Three Finger Joe

Subject: Retelling of a Camp Legend


Informant: Lauren Herring


Background Information/Context: Camp Mystic is an all-girls camp in Hunt, Texas. It was founded in 1926 by a coach at the University of Texas, and it is still an incredibly popular camp today. In fact, the camp is so popular that in order to enroll, your parents have to call the head of the camp and ask to put you down on the wait list no longer than a few weeks after you are born. Ideally, a spot would clear up for you by the time you are the age they accept campers, but this is not always the case. Lauren Herring, from Houston, Texas, was lucky enough to get off the wait list, and has been attending Camp Mystic since for twelve years–the past two years as a camp counselor. So Camp Mystic has been a huge part of her childhood, as she has spent each of these past twelve years attending the camp for one month during the summer. I asked her if she ever had any ghost stories or heard any legends from Camp Mystic, and this was her response:


“I don’t know who started this story, but it’s kind of always been a big thing at Mystic. So there’s this little shed near Chatter Box, which is one of the cabins. You live in Chatter Box your third year. And there’s this random little shed with a lock on it right next to Chatter Box, and no one knew what it was for, not even the counselors. It was kind of just there. And it was scary looking, like really old and falling down and stuff.


So there was a story that there was a man that lived in it, and at night he would come into Chatter Box and scratch your back, but he only had three fingers. You knew he had come into your cabin that night if someone woke up with three scratches on their back.


His name was Three Finger Joe. We were all really scared and paranoid, because we were like nine and really completely believed it. And I think some of us would lie for attention or to mess with the rest of us or whatever because people would wake up and be like, ‘Oh my God, I have three fingered scratches on my back!’”


I loved hearing this story from Lauren because it reminded me of when I was younger and would listen to similar stories at the camps that I would go to. Growing up, I loved hearing ghost stories, and this one really took me back. I could tell when Lauren was recounting the memory to me that she enjoyed this kind of reminiscing as well.