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The James T. Callow Folklore Archive

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SOLDIERS IN A FOXHOLE

IT IS BAD LUCK TO LIGHT THREE CIGARETTES ON THE SAME MATCH. THIS
STORY GOES BACK TO A WAR IN WHICH THREE MEN WERE IN A FOXHOLE.
THEY ALL WANTED A CIGARETTE. IT WAS AT NIGHT AND BY THE TIME
THE SOLDIER HAD LIT THE FIRST MAN'S CIGARETTE, THE ENEMY HAD
COCKED HIS RIFLE; BY THE TIME HE HAD LIT THE SECOND ONE, THE
ENEMY HAD AIMED HIS RIFLE; AND BY THE TIME HE WAS LIGHTING
HIS OWN, THE ENEMY SHOT HIM DEAD.

Submitter comment: INFORMANT HEARD THIS FROM HIS FATHER.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; UNIVERSITY OF DETROIT ; DETROIT

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Legend

Date learned: 10-16-1967

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HUNCHBACK

RUB A HUNCHBACK'S BACK FOR GOOD LUCK.

Submitter comment: INFORMANT HAD KNOWN THIS.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; BIRMINGHAM

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Legend

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FROGS CROAKING

THE CROAKING OF FROGS BRINGS RAIN.

Submitter comment: FROM A BOOK.

Where learned: NOT GIVEN

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Legend

Date learned: 10-30-1967

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DEATHS IN THREE

MR. LEHR'S FAMILY BELIEVES THAT WHEN ONE PERSON DIES IN A FAMILY
THEN THERE WILL BE TWO MORE DEATHS WITHIN SHORT SUCCESSION, IN
THE SAME RELATION. DEATH ALWAYS TRAVELS IN THREE.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; WARREN

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Legend

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CRYING ON ONE'S WEDDING DAY

IF A PERSON CRYS ON THEIR WEDDING DAY THEN THEY WILL CRY AT LEAST
A LITTLE EVERY DAY OF THEIR MARRIED LIFE.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; WARREN

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Legend

Date learned: 01-24-1967

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FORETELLING VISITORS

IF A PERSON DROPS A KNIFE, THEN A MALE VISITOR IS COMING. IF ONE
DROPS A FORK, THEN A WOMAN IS COMING, AND IF A SPOON IS DROPPED,
THEN A CHILD IS COMING.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; WARREN

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Legend

Date learned: 01-24-1967

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MOANING OAKS

THESE TREES ARE ON THE TOP OF A HILL IN BETWEEN TWO KNOLLS, AND
AS THE WIND BLOWS THROUGH THEM YOU CAN HEAR A HUMAN MOAN. THE
LEGEND HAS IT THAT THE PLACE IS HAUNTED BY THE SPIRITS OF SOME
INDIAN WOMEN. IN AMONGST THE TREES THERE IS A SMALL HOLE THAT
LEADS TO AN UNDERGROUND CAVE THAT THE INDIANS USED TO MAKE THEIR
ARROW HEADS IN. THE WOMEN WOULD GO INTO THE CAVE AFTER SUNSET TO
MANUFACTURE THE ARROW HEADS. ON ONE SUCH NIGHT A HOSTILE TRIBE
CAME WHILE THE MEN OF THE VILLAGE WERE OUT HUNTING AND BARRIED
THE WOMEN ALIVE. THE WOMEN NEVER WERE FOUND AND ARE SUPPOSEDLY
STILL THERE.

Submitter comment: I HAVE ACTUALLY SEEN THE CAVE AND THE ANCIENT ARROW HEADS THAT
HAVE BEEN FOUND DOWN IN THE CAVE. ALTHOUGH THE TREES DO MAKE A
LOUD NOISE WHEN THE WIND IS BLOWING, IT DID NOT SOUND LIKE MOANING
TO ME.

Where learned: MISSOURI ; SAINT LOUIS

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Legend

Date learned: 00-00-1964

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THE HAUNTED HOUSE

THERE IS A HAUNTED HOUSE ON EIGHT MILE ROAD AND JOHN R. HERE IN
DETROIT. APPARENTLY, AT TIMES WHEN THE OWNERS OF THE HOUSE GO OUT
AT NIGHT AND LEAVE ALL THE LIGHTS OFF, WHEN THEY RETURN THERE IS
A LIGHT ON IN THE ATTIC. WHEN THEY GO UP TO THE ATTIC TO TURN THE
LIGHT OFF, BY THE TIME THEY GET UPSTAIRS, SOMEONE HAS ALREADY
TURNED IT OFF. THEY ALSO FIND CIGARETTE BUTTS ON THE FLOOR IN THE
ATTIC AND ALSO SIGNS OF SOMEONE LIVING UP THERE. TOO, THERE IS A
BIBLE IN THE ROOM AND IT IS ALWAYS TURNED TO THE SAME PAGE IN A
CERTAIN CHAPTER. BUT STILL THEY HAVE NEVER SEEN ANYONE ELSE IN
THE HOUSE.

Submitter comment: MR. PLASKIE CLAIMS THAT HE HAS SEEN THIS HOUSE BUT THAT SINCE
THEN, IT HAS BEEN CONDEMNED AND NO LONGER STANDS.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Legend

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A MATCH LEGEND

THE THIRD PERSON TO TAKE A LIGHT OF A CIGARETTE FROM A MATCH WILL
DIE. THIS SUPERSTITION AROSE IN W.W. II WHEN SOLDIERS IN FOX
HOLES BECAME AFRAID OF A NEW TYPE OF MISSILE THAT WAS ATTRACTED BY
HEAT. THEY SUPPOSED THAT BY THE THIRD CIGARETTE ENOUGH HEAT
WOULD HAVE BEEN GIVEN OFF TO ATTRACT A MISSILE AND KILL THEM.

Submitter comment: INFORMANT LEARNED THIS FROM A HISTORY TEACHER IN SCHOOL.

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Legend

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TALE

WHILE IN HIGH SCHOOL I HEARD THIS SAME STORY SEVERAL TIMES. THE
MOST DISTINCT VERSION I CAN REMEMBER IS ONE THAT CONCERNED A
YOUNG MAN AND A NEW THUNDERBIRD. HE HAD GONE HUNTING UP NORTH,
HAD FALLEN ASLEEP, WENT OFF THE ROAD AND WAS KILLED. IT WAS
SEVERAL WEEKS BEFORE THEY FOUND THE CAR WITH THE BODY IN IT, AND
BY THAT TIME THE SMELL WAS UNBEARABLE. THIS ALMOST BRAND NEW
CAR WAS FOR SALE FOR $25 BECAUSE NOTHING COULD REMOVE THE UNBEAR-
ABLE SMELL. OTHER PEOPLE HAD BOUGHT SIMILAR CARS AND EVEN THOUGH
THEY REUPHOLSTER AND FUMIGATE, THE SMELL WAS RIGHT IN THE METAL
AND NOTHING COULD GET IT OUT.

Submitter comment: THE INFORMANT AND DATE ARE UNKNOWN WITH MUCH ACCURACY BUT IT WAS
AT THE UNIVERSITY OF DETROIT HIGH SCHOOL AND IT WAS IN 1959.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT ; UNIVERSITY OF DETROIT HIGH SCHOOL

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Legend

Date learned: 00-00-1959

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NOT GIVEN

IF YOU DROP A DISH TOWEL YOU'LL HAVE A VISITOR.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; UNIVERSITY OF DETROIT ; DETROIT

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Legend

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NOT GIVEN

IF YOUR RIGHT HAND IS ITCHY YOU'RE GOING TO SHAKE HANDS.
IF YOUR LEFT HAND IS ITCHY, YOU'RE GOING TO GET MONEY.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; UNIVERSITY OF DETROIT ; DETROIT

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Legend

Date learned: 10-29-1967

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NOT GIVEN

THE COMMON DRAGONFLY WAS CALLED THE "FLYING SEWING NEEDLE" AND
THERE WAS A WIDESPREAD BELIEF AMONG THE YOUNG OF THE TOWN THAT
IF ONE CAUGHT YOU OFF YOUR GUARD, IT WOULD SEW UP YOUR LIPS AND
THEY WOULD STAY LIKE THAT FOREVER.

Where learned: NOT GIVEN

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Legend

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"GET RID OF THE COMPETITION!"

THE STORY USUALLY COMES TO THE FORE AS A RESULT OF A DISCUSSION OF
MONOPOLIES, GAS PLRICE WARS, BIG BUSINESS, AND BEGINS WITH "DID
YOU HEAR THAT . . ." OR "WELL, I KNOW FOR A FACT THAT . . ." AND
FOLLOW IT WITH:
"STANDARD OIL OF NEW JERSEY (OR SOME OTHER BIG OIL COMPANY) IS
BUYING UP THOSE CARBURETORS THAT USE LITTLE OR NO GAS." THE
INFORMANT (STORY RELATER) THEN PROCEEDS TO STATE "FACTS" ABOUT
THE INVENTION OF A CARBURETOR, AND HOW THE OIL COMPANIES ARE AFRAID
OF LOSING BUSINESS. THEY THEN TELL, VERY MATTER-OF-FACTEDLY, HOW
THE OIL COMPANIES ARE INDUCING THE INVENTOR TO SELL THEM THE
INVENTION FOR X NUMBER OF DOLLARS.

Submitter comment: THE INFORMANT TELLS OF HEARING THE FOLLOWING STORY A NUMBER OF
TIMES DURING HIS LIFE. HE HAS HEARD IT, EACH TIME VERY SERIOUSLY
RELATED, AS A TEEN (ABOUT 1943-46) AT THE NEIGHBORHOOD GAS
STATION, FROM FELOW STUDENTS (IN COLLEGE), AND ON MORE THAN ONE
OCCASION FROM STUDENTS IN HIS CAPACITY AS INSTRUCTOR AND
PROFESSOR (SINCE 1959).

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Legend

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WHY JEWS DON'T EAT PORK

WHEN JESUS WAS A YOUNG MAN HE WENT PLACES, HE LIKED CHILDREN AND
OLD PEOPLE. HE LIKED TO WATCH WEDDINGS AND MARKET PLACES. THE
JEWS HEARD OF JESUS AS A SMART MAN AND A GOOD DOCTOR. THEY HEARD
HE PERFORMED MIRACLES BUT NOT IN THIS CITY. SO THERE WAS A MARKET
PLACE WHERE THE FARMERS AND VILLAGERS BROUGHT THEIR WARES AND
WHATEVER THEY MADE OR GREW. THEY BROUGHT IT TO SELL.
THERE WAS A BASKET MAKER AND HE MADE SMALL BASKETS FOR MARKETING,
LARGER BASKETS TO STORE CLOTHES IN, AND SOME LARGE ONES THAT ONE
COULD SLEEP IN. AS HE TALKED WITH SOME BUYERS, SOMEONE SAID,
"OH! THERE COMES THE SMART MAN." THE BASKET MAKER ASKED, "IS
HE THE ONE THAT CAN TELL WHAT WILL OR CAN HAPPEN AT ANY TIME?" THE
BUYER SAID, "YES, THAT'S JESUS, THE PROPHET." THE JEW SAID, "I
SHALL SEE HOW SMART HE IS."
WITH THE JEW WAS HIS WIFE, WHO WAS PREGNANT, AND TWO CHILDREN. HE
TOLD HIS WIFE TO GET UNDER ONE OF THE BIG BASKETS. SHE DID.
WHEN JESUS CAME BY THE JEW, HE ASKED JESUS "I HEARD YOU ARE SUCH
A SMART MAN. IF YOU ARE, TELL ME WHAT HAVE I UNDER THE BASKET."
AND HE LAUGHED AND SHE GIGGLED UNDER THE BASKET. JESUS JUST
LOOKED AT THE JEW AND SAID, "YOU REALLY MEAN FOR ME TO TELL YOU
WHAT THERE IS UNDER THE BASKET?" IN THE MEANTIME THERE WERE A
LOT OF PEOPLE GATHERING TO HEAR JESUS TALK. THE JEW SAID AGAIN,
"YES, IF YOU'RE SO SMART, TELL ME AND THESE PEOPLE WHAT HAVE I
UNDER THAT BASKET."
JESUS THEN LOOKED AT THE CROWD AND SAID, "UNDER THAT BASKET THERE
IS A PIG WITH HER LITTLE ONES." THEN THE JEW AND SOME OF HIS
FRIENDS BURST OUT LAUGHING, SAYING, "I TOLD YOU HE IS A FAKE."
THE JEW WAS SAYING THAT UNDER THE BASKET IS HIS WIFE. AS HE
LIFTED THE BASKET, THERE WAS A PIG WITH HER YOUNG ONES AND NOT
HIS WIFE. THE JEW PANICKED, CRIED AND CALLED, "JESUS, JESUS!"
BUT JESUS WAS NOT THERE. NO ONE SAW HIM LEAVE. SO FROM THEN ON
THE JEWS WILL NOT EAT PORK, FOR FEAR IT MIGHT BE ONE OF THEIR
AUNTS.

Submitter comment: TOLD TO ME WHEN I WAS BETWEEN 10-14 YEARS OLD. MY MOTHER HAD BEEN
TOLD THIS STORY BY HER MOTHER, POSSIBLY ABOUT 1910-1915. I'M SURE
THAT THIS WAS TOLD AS AN ABSOLUTE, NOT JUST A STORY. I DIDN'T
REMEMBER THE DETAILS, SO MY MOTHER WROTE DOWN THE STORY FOR ME
ON MAY 15, 1965.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT

Subject headings: Food Drink -- Meat Bred animal
BELIEF -- Legend

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LEGEND BELIEF

IN MY FAMILY, THERE HAS BEEN A LEGEND GOING FROM GENERATION TO
GENERATION. THIS LEGEND IS THAT IN THE YEAR 2000, THE WORLD WILL
COME TO AN END. I WAS TOLD THIS FROM MY UNCLE. I BELIEVED IT
THEN, BUT NOW I HAVE MY DOUBTS.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Creation and Order of Universe
BELIEF -- Legend

Date learned: 02-29-1972

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Entry filtered.

THE KLANS ORIGIN

Historical record from James Callow Folklore Archive.

THE ORIGINAL KLU KLUX KLAN WAS ORIGINATED BY COLONEL JOHN LESTER
TO ACT AS A VIGILANTE ORGANIZATION IN FIGHTING AGAINST THE LOOTING
AND RIOTING WHICH WAS OCCURRING AFTER THE CIVIL WAR. IT WAS FORMED
SOMEWHERE IN MISSISSIPPI, THE OPERATION NOT ONLY STOPPED THE
LAWLESSNESS, BUT IT WAS ALSO NOTICED THAT THE NEGROES WERE FEARFUL
OF THE HOODED RIDERS. ONE NIGHT, THEY RODE UP TO A NEGRO CABIN
AND CALLED OUT THE HEAD OF THE HOUSEHOLD. COLONEL LESTER MADE THE
NEGRO PROMISE NOT TO BOTHER WHITE FOLK, AND THAT HE MUST SHAKE
HANDS TO SEAL THE PACT. LESTER THEN REACHED OUT WITH A SKELETON
HAND AND SHOOK THE NEGROES. THE NEGRO RAN BACK INTO THE HOUSE.
SCARED OUT OF HIS WITS. THE WORD SPREAD, AND THE KLAN GREW FROM
THAT DAY INTO THE INFAMOUS ORGANIZATIONS WHICH HISTORY HAS
RECORDED.

Submitter comment:

THE INFORMANT GAINED HIS KNOWLEDGE FROM TRADITIONAL SOUTHERN
SOURCES. HE IS A NATIVE OF GEORGIA.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT

James Callow Keyword(s): INTIMIDATION ; RACISM ; SKELETON

Subject headings: PROSE NARRATIVE -- Outlaw Criminal Bandit Pirate
BELIEF -- Legend

Date learned: 07-23-1964

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BUTTERFLIES:

THE LORD HAD CLIPPED PIECES FROM EVERYTHING. THESE CLIPPINGS WERE
CALLED FLUTTER-BYS BY WHITE FOLKS. THESE FLUTTER-BYS GOT OVER TO OUR
PART OF THE WORLD AND WELL, YOU KNOW HOW US BLACK FOLKS ARE; WE
GOTTA' SAY THINGS OUR WAY OR DIE TRYING; SO WHEN WE LOOKED UP AND
SAW THESE THINGS COME FLOATING BY, WE HEARD WHITE FOLKS CALL 'EM
FLUTTER-BYS" AND WE FELL OUT LAUGHING. "FLUTTER-BYS! WHITE FOLKS PUT
THEIR TONGUES THROUGH ALL KINDS OF CHANGES TRYING TO TALK. FLUTTER-
BYS, NOW WHO COULD SAY THAT?" SO WE TURNED THAT THING AROUND AND
CALLED THEM BUTTERFLIES. THAT SOUNDED A WHOLE LOT BETTER; IT WAS
EASY ON THE TONGUE AND EASY ON THE EAR, AND THAT'S THE WAY THE WORDS
WERE 'SPOSED TO BE. BUTTERFLIES!

Submitter comment: THIS IS A VARIANT OF FLUTTER-BYS WHICH IS SEQENCE NUMBER 731772 - 2
IN MY COLLECTION.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT

Subject headings: Favorites
PROSE NARRATIVE -- Explanation of a name
PROSE NARRATIVE -- Tale
BELIEF -- Legend
SPEECH -- Group of Vowels and Consonants, and of Words

Date learned: 00-00-1950

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LEGEND

IT WAS LATE SUMMER AND IT WAS RAINING. MOTHER AND
FATHER WERE TRAVELING IN A WAGON ON A VISIT TO SOME NEIGHBORS.
ON THE ROADSIDE WAS A SMALL GOAT ALL WET AND SHIVERING. THEY
TOOK THE GOAT INTO THE WAGON THINKING THAT IT WOULD BE A
GOOD ASSET TO THEIR FARM, BUT SUDDENLY THEY WERE LOST AND THE
HORSES WERE SLOWING DOWN AND PANTING HEAVILY. ALL OF A SUDDEN
THE SMALL GOAT LEAPED UP AND OUT OF THE WAGON WITH A SHRIEK AND
RAN INTO THE WOODS. AT THE SAME TIME THE WAGON WAS BACK ON A
FAMILIAR ROAD. OBVIOUSLY THE GOAT HAD BEEN A DEVIL TRANSFORMED.

Submitter comment: THIS STORY WAS TOLD TO MY GRANDMOTHER BY HER MOTHER WHEN SHE
WAS ABOUT EIGHT YEARS OLD.

Where learned: HOME ; DETROIT

Subject headings: Favorites
PROSE NARRATIVE -- Devil Demon
BELIEF -- Legend

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WHITE HEATHER

THE CELTIC BARD OSSIAN HAD A DAUGHTER MALVINA WHO WAS FAIR AND
GENTLE. SHE WAS BETROTHED TO OSCAR, A WARRIOR.
ONCE IN THE GLORY OF AUTUMN, MALVINA AND HER FATHER WERE SITTING ON
THE MOOR'S EDGE TALKING OF OSCAR'S RETURN FROM WARLIKE EXPEDITION.
OVER THE HEATHER CAME LIMPING TO THEM A RAGGED MESSENGER.
WOUNDED AND WEARY HE KNELT BEFORE THEM. HOLDING OUT A SPRAY OF
PURPLE HEATHER TO MALVINA, HE TOLD HER THAT IT CAME FROM OSCAR AS
A LAST TOKEN OF HIS LOVE FOR HE WAS SLAIN IN BATTLE AND HIS
HENCHMEN HAD BARELY ESCAPED TO BRING THE NEWS.
AS MALVINA LISTENED, HER TEARS FELL ON THE PURPLE HEATHER WHICH
IMMEDIATELY BECAME WHITE.
AS SHE WANDERED OVER THE MOORS, HER TEARS OFTEN FELL UPON THE
CLUMPS OF PURPLE HEATHER WHICH IMMEDIATELY TURNED WHITE. THEN,
EVEN IN THE BITTERNESS OF HER OWN SORROW, MALVINA SAID
"ALTHOUGH IT IS THE SYMBOL OF MY SORROW, MAY THE WHITE HEATHER
BRING GOOD FORTUNE TO ALL WHO FIND IT".

Submitter comment: I RECEIVED THIS STORY FROM LESLIE WOODS, WHO HEARD THIS FROM
HER GRANDFATHER WHEN SHE WAS A LITTLE GIRL.
HER GRANDFATHER HEARD THIS STORY HIMSELF WHEN HE WAS A LITTLE
BOY IN ENGLAND AND PASSED IT ON.
THIS STORY HAS BEEN PASSED ON FROM GENERATION TO GENERATION, AND
WILL PROBABLY CONTINUE TO BE PASSED ON.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; Sterling Heights

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Legend

Date learned: 00-00-1975

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