The informant is friend of mine from San Jose, California who attends USC. When I was investigating campus lore, she shared with me this legend that circulated her building freshman year.
“So, basically, when we were living in Marks Tower, the floors are single-sex, but the building is co-ed. So it alternates, like, second floor is boys, third is girls, fourth is boys…basically, even numbers are boys and odds are girls. And, so, because we were living there the whole year, we kind of got to know most people in the building. Like, not all of them, but I would recognize people’s faces and stuff. And so, um, basically, as the year went on, we kind of noticed that…well, I noticed, and I guess other people were noticing, but basically, we noticed that we were never meeting anyone from the second floor. And all the people I asked, none of them had met anyone who lived on the second floor either. So, like, it kind of became this thing, like, “oh, the second floor is haunted, no one actually lives there.” So yeah it was kind of like this building legend where you would say to people “Oh have you met anyone on the second floor yet?” and every time they would answer no.”
I found this legend interesting, because it seemed like an example of parody folk belief. Obviously, everyone in the building knew there had to be people living on the second floor, but they suspended their disbelief for the sake of the legend that the floor was haunted. It is very hard to believe that no one in the entire building had ever encountered someone from the second floor, so I suspect some people lied to keep the legend going. This demonstrates an interesting and cool thing about legends, and folklore in general: they tie people together and create common ground. The existence of this legend allowed the people living in that building to participate in the shared identity of “people who live in Marks Tower.” I also thought it was interesting that floor numbers were also a place that people found identity, or that being a second-floor resident would be a way to mark someone’s identity in the larger group of Marks Tower residents.