Residence: New York City
Date of Performance/Collection: 02/14/20
Primary Language: English
Informant: “See that house right there?”
Informant: “Some guy killed his wife there and now it’s haunted. There have been like six people who have lived there since and they all sold the house within like three months of living there.”
Collector: “Do you know for sure that the guy killed his wife?”
Informant: “No but that’s what they told me.”
Context: Me and the informant were leaving a party at the informant’s friend’s apartment on Clinton Street in Brooklyn, NY. We passed a house with a For Sale sign a few doors down when the informant turned to me and told me the piece.
Background: The informant is a student in New York City. The legend was originally told to him the first time he passed the house while visiting a friend who lives a few doors down from the house. He views the story as making a street that would otherwise be forgotten or insignificant into one that is memorable and interesting.
Analysis: I enjoyed hearing the piece because it made the walk home much more interesting. It is common for people to invent stories when they notice police cars/commotion but are given no information as a way to trick themselves into feeling informed. I find this story to be an example of this. It is not conventional for many people to move in and out of a house in such an abbreviated period of time, leaving people searching for answers even more. This endows the house as a liminal space, one in which people are never fully settled, making it the perfect breeding ground for ghost stories and folklore more generally. It seems to function as a point of conversation and excitement for the informant and his friend group, coloring their everyday life without necessarily being considered dangerous or fear-inspiring.