The Formaldehyde Bucket

--Informant Info--
Nationality: American (ethnicity: half Swedish, half Chinese)
Age: 19
Occupation: Student
Residence: Los Angeles, California (Originally from Montclair, New Jersey)
Date of Performance/Collection: 4/29/2013
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

Item:

“So in my town, Montclair, New Jersey, we have a street called Mission street, and it is broadly known as the ‘crime street’ in town. So, I’ve never actually been down this street. I know that there’s crime there (I read police reports about it), someone got shot there last year, he died. So anyways the story is, this person is at the corner of Mission and Bloomfield, the cross street. And there’s this man standing there with a bucket. So the person, whoever was the originator of this story, goes over to the man with the bucket and said ‘what’s in the bucket?’ And the man with the bucket explains that it’s formaldehyde and that for five dollars the guy can dip his cigarette into the formaldehyde and smoke it.”

Context:

This anecdote is a rumor that the informant overheard at his high school.

Analysis:

This story a great example of a wacky, neighborhood urban legend. Regardless of where you are from, everyone knows little anecdotes like this that may or may not be true, but are remembered and passed down because of their originality and tie to the specific area that they circulate within.