it up?

Me: Do you think many people believe in Tahoe Tessie?

SD: Uh, I really don’t. I think it’s just more people making fun of the Loch Ness Monster, uh, and making their own thing out of Lake Tahoe. But I think it’s a legend, so maybe I do think some people think it’s true.

Context: This piece was collected during an in person conversation.

Thoughts: It’s interesting that a very tourist attraction like Lake Tahoe has developed their own legend, and the informant–being a tourist–picked it up on one of her trips there so it’s not just a legend perpetuated by the people that live or are from there. This legend is passed on as perhaps a way to entice people to visit and make it even more of a tourist destination. It builds on the idea that it could be true and would exist in our own world. Since the informant said there have not been any confirmed sightings, I wonder if people have memorates that they perhaps told others and it caught on that way. It makes me think about what would be considered an official sighting if this idea is believed by some people. Or maybe it was a creation simply for the tourism industry, in which case Tahoe Tessie would be fakelore. This is an example of cryptozoology.

For another version of this legend, see’s page on the Loch Ness Monster:

The Ormondale Pony

Background: The informant likes this piece because it reminded her of the kinds of stories she’d used to hear in elementary school. Belief in the pony was shared by her classmates although it didn’t affect them in their daily lives, often forgetting about it.

SD: So this is the story about a horse, Ormondale, who is allegedly buried under my elementary school gym or something. Uh yeah, so I was always told this story as a child. This school, our elementary school was split up, we had, uh, K-3rd, and then there was a 4th-8th, so this was at the first one, this was at the K-3rd school, uh, it was called Ormondale and it was named after a horse, or I think maybe a pony, I don’t really know the distinction personally, but yeah, and I guess it was a race horse, I don’t know how the school ended up named after the horse, I mean, uh, oh it was a pony! Yes! Our mascot was the Ormondale ponies. Um, I don’t know how the, I think, I don’t know, maybe the person who founded the school, it was their horse or something, but, legend says that uh, well the pony is supposedly buried underneath, uh, the school gym, and I don’t ever believe that I was ever told that it haunts the school, I think that it was more of a, a freaky thing that there’s a corpse underneath the gymnasium rather than like a, like a ghostly, like a friendly ghost. I think it’s more corpse related than an afterlife. But, I think, I think it’s a nice story. I never believed it, but I think there are a lot of children, now adults, still children if this story’s still being told today, which I would assume it is, uh, that would believe this story.

Me: Did you first hear the story when you were in elementary school?

SD: I did. I think I first heard this story, uh, maybe in first grade. We, we didn’t talk about it often–actually I think we talked about it for like a month when we first learned the story, and then it was kind of a big deal, and then everyone forgot about it. I mean, I forgot about it for like the past decade. It maybe came into my brain once or twice after I was six years old, uh, but, other than that, I don’t know. I mean, the weird thing about it is that it’s entirely plausible, but why would anyone do it?

Me: Are there behavior changes that come with being around the gym, like does anybody avoid it or try not to–?

SD: No I think, I mean, well, because you’re that young, I feel like things just go in one ear out the other. Sometimes you’ll think about it and sometimes you’re like yeah it’s gym time, let’s do the Pacer. So I don’t think that there are any behavior changes whether or not they are related to the supposed haunting, and/or corpse body of the pony. I honestly kind of believe it though. It’s not impossible. It’s not haunted, it’s not a ghost thing. Because that I wouldn’t believe.

Context: This piece was collected during an in person conversation.

Thoughts: This seems like a belief that may be somewhat of a legend, since it could be true. The informant was quick to say she didn’t believe in it, but later went back and qualified her response; that since the belief that the pony haunts isn’t as common as simply the existence of a corpse, she says she believes it. As with many beliefs shared in elementary school, looking back, it is easy to quickly say you don’t believe it and dismiss it as childish.

Down by the banks

The informant explained that this is a hand game or clapping game she used to play at summer camp in between activities with the other girls who were in her cabin. Her estimate for when people play it is ages 6-12. You learn it by playing and other children explain it to you. She also said that this game” slaps” and would totally play it today.

SD: The song is:

Down by the banks of the hanky panky

Where the bullfrogs jump from bank to banky 

With an eeps opps soda pops

Hey mister lilypad went kerplops

So, you sit in a circle with a group of three or more typically and each person has their right hand on top of the person to their right’s left hang. So your left hand is under someone’s right hand and your right is on top of someone’s left. Then while you’re singing the song, every word, there’s a beat on every word, where you slap your right hand onto the person to your left’s left hand and you go in a circle until the song runs out and on the last beat kerplop, the person who is hitting is trying to slap the person to their left’s right hand and that person is trying to avoid getting slapped. If you get your hand slapped, you’re out, or if you try to hit the person’s hand but you miss because they’ve moved their hand out of the way, you’re out. And that keeps going until there are two people left. Then the last two people lock right hands and pull back and forth on the beat of the lyrics and at the end whoever pulls the other person toward them wins.

Context: This piece was collected during an in person conversation.

Thoughts: I was surprised when hearing the informant’s version of this clapping game because I played the same game with different lyrics. This is a common game I played in PE and at recess, taught by other children. So it is passed on from child to child through their community. It’s also clear that it exists in multiplicity and variation given that I grew up on the other side of the country and played it the same way, albeit with different lyrics. There also seems to be an oppositional issue that comes to play in children’s folklore as there is a male vs. female aspect of this game that changes; she said she played it with only girls, while I played with both genders.

Sexual Bases

Background: The informant works at a private school, where one of her jobs s running a class about drugs, alcohol, stress, and sex. This class is for freshmen in high school, so when she speaks about the students, this is who she’s referring to.

LR: So, the only thing, well, so, obviously I think it’s changed since I was growing up, so in my generation, when people talked about getting to first base, obviously that was kissing, you know, usually it meant that you french kissed which involves tongue as opposed to just pecking or whatever. So second base was like going up, so see the difference is, I think, in my generation it all referred to the female and now I think it actually somewhat refers to the males, which is kinda weird. So my understanding was second base was like you got felt up, like under your shirt. Third was like down your pants, and then fourth was all the way, you had sex. But, in more recent I guess connotations was like more towards guys. I mean I think first base is still like kissing or french kissing or whatever, but I think second base now, for whatever reason, is like hands, like giving somebody a hand job, and then third base is essentially giving a blow job and then fourth base is still going all the way. But again the reference point is different because it used to be about the female body and now somehow it’s become male centric?

Me: Do you have any idea when that change happened? And who did you hear about the change from?

LR: I mean I feel like just hearing the students talking or just from reading more current books, um, maybe like that sex book, that book that was like pink, I don’t know if it was called sex. Anyway, but I know that that was very common knowledge when I was growing up, like the bases, and the whole baseball reference.

Me: And when would you say you first hear about it? Like at what age?

LR: I would say probably junior high, like 7th-9th grade. Probably more like 8th, maybe, 8th grade.

Me: And when did, for you, people stop using the bases to talk about relationships?

LR: Oh I still think they talk about it, I think it’s the most common metaphor but I don’t think it’s necessarily relevant or–

Me: Yeah, no but when you were growing up like kind of between what ages was it used to talk about intimacy?

LR: Oh I’m sure I probably heard about it when I was like 12, 13, like early adolescence and then maybe, I mean, obviously by the time I’d graduated from high school, I mean I guess people still talked about it that way, but I don’t know maybe 18. Um and then honestly I didn’t think about it any more until my daughter was an adolescent and I think I just started hearing things again and I don’t know if it was from parents, I mean I guess I just heard it from, well having worked around and been around adolescents in middle and upper school, I think you just heard things, I think I just started hearing these different reference points. I feel like there was this generational switch.

Context of performance: This was told to me over a Zoom call.

Thoughts: I think personally that both are used, that the bases refer to both men and women and it just depends on who is talking. I’ve never used this, I don’t know that tons of people do, it seems to me that people are more straightforward. However, using euphermisms or metaphors are still a very common way to talk about sex mainly, phrases such as “scoring,” getting laid” or “going all the way.” It seems like what hasn’t changed is the age this takes place in–adolescence–which makes sense to me because sex is a kind of taboo during this period.

Something old, something new, something borrowed, something, blue

Background: The informant is married herself, but also worked in a bridal store for years and knows a lot about wedding traditions. She specifies how this tradition ties in with wedding dresses and how the store incorporated them.

LR: I know the whole, something borrowed, something blue, something old, something new as being like good luck for brides, and, so, I think there are several things associated with weddings. I don’t know where the reference came from, um but i think it’s the idea that you have meaningful things with you, or that had been passed down when you get married that sort of, um, bring good luck, good feeling, good energy, or positive vibes. So I think for most people something new is sometimes the wedding dress, sometimes that’s something borrowed, sometimes that’s something old if you wear somebody else’s dress. Ya know, people borrow vails, but usually, and again, I don’t know where the original reference came from for the blue or why blue would be associated or connotate good energy, but, um, people used to wear garters that would have like a blue ribbon in them, that would be taken off. So just like the bouquet would be tossed to the girls, or the single women, the garter would be shot to the single men. So that was something that was more prevalent like when i got married, and we used to sell the garters at the bridal store I worked in. But, we changed it because I think, I don’t know, it sort of became like people didn’t really wear garters, they were at one time I think women wore garters right? To hold up their stockings, and then of course with, I don’t know, more modern times we wore pantyhose or whatever and then you’d put a garter which was an elastic band with lace and a ribbon and you’d wear that up and it was this big thing like that the husband was going up his wife’s leg to get htee garter off and then he would like shoot it like a rubber band. So I always thought that was funny. At least at the store I worked at, I think moree post-2000, fewer and fewer people wore garters or did that with the bride, and so they still did the bouquet toss to indicate, you know, who was likely gonna be the next person to get married, but what we did at the store was to tie the blue ribbon in the bride’s hem, or her wedding dress, as a symbol of good luck that was always there. And then they didn’t have to worry about trying to find a way to wear something blue so to speak?

Me: Why do you think the tradition of shooting garters has decreased?

LR: Honestly, I think most modern brides would be like what the hell is a garter. I don’t know how easy it is to find them anymore.

Me: Do you think garters have the same meaning as bouquets, like do you think it was the next guy to get married? Or what do you think shooting the garter into guys signified?

LR: I mean I think that was sort of supposed to be the equivalent, instead I think for them it was like oh you’re going to be the next lucky schmuck who’s gonna get tied down. You know, you used to have all the bridesmaids or all the single women clamoring for the bouquet, and yet, it was like the opposite for the guys, it was a sign of shame or something to actually come forward to get it. Nobody wanted to get it because it meant they’d be tied down. I don’t think as many guys embraced the idea of looking like they wanted to get married.

Context of performance: This was told to me over a Zoom call.

Thoughts: This is a super popular saying, although I don’t know firsthand how many people follow it. I like the sentimental quality it brings to a period of transition in someone’s life as getting married can be seen as a rite of passage and these are the items that push you through the threshold, or liminal space. It’s interesting that these things bring you good luck moving forward in your life, more so because to me it suggests that it’s its own period separated by the wedding and these items merge the two stages of life, especially with something old and something new.