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The James T. Callow Folklore Archive

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UNIVERSITY BELIEF

THERE IS A TRADITION AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN THAT IF
YOU STEP ON THE "M" EMBLAZED IN THE CROSSROADS OF THE SCHOOL,
YOU WILL FLUNK YOUR NEXT EXAM.

Submitter comment:

WHEN A STUDENT AT U OF M, THE INFORMANT TRIED TO DISPROVE THE
TRADITION BY STEPPING ON THE "M" AFTER STUDYING FOR A TEST AND
FEELING FAIRLY CONFIDENT. SHE FAILED HER EXAM.

Data entry tech comment:

THERE IS ANOTHER LIKE THIS IN THE ARCHIVE

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; UNIVERSITY OF DETROIT ; HOLDEN HALL ; DETROIT

James Callow Keyword(s): EDUCATION ; SYMBOL ; WALKING PROHIBITION

Subject headings: Favorites
BELIEF -- School

Date learned: 12-01-1967

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OMEN

IF YOU DO NOT WORRY ABOUT A TEST YOU JUST TOOK, THEN THE
NEXT ONE WILL BE EVEN WORSE

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; ROYAL OAK

Subject headings: Observation
BELIEF -- School
BELIEF -- Number Emptiness, nothingness, zero

Date learned: 01-00-1979

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AT WEDDINGS OR OTHER FESTIVE CELEBRATIONS CONFETTI, A TYPE OF
ALMOND CANDY, SUGAR COATED IS USED TO DECORATE SWEET TRAYS. AT
WEDDINGS, THIS IS THROWN AT THE BRIDE AND GROOM AS GOOD LUCK.
FOR GRADUATION THE RED COLORED ONES ARE USED TO WARD OFF EVIL.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; UNIVERSITY OF DETROIT ; DETROIT ; CAMPUS

Subject headings: CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Marriage
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Typical Elements of a Festive Pattern
Food Drink -- Pastry Sweet Dessert
BELIEF -- School
BELIEF -- Color
BELIEF -- Good luck

Date learned: 02-26-1979

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MEDICAL SCHOOL LEGEND

THERE WAS THIS TEACHER AT JEFFERSON, HE MUST BE DEAD NOW, WHO WROTE
ON THE BLACKBOARD WITH BOTH HIS LEFT HAND AND HIS RIGHT HAND AT THE
SAME TIME. THE THINGS HE WROTE WOULD BE FROM TWO DIFFERENT TRAINS O
THOUGHT.

Submitter comment: STORY TOLD TO ME BY MY FATHER FROM WHEN HE WENT TO THOMAS JEFFERSON
MEDICAL SCHOOL IN PHILADELPHIA. THIS STORY IS TOLD IN COMPLETE
SERIOUSNESS BUT I DON'T BELIEVE A WORD OF IT.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; BLOOMFIELD HILLS

James Callow Keyword(s): AMBIDEXTERITY

Subject headings: Favorites
PROSE NARRATIVE -- Secular hero
PROSE NARRATIVE -- Body part Senses
BELIEF -- School

Date learned: 00-00-1936 ; 09-00-1979

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SUPERSTITION

IN MY GRADE SCHOOL, OUR LADY QUEEN OF APOSTLES, THE STUDENTS BELIEVE
THAT A BELL RUNG BY THE SISTER SUPERIOR INDICATED THAT THE SCHOOL WA SAFE
TO ENTER. THE BELL WAS RUNG AT FIRE DRILLS, AFTER RECESS AND AT MANY OTHER
TIMES. STUDENTS DID NOT HEED THE BELL IF IT WAS NOT RUNG BY THE SISTER
SUPERIOR. THE BELIEF PERSISTED EVEN TO MY BROTHER'S TIME AND THOUGH A
DIFFERENT BELL IS RUNG THESE DAYS BY A DIFFERENT SISTER SUPERIOR, IT IS
NEVERTHELESS THE SAME BELIEF. STUDENTS ONLY LISTEN T A CERTAIN BELL RUNG
BY A CERTAIN PERSON. SOME STUDENTS WENT SO FAR AS TO CLAIM THAT THE BELL
HAD MIRACULOUS POWERS IN AND OF ITSELF. THEY BELIEVED THAT THE MERE PRESENCE
OF THE BELL CONNOTED SAFETY AND THAT IT COULD BE USED TO WARD OFF EVIL. HENCE,
IT WAS SAID THAT THE SISTER SUPERIOR HAD LIVED FOR ONE HUNDRED YEARS MERELY
BECAUSE SHE KEPT THAT BELL WITH HER ALL HER LIFE. SOME EVEN SAID THAT IT WAS
ON THE DAY THAT SHE DIED, THAT THE BELL WAS FOUND MISSING. IT IS BELIEVED THAT
SHE TOOK THE BELL WITH HER TO THE GRAVE TO PROTECT HERSELF FROM THE DEVIL AND
TO TRAVEL SAFELY TO THE OTHER WORLD WHERE SHE WOULD EMBRACE ETERNAL LIFE.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; HAMTRAMCK

Subject headings: PROSE NARRATIVE -- Product or activity of man or animal
BELIEF -- Product or activity of man or animal
BELIEF -- School

Date learned: 00-00-1979

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EASTERN UNIVERSITY TOWER

AT EASTERN UNIVERSITY IF THE WATER TOWER DOESN'T CRUMBLE WHEN A
FRESHMAN WALKS BY THAT FRESHMAN WILL NOT GRADUATE A VIRGIN. LEGEND
HAS IT THAT WHEN IT DOES CRUMBLE IT WILL BE A MALE FRESHMAN WALKING
BY

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; UNIVERSITY OF DETROIT ; DETROIT ; RATHSKELLER

Keyword(s): HUMOR ; PREDICTION

Subject headings: PROSE NARRATIVE -- Still water Man made container. Well, pool....
BELIEF -- Product or activity of man or animal
BELIEF -- School

Date learned: 11-13-1968

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CHSEMM. STANDS FOR; COME HOLY SPIRIT, ENLIGHTEN MY MIND.

Submitter comment: INFORMANT WAS TAUGHT THIS IN HER PAROCHIAL GRADESCHOOL AND PUTS IT
AT THE TOP OF IMPORTANT EXAMS.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; SAINT CLAIR SHORES

James Callow Keyword(s): ACRONYM

Subject headings: BELIEF -- School
BELIEF -- Prayer

Date learned: CA00001977

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PRACTICAL JOKE AND PRANK

INCOMING FRESHMEN AT CABRINI HIGH SCHOOL (ALLEN PARK, MI.)
ARE THE BUTT
OF MANY PRACTICAL JOKES. ON THEIR FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL, SENIORS
HAVE THEM BUY ELEVATOR PASSES FOR FIVE DOLLARS. THEY EXPLAIN THAT
ONLY A CHOICE FEW ARE ISSUED THEM. HOWEVER, CABRINI DOES NOT HAVE
AN ELEVATOR AND THE FRESHMEN SOON DISCOVER THAT THEY WERE DUPED.
ANOTHER JOKE IS TO BAPTISE THE FRESHMEN BY PLACING THEIR HEADS
UNDERNEATH A RUNNING FAUCET.

Submitter comment: THE INFORMANT HEARD OF THESE ACADEME CUSTOMS IN 1970 AT CABRINI
HIGH SCHOOL. THEY ARE A TYPE OF INITIATION RITE OR RITE OF
PASSAGE OF FRESHMEN STUDENTS FROM GRADE SCHOOL TO HIGH SCHOOL.
ALTHOUGH HARMLESS, THEY COULD OFTEN CAUSE HARD FEELINGS. PERHAPS
THE TERM "BAPTISING" ENTERS SINCE CABRINI IS A CATHOLIC SCHOOL.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; ALLEN PARK

Subject headings: Favorites
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Street Trip Relations between relatives, friends, host and guest Social class Rank
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- School
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Baptism Naming rite
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Initiation rite Hazing
BELIEF -- School

Date learned: 10-00-1980 ; 00-00-1970

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AT WESTERN MICHIGAN UNIVERSITY (AND AT ALMOST EVERY COLLEGE IN THE
U.S.) THERE IS A LARGE CYLINDER TOWER WHICH CARRIES A LEGEND. NO
VIRGIN WILL EVER LEAVE THIS SCHOOL AFTER 4 YEARS, HENCE THE TOWER
WILL FALL.

Submitter comment: THIS STORY IS REPEATED AT ALMOST EVERY COLLEGE I GO TO. I WOULD
IMAGINE IT GOES BACK MANY DECADES.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; KALAMAZOO

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Product or activity of man or animal
BELIEF -- Street Trip Relations between relatives, friends, host and guest Social class Rank
BELIEF -- School
BELIEF -- Marriage

Date learned: 00-00-1976

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HIGH SCHOOL CUSTOM

ALTHOUGH NOT SERIOUSLY BELIEVED, IT WAS HELD AT ST.
PATRICK'S HIGH SCHOOL IN WYANDOTTE (MICHIGAN)
AND MANY OTHER SCHOOLS AROUND THE COUNTRY, THAT
A STUDENT WHO WORE GREEN AND YELLOW IN COMBINATION
WAS HOMOSEXUAL. IF HE WORE THIS ON A THURSDAY, IT
WAS TWICE AS BAD; FOR THURSDAYS WERE UNOFFICIALLY
LABELLED "QUEER'S DAY."

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; WYANDOTTE

Subject headings: BELIEF -- School
BELIEF -- Measure of time WeekDayHour

Date learned: 00-00-1958

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"KOOTIES"

THERE ARE TWO WAYS TO KEEP FROM GETTING "KOOTIES" (FROM TOUCHING A
BOY)
1. YOU MUST KEEP YOUR FINGERS CROSSED.
2. YOU MUST TRACE THE SIGN OF AN ENCIRCLED X ON YOUR HAND.

Where learned: DETROIT

Subject headings: Ballad Song Dance Game Music Verse -- Game Pastime
BELIEF -- School
SPEECH -- Gesture

Date learned: 00-00-1969

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AS A GOOD LUCK CHARM WHEN TAKING AN EXAM OR TURNING IN A PAPER,
WRITE JMJ IN THE TOP RIGHT CORNER OF THE PAGE. IT STANDS FOR
JESUS, MARY AND JOSEPH

Where learned: UNIVERSITY OF DETROIT

James Callow Keyword(s): INITIALS

Subject headings: BELIEF -- School
BELIEF -- Word Letter
BELIEF -- Good luck

Date learned: 02-00-1980

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IT IS NECESSARY TO BOIL A POTATOE ON THE FIRST
DAY OF SCHOOL TO GUARANTEE GOOD LUCK FOR THE
STUDENT FOR THE REST OF THE SCHOOL YEAR.

Where learned: COLLECTED BY MAIL ; COOKHAM RISE ; BERKSHIRE

Subject headings: 686 Properties attributed to specific numbers or numerals individually.
BELIEF -- School
BELIEF -- Good luck

Date learned: 00-00-1970

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WHENEVER YOU TAKE A TEST ONE
SHOULD PLACE IN THE LEFT HAND
CORNER, IN SMALL LETTER, J.M.J.
THIS STANDS FOR JESUS, MARY AND
JOSEPH.

Submitter comment: THE NUNS TAUGHT MICHAEL THIS, IT
IS SUPPOSED TO BRING GOOD LUCK TO
THE TEST TAKER.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Religious hero
BELIEF -- School
BELIEF -- Prayer
BELIEF -- Word Letter
BELIEF -- Good luck

Date learned: 00001970S

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THE GIRLS AT THE OUR LADY STAR OF THE SEA GRADE SCHOOL
WOULD PUT THE INITIALS J, M, AND J ON ALL THE CORNERS
OF THEIR TEST PAPERS FOR GOOD LUCK. J, M, AND J STANDS FOR:
J JESUS
M MARY
J JOSEPH

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; GROSSE POINTE WOODS

Subject headings: BELIEF -- School
BELIEF -- Word Letter
BELIEF -- Good luck

Date learned: 00-00-1974

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IF YOU SLEEP WITH A BOOK UNDER YOUR HEAD THE NIGHT
BEFORE YOU HAVE A TEST THE BOOK KNOWLEDGE WILL SINK
IN AND WILL BE REMEMBERED FOR THE NEXT DAY.

Submitter comment: MY MOTHER LEARNED THESE FROM HER MOTHER IN THE 1930S

Where learned: DETROIT

Subject headings: CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- School
BELIEF -- School

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AT SCHOOL, IF YOU WORE YELLOW ON
THURSDAY, YOU WERE "QUEER."

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT

Subject headings: ART CRAFT ARCHITECTURE -- Dress
BELIEF -- School
BELIEF -- Measure of time WeekDayHour
BELIEF -- Color

Date learned: 00-00-1950

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AT SCHOOL, IF YOU WORE RED ON
FRIDAY, YOU WERE "QUEER."

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT

Subject headings: ART CRAFT ARCHITECTURE -- Dress
BELIEF -- School
BELIEF -- Measure of time WeekDayHour
BELIEF -- Color

Date learned: 00-00-1950

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The ghost of Knute Rockne, a past Notre Dame football player,
is thought to guide Notre Dame's football team during the
games.

Where learned: INDIANA ; University of Notre Dame ; South Bend

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Ghost Spirit Phantom Specter
BELIEF -- School

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IN THE GYM AT MY ELEMENTARY SCHOOL WE USED TO HAVE A ROPE
ABOUT THIRTY FEET LONG THAT HUNG DOWN FROM THE CENTER OF
THE CEILING. EVERY YEAR EACH PERSON WAS REQUIRED TO TRY TO
CLIMB THE ROPE AS FAR AS THEY COULD FOR GYM CLASS. EVERY
BOY THAT TRIED CARRIED A PENCIL IN HIS MOUTH. IT WAS BELIEVED
THAT IF YOU GOT TO THE TOP AND WROTE THE NAME OF THE GIRL YOU
LIKED ON THE CEILING, SHE WOULD LIKE YOU BACK. THE TEACHERS
USUALLY ENCOURAGED THIS PRACTICE AND EVERY YEAR THE CEILING
WAS CLEANED TO MAKE ROOM FOR THE NEXT YEAR'S CLASS.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; SAGINAW

Subject headings: Favorites
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- School
BELIEF -- School
BELIEF -- Marriage
BELIEF -- Word Letter

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