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The James T. Callow Folklore Archive

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FOLK ETYMOLOGY: SHYSTER

THIS WORD IS THE CURRENT NAME OF AN UNSCRUPULOUS LAWYER. A
GERMAN LAWYER OF NEW YORK ONCE APPLIED FOR A WARRANT FOR A
CLIENT WHO HAD SLANDERED HIM BY CALLING HIM A VULGAR NAME
WHICH, AS PRONOUNCED BY THE LAWYER, SOUNDED LIKE SHYSTER.

Data entry tech comment:

Updated by TRD

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT

Keyword(s): Name calling ; SLANG ; Vulgar ; XX

Subject headings: CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Common law

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THE MOST SACRED TRADITION THE ITALIANS HAVE IS THE LAW OF SILENCE.
WHAT SOMEONE DOES NOT KNOW WILL NOT HURT THEM IS THEIR EXPLANATION.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DEARBORN

Subject headings: CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Common law

Date learned: 10-17-1972

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MARRIAGE CUSTOM

IF A COUPLE SAYS THEIR MARRIAGE VOWS BY THE LIGHT OF THE MOON, THE
VOWS ARE STILL BINDING, EVEN THOUGH A MINISTER ISN'T PRESENT.

Submitter comment: INFORMANT'S FATHER TOLD HER THIS.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; MONROE

Subject headings: CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Common law
BELIEF -- Moon
BELIEF -- Marriage

Date learned: 10-07-1972

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IF SOMEONE HAS MORE THAN I DO, ITS ALRIGHT FOR ME TO STEAL FROM HIM.

Submitter comment: THIS IS THE PHILOSOPHY OF THE THIEVE OF NAPLES, AND IS ACTUALLY
PRACTICED.

James Callow comment: THIEF THIEVES

Where learned: ITALY ; NAPLES

Subject headings: CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Common law
BELIEF -- Common law

Date learned: 11-04-1968

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COMMON LAW

DON'T BE TWO FACED.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; GROSSE POINTE WOODS

Subject headings: CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Common law

Date learned: 00-00-1972

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COMMON LAW

DON'T BE A TATTLE TALE

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; GROSSE POINTE WOODS

Subject headings: CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Common law

Date learned: 09-00-1972

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PROVERB

ALL IS FAIR IN LOVE AND WAR.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT

James Callow Keyword(s): RATIONALIZATION

Subject headings: CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Common law
PROVERB -- Proverbial Apothegm Maxim

Date learned: 03-09-1971

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KICKING A CAN

IF A KID FROM ALABAMA WAS ABLE TO KICK A CAN, STICK OR ANY OTHER
ABANDON(ED) OBJECT
FROM HIS FRONT YARD TO THE STORE OR ANY WHERE ELSE HIS
MOTHER OR FATHER WAS SENDING HIM THAT HE DIDN'T WANT TO GO THAT KID
WOULD NOT HAVE TO GO AGAIN THAT DAY.

Submitter comment: SAID BY BLACKS IN ALABAMA.
I CAN REMEMBER KICKING A TIN-CAN TO THE STORE IN ALABAMA BUT AT THE
TIME I DID NOT KNOW WHAT IT MEANT; HOWEVER, MOST OF THE KIDS WOULD
EITHER KICK AN OBJECT THERE AND BACK OR CARRY A STICK ABOUT THEIR OWN
HEIGHT TO THE STORE AND BACK IN THE AREA WHERE I LIVED.

Where learned: ALABAMA

Subject headings: CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Street Trip Relations between relatives, friends, host and guest Social class Rank
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Common law
BELIEF -- Street Trip Relations between relatives, friends, host and guest Social class Rank
BELIEF -- Common law
SPEECH -- Gesture

Date learned: 00-00-1960

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"BAR TIME" IS THE TIME ON CLOCKS IN BARS AND LOUNGES. IT IS ALWAYS
FAST, USUALLY TEN OR FIFTEEN MINUTES SO. THIS IS TO PROVIDE
INSURANCE THAT THE BARTENDER DOES NOT SERVE ANY DRINKS AFTER THE
TIME SPECIFIED BY THE LIQUOR LAWS OF THE LOCALE.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT ; PAT SULLIVANS TAVERN

James Callow Keyword(s): ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES

Subject headings: CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Entertainment Diversion
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Common law
BELIEF -- Measure of time WeekDayHour
SPEECH -- Vocabulary of Special Group

Date learned: 10-00-1975

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GENERAL FOLKLORE

A MAN IN ENGLAND IN THE 1500,S COULD BE CRUSHED TO DEATH BY BEING
PLACED BETWEEN TWO BOARDS WHICH WERE LOADED WITH STONES, FOR NOT
PLEADING GUILTY OR NOT GUILTY AT THE BAR IN THE COURTS. BECAUSE
THIS WOULD HOLD UP THE COURTS AND DELAY OTHER TRIALS.

Where learned: WORK

Keyword(s): PLEADING ENGLISH COURTS

Subject headings: CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Common law

Date learned: 11-00-1968

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IN NEW ORLEANS, THERE WAS AN UNWRITTEN RULE THAT IF YOU WENT OUT
ON A DATE AT NIGHT, YOU HAD TO BE BACK BY TWELVE O' CLOCK MIDNIGHT.

Submitter comment: MY MOTHER'S COUSIN WENT OUT ONCE ON A DATE AND CAME BACK FROM HER
DATE AFTER 12:00 A.M.. HER FATHER WOULD NOT LET HER IN THE HOUSE.
HE TOLD HER DATE TO TAKE HER BACK WHERE HE HAD HER. LUCKILY, THE
BOY MARRIED THE GIRL.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; SOUTHFIELD

Subject headings: CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Common law
BELIEF -- Marriage
BELIEF -- Measure of time WeekDayHour

Date learned: 01-00-1979

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DON'T MARRY A BROTHER OR SISTER OF A DEAD MATE. IF YOU DO THE
CHILDREN WILL BE BORN DEFORMED IN SOME WAY.

Submitter comment: MY GRANDMOTHER ALWAYS TOLD THIS TO HER CHILDREN AND WAS QUICK TO
POINT OUT EXAMPLES AMONG FRIENDS AND RELATIVES.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; SOUTHFIELD

Subject headings: CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Common law
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Marriage
BELIEF -- Physically handicapped Deformed
BELIEF -- Birth
BELIEF -- Means of Causing or Avoiding Illness

Date learned: 02-17-1979 ; 00-00-1949

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COMMON LAW

IF SOMETHING IS FOUND AND THERE IS NO SIGN OF THE
OWNER, ON OR NEAR THE THING, OR OBJECT, THERE IS A
LAW THAT SAYS, "FINDERS KEEPERS, LOSERS WEEPERS."

Submitter comment: I WAS TOLD THIS ABOUT 12-14 YEARS AGO, WHEN I WAS
IN GRAMMAR SCHOOL IN NEW YORK.

Where learned: NEW YORK ; PORT CHESTER

Subject headings: CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Common law

Date learned: NOT GIVEN

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COMMON LAW

ONE RULE EVERY FISHERMAN HAS, IS TO ADD TEN POUNDS TO THE
FISH HE CATCHES, KNOWING THAT WHEN HIS FRIEND TELLS
THE FISHING STORY, HE WILL SUBTRACT FIVE TO TEN POUNDS.

Where learned: UNIVERSITY OF DETROIT ; STUDENT UNION

Subject headings: CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Common law

Date learned: 10-22-1970

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COMMON LAW

ALL'S FAIR IN LOVE AND WAR.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; SOUTHFIELD

Subject headings: CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Common law

Date learned: NOT GIVEN

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STANDING FOR THE NATIONAL ANTHEM.

Submitter comment: LEARNED IT WHEN I SAW IT ON T.V. FOR A SPORTS EVENT.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT

Subject headings: CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Common law

Date learned: NOT GIVEN

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THE NATIVE ZULU TRIBE OF SOUTH AFRICA HAD A UNIQUE WAY OF
PUNISHING WRONGDOERS. THEY MADE THE PERSON BEND OVER, AND
SLOWLY HAMMERED RED HOT BAMBOO SKEWERS UP HIS RECTUM WITH A
KNOBBIE (CLUB). AFTER THIS, THEY HUNG HIM FROM A TREE TO
SUFFER TERRIBLY UNTIL HE DIED.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT

James Callow Keyword(s): CRIMINAL JUSTICE

Subject headings: CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Common law

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IN THE IBO TRIBE OF NIGERIA, WHENEVER A MAN COMMITS
AN ABOMINATION UNINTENTIONALLY, SUCH AS AN ACCIDENTAL
KILLING, HE AND HIS FAMILY MUST FLEE INTO EXILE TO
HIS MOTHER'S TRIBAL LAND BEFORE SUNRISE THE NEXT DAY.
AT THAT TIME, HIS FELLOW TRIBESMEN WILL DESTROY HIS
DWELLINGS AND REMAINING POSSESSIONS. NO HATRED IS INVOLVED
IN THIS; IT IS SIMPLY A WAY OF CLEANSING THE DESECRATED LAND.
THE FAMILY MUST REMAIN IN EXILE FOR SEVEN YEARS.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT

Subject headings: 686 Seven / Sevenths / Several
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Common law

Date learned: 11-13-1987

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Children's rule

If you have some candy or other good food and you don't
want to share, you have to anyway unless you shout
"Fan Dibs" (or "Fan Bites") before anyone asks for some.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT

Subject headings: CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Common law
SPEECH -- Formula

Date learned: 00001940CA

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When I was younger (approx. 5 years old) the kids in my
neighborhood would never knock on the door if they wanted you to
come out and play. Instead they would stand on the sidewalk in
front of your house and repeatedly call out your name. The
reason for doing this was because we were all afraid of our
friend's parents. This practice continued for years until I was
about 10 and we were finally all brave enough to knock on each
other's doors. We did notice, however, that the younger children
seemed to follow our tradition of calling out their friends to
play.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DEARBORN HEIGHTS

Subject headings: Favorites
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Home
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Street Trip Relations between relatives, friends, host and guest Social class Rank
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Common law
SPEECH -- Gesture

Date learned: 00-00-1974

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