Contemporary Legend

“Um, my high school is a boarding school… uh it’s like in the suburb area. Um, it used to be a Japanese concentration camp during the World War II. I think it became a high school in…1903 and then during World War II, it’s, like, occupied by the Japanese. And um, there’s this one story about a guillotine and um, well I’ve never seen it myself but uh supposedly in a locked part of the school property and students are not allowed to go there. I don’t know where it is exactly though. It’s like….I think it’s by the classroom block….but I’m not sure. And supposedly if you see it, you’re gonna get bad luck ‘cause you’re not supposed to and there was this one guy in my class that um got left back in the seventh grade for three years and people were saying that he saw it. He was trying to investigate it and it was really bad luck and that’s why he got left back for three years. But I’ve never heard him confess that he saw it. ‘Cause seventh grade was actually the first year we, um, started school in that school and um so everyone was like talking about that so my friends and I decided to ask one of the teachers. Um…so we asked him and he said he doesn’t believe it and that people are just making it up to gossip about something. And um at the time we felt like um…he was just trying to comfort us ‘cause we appeared to be really, really disturbed by it. I guess it was a big thing for us because not many schools have that history of being occupied by the Japanese in World War II and I guess it was something that was really interesting to them….like, to the seventh graders. Like, right now I wouldn’t really believe it but if there is a guillotine at my school, I wouldn’t be surprised ‘cause of the history. It was a Japanese concentration camp. That’s like true…everyone knows that. So I wouldn’t be surprised if they found something. But if you ask me, I’d tell you that I don’t think it’ll be there…it might be at a museum, but not at my school.”

I agree with Stephanie that because of her school’s interesting historical background, students would naturally be curious about any possible remaining traces of the school’s past. The guillotine is a common conversation topic especially among new students because it serves as a form of bonding experience and helps establish their identity as a member of the school. Knowledge of the school’s past and this guillotine legend excludes nonmembers and identifies those who actually go to the school. I agree with Stephanie that it is definitely conceivable that, given the school’s history as a former Japanese concentration camp, there might be a guillotine remaining on the school’s property. But at the same time, it doesn’t make sense that the guillotine (if it does exist) isn’t donated to a museum instead. It doesn’t do the school any good to keep it locked and hidden.