Tag Archives: folklore

Humans lick too

Date: April 25, 2022 

Source and Relationship: G, younger brother

Type: Scary Story, Legend

Folklore/Text: Humans Lick Too Story: “My friend Quincy told me this story at a sleepover and I still think about it a lot. So this girl who’s my age was staying home alone for the night with her golden retriever. She started hearing strange noises around the house so she stayed in her room and put her hand under the bed so that her dog would lick her, so that she knew she was safe. She felt her dog’s tongue on her hand, so she decided she was fine and tried to go to sleep. But then she heard the faucet running in her bathroom, which was weird because no one was home. When she walked to the bathroom to turn it off, she saw across the wall, written in blood, ‘HUMANS LICK TOO.’ The body of her dead dog was also lying on the floor in front of her. When Quincy told me the story I didn’t sleep for three days, I still need to get him back for it.”

Explanation/Context: I have actually heard many versions of this story over the years, with some details being added or discarded based on who I’m talking to. It clearly is an urban legend that found its way through the power of the internet and/or spoken word to the minds of current high schoolers, which is fascinating to me since I first heard the story when I was his age as well. After further investigation, this tale is actually quite famous since it was originally printed in a 1871 novel by M. R. James. It is remarkable to me that such stories have stood the test of time and continue to strike fear into children globally. I still refuse to leave any of my limbs hanging off the side of the bed at night because of this very tale. 

Wood eye joke

Date: April 24, 2022 

Source and Relationship: Father

Type: Joke

Folklore/Text: Wood Eye Joke: “My dad first told me this joke as a kid, but I definitely tell it better. A boy was involved in a terrible accident that caused him to lose his eye, and since he couldn’t afford a glass replacement, the doctor offered him a wooden eye instead. The school dance was coming up, and after many failed attempts at trying to get a date because of his new look, he decided to go alone to try to cheer himself up. While sitting in the corner during a slow song, he notices another girl sitting alone as well. He gets up and approaches her, saying, “Would you like to dance with me?” The girl is overcome with excitement, replying, “Would I? Would I?” The boy is offended and angry by her insult, retorting back, “Stink breath! Stink breath!” This joke is definitely a crowd favorite. You can switch up the insult at the end, but you would always die laughing every time I told it to you.”

Explanation/Context: After doing lots of research, this joke has actually been told hundreds of times with a multitude of variations dating back to the early 1900s, when it was first published in the joke section of the New York Times. I always find it so interesting when jokes are passed down from generation to generation, like a game of comedic telephone, where the punchline slightly changes with each person you tell it to. When you Google search, “Wooden Eye Joke,” approximately 20,000 results come up. Due to the length of the buildup before the punch line, there is room for variation and changes in circumstances, but the butt of the joke remains the same. This is similar to music as well, where many adaptations of a song may be released over the years, but the chorus, chord progressions, and lyrics tend to remind the same. 

The Soldier and the drum music

Background: The informant explained that this is a first hand experience. It happened when he moved to a new city as a young boy, decades ago. Prior to this experience, he had never heard of the legend associated with the appearance of  the ghost of a soldier that appears in the spot that he was killed, haunting and torturing the ones that enter his territory. It affected the informant in his daily life all his childhood as he was always scared to walk through alleys. However, over time, it became a fainted memory and had forgotten about it until he was asked to share his experience.   

KV: I can’t remember the year, uh, I think it was maybe 1957 or 1958. We lived in Florina and that year we moved to Thessaloniki. Because my parents wanted to live in a big city for work and there was no school for me, only elementary, had to move to a big city to go to high school. So we moved to Egnatia Road , I think , yes, I remember it was 386 Egnatia Street.

I liked it, first time I saw it,  because it, there was an ice cream place and we where above it. The first night I fought with my sisters. I wanted the bedroom that looked at the alley. It was bigger and quieter. Then, my mother got mad and I , I always got mad at my sisters.  I didn’t , I couldn’t sleep and went back to the kitchen and asked my mother about the room again. And everyone was upset and my sisters screaming. And suddenly we saw the door , the kitchen door opening, and a man with torn clothes, he was dressed like fandaros (soldier) and bleeding, I think the bleeding was coming from a head wound, I think, appeared, and he, his eyes were, I don’t know how to describe them. He was like a wild animal. And my mother asked us to make our cross, and pray and we saw him moving but couldn’t hear his footsteps. And we didn’t hear the door opening before either, just saw it. I froze and couldn’t move. And I couldn’t talk and my heart was beating fast. 

I felt a sudden wind and the lamp , you know we had an oil lamp in the kitchen table at night those days, and there was no flame anymore. I don’t know , maybe it was the wind. I couldn’t see anything but I could hear music, drums, like a drums’ band playing in the alley.  But my mother was brave and she grabbed the lamp and lit it again. And the man was not there any more. But when we got to the balcony to see if someone was there , the kitchen had a balcony that faced the alley, we saw a young boy laying on the floor, in the alley and foam was coming out of this mouth and the wind was still blowing. And we saw the fandaro leading the drums’ band  and stepping over the young boy. We closed the windows and we left the house at night. We walked for hours, we had no car and that late there was no bus. We stayed in a friend’s home and when our father picked us up the next day, he was still in Florina the night before, we told him everything. 

Me:Did you ever find out if something had happened before in that alley?  

KV: Later we found from,  that on that alley many soldiers had lost their lives during the war, World War II, I think in 1940. And legend has it that whoever passes , the ghost of the soldier who was playing the drums, the leader of the drums band,  killed on that alley, attacks whoever passes after midnight and paralyses the right side of their face, that’s were the enemy bullet first hit him.

Me: Why do you think that the soldier entered your home: 

KV: The fighting. Maybe the fighting, the loud voices. And these apartments, our apartment was build , I mean it was new. It was build on the battlefield grounds. The voices, because we were fighting , maybe it  was reminiscent of the aggressive sounds of the enemy. 

Me: Do you know what happened to the young boy you saw that night? 

The boy we saw that night passing the alley, he was paralyzed and still lives today, and the doctors couldn’t do anything to fix it. Because they couldn’t find anything wrong with him. And his parents tried and took him to many doctors. And the boy was fine and healthy till be entered the alley that night. Couldn’t find what caused it, I mean. And the boy couldn’t talk. He is mute but no one can explain it.

Me: Do you think many people believe in the existence of the deceased soldier and his malevolent attacks in the alley?

KV:  Older people do. Because many things have happened. And many people who lived there saw things too and many accidents in that alley.  And the rumors spread and many mouths opened , and spoke of unheard things. Things that cannot be explained.  And the people that saw and heard these things are not delusional. Especially the drummer band, many people have seen the drummer band and fainted images of soldiers. Yes, they believe. But the young ones,  they don’t now. They are skeptical. They say they  don’t believe but avoid the alley. And they laugh sometimes and I think  because the alley, the alley is not  the same any more. Many stores, street lights and drugs . They don’t think it’s a ghost, they say but they are not sure. And the lights have , aren’t really ghost friendly. And deaths , sudden, it can be, I mean you can not be sure when there are drugs involved. But older people , they do believe. 

Context: This piece was collected via an in person meeting

Thoughts: It is interesting that many sites that where in the past the ground of battlefields  have developed their own legends. The informant having a personal experience, confirm that the legend of the drummer soldier and the haunted alley is not perpetuated just by the people who lived there in the past, possibly used by locals in modern times trying to create a story to attract more business to local restaurants and hotels. Since the informant stated that there have been many older witnesses that have attested to the presence of the soldier on the haunted alley and the sounds of music (drums) in the past, their similar personal experiences support  the idea that the legend could be true and not fabricated or made up by people. The medically unexplainable paralysis of the right side of the boy’s face that night when entering the alley , also makes the narration of this experience more powerful and validate to some extent the informant’s statements.  Even up to this day with medical advances, there is no physical indication as to why it happened. And his comment about the city lights on the alley makes me think if in their absence, the appearance of the deceased soldier and his band  and the activity in the alley would had continued to be as evident to more people now as it did decades ago. Maybe darkness is where they belong and thus, they prefer appearing in a world more similar to theirs, where they remain invisible, intangible and ephemeral. Perhaps during a power outage, one could investigate any activity related to the legend. The only question that still remains in my mind however is “ who will dare to cross the alley after midnight?” 

The Man With the Coconuts


The following story comes from my friend who enjoys telling me about various Philipino folktales that she heard from her parents when she was younger.



The following is a transcription of the story told to me.

“So there’s this man with a bunch of coconuts and he’s loading them all up on his horse, and it’s really heavy. On the way back home, he gets really tired and he finds a boy on the side of the street. He calls the boy over and asks him how long more it will take to reach the town. The boy tells him that the town is fairly near! The boy also tells him that the man will arrive very soon but if he goes fast, it will take him all day. So he tells the man to just go slowly. The man is confused and thinks the boy is just being dumb and naive. So he rides his horse fast to the town. However, along the way the coconuts keeps falling off the horse and the man has to stop and continuously pick up the coconuts. Then he would try and ride even faster on his horse, to make up for lost time, but then the coconuts would keep dropping and he would have to stop and pick them up. And eventually the man made it back to town at the end the day.”



This Filipino folktale is one that is meant to share a message and a lesson. The lesson is to never rush something because you will not do the task properly and you will end up needing even more time than if you had just been patient and worked diligently. This folktale is one that is commonly told as a bedtime story to younger children. It is meant to impart the lesson of patience and hard work. Many other Filipino folklore also have a strong message behind the story. To read more Filipino folklore: https://www.jstor.org/stable/537202

Ratcliff, Lucetta K. “Filipino Folklore.” The Journal of American Folklore, vol. 62, no. 245, 1949, pp. 259–289. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/537202. Accessed 30 Apr. 2021.

The Tiger’s Whisker – Korean Folktale

TEXT: Once upon a time, there was a woman with a husband who had just come back from a war. When her husband came back from the war, he was a different person. He used to be very kind and loving and stuff. But after the war, he was very harsh and short-tempered. He would snap at her if she had said something that he didn’t like. So the woman went to a local witch and after explaining her situation to the witch, asked if she had a potion that can change her husband back to who he used to be before the war. The witch said that this would be a very difficult potion to make but she did have a recipe for a potion that can help her with her husband. The witch told her that she needed the whisker of a live tiger to make the potion. The woman told her that that would be too difficult and almost impossible. The witch told her that if she did not have the whisker, she would not be able to help.

So the woman went home and made a bowl of rice smothered in meat sauce and brought it to the side of a mountain where a tiger lived. She left it on the edge of a cave and left. The next day, she went back to the mountain and saw that the rice bowl was empty. She replaced that empty bowl with another bowl of rice smothered in meat sauce. She repeated this for multiple days, weeks, months. Eventually, one day, when she was replacing the bowl of rice, she noticed that the tiger had been outside of its cave, waiting patiently. The next few days, she noticed that the tiger was closer and closer to where she normally put the bowl of rice. One day, she decided to stay by the rice bowl to see if the tiger felt comfortable enough to come and eat while she was watching. The tiger came and started eating the bowl of rice, and she even softly pet his head as he ate. The next day, the woman went back up to the mountain where the tiger lived with a bowl of rice and a pair of scissors. While the tiger was eating the rice, she carefully cut off a portion of the tiger’s whiskers, making sure that she did not hurt the tiger.

The next day, she ran to the witch and brought her the tigers whiskers. The witch grabbed the whiskers and threw it into the fire. The woman was very angry. The witch said that if the woman can tame a wild tiger, then why can’t she do the same for her husband. If she can gain the trust of a tiger, then why can she not be just as sensitive and caring for her husband, learning to gain his trust again.

CONTEXT: I asked my informant if she knew any Korean folktales while I was driving her to Orange County. She asked me if I had ever heard about the story of the woman and the Tiger’s whisker. I told her no so she started telling me the story from her memory.

INFORMANT: My informant originally learned of this folklore when she was in junior high school during her Korean Language school that she attended every Sunday after church. She remembered this story primarily because she had to learn it in Korean. This meant that she had to read it over and over again. She also had to practice telling the story in Korean. However, when she told me the story, she told me the story in English because that is her primary language.

My informant really likes the story because she thinks that it has a really good meaning and moral behind it. She likes the fact that the story emphasizes diligence and working at something. She liked how the story was saying that if you work hard at something continually without giving up, you would be rewarded.

MY INTERPRETATION:  My interpretation of this story aligns with my informant’s views of the story. I think the point of the story is to learn how to be sensitive and adapt to people who may be difficult to deal with. Similar to how someone would be very cautious around a dangerous wild animal, the same level of care and caution is required when dealing with people that are difficult. It’s clear that the husband comes back from the war a different person because of the trauma associated with war, or PTSD. If we truly care about something or someone, this story says that we must diligently care and be sensitive to them.

This tale is clearly not meant to be seen as a factual story that happened in the real world. The purpose of this story was primarily to get the meaning of the story across. There was a moment of implied causation within the story that I realized was there after I rewrote what she told me. When the woman in the story first sees that the bowl of rice was empty, it is implied that the tiger had eaten the bowl of rice.

Also, the use of the tiger and rice seems to be a cultural detail, rather than a universal one. If this story were to be told from an American perspective, I would think that the animal would be a lion, primarily because we view lions as the top of the food chain. When it comes to food, I would think that an American folktale would incorporate something specific to America, not rice. Tigers are strongly associated with Korean culture. Everything from the Korean Olympic mascot to children’s television shows, tigers are often used to represent the Korean culture and tradition. This seemed far more real to me when I asked my informant if she knew other stories and she listed off a few other folktales that she knew, all incorporating tigers.