Tag Archives: USC legend

USC Nazi Tree

Text: Okay, so I heard from other people that the tree in front of that restaurant on campus, they say was donated by a Nazi.


Informant is a freshman at USC studying Aerospace Engineering, originally from Tulsa, Oklahoma. We are sitting in a USC dining hall as she shares between bites of her pancake. She is excited and enthusiastic as she remembers her stories, using frequent hand gestures to emphasize her points.

“I heard about this from other students at USC, and I think I did kinda believe them, even though I never researched it myself. The tree they’re talking about is pretty big and noticeable. It kind of makes me feel skeptical, like I don’t really know if I belief this. It doesn’t really make sense though the more I think about it.”

Analysis: This folk narrative about there being a tree donated by a Nazi at USC is an example of a legend. This legend proves how beliefs are crafted as a social process, because of how this legend was spread through word-of-mouth, even if some like the informant are not convinced of its truth. There is definitely an aesthetic to this belief, especially since said tree is quite eye-catching and unique, so it is exciting to have this sort of legend about it. People might find this type of legend more enticing because it is more of a “friend-of-a-friend” legend as the source cited is just by fellow peers.

Nazi Origins of EVK Dining Hall at USC

Text: They say, like, EVK stands for, the name of this person who was a Nazi, but they like re-did the name to where it now says Everybody’s Kitchen.


Informant is a freshman at USC studying Aerospace Engineering, originally from Tulsa, Oklahoma. We are sitting in a USC dining hall as she shares between bites of her pancake. She is excited and enthusiastic as she remembers her stories, using frequent hand gestures to emphasize her points.

“But people are like, it doesn’t make sense because like everybody’s kitchen. Why is the V in there? You know, like EVK, I don’t know. So like, yeah. I heard this from other people at USC, I never actually looked it up myself. I did believe it. I don’t know because they gave me like an actual name for the supposed namesake of EVK. So I was like, oh, I don’t know. It made me feel kind of funny. I was kind of like, oh, that’s so interesting. But then again, I was like, why would they keep it there if it was actually donated by a Nazi? I feel like people would find out and it would be a whole scandal because they have like that whole Jewish section of USC, you know?”

Analysis: This folk narrative is an example of a legend. It is meant to socially negotiate your beliefs, especially since there is little evidence presented to promote the belief, but just enough to make one question if this is true. There is a sort of aesthetic to this belief because it makes the day-to-day life of these college students visiting EVK dining hall a bit more interesting if they believe in this scandalous legend. It meets the requirements of legends of being plausible within this society because most USC students are aware of factual scandals and questionable history of the institution and therefore a Nazi namesake fits into the belief of this society.

Hole in the Fence

CONTEXT: PK is a student who previously attended USC. This is a “scary story” of an
unexplained occurrence that happened before he was a student. When he moved into the location at which it occurred, he was told this story by a previous resident. PK views this story as entirely true and a staple of USC folklore. He believes the origin of the story to be from about half a decade before he left and heard this story from a past housemate who lived with someone who lived in the house at the assumed time of the story.

Back in the days of yore… Well, long, long, long ago in the history of USC, where students have lived for many, many years in a dwelling on Orchard Avenue, there was a strange occurrence. Since the house abutted an apartment building to the back there was a tall – twelve-foot-tall – chain-linked fence between the two properties. One ancient guy, supposedly, legend says, cut a hole in the fence for easier egress in the event of a fire, or other emergency. And, as soon as the property manager found out, they came in and they called a construction company, and they closed up the hole with zip ties. And life went on as normal, and two weeks later, they received another call, the property manager, that there was another hole in the fence. And they started to talk to the house, like, “Are you guys cutting a hole in the fence? Like, what’s going on?” And
they denied it because at first, they didn’t know what he was talking about. And so, this time they came back in with chain link, and they put chain links together to hold the fence together, and they put another layer of fence over it – the old fence – to be doubly as thick. You know, life went on as normal, and continued, and nothing out of the ordinary until one day when the electrician came, they found another hole in the back of the fence. And so, this time the property manager had to know, and they said, “You know, this is ridiculous. We don’t have any evidence that you guys are cutting a hole in the back of the fence but if this is you, you have to stop it.” And so, this time they put a metal cage over the fence. They put bars all the way over the fence, a half inch thick, steel bars going all the way across. And they thought that they solved it, they thought, “There’s no way they’re going to cut through this. This is ridiculous.” Sure enough, two weeks later, again, just like clockwork, there was a huge hole cut in the bars. It was actually that this time they were bent as if some giant baboon had ripped apart the half
inch steel bars. So, the property manager was like, “this is ridiculous.” And so, they put in a camera. They were like “We’re going to catch whoever is doing this.” They put in the camera, they replaced the metal bars, and this time they poured a one-foot-wide section of concrete, for the entire 30-foot-long property line, ten feet tall. And two weeks later, just again, nothing on the camera, and there was a hole blasted through the concrete, as if by dynamite, and that hole is still there to this day. You know, the obvious thought was that it was done by the guy who originally cut the hole in the fence, but there were twelve people living in the house at the time and nobody ever reported hearing a sound that would go with breaking a whole huge hole through concrete. The story has just been passed down generation to generation.
I think IM, who lived there many years ago, whispered the story to me one night.

ANALYSIS: This story seems to have been told to both entertain a new resident, and maybe make him a little uneasy in a new environment. New places often hold secrets that a new resident may not know about, and this story, and the way in which it was told capitalize on that feeling of uncertainty. It is not a particularly scary story, but it follows the structure of a scary story or urban legend, providing an explanation for a visible part of the house (the hole in the concrete). The word choice, drawing attention to how long ago it was supposed to occur, the strength of the barriers, and the reference to a creature like a baboon, are all comical in this situation, though an ancient place with a strong, unseen creature, seems more like the set up to a scary story. No one has been able to confirm any part of this story, other than that the hole is there. The use of dialogue is interesting, in light of this, because it is the narrator’s own
interpretation of how that conversation would probably go.

The Second Floor of Marks Tower is Haunted

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.