The unlucky arches

BACKGROUND: My informant, AC, was born in the US and attended boarding school in NH. As we were talking about our different high school customs, AC remembered this superstition held by many of the students. It is a superstition that is passed down from upperclassmen to lowerclassmen.

CONTEXT: This piece is from a conversation with my friend where we talked about our time at boarding school.

AC: And I just remembered about the arches too. Like how everyone at [NH Boarding School] would avoid crossing under the big arches because they thought that if you were under there an odd amount of times you wouldn’t graduate. I’m not even superstitious but — I remember when [redacted] got kicked out and he lived in [dorm near the arches]. He was like the only one who would do it. (laughs) And it got him on the ass.

THOUGHTS: It was interesting to me how even in a high school, where people are decidedly not as superstitious about school fables as they are in middle school, most students were avoidant of the big arches. Even I would walk around the arches instead of under it and I didn’t even believe it was real. That leads me to believe that the fear surrounding the arches wasn’t a mystical one but a social one. People avoided the arches in order to fit in with the widely accepted school tradition rather than deviate from the tradition and be labeled as an outsider.