Contemporary Legend – Fullerton, California

“The Brea Bum”


Pastor Arnold learned of the Brea Bum during the earlier years of high school (in


Quoted from Pastor Arnold

“When in high school, I went with some friends and was told about the Brea Bum. The story involves a man who was waiting outside of his work for his family (for his wife and 3 kids to pick him up). The wife and 3 kids never came. He was sitting outside looking at a newspaper. He waited all day and night. The next day, he got a newspaper and got a report that his wife and kids died in a car accident. So he stayed at the park bench and wouldn’t move because his family had passed away.”

“So now there are many stories attached to the Brea Bum. Some said he carried a 6 inch knife and threatened to stab people who came by. People said he was friends with druggies. Some of my more courageous friends actually approached him and talked with him and tried to evangelize to him. One night, a convoy of 5 cars filled with my friends went to Brea looking for the Brea Bum. They told me and a few others to stay in, while 6 actually went up to the Brea Bum. They slowly accosted the Brea Bum, speaking gently, hoping not to create any hostility. They eventually sat down next to him and talked. Suddenly, one of my friends screamed and the rest started running. From one person, I heard someone was shot. From another, I heard a friend got stabbed. Everyone jumped into the cars and sped off. A couple of my friends were crying.”

“Later I found out the Brea Bum is a statue (a statue of guy with a newspaper). High school juniors and seniors would use this to scare freshmen and sophomores.”

Collector’s Comments

Arnold’s experience sounds much like any other “initiation”, whether it is initiation into high school, college, or a fraternity / sorority. Whereas most fraternities that I have heard about on the USC campus typically force their new pledges to do a great deal of menial tasks (such as cleaning the house’s toilets, printing event flyers, etc), Pastor Arnold had an initiation that played off younger students’ fear of the unknown. The upperclassmen’s prank seems well thought of since 14, 15, and 16 year olds would probably show little skepticism and be easier to scare than college students.