The Wheelbarrow

My informant is a 19 year old student who enjoys reading and acting. She grew up in a predominantly homogenous neighborhood.

“So, in elementary school, we had really short fences. You could see- our elementary school was in a neighborhood, so through the short little fences you could see all the surrounding houses. Most of them were pretty normal, you know. Not all picket-fence houses, but like they were like pretty well-groomed lawns, just like, normal, normal little houses. Except for this one… on the corner. It was on the corner of .. *laughs* except for this one! It was on the corner of, I think, Agette and Clearbrooke, I wanna say but I’m not quite sure. So this one house on the corner had a dead lawn, and this was before the drought – they could’ve watered it. It was a completely- it had crabgrass all over it, it was brown and unwatered, unkempt. The house had chipping paint and one of the, the window panes was knocked out, there was only a screen in it. So, naturally we were all creeped out by it. In first grade, I think this was, we were terrified by this house because it threatened our sense of first-grade normalcy. And so we made up all these stories about it. We said that the house was owned by an old man that knocks the window pane out so that he could look at the school more easily and like spy on us. We said that like wild dogs lived in the house and, like, they came out at night and like ran the school. Um, and then, this one day, like after all these stories that we had like, you know, we were sharing them. This one day, this giant wheelbarrow like appeared on the lawn. We don’t know where it came from. And we assumed that the house was abandoned, ya know, we don’t really believe that like wild dogs ran it. So we were so confused as to what happened to it. You know, like who brought the wheelbarrow in, why they put it there, what was in it – that was the biggest question. So more rumors spread, you know, like that the old man was getting ready to go on some hunt or like harvest and he was going to put all his reapings in the wheelbarrow whether that be human heads, or like, wheat, or whatever it would be. *laughs* So, we got really excited, even though we were scared, you know. Um, and like our imaginations were just runnin’ wild. This wheelbarrow, this simple wheelbarrow like had caused all this, right. And I hadn’t thought of this before, but I just asked my mom like if she knew who lived in the house. And she was like “Oh yeah, um, the person that lived there was really old and he passed away but his daughter owns it now and they’re gonna renovate it. And they were just, they’re clearing out the house.” Something really simple and boring. And it just goes to show that your imagination is always better than reality.”

This story would be performed when sharing tales of childhood and stories about things out of the ordinary.


As children, we are most often taught that things that are different are bad. Seeing a house that was out of the ordinary did not fit into the schema of my informant and her friends of their neighborhood. Therefore, they assigned bizarre tales to this house and theorized as to why it was so different. In the end, she realized that it really was not that different at all.