Benches for the Dead

This folklore was collected after three other ghost stories were collected from the informant. Previously discussed folklore also included a dead child (or children) in some capacity. Halfway through this collection, We realized that a lot of the ghost centered folklore in Brentwood, Northern California had to do with children.

C: There’s a garden at my elementary school dedicated to um–JC Dugard is the lady who got put in some guys basement so it’s not her. But there’s this girl who went to the school and her, and her sister, and her family were going on a snow trip and they died in a car crash.

And, I don’t know why, but there’s this garden in the middle of school dedicated to her now. And people reported, like, “Aww, ghost!”

L: It’s her ghost!

C: It’s her ghost!

L: Lotta ghosts.

C: Lotta dead children! There’s also a bench at the front of the school dedicated to this, um, she actually was buried at the same time. But um, I never really realized what happened because no one really talked about it, but like, allegedly her father, like, snapped and killed her, possibly her sister and himself. That or like, one of the daughters’ survived. Like, “ooh, you get a bench.”

Brentwood isn’t the only place that memorial benches are erected in honor of someone’s passing. Institutions all over the United States engage in the same practice. My proposed reason for why memorial benches are so popular is two fold. The first reason being that the bench is large enough to be regularly noticed by people passing by. The second, is that the bench is inherently useful to the living, as it provides a place to sit.