Background: The informant is a 14-year-old high school freshman living in El Segundo, California. The informant is my brother.
Context: After family dinner, my brother overheard a conversation about folklore I was having with my parents and he seemed interested, so I decided to explain the field of folklore to him and even interview him on some of the folklore he was aware of.
Main Piece: The informant described he and his friends stumbled upon an abandoned amphitheater on a trip to Leo Carillo State Park a few years ago.
Informant: Me and my friends would go there and there was like, or like the amphitheater, it was said like ‘Oh if you go in there, you die’. We would always get, f*cking, scared sh*tless whenever we would go near that.
Collector: Who said that?
Informant: I don’t know dude; it was like my friends and there was just like that story of that amphitheater.
Collector: So, it was an amphitheater in the middle of the forest?
Informant: No, the slender forest (another piece of folklore my brother has described to me before) and the amphitheater are two different things. It was just a tiny abandoned amphitheater.
Collector: And none of you ever went in there?
Informant: No, never. We barely ever went NEAR it dude. We would like ride our bikes there, and we would just run away.
Interpretation: This story of the haunted amphitheater is a great example of how children can create folklore about haunted or abandoned places without any prior knowledge or local lore. The informant and his friends obviously believed their saying “If you go in there, you die” because they clearly tried to avoid the place as much as possible. I find it interesting that the ghost stories I’ve heard from adults seem to have much more of a narrative, whereas the ghost stories or haunted places my brother has described to me when he was much younger are not so much narratives, but rather simple scares or sayings such as “If you go in there, you die”. Perhaps analyzing the differences between how adults and children tell their haunted tales can provide some interesting insights into the genre of ghost folklore.