Tag Archives: school ghost

Roaming Soldier

Content: 

Y: Okay. So, um, I grew up in New Jersey. The town was, like, very colonial. Very like, it was like from the colonial times and like that’s when people started moving there. And just- so we had a tavern and they always find oysters and whatnot around it. But anyway, so this redcoat was staying in the tavern’s hotel room, like in one of the rooms and then he, he was murdered, they offed him. And so <laugh>, um, legend has it. They’re like still haunted and I forget what the name of the class was called, but in fifth grade we had the owner of the house come talk to us about her experience living there. And so she says like, “oh yeah, no, it’s, haunted it like homeboy comes up and down the stairs.” 

Me: So was she like a descendant or was she a whole other person? 

Y: No, just a whole other person. Okay. She just lives in the, I think they bought it like 20 something years ago, but it’s like, it’s like a historical registered, like, and so, yeah, legend has it that this murdered soldier goes around the halls and it was like right next to my elementary school. 

Me: Do you know what experiences they’ve had? 

Y: There’s like, um, she’s talked about homeboy, like on the stairs, like she’ll hear them creaking randomly, and then something with the shutters too, like closing the shutters. 

Me: Does she hear it or do the shutters actually close? 

Y: Hears it.

Me: So it’s all auditory? 

Y: Yeah. 

Background: Y is a 20 year old who was born and raised in New Jersey. She now resides in Los Angeles, California. 

Context: This story was told to me at a hangout among friends.Analysis: I liked this story because of its universality. The tavern that Y speaks of doesn’t have a specific name that sticks in the memory of the teller. She wasn’t even sure what city/town the tavern was in. Instead, the part of the story that stuck in her mind for all of these years was that a man was murdered in the building and now haunts it. The story, as it was passed around and as time moved on, was distilled into its most basic form.

Bunnyman

Content: 

K: So I grew up in Northern Virginia. Fairfax County, right? Um, I have, um, so the story is about, um, it’s based off of a series of murders that happened, uh, sometime in the mid to late 1900s. And the suspect apparently, uh, was seen to be wearing a bunnyman costume when they happened. And it’s like, one of the places that it went down was happened to be down the street from one of my childhood friends. Like in the, he lives in this wooded neighborhood, in the outskirts of Fairfax. And so, you know, the like thing to do as a kid is like, it’s, there’s a tunnel that goes from like the end of the street goes to this, like one lane tunnel. And then, um, on the other side is like a park maybe, but so the dare is to like, get your, you and your friends to get in the car, drive down the road, into the tunnel and then like, turn the car off and then wait for like a couple minutes and then see if he appears. And then, you know, so we did it one time. I’m still alive. <laugh> but yeah, that’s that’s the bunnyman is like the, um, like they never caught him. So he like still roams. 

Me: Right. Did you see, did anything happen or were you all just sitting in a car? 

K: No, I scared them though. <laugh> 

Me: Nice.

Background: K is a 22 year old from Fairfax County, Virginia. He currently resides in Los Angeles, California. 

Context: This story was told to me at a hangout among friends. 

Analysis: Although I didn’t find it as much in the stories I collected for this project, I’ve noticed a trend of dares being associated with ghost stories. The fear of the legend motivates people to go out with their friends in search of a terrifying or potentially dangerous experience. Although these experiences seem to be few and far between, that doesn’t stop the tradition from continuing with each new generation. It seems like most of the lore comes from the performance of seeking out the paranormal rather than the spirit himself. 

Girl in the Fireplace

Background: The informant and her sibling both went to the same middle school and the library, where the ghost story took place, was within walking distance of the school. The informant remembered this story because it was frequently mentioned at the library, and it was a terrifying experience considering they were only at the age of 11. 

JL: We heard from students all the time, like “there’s something weird in the fireplace of the library”. The way the library was set up was that there was the children’s section to the left, adult section to the right, then very far to the right was a little nook that was blocked halfway by a bookcase, and that nook had a fireplace plus magazines. It was mainly where all the old people hung out during weekdays; nobody under the age of like…60 ever went into that area. And the deal with the fireplace was that it was never lit ever, just a completely bare old-style fireplace. It was middle school, so there were lots of rumors always flying around. But someone said at some point that one of the more socially active guys named Ben and his girlfriend at the time went into that nook during a weekend and were fooling around when they suddenly smelled smoke and heard someone crying. We’re in California so smelling smoke isn’t entirely uncommon but it was like apparently super strong and weirdly sickly sweet. And when they (the couple) turned around to face the fireplace, they saw this little girl dressed in a white old-fashioned nightgown that had been burned and the skin was sloughing off her in places. Like a barbecue grill, they said. They basically screamed then ran out, and they swear that it was some girl who burned to death where that library was built or something. Honestly, I doubt it’s real but it sure freaked us all out when we were like 11. And it was so awful that everyone was like “Google burn victims to see what she looked like”. It wasn’t a super common rumor, but if you were someone who went to the library frequently, you were pretty guaranteed to hear it. 

Me: So did the school also know about it? Or how was everything eventually settled? 

JL: Honestly it was one of those things that we never really talked about unless you frequently went to the library because these two places weren’t connected. It was a public library completely separate from the school and the two places just happened to be near each other, I think? So it wasn’t ever addressed by the school administration. I think they’re remodeling the library now actually, so the fireplace might be taken out because of the fire safety code. My sibling’s graduated middle school now so I don’t know how the rumors are spreading with that, but at the time it was basically one of those things you’d hear if you stayed a little too late in the library. I stayed overtime a lot working on robotics projects so that’s how I came to hear of it.

Me: Apart from Ben and his girlfriend, were there any other people in your school who used to experience or witness similar scenes in that fireplace as well?

JL: Yeah! But nothing quite as serious as they did I think. People would say randomly that it smelled like smoke. Again I was kinda skeptical on this because living in California means you smell smoke every other day. A lot of people claimed they saw the curtains over the windows in that nook randomly flutter, and there were random hot spots in the room for no reason. 

Context: This piece was collected via a text interview over Discord. 

Thought: The story is interesting, and the library seems to always be one of the popular places for spooky stories. I agree with the informant that some details may have been exaggerated, especially considering the nature of children at that age who tend to “make a fuss” about things. The story itself reminds me of the idea that children being murdered or simply people who have been framed cannot go to the afterlife; they may need someone to help them release their souls from purgatory. However, I wonder if souls, for example in the case of this story, would always “rest on” the objects or places where they were murdered. If the fireplace is removed, would the little girl appear again then?

The Haunted Third Floor

When I was in 5th grade, the school that I went to was really old. It was founded in 1841 and had a long history, and a lot of ghost stories. This one building that used to be dormitories, the third floor of it was supposed to be really haunted. My class was on the 2nd floor, but we could charge our laptops in this one room on the 3rd floor. It was always locked since people’s laptops were in there. One day we went up there to put our laptops away, but our teacher forgot to come meet us and unlock the door. So we were standing in the hallway and there wasn’t anyone inside the room. But then the doorknob to the room started shaking a lot. At first we thought someone was in there, but then we realized no one would be in there if it was locked. We got really freaked out and went and got the teacher, and went back up with her. She opened the locked room and no one was in there. It was eerie”

My roommate told me this story about her school back in Hawaii. She does believe in ghosts, so she obviously thinks that is what the cause was. It is interesting to hear this, as it is not such an overt siting, so someone more skeptical on the subject would probably write it off as nothing. While collecting this story from her, we began to talk about Hawaiian ghosts and how they relates to their culture. She said that ghost belief is very prevalent in Hawaii- more so than the rest of America- and intertwined with the native culture. She observed that Hawaii has had a large influence from Asian immigrants from many different countries, especially Japan, which has a more pronounced belief in ghosts. Since she is of Japanese and Chinese descent, we talked about how those cultures have also influenced her beliefs and led her to be more open-minded to ghost belief.

Math Classroom Ghost

Information about the Informant

My informant is an English teacher at a high school in Southern California, and has been teaching for over twenty-five years. She has been featured as an Influential Teacher of the Month within the last five years, and has received great reviews and praise from her former students as a teacher who cares about and motivates her students to succeed. I met her next to Tommy Trojan when she brought her class to USC campus on a college visit and she gave me this school ghost story in the short time before she had to collect her class.

Transcript

“I teach at the oldest high school in [school name and location removed]. And there is a common story that, um, circulates. And that is that one of the math classes is haunted. And so everyone goes in, I–usually on a Thursday morning, and you can note the differences in air temperature. Um, on a Thursday morning, you can, at any other time, on any other day. So, we really believe that something is going on in that school, or in that room, or something occurred there that–and that is an ongoing reminder to us that something negative occurred in there, because it’s always cold.”

Collector: “Is there any, like, theory as to what it might be?”

“From my kids? No, we’ve no theory. We have no idea because we cannot, um, there’s no accounting of anything had ever happened in there. So it could be that prior to the building being built, that some violent occurrence was there. Maybe, you know, some, uh, early settlers or maybe some of the indigenous people, or something like that that was in–that was, gave that piece of land or that little area kind of a negative quality.”

Analysis

When asked how this possibly haunted classroom affected people at the school, whether staff members or students, my informant told me that all it seemed to do was reaffirm the beliefs that the students or staff members already had. For those students (and possibly members of the staff) who already believed in an afterlife that included ghosts or some sort of spiritual remnant left in the world after death, the story “gives credence” to that belief. But for those who did not believe in ghosts, they simply believed the unnatural cold was due to “wind pattern or something.”

This is an interesting example as it’s an instance of a ghost story where there is no actual ghost, but merely an unnatural phenomenon that could easily be attributed to a natural cause. It’s interesting to observe because, rather than attribute the cold to a problem with the cooling system or weather patterns, it seems like people at the school are more than willing to try to find a “supernatural” explanation for the cold, even undertaking, it sounds like, research into the history of the school to find out if anything violent had ever occurred on the school’s property. It’s an interesting example because it provides a look at how an experience may turn into a memorate, the process by which an experience can become a memorate, where the experience is something strange but explainable and those involved instead search for a way to incorporate it into the genre of ghost stories, using the tropes about ghost stories that they already know (e.g. that if there is a ghost, there must have been some violent incident in the past; that settlers or indigenous people may have cursed the ground long ago).