The CVS Witch (Local Legend from Orinda, CA)

Original Text: “So there was this weird old lady that would walk around like every single day in Downtown Orinda. She had a house near ours, and we would call her the witch cuz she looked like a witch. I’m not trying to be mean but like, she was hunched over with like a big nose and like she would go downtown every single day to CVS Pharmacy and she would get a big bag full of little cartons of milk, just like a bag of milk, and she would drink it in the local burger place, Nations. She would drink like two and the she would walk back home and we would follow her. Her house was like really run down and like scary. Whenever we saw her we would run away in the opposite direction. We thought she had like magical powers or something, and that she would brew potions with her milk. We would like go downtown after school to see if we could catch her doing magic and also just for the thrill of like following her home.” 

Context: The informant is 18 years old and is from Orinda, California. He was in 6th grade when he observed this woman with his brother’s 7th-grade friends. He says that it was fun to make jokes and fantasize about what kind of potions she could make and if she could kill little boys with her potions. She also lived nearby his house, so it was easy to follow her without being suspicious. Downtown Orinda is a very small, popular hangout area of a small town where most people know each other.

Analysis: Considering the age of the informant and his friends (about 11-12), it is easy to see that because they were so young and didn’t have a large concept of old age, how they could be horrified by an older woman that was very hunched over and wrinkly — thus thinking of her as a witch. Disney movies have been very popular kids media since the 1930s, and they often depict witches with hunched backs and large noses (ex: the witch in Snow White). This influence was placed upon the old lady the informant saw. Potions are also a common motif for witches, and seeing as this old lady would hoard massive amounts of liquid (milk), it makes sense how a child would draw this connection.