Tag Archives: pool

Old Man Made Of Wax (Local Legend from Orinda, CA)

Original Text: “So at my local pool…Orinda Park Pool it was called, OPP. At the pool we would have ghost story night and we would tell the lore of the pool and ghost stories about it and the surrounding area and stuff. And so it used to be a big swimming hole, the pool, like a big lake and then they turned it into like a big pool for swimming and stuff. So there was like this red house within the closed community, right next to the pool and up the hill. People said there was an old man that lived there that was made of wax. And then they told the story of a kid who went in and the old man made of wax like yelled at him and told him to leave and never come back. So one time we went to the house to see if there was anyone there after swim practice when I was like 8 or something with my brothers friends, and we couldn’t get in cuz it was locked, but we looked through the window, but we couldn’t find anything. But we still told all our friends back at the pool we saw the man when we didn’t cuz it was funny.” 

Context: The informant would take lessons and swim at this pool every summer when he was a kid. He said it was super easy to walk from his house to the pool, and he even saw the red house the wax man lived in every day when going to school. He saw with his brother’s friends, and they were the first to introduce him to the story of the wax man around 8 years old. The informant said that the quest to find the wax man made the legendary to the younger kids at the pool, and was a fun bonding experience for their friend group.

Analysis: In this legend, we can see that because children are so removed from old age and dying, they might fear and associate old people with the unknown of death and the supernatural. Here, the informant and his friends have applied the supernatural trait of being made of wax to the scary old man. I would like to point out an interesting connection between the man being made of wax and this story circulating the hot summer at a pool. Perhaps there was a sense that the man had to stay in his red house because he would melt in the sun. The fact that this is a legend and a memorate allowed the informants friend group to form a bond around this particular version of the story. This becomes part of the groups folklore and distinguishes them from the younger kids at the pool.

Planetary Fun

“Your mom is so fat, she plays pool with the planets.”

The informant heard this joke during recess. Boys his age were trading jokes on the playground. Their juvenile jokes were not meant to be taken seriously as personal insults to each other’s mothers; rather, they were meant as non-unique, verbal teasing following the popular format of the “your mom” type of joke. The boys did not have specific targets for their teasing in mind. Instead, they shared humorous remarks that utilize blanket insults that could be applied to any target, regardless of personal qualities of the intended recipient. This type of joke telling with the “your mom” format seems limited to only children. They seemed to have performed these jests in a lighthearted spirit of fun. Moreover, this activity of swapping jokes allows for their social bonding through laughter.