Tag Archives: wall

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.

University of Texas’s Reappearing Ghost Face


My informant is a 18 year old student from the University of Southern California.This conversation took place at a cafe one evening. The informant and I were in an open space but sat alone. I know that my informant really loves horror movies and ghost stories but often says that she is unfazed by them, so I asked her if there were any ghost stories or urban legend back from home that she was familiar with or believed. In this account, she tells the story of a ghost that resides in the University of Texas, something that was told to her by her friends in middle school. My informant laughed a lot throughout our conversation, most likely due to the fact that she doesn’t believe in ghosts and thus found this story a bit ridiculous. In this transcription of out conversation, I am identified as K and she is identified as A.



A: So, I’m from Houston, and so obviously there’s the University of Texas, and there’s like this story about the Ewing Wing. So, um, the University of Texas, the property that they own now was once owned by a guy that would threaten to haunt his children when he died if they ever sold his property, but after he died his daughter sold the property anyway and it became Ewing Hall at UT, and so when it was finished, a face started to appear on, like, one of the floors and there are actually photos of it, and it kind of resembles the owners, and it’s real creepy and that’s that.


K: What do you think this story represents? Why do people continue to tell it?


A: Well, there is this part of the story I left out [laughs] where the wall… the face keeps showing up, like they kept repainting over it and sandblasting it, but the face kept coming back. Even when they removed that chunk of the wall to another floor, the face still came back… I think people keep telling this just because it’s creepy, you know? Creepy ghost persistence…


K: How did this affect the people around you?


A: I mean, my friends, or like people I know that do believe in ghosts think it’s kind of cool or they think it’s like creepy and they don’t want to go near the Ewing Wing.



I ended up looking up this story and, as it turns out, this ghost is well known throughout Galveston, Texas. It resides at the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) campus, and the story that I found is quite similar to what my informant told me. Legend says that the building is haunted by the ghost of the former land owner; while he was still alive, UTMB offered to purchase his property, but he refused. Before he died, he made his family promise to never sell the family land and to make sure the land is passed on for many generations. However, once he died, his family betrayed his dying wish and sold the property, which is what began the construction of Ewing Hall.

Ghost stories, and other various types of legends or folklore,  are told because it’s a way for people to provide an explanation for something that they cannot understand. Furthermore, the telling of a ghost story reinforces remembering the events of the past, reminding us of specific people and places. So, what is the explanation for the ghost’s face that keeps reappearing, in spite of the efforts to completely get rid of it? It’s to remind us of the man who owned the land and instill guilt in us, the family who sold the land, and even the people of UTMB because they betrayed the owner’s wish. His reappearing face is a literal reminder of his existence, and it also serves as a warning function. Often times, ghost stories are told to shoo people away because most people choose not to live or be in a place that has a reputation of being haunted. We can see this as being true, for my informant admits that though many of her friends that believed in ghosts thought that this story was cool, it still made them fearful and not want to go near the Ewing Wing where they thought they could encounter the ghost.


Siblings tapping though walls to talk to each other

“D” is a 19 year old female student at The University of Southern California. She is a Chemistry major and interested in pursuing Pharmacy after college.  She is Vietnamese on both sides of her family and describes herself as very close with her sister, whom she shares many Folkloric traditions with. She played soccer up through high school and is currently active in the rugby community.



“D: So uh… me and my sister our rooms used to be right next to each other so we would knock on the wall, and each time you knocked it corresponded with a different meaning. So like three knocks was asking if you were awake, two was yes, one was no, and than from there four was like ‘come to my room’, there was just a whole bunch of different signals we sent to each other. So from there, when we didn’t live next to each other we would just say “ONE” or “TWO” during conversations and we would know what the other person meant. It’s one of our things now.

Me: Do you guys still do that?

D: Yeah!

Me: Do you remember about how old you were when you started doing that?

D: Uh… we were about my sister was probably 10 and I was 8.

Me: So why the knocking, where you trying to hide that you guys were talking from your parents?

D: Yeah haha, they caught us sneaking out to talk to each other a few times, and the knocking made it so they couldn’t find out about it. ”



As “D” pointed out, she had a desire to speak to her sister and had previously been caught sneaking out of her room, and used the system as a way to avoid detection by her parents, while still allowing her to communicate with her sister. The fact the code is still used today even though they do not live near each other anymore, shows they still remember the system they had previously used while using it in a manner that allows them to accommodate for their current state of affairs.