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The James T. Callow Folklore Archive

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ITALIAN SUPERSTITION

ALL NEW BORN BABIES MUST IMMEDIATELY BE GIVEN A HORN-SHAPED
PIECE OF CORAL TO FASTEN TO THEIR UNDERSHIRTS. THIS WILL PROTECT
THEM FROM EVIL SPIRITS.

Submitter comment: LEARNED AS A YOUNG WOMAN LIVING IN ITALY.

Where learned: NEW YORK ; YONKERS

James Callow Keyword(s): AMULET

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Devil Demon
BELIEF -- Birth
BELIEF -- Sign Geometric figure

Date learned: 12-29-1963

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THE CROOKED TREE

WASHINGTON PARK IN CHEBOYGAN HOLDS A CURIOUSLY SHAPED RUSSET
TREE WHOSE HUGE LIMBS SPREAD DOWN TOWARD THE GROUND IN A SPIDER
FASHION. HOW IT GOT THIS SHAPE IS THE SUBJECT OF MANY STORIES
RANGING FROM A SIMPLE EXPLANATION OF BEING STRUCK BY LIGHTNING
TO BEING MISUSED BY A BLACKSMITH. THE LATTER TELLS OF A THOUGHT-
LESS BLACKSMITH WHO PILED HIS SCRAP METAL ON TOP OF THE TREE,
WHICH, IN ITS FIGHT FOR SURVIVAL, GREW ITS LIMBS WHEREVER THERE
WAS AN OPENING. CONSEQUENTLY THE TREE HAS ITS PRESENT PECULIAR
PATTERN.
ANOTHER "OLD TIMER" RUMOR ATTRIBUTES ITS SHAPE TO INDIANS WHO,
SEEKING A TRAIL GUIDE, BENT THE YOUNG TREE AS A MARK SHOWING A
TURN POINT IN AN IMPORTANT TRAIL.
WHICHEVER EXPLANATION IS TRUE, IT IS STILL A MYSTERY, BUT ONE
THAT IS OFTEN SPECULATED UPON BY NATIVE INHABITANTS.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; CHEBOYGAN

Subject headings: PROSE NARRATIVE -- Plant
BELIEF -- Sign Geometric figure

Date learned: 07-00-1964

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SPIRIT TABLE

AN INDIAN BELIEF- WE HAVE A TABLE THAT ATTRACTS DEAD SOULS, THERE ARE
MARKINGS ON IT WHICH SPIRITS USE TO COMMUNICATE WITH A MEDIUM.
HANDS ARE PLACED ON THE TABLE. A MEDIUM ISN'T NECESSARY, BUT
INFORMANT WAS AFRAID HIMSELF. SPIRITS ARE LIKE THE 5 ELEMENTS, FIRE
EARTH WATER WIND AND LIGHT-- LIKE VARIOUS GASES ALL WANDERING
AROUND ETERNALLY, LIKE THE ELEMENTS, IT IS POSSIBLE TO BRING
SOULS TO CAPTURE SOULS.

Submitter comment: SKETCH ON CARD IN ARCHIVE.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; ANN ARBOR

James Callow Keyword(s): NUMBEES

Subject headings: 686 Fifths
BELIEF -- Ghost Spirit Phantom Specter
BELIEF -- Custom
BELIEF -- Word Letter
BELIEF -- Sign Geometric figure
BELIEF -- Use of Object
SPEECH -- Extra Corporal Means of Communication

Date learned: 02-04-1968

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KEEPING AWAY EVIL

ITALIAN PEOPLE BELIEVE IN WEARING A HORN OR USING THE TWO FINGERED
HAND TO KEEP EVIL AWAY. SHE BELIEVES THAT THE CUSTOM IS NOT REALLY
FOLLOWED TODAY, ESPECIALLY IN THE U.S.

Submitter comment: SHE DELIVERED THIS ITEM TO ME IN A VERY OFF-HANDED MANNER. IT
APPEARS TO BE SOMETHING SHE WAS TOLD WHEN SHE WAS A LITTLE GIRL BUT
DOES NOT BELIEVE IN IT HERSELF.

Where learned: OHIO ; AKRON

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Sign Geometric figure
BELIEF -- Emblem
SPEECH -- Gesture

Date learned: 10-00-1976

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SPIRIT TABLE

THIS IS A BELIEF IN INDIA. WE HAVE ALSO A TABLE THAT ATTRACTS DEAD
SOULS. THERE ARE MARKINGS ON IT WHICH SPIRITS USE TO COMMUNICATE
WITH A MEDIUM. HANDS ARE USED, PLACED ON IT. IT IS NOT NECESSARY
TO HAVE A MEDIUM, I AM AFRAID MYSELF. SPIRITS ARE LIKE THE FIVE
ELEMENTS, FIRE, EARTH, AIR, WATER, LIGHT--LIKE
VARIOUS GASES ALL WANDERING
AROUND ETERNALLY, LIKE THE ELEMENTS, IT IS POSSIBLE TO BRING
SOULS TO CAPTURE SOULS.

Data entry tech comment:

Updated by TRD

Where learned: MICHIGAN

Keyword(s): BELIEF ; India ; souls ; SUPERSTITION

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Ghost Spirit Phantom Specter
BELIEF -- Word Letter
BELIEF -- Sign Geometric figure
BELIEF -- Use of Object

Date learned: 02-04-1968

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SUPERSTITION

WHEN I WAS YOUNGER I USED TO HAVE A GOOD-LUCK DOLL CALLED A WISH-NIK.
IT WAS SMALL, NEITHER MALE NOR FEMALE, WITH A TROLL'S FACE, AND IT
HAD LONG, BRIGHTLY COLORED HAIR. TO MAKE A WISH, YOU RUBBED ITS BELLY
OR STROKED ITS HAIR, WHILE THINKING OF WHAT YOU WANTED TO HAPPEN.
THE ORIGINAL WISH-NIKS HAD HORSESHOES STAMPED ON THE BOTTOM OF THEIR
FEET. WHEN THEY BECAME MORE COMMERCIALIZED, THEY STOPPED DOING THAT.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT ; COLLECTORS HOME

James Callow Keyword(s): AMULET

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Sign Geometric figure
BELIEF -- Good luck

Date learned: 03-00-1979

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WHILE PLAYING POOL, IF YOU LICK YOUR INDEX FINGER AND
DRAW AN IMAGINARY X OVER THE POCKET YOUR OPPONENT IS
TRYING TO SHOOT AT, THE BALL WILL NOT GO IN. THIS IS
CALLED A POOL HEX.

Where learned: MISSOURI ; DEXTER

Subject headings: Ballad Song Dance Game Music Verse -- Special Object or Implement
BELIEF -- Sign Geometric figure
BELIEF -- Good luck
SPEECH -- Gesture

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If you hang a horseshoe above your door for good luck, the
horseshoe legs must be pointed up. If the horseshoe legs are
pointed down, the luck will run out.

Where learned: OHIO ; TORONTO

James Callow Keyword(s): POSITION DIRECTION

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Sign Geometric figure
BELIEF -- Good luck
BELIEF -- Bad luck

Date learned: 00-00-1957

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WHEN BUILDINGS ARE CONSTRUCTED, A TIME CAPSULE CONTAINING
A NEWSPAPER, PICTURES, AND VARIOUS THINGS OF THE DAY
ARE PUT IN THE WALL OF THE BUILDING. IT IS USUALLY PUT
IN THE CORNER STONE.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT

Subject headings: 686 Properties attributed to specific numbers or numerals individually.
BELIEF -- Sign Geometric figure

Date learned: 11-18-1968

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SIGN OF BULL

ITALIANS BELIEVE THE SIGN OF THE BULL IS A GOOD LUCK SIGN

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; BIRMINGHAM

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Sign Geometric figure
BELIEF -- Good luck
BELIEF -- Good luck P881.3

Date learned: 11-09-1972

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STEPPING ON THE "M" ON THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN
DIAG IS BAD LUCK; YOU'LL FLUNK.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; GARDEN CITY

James Callow Keyword(s): SYMBOL

Subject headings: CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- School
BELIEF -- Sign Geometric figure
BELIEF -- Bad luck Activities

Date learned: NOT GIVEN

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IT IS BAD LUCK TO LEAVE THE BASEBALL BATS CROSSED
DURING A GAME. IT MEANS YOU WILL LOSE.

Submitter comment: INFORMANT HEARD THIS SUPERSTITION WHILE PLAYING
BASEBALL AS A BOY IN LESLIE, MICHIGAN.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; LESLIE

Subject headings: Ballad Song Dance Game Music Verse -- Athletic sport and exercise Gymnastics
BELIEF -- Sign Geometric figure
BELIEF -- Bad luck Games Pastimes Sports

Date learned: 02-27-1965

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THE KOREAN BRIDE WEARS THREE SMALL DABS OF RED ROUGE
ON HER FACE AS SYMBOLS OF HAPPINESS AND PROTECTION
FROM EVIL.

Data entry tech comment: DIAGRAM ON 5 X 8 CARD SHOWS A DOT ON THE FOREHEAD
REFERRED TO AS "GONGI" AND A DOT ON EACH CHEEK,
REFERRED TO AS "YUNGI."

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT ; KOREA ; SEOUL

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Sign Geometric figure

Date learned: NOT GIVEN

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INDIAN GOOD LUCK CHARM

THE SIGN OF A HEART IS A CHARM THAT WILL BRING
HEALTH, PROSPERITY AND LOVE TO THE BEARER.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Sign Geometric figure

Date learned: 02-29-1968

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IF YOU WALK AN INFANT AROUND THE DINING ROOM ON SUNDAY
DURING THE HIGH MASS, THE CHILD WILL BE ABLE TO
WALK SOONER.

Submitter comment: LEARNED AT HOME.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT

James Callow Keyword(s): EXERCISE

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Product or activity of man or animal
BELIEF -- Street Trip Relations between relatives, friends, host and guest Social class Rank
BELIEF -- Measure of time WeekDayHour
BELIEF -- Sign Geometric figure
BELIEF -- Means of Causing or Avoiding Illness

Date learned: 03-25-1967

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WATER-WITCHING--TWO HANGERS

IF YOU PUT TWO METAL CLOTHES HANGERS TOGETHER IN THE
SHAPE OF A Y, YOU CAN USE THIS TO FIND WATER.

Submitter comment: INFORMANT CLAIMED THAT HE USED THIS TO FIND WATER
AT HIS COTTAGE.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Water
BELIEF -- Sign Geometric figure

Date learned: 04-04-1970

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IF YOU SEE A GREY MARE, CLAP HANDS, LICK THUMB, AND MAKE AN "X" IN YOUR PALM WITH THAT THUMB.

Submitter comment:

COLLECTED IN HOME OF HELEN MIMS.

Where learned: TENNESSEE ; NASHVILLE

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Sign Geometric figure

Date learned: 07-15-1970

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NAIL A HORSESHOE OVER THE DOOR WITH THE CORKS POINTING
DOWN AND IT WILL BRING GOOD LUCK TO THE HOME.

Data entry tech comment: CORKS?

Where learned: TENNESSEE ; RED BOILING SPRINGS

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Home
BELIEF -- Sign Geometric figure
BELIEF -- Good luck Horseshoe

Date learned: 03-26-1972

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IT IS DANGEROUS TO STAND IN A SCREEN DOOR DURING A
THUNDERSTORM.

Where learned: PARIS ; TENNESSEE

Keyword(s): LIGHTNING

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Sign Geometric figure

Date learned: 06-16-1973

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AN OPAL LOSES BRILLIANCE WHEN THE WEARER IS ILL.

Data entry tech comment:

Updated by TRD

Where learned: TENNESSEE ; NASHVILLE

Keyword(s): BELIEF ; Brilliance ; Gem ; ILLNESS ; Opal

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Mineral
BELIEF -- Sign Geometric figure

Date learned: 10-13-1973

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