Radiator Ghost

–Informant Info–

Nationality: American

Age: 53

Occupation: Teacher

Residence: Los Angeles, California

Date of Performance/Collection: 2022

Primary Language: English

Other Language(s): N/A

(Notes-The informant will be referred to as DS and the interviewer as K)

Background info: DS is a mother of 1 who grew up in the southern area of the United States, moving to Los Angeles in 2020. She remembers both being told this story and experiencing it herself.

K: Ok, so what’s the name of the folklore, where did you hear it from, and what’s the context of the performance? Like uh…under what uh circumstances is the story told?

DS: Well, it doesn’t really have a title, does it! I suppose I would call it the radiator ghost as that’s where she lived. Uh I heard it from my momma originally when I was a girl but I met the ghost a few times. I tell it to scare my kids but also teach em that sometimes whats scary on the surface ain’t so much when you look into it.

K: Ok cool, whenever you’re ready.

DS: Well, it’s simple, ain’t it. In my home I grew up in there was one of them old fashion uh radiators that would burn the hell outta you if you touched it *laughter*. Uh, when I used to walk down the hallway at nighttime, cuz the radiator was right next to the bathroom, I used to get this REAL bad feeling when I go too close to it so I always avoided it. One day, when I was about 10 or 11, I hadn’t felt the bad feeling in a while. I realized at that point that uh..the ghost was protecting me till I wasn’t stupid enough to touch the radiator. *laughter*

I liked hearing this more common ghost story, especially that it had a more happy ending! The idea of a ghost that is trying to help a child is really sweet, and it also makes sense for that culture. Southern culture is very stereotypically helpful and kind, so a southern ghost upholding those standards follows perfectly. Even if it’s something psychosomatic, meaning the informant’s mother told her about the ghost so she imagined it, the ghost and its personality make sense. I do want to note my personal bias here, in that I believe in ghosts so that affected my interpretation of the folklore and possibly the informants telling of it, as they could see my positive reactions as they were telling me.