Run, it’s Mr. Tolstoy!

The informant grew up in Alta Loma, California before moving to Boring, Oregon to live with her father during her high school years. While in Alta Loma, her family owned horse property and owned horses throughout her life that she would often ride for fun as she grew up. She was allowed to ride around her neighborhood and the surrounding area without adult supervision. Because the area was not as developed as it is today, there were many more trails that horses were allowed on than there are today.

When asked if she had any contemporary legend to share, she immediately launched into a description of one of these horse paths. There was a one-way street in front of house that someone named Mr. Tolstoy lived in. She would ride by this part of the neighborhood frequently as she lived nearby. Her friends and her had heard that Mr. Tolstoy would shoot at kids as they rode by on their horses. While she does not remember exactly when she heard this, but she was in elementary school in the 1970’s while she had these horses. There was never an event where she actually saw or heard Mr. Tolstoy shooting at someone, but she would canter more quickly by his house every time she went by. Additionally, she never heard of an actual case of this occurring even after she was adult either. Though her friends and her all believed in the danger presented by Mr. Tolstoy, she has seen other people mention this in a Facebook group that is centered around living in Rancho Cucamonga, which includes Alta Loma. While she does not necessarily believe the legend regarding Mr. Tolstoy, she does reference it every once and a while to her children and sister.

This local urban legend capitalizes on the fear of strangers that is often instilled in children, whether it was created by the adults or the children. In addition, the continuance of this theme hints at the annoyance of older people with the younger generation. The reason this legend was scary to my informant when she was a child was because it was possible that an adult disliked children so much that he would risk being arrested to scare them off of a public street in front of his property.