Tag Archives: Southern California

SoCal Ghost Story

Text: When the informant was three, her grandmother, who was battling breast cancer, passed away in 1967. Choosing not to undergo the harsh treatments of the time, she died at home, survived by her husband and four children, the youngest being seven-year-old Jerry. After her passing, the grandfather remarried and continued raising the children nearby, renting out their old home. Years later, when Jerry was in college, he and his roommates, Gordy and Bob, rented this family home. Gordy occupied what used to be Jerry’s bedroom, while Jerry stayed in the master bedroom and Bob in another children’s bedroom. left it out on the dining table. Upon seeing it, Gordy was shocked and exclaimed, “What the fuck!” and “That’s the women.”  He explained that a woman resembling the one in the photos visited his room every couple of nights to turn off the lights. Bob also confessed to seeing her well. This revelation was the first time the roommates spoke of any supernatural occurrences in the house, and notably, Jerry never witnessed the apparition of the woman.

Context: The Informant believes her grandma had unfinished business, because she died leaving her cousin as a little kid. She is a devout Catholic but she says she believes in this ghost because she believes Her grandma had to try and take care of Jerry. this took place in Pasadena in 1967 and the ghost part 15 years later. The informant grew up in suburban Virginia in a Irish Catholic home

Analysis: The grandmother’s death and subsequent appearances as an apparition reflect a common motif in folklore where spirits linger due to unfinished business, in this case, to care for a family member. The informant’s integration of Catholic beliefs with the concept of ghosts demonstrates the personalization of spiritual beliefs, showing how individual experiences influence the interpretation of traditional religious doctrines.

Southern California Weather Trick

“Red sky at night, sailor’s delight. Red sky at morning, sailor’s warning.”

The informant heard this story growing up in Southern California, it was told by sailors, teachers, and family members all throughout San Diego. Many kids in San Diego were often told this story at the beach or by adults because the whole city in somewhat close to the ocean. This warned people of storms and the conditions of the beach, especially around summer time as many kids flocked to the beach practically everyday and wanted to plan for the next day by checking the sunset.

Hearing the Murders of Charles Manson


Growing up in Los Angeles during the 60s. I would run and play around the city when I was living with my dad. One night, I was out with some friends, and we were up to no good playing inside a small canyon that split up a local neighborhood. We then heard a toe-curling scream from somewhere off in the distance. The type of scream where you know something really bad just happened. We totally freaked out, we quickly fled the area. 

This was something I was too scared to reveal to my dad. I honestly had many questions in regards to what I heard. I had trouble coming to terms with the fact that I heard something terrible that night. My friends and I were too scared to go into that part of the city again.

This sat with me and my friends for months after the incident until Charles Manson’s name was published across every news outlet in the area. We were right next to the murders the night they took place. I remember the day I found this out better than the night I heard the screams. I’m guessing because I was so scared. I remember my friend coming to my house, sweating. I couldn’t tell if he was excited, nervous, or relieved. Definitely some combination of every emotion possible. For us to be so close to such a notorious murder, it really makes you question your own safety. Especially at such a young age.


The informant grew up in LA and has lived there their entire life. The informant originally couldn’t remember his age at the time of the memorate, but after some research, he can now confirm that he was six years old at the time. The young age does leave some room for the possibility that his account is some type of misconception, but they stand by what happened. At the time, he was the youngest of the group of kids who heard the scream, so the older kids have kind of acted as a piece of evidence for the informant as they have gotten older and their memory of the situation has become blurry.


I have heard this memorate countless times as I have grown up. I have always believed the informant when I have heard this story, but it is something that shocks me to this day. I can imagine the lasting impact that this can have on somebody. The informant definitely uses this story as a cautionary tale. Something that I have heard when I am being warned about the unknown harms this world can bring forward. Memorants are special because they are often unexplainable incidents that are later explained with legendary means. There is no proof that the informant heard the murders that night, but associating the scream with the Manson murders has allowed this story to live on for so long.

Bitten by a Black Widow… on his Genitals


My father has been an electrician for SoCal Edison for the past two decades. His job involves traveling around the Southern California desert inspecting isolated electrical substations. He is an avid oral storyteller, and his stories often come from the blue-collar line of work that he finds himself in. This is one of such stories about his good work friend who suffered a black widow bite to his testicles while using a porta potty in one of these desert stations. A white man leathered by the sun, my father colors the story by imitating the Mexican accent of his friend, including certain Mexican Spanish slang terms like “cabrón.” This is a story I’ve heard many times, but it didn’t fail to make me cry with laughter during this recording. The story has become a legend among electricians in Southern California, which is what made me think of it for this archive. He told me this story over dinner at my family home in this particular iteration.


SS: The Legend of Hector the Electrician. They were working out at a, at a facility. He had another guy with him. And we were, we had a crew of about eight people, ten people. And they were working together, and I was working somewhere else with somebody else. And they were out in the middle of the desert. And if we work safely for a month, we get a safety lunch, paid [for us to go] out to lunch somewhere. And so I had just gotten to Home Depot for something. I was sitting the parking lot, getting ready to leave. And I get a call from Hector.

SS: And he says, “Hey, cabrón. Just forget about the safety lunch this month.” I said, “What did you do?” And he goes, “Okay, I got bit by a spider.”

SS: And I said, that’s the first question, right? “Where’d you get bit?” He said, “In the balls.” And I said, “No, come on. Just stop messing with me. Tell me what happened.”

SS: “[Imitating his friend] No, cabrón, it’s true!” And I started laughing so hard. I couldn’t drive, I had to stop. I was laughing so hard. And he says “It’s not funny!” Yes, I’m still laughing, and I said, “Well, how’d you know it was a spider? I guess both you and that spider felt a little prick.”

SS: So he was working with this other guy. And his, this guy’s name was Roberto. And he said, “Well, I was lucky I had Roberto along to suck out the poison.” ‘Berto’s in the background saying, “Hell no, that’s not true!” So anyway, he went into an outhouse and sat down on the outhouse in the middle of this dusty desert and there was a black widow spider up underneath–up underneath the toilet rim–barely. Black widow spiders don’t like being ‘teabagged.’ So he did it and he got bit. So we got pictures of him being carried off of an ambulance with a big-big-bag of ice on his balls on a gurney, so, and he was off for a couple days. And then the jokes started flying around, about, because we all knew his wife, about, you know, what happens now, you know? Instead of shooting, you know, [explicit gesture] when he’s, when they’re like getting intimate now, is he like, sticking on the walls? [laughter]

SS: And, and, so you know, it was a good laugh and then and then when he came back, we got his hard hat, we put spiders on it, we put like spider webs all over his desk and everything else. And and and we just, we just made it all up.

SS: So he came back, and kind of a full circle to the story: Sometime later, I was working with a different group of people and I was working in this office and there was these contractors. They’re doing something entirely different–but electrical–and we were talking about, you know, different things we’ve seen, you know, rattlesnakes and things, you know, these guys work outside in the field also. And one of the guys was just sitting there eating lunch and one of those contractors I’d never met before says, “[imitating] There’s this legend about this guy out in the desert that got bit in the balls by a black widow spider. But it’s probably an old wive’s tale.”

SS: And I go, “So let me tell you a story!” [laughter] So that’s a story of Hector and the black widow spider.


I chose to include this story in the archive because it is direct evidence of how a true story can become legend. This is indeed a true story; my father works directly with Hector, and I have been over to his house–which is in my neighborhood–for pool parties many times. But the story had the perfect makings to become legend among SoCal Edison electricians and contractors.

The environment, subject, and folklore group are key in understanding the spread of this story as legend. Electricians and contractors in Southern California often come into contact with dangerous wildlife like rattlesnakes and black widow spiders regularly, especially when they are working out in the isolated desert. Thus, the fear of being bitten by a venomous spider is something that resonates among this group, and the idea of being bitten in the testicles is something that is particularly fantastical. It is so fantastical, in fact, that it escaped the boundaries of “fact,” separating from its original subject to become a “wive’s tale.” Instead, the subject becomes a nondescript male electrician, someone who can easily be identified with among the folk group that shares the legend. The legend itself might serve as a warning to electricians who find themselves using porta potties in remote locations to always check under the seat before sitting down.

The Char Man

“The Char Man is kind of an Ojai legend….he’s like this monster, this burned guy. He lives out by the campgrounds on Creek Road and if you get too close to the side of the road on the wrong night he gets you. I think he takes your skin or something? We talked about the Char Man a lot in middle school. People used to go out to the woods at night, like boys who thought they were gonna fight him. I don’t think he’s real, but its definitely kind of creepy.”

This legend was collected in Ojai, California. The region is rife with wildfires and forest fires, and is likely an expression of collective grief and fear of these natural disasters.