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The James T. Callow Folklore Archive

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DON'T STEP ON A CRACK,
OR YOU'LL BREAK YOUR MOTHER'S BACK.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT

Subject headings: Ballad Song Dance Game Music Verse -- Belief Belief
BELIEF -- Means of Causing or Avoiding Illness

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BAD LUCK

STEP ON A CRACK
BREAK YOUR MOTHER'S BACK.

Submitter comment: THIS WAS A POPULAR BELIEF WHEN MY MOTHER WAS
LITTLE IN ST. CLAIR SHORES.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT ; SAINT CLAIR SHORES

Subject headings: Ballad Song Dance Game Music Verse -- Belief Belief
BELIEF -- Means of Causing or Avoiding Illness

Date learned: 11-00-1967

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STEP ON A CRACK
AND YOU'LL BREAK YOUR MOTHER'S BACK.

Submitter comment: LEARNED FROM SCHOOL FRIENDS.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT

Subject headings: Ballad Song Dance Game Music Verse -- Belief Belief
BELIEF -- Means of Causing or Avoiding Illness

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DON'T WALK ON A CRACK
OR YOU'LL BREAK YOUR MOTHER'S BACK.

Submitter comment: LEARNED FROM HER MOTHER.

Where learned: HOME

Subject headings: Ballad Song Dance Game Music Verse -- Belief Belief
BELIEF -- Means of Causing or Avoiding Illness

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"CHILLS" FORMULA

DOT DOT (INFORMANT GOES THROUGH THESE MOTIONS ON A
SUBJECT'S BACK WHILE SAYING THE WORDS.
LINE LINE
GREAT BIG QUESTION MARK
KNIFE IN YOUR BACK (HITTING THE SPINE HARD WITH FIST)
BLOOD TRICKLING DOWN (TRACES "BLOOD" WITH FINGERS)
HE THEN BLOWS ON THE SUBJECT'S NECK AT CLOSE RANGE
AND TICKLES IT WITH HIS FINGER, AND THEN SAYS:
ON A COLD WINTER'S NIGHT.
THIS RITUAL IS SUPPOSED TO GIVE THE SUBJECT CHILLS,
AND IT ACTUALLY DID WHEN I WITNESSED IT.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; HUNTINGTON WOODS

Subject headings: Ballad Song Dance Game Music Verse -- Athletic sport and exercise Gymnastics
BELIEF -- Means of Causing or Avoiding Illness

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FRENCH CUSTOM

ON NEW YEAR'S EVE BEFORE GOING OUT TO CELEBRATE, YOU SHOULD EAT
MEAT PIE (WHICH IS MADE OF GROUND PORK SHOULDER, SALT AND PEPPER)
TO GREASE YOUR STOMACH. THIS PREVENTS ONE FROM GETTING DRUNK AND
BECOMING SICK.

Submitter comment: LEARNED FROM MY MOTHER.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT

Subject headings: CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- December 31 New Year's Eve
Food Drink -- Typical menus for the various meals For meal hours, see F574.84. Special or festive meals
BELIEF -- Means of Causing or Avoiding Illness

Date learned: 03-20-1967

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BLACK TAR FOR TEETH

WE USED TO CHEW BLACK TAR BECAUSE THEY SAID IT WAS GOOD FOR OUR
TEETH.

Submitter comment: LEARNED FROM FAMILY AND FRIENDS.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT

Subject headings: Food Drink -- Special Form and PurposeObject of Bodily Consumption
BELIEF -- Means of Causing or Avoiding Illness

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RAW EGGS FOR STRENGTH

MY MOTHER ALWAYS ATE RAW EGGS FOR STRENGTH.

Submitter comment: COMMON BELIEF; NOT FOLLOWED TODAY.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT

Subject headings: Food Drink -- Manner of preparation
Food Drink -- Animal product Egg
BELIEF -- Means of Causing or Avoiding Illness

Date learned: 04-15-1967

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WINE AND BLOOD

MY MOTHER ALWAYS DRANK WINE TO ENRICH HER BLOOD.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT

Subject headings: Food Drink -- Alcoholic beverage Fermented
BELIEF -- Means of Causing or Avoiding Illness

Date learned: 04-15-1967

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RAW IS HEALTHY

WE ATE RAW LIVER AND RAW LAMB BECAUSE WHEN IT WAS BLOODY, THEY
CONSIDERED IT MORE HEALTHY.

Submitter comment: LEARNED IT FROM HER MOTHER.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT

Subject headings: Food Drink -- Manner of preparation
BELIEF -- Means of Causing or Avoiding Illness

Date learned: 04-15-1967

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WART SUPERSTITION

WARTS ARE CAUSED BY TOUCHING TOADS.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Mammal
BELIEF -- Means of Causing or Avoiding Illness

Date learned: 11-29-1967

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STYE SUPERSTITION

A STYE OR INFECTION IN YOUR EYE IS CAUSED BY A SPIDER PEEING IN
YOUR EYE.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT

James Callow Keyword(s): URINATION

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Body part Senses
BELIEF -- Insect
BELIEF -- Means of Causing or Avoiding Illness

Date learned: 11-29-1967

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ITALIAN CUSTOM

ITALIANS OFTEN PIERCED THEIR CHILDREN'S EARS, BELIEVING THAT IT
WAS GOOD FOR THEIR EYES. GOLD HOOPS WERE USED AS EARRINGS.

Submitter comment: TOLD TO HER BY HER MOTHER.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT

James Callow Keyword(s): HIDDEN CONNECTION

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Body part Senses
BELIEF -- Means of Causing or Avoiding Illness

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MENSTRUATION SUPERSTITION

NEVER HAVE A TOOTH FILLED DURING MENSTRUATION OR IT WILL FALL OUT.

Submitter comment: SOURCE NOT REMEMBERED.

Where learned: NEW YORK ; JAMAICA

James Callow Keyword(s): DENTISTRY

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Body part Senses
BELIEF -- Means of Causing or Avoiding Illness
BELIEF -- Method of Curing

Date learned: 12-24-1963

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COINS AT THE STEP OF THE MAST

THE CUSTOM OF PLACING A COIN OR COINS AT THE HEEL OF THE MASTS
SEEMS TO HAVE A DOUBLE PURPOSE. IN ANTIQUITY IT WAS TO PAY THE
FARES OF THE CREW ACROSS THE RIVER STYX IF THE SHIP SHOULD BE LOST
AT SEA; MORE LATTERLY IT WAS DONE TO ASSURE GOOD FORTUNE. THE
COINS MUST BE PLACED FACE UP, FOR TO HAVE THEM FACE DOWN WOULD BE
TO INVITE DISASTER. EVEN TO THIS DAY THE OWNER OF A SMALL CRAFT
WILL SECRETE A COIN ABOARD, THE LOCATION, VALUE, AND DATE OF WHICH
ARE KNOWN TO HIM ALONE--THE KNOWLEDGE ENABLING HIM TO PROVE HIS
OWNERSHIP SHOULD IT EVER BE QUESTIONED.

Submitter comment: CAPTAIN LUMAS SAID THAT HE LEARNED OF THIS TRICK THE FIRST TIME
HE EVER OWNED A BOAT, WHICH WAS ABOUT FORTY YEARS AGO.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; MACKINAW ISLAND

James Callow Keyword(s): POSITION DIRECTION

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Product or activity of man or animal
BELIEF -- Custom
BELIEF -- Means of Causing or Avoiding Illness

Date learned: 09-00-1963

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EUCHARISTIC LORE

IF YOU GO TO COMMUNION WITHOUT THE RIGHT INTENTIONS THE HOST
WILL BURN YOUR TONGUE BADLY. THE REASON THAT PEOPLE DROP HOSTS
ON THE FLOOR IS BECAUSE IT BURNS SO BADLY.

Submitter comment: INFORMANT LEARNED THIS FROM A GRADE SCHOOL NUN.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Body part Senses
BELIEF -- Church
BELIEF -- Means of Causing or Avoiding Illness

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PREGNANCY EFFECTS

YOU LOSE A TOOTH FOR EVERY BABY THAT YOU HAVE.

Submitter comment: INFORMANT LEARNED THIS FROM HER MOTHER.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Body part Senses
BELIEF -- Birth
BELIEF -- Sign Color
BELIEF -- Means of Causing or Avoiding Illness

Date learned: 03-20-1967

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PREGNANCY EFFECTS

SOME WOMEN BELIEVE THAT A FALL OR AN ACCIDENT OR A BLOW ON THE
STOMACH WILL ALWAYS BRING A MISCARRIAGE TO A PREGNANT WOMAN.

Submitter comment: INFORMANT LEARNED THIS IN SCHOOL.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Birth
BELIEF -- Means of Causing or Avoiding Illness

Date learned: 03-20-1967

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BELIEF-HOME

DON'T TAKE A BATH DURING AN ELECTRICAL STORM FOR FEAR OF
ELECTROCUTION.

Submitter comment: LEARNED FROM HER MOTHER.

Where learned: INDIANA ; Hudson Lake

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Lightning Thunder
BELIEF -- Death Funeral Burial
BELIEF -- Means of Causing or Avoiding Illness

Date learned: 11-23-1967

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