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The James T. Callow Folklore Archive

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(A FRATERNITY INDUCTION)

OUT IN THE SOUTHWEST THERE IS A VERY LONELY AND DESERTED
SECTION OF DESERT, WHERE THE ONLY SIGN OF CIVILIZATION
IS A TWO LANE ROAD. THE ONLY TRAFFIC ON THIS OLD ROAD
IS A SINGLE BUS WHICH CARRIES INDIANS TO PHOENIX,
ARIZONA FROM THEIR RESERVATION. ON A VERY DARK,
MOONLESS NIGHT, THE BUS WAS ON ITS WAY WITH ONLY TWO
PASSENGERS, AN OLD INDIAN WOMAN (WHO WAS SLEEPING) AND
HER DEAF HUSBAND. ALL OF A SUDDEN IN THE MIDDLE OF THE
ROAD, A LIGHT APPEARED. THE DRIVER SLOWED DOWN THE BUS,
AND SAW AN OLD MAN IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD. THE MAN
ASKED THE DRIVER IF HE COULD HAVE A RIDE, BUT SAID THAT
HE HAD NO MONEY. THE DRIVER ADMITTED THAT HE SOULDN'T
ALLOW IT, BUT THAT SINCE THE RIDE WAS SO LONG AND SO
LONELY, IT WOULD BE NICE IF HE HAD SOMEONE TO ACCOMPANY
HIM, AND TO TALK TO HIM. THE STRANGER THANKED THE DRIVER
AND GOT ABOARD THE BUS. THE DRIVER THEN ASKED THE
STRANGER WHERE HE HAD COME FROM AND THE STRANGER SAID
THAT IT WAS A RATHER LONG STORY. THE DRIVER ACKNOWLEDGED
THAT HE HAD PLENTY OF TIME AND THE STRANGER BEGAN.
AT THIS POINT THE STORY SHIFTS TO A FIRST PERSON
NARRATIVE.
I WAS BORN THE SON OF VERY WEALTHY PARENTS, AND I ATTENDED
ALL THE BEST SCHOOLS. WHEN IT WAS TIME TO GO TO COLLEGE
THERE WAS NO DOUBT AS TO WHERE I WOULD ATTEND, ONLY THE
BEST OF THE EVY LEAGUE WAS GOOD ENOUGH. WHEN I WAS READY
TO JOIN A FRATERNITY, AGAIN ONLY THE BEST, THE ONE WHICH
FAMILY TRADITION DICTATED. THE FRATERNITY WAS SMALL,
BEING LIMITED TO ONLY THE TOP MEN FROM OUR SCHOOL.
PLEDGE TIME CAME, MY SECOND YEAR IN THE FRATERNITY,
AND I HELPED CHOOSE THE THREE NEW PLEDGES, ONE, THE
BEST ENGINEER IN THE SCHOOL; ONE, THE BEST FOOTBALL
PLAYER; AND, ONE, THE BEST MUSICIAN IN THE BAND.
WHEN TIME CAME FOR THEIR FINAL TEST, THE MEN WERE TAKEN
OUT TO AN OLD DESERTED HOUSE WHICH HAD THREE FLOORS.
EACH MAN WAS GIVEN THREE KITCHEN MATCHES, A PENCIL AND A
NOTEBOOK. EACH MAN WAS TOLD TO GO INTO THE HOUSE, LIGHT
ONE MATCH, LOOK AROUND, WRITE DOWN EVERYTHING HE SAW, AND
THEN CLIMB TO THE NEXT FLOOR AND REPEAT THE PROCESS.
THE MUSICIAN WENT INTO THE HOUSE. A FAINT GLOW CAME FROM
THE WINDOWS OF THE FIRST STORY. IT SOON DIED OUT AND HE
COULD BE HEARD FUMBLING UP THE STAIRS TO THE SECOND STORY.
AGAIN THE FAINT GLOW, AND AGAIN THE FUMBLING AS HE
ASCENDED TO THE THIRD STORY. SUDDENLY THERE WAS A
BLINDING FLASH OF LIGHT FROM THE THIRD STORY OF THE HOUSE,
LIKE A THOUSAND FLASHBULBS AT ONCE. THEY (SWITCH BACK TO
IMPERSONAL) FIGURED IT WAS A PLEDGE PRANK, BUT THE OTHER
PLEDGES INSISTED IT WASN'T AND VOLUNTEERED TO GO IN AND
GET THE OTHER PLEDGE BACK OUTSIDE. THEY AGREED AND LET
THE ENGINEER GO IN AFTER HIM. THE SAME LIGHT GLOWED AS
AS HE WENT INTO THE FIRST STORY, AS HIS MATCH DIED OUT, HE
WAS HEARD GOING UP THE CREAKING STAIRS, AGAIN THE FAINT
GLOW, AND AGAIN THE CREAKING STAIRS TO THE THIRD FLOOR.
ONCE MORE THERE WAS THE SAME BLINDING FLASH. THE FOOTBALL
PLAYER SWORE THAT HE KNEW NOTHING ABOUT IT AND VOWED HE WOULD
BRING THE OTHERS BACK OUT. THIS TIME HE DIDN'T BOTHER
WITH THE MATCHES, HE WENT RIGHT UP THE STAIRS TO THE THIRD
STORY. THE BLINDING FLASH OF LIGHT EXPLODED ONCE MORE. THE
MEMBERS WERE AWESTRUCK. THEY ALL SCATTERED AND FINALLY
REGROUPED THE NEXT MORNING. IN THE LIGHT OF MORNING THEY
ALL FELT MORE AT EASE AND DECIDED TO RETURN TO THE HOUSE.
ON THE FIRST STORY, THEY SAW THE FOOTPRINTS LEFT BY THE
PLEDGES IN THE DUST. THE SAME WAS TRUE ON THE SECOND
STORY, BUT ON THE THIRD STORY THE DUST WAS UNMOVED, BUT IN
THE MIDDLE OF THE FLOOR THERE BRAND NEW AXES WERE STUCK INTO
THE WOOD, AND ALL THREE WERE COVERED BY BLOOD. THE
FRATERNITY WAS DISSOLVED, OF COURSE, AND FEW OF THE
MEMBERS WERE GRADUATED. AS A MATTER OF FACT, ALMOST ALL
OF THE MEMBERS HAVE BEEN REPORTED TO HAVE GONE MAD AND
MURDERED PEOPLE, BUT IT MUST BE REMEMBERED THAT THEY HAVE
DONE THIS ONLY ON THE ANNIVERSARY OF THE OCCURRENCE,
WHICH HAPPENS TO BE TONIGHT, AND I AM THE LAST--
(AT ANY POINT NEAR THE END OF THIS, THE TELLER OF THE
STORY STARTS GETTING CLOSER TO ANY LISTENER WHO APPEARS
DEEPLY ENGROSSED, AND FINALLY, AT THE END HE LEAPS TOWARD
THAT LISTENER).

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT ; DOWNTOWN ; MAIN OFFICE ; NATIONAL BANK

Subject headings: PROSE NARRATIVE -- Formula tale

Date learned: 06-00-1968

View just this record

(A FRATERNITY INDUCTION)

OUT IN THE SOUTHWEST THERE IS A VERY LONELY AND DESERTED
SECTION OF DESERT, WHERE THE ONLY SIGN OF CIVILIZATION
IS A TWO LANE ROAD. THE ONLY TRAFFIC ON THIS OLD ROAD
IS A SINGLE BUS WHICH CARRIES INDIANS TO PHOENIX,
ARIZONA FROM THEIR RESERVATION. ON A VERY DARK,
MOONLESS NIGHT, THE BUS WAS ON ITS WAY WITH ONLY TWO
PASSENGERS, AN OLD INDIAN WOMAN (WHO WAS SLEEPING) AND
HER DEAF HUSBAND. ALL OF A SUDDEN IN THE MIDDLE OF THE
ROAD, A LIGHT APPEARED. THE DRIVER SLOWED DOWN THE BUS,
AND SAW AN OLD MAN IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD. THE MAN
ASKED THE DRIVER IF HE COULD HAVE A RIDE, BUT SAID THAT
HE HAD NO MONEY. THE DRIVER ADMITTED THAT HE SOULDN'T
ALLOW IT, BUT THAT SINCE THE RIDE WAS SO LONG AND SO
LONELY, IT WOULD BE NICE IF HE HAD SOMEONE TO ACCOMPANY
HIM, AND TO TALK TO HIM. THE STRANGER THANKED THE DRIVER
AND GOT ABOARD THE BUS. THE DRIVER THEN ASKED THE
STRANGER WHERE HE HAD COME FROM AND THE STRANGER SAID
THAT IT WAS A RATHER LONG STORY. THE DRIVER ACKNOWLEDGED
THAT HE HAD PLENTY OF TIME AND THE STRANGER BEGAN.
AT THIS POINT THE STORY SHIFTS TO A FIRST PERSON
NARRATIVE.
I WAS BORN THE SON OF VERY WEALTHY PARENTS, AND I ATTENDED
ALL THE BEST SCHOOLS. WHEN IT WAS TIME TO GO TO COLLEGE
THERE WAS NO DOUBT AS TO WHERE I WOULD ATTEND, ONLY THE
BEST OF THE EVY LEAGUE WAS GOOD ENOUGH. WHEN I WAS READY
TO JOIN A FRATERNITY, AGAIN ONLY THE BEST, THE ONE WHICH
FAMILY TRADITION DICTATED. THE FRATERNITY WAS SMALL,
BEING LIMITED TO ONLY THE TOP MEN FROM OUR SCHOOL.
PLEDGE TIME CAME, MY SECOND YEAR IN THE FRATERNITY,
AND I HELPED CHOOSE THE THREE NEW PLEDGES, ONE, THE
BEST ENGINEER IN THE SCHOOL; ONE, THE BEST FOOTBALL
PLAYER; AND, ONE, THE BEST MUSICIAN IN THE BAND.
WHEN TIME CAME FOR THEIR FINAL TEST, THE MEN WERE TAKEN
OUT TO AN OLD DESERTED HOUSE WHICH HAD THREE FLOORS.
EACH MAN WAS GIVEN THREE KITCHEN MATCHES, A PENCIL AND A
NOTEBOOK. EACH MAN WAS TOLD TO GO INTO THE HOUSE, LIGHT
ONE MATCH, LOOK AROUND, WRITE DOWN EVERYTHING HE SAW, AND
THEN CLIMB TO THE NEXT FLOOR AND REPEAT THE PROCESS.
THE MUSICIAN WENT INTO THE HOUSE. A FAINT GLOW CAME FROM
THE WINDOWS OF THE FIRST STORY. IT SOON DIED OUT AND HE
COULD BE HEARD FUMBLING UP THE STAIRS TO THE SECOND STORY.
AGAIN THE FAINT GLOW, AND AGAIN THE FUMBLING AS HE
ASCENDED TO THE THIRD STORY. SUDDENLY THERE WAS A
BLINDING FLASH OF LIGHT FROM THE THIRD STORY OF THE HOUSE,
LIKE A THOUSAND FLASHBULBS AT ONCE. THEY (SWITCH BACK TO
IMPERSONAL) FIGURED IT WAS A PLEDGE PRANK, BUT THE OTHER
PLEDGES INSISTED IT WASN'T AND VOLUNTEERED TO GO IN AND
GET THE OTHER PLEDGE BACK OUTSIDE. THEY AGREED AND LET
THE ENGINEER GO IN AFTER HIM. THE SAME LIGHT GLOWED AS
AS HE WENT INTO THE FIRST STORY, AS HIS MATCH DIED OUT, HE
WAS HEARD GOING UP THE CREAKING STAIRS, AGAIN THE FAINT
GLOW, AND AGAIN THE CREAKING STAIRS TO THE THIRD FLOOR.
ONCE MORE THERE WAS THE SAME BLINDING FLASH. THE FOOTBALL
PLAYER SWORE THAT HE KNEW NOTHING ABOUT IT AND VOWED HE WOULD
BRING THE OTHERS BACK OUT. THIS TIME HE DIDN'T BOTHER
WITH THE MATCHES, HE WENT RIGHT UP THE STAIRS TO THE THIRD
STORY. THE BLINDING FLASH OF LIGHT EXPLODED ONCE MORE. THE
MEMBERS WERE AWESTRUCK. THEY ALL SCATTERED AND FINALLY
REGROUPED THE NEXT MORNING. IN THE LIGHT OF MORNING THEY
ALL FELT MORE AT EASE AND DECIDED TO RETURN TO THE HOUSE.
ON THE FIRST STORY, THEY SAW THE FOOTPRINTS LEFT BY THE
PLEDGES IN THE DUST. THE SAME WAS TRUE ON THE SECOND
STORY, BUT ON THE THIRD STORY THE DUST WAS UNMOVED, BUT IN
THE MIDDLE OF THE FLOOR THERE BRAND NEW AXES WERE STUCK INTO
THE WOOD, AND ALL THREE WERE COVERED BY BLOOD. THE
FRATERNITY WAS DISSOLVED, OF COURSE, AND FEW OF THE
MEMBERS WERE GRADUATED. AS A MATTER OF FACT, ALMOST ALL
OF THE MEMBERS HAVE BEEN REPORTED TO HAVE GONE MAD AND
MURDERED PEOPLE, BUT IT MUST BE REMEMBERED THAT THEY HAVE
DONE THIS ONLY ON THE ANNIVERSARY OF THE OCCURRENCE,
WHICH HAPPENS TO BE TONIGHT, AND I AM THE LAST--
(AT ANY POINT NEAR THE END OF THIS, THE TELLER OF THE
STORY STARTS GETTING CLOSER TO ANY LISTENER WHO APPEARS
DEEPLY ENGROSSED, AND FINALLY, AT THE END HE LEAPS TOWARD
THAT LISTENER).

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT ; DOWNTOWN ; MAIN OFFICE ; NATIONAL BANK

Subject headings: PROSE NARRATIVE -- Formula tale

Date learned: 06-00-1968

View just this record

showing 2 items

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