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The James T. Callow Folklore Archive

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SUPERSITITION (COLLECTOR,S TITLE)

ONE OF THE MOST DANGEROUS THINGS TO DO IS PASS SOMEONE ON THE STAIRS.
IF SOMEONE IS COMING UP AND YOU ARE GOING DOWN OR VICE-VERSA IN
ORDER TO WARD OFF BAD LUCK YOU MUST COUNT TO TEN BEFORE YOU PASS.
THE SAME HOLDS TRUE IF YOU ARE GOING IN THE SAME DIRECTION.
NEVER PASSING ANYONE ON THE STAIRS MIGHT HAVE BEN VERY GOOD ADVICE.
IF THAT PERSON WAS CARRYING SOMETHING HEAVY OR IN SOME WAY OBSTRUCT-
ING PASSAGE. HOWEVER IT HAS GROWN TO BE A VERY STRONG SUPERSTITION.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT

Keyword(s): CHANGE IN LUCK FROM BAD TO GOOD (IN PASSING ON STAIRWAY).

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Conversions P883.2

Date learned: 11-22-1968

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SPIDER IN HAIR

A TEENAGE GIRL RATTED HER HAIR AND DIDN'T COMB IT OUT FOR TWO WEEKS.
SHE DIED SUDDENLY. AN AUTOPSY HAD TO BE PERFORMED TO DETERMINE THE
CAUSE OF DEATH. THEY FOUND THAT SPIDERS HAD MADE THEIR HOME IN HER
HAIR AND HAD EATEN THEIR WAY INTO HER BRAIN.

Submitter comment: HEARD SEVERAL TIMES ON U-D CAMPUS.

Where learned: DETROIT

Keyword(s): DEATH INSECT LAZINESS ; FATAL HAIRDO

Subject headings: Favorites
PROSE NARRATIVE -- Body part Senses

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SPIDER LADY

A GIRL WAS GOING TO A BIG PARTY AND HAD HER HAIR DONE AT A SALON.
IT WAS FIXED IN A BEEHIVE WITH LOTS AND LOTS OF HAIRSPRAY. SHE LIKED
IT SO WELL THAT EVERYDAY SHE JUST PUT A LITTLE MORE SPRAY ON AND
NEVER TOOK IT DOWN OR WASHED IT. ONE DAY SHE SCRATCHED HER HEAD AND
BLOOD TRICKLED DOWN. SHE WAS TAKEN TO THE HOSPITAL WHEREUPON
EXAMINATION IT WAS REVEALED ANTS HAD COLONIZED IN HER HAIR.

Where learned: DETROIT

Keyword(s): FATAL HAIRDO ; INSECT HAIRDO

Subject headings: Favorites
PROSE NARRATIVE -- Body part Senses

Date learned: 02-20-1968

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NEW YEAR'S DAY

ON NEW YEAR'S EAT GOURMET FOOD.

Submitter comment:

INFORMANT'S FAMILY ALWAYS EATS FRENCH FOODS ON NEW YEAR'S BECAUSE
THEY FEEL THAT IF THEY EAT WELL ON NEW YEAR'S THEN THEY WILL EAT
WELL ALL THROUGH THE YEAR.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; GROSSE POINTE WOODS ; informant's home

Keyword(s): BLASON POPULAIRE ; FOOD PREDICTION ; FRENCH FOOD

Subject headings: 870
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- January 1 New Year's
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Fixed DateFor specific dates, use the following system: F640.0101
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- December 21 solstice to March 20
Food Drink -- Typical menus for the various meals For meal hours, see F574.84. Special or festive meals
BELIEF -- Measure of time Year
PROVERB -- Blason Populaire

Date learned: 03-05-1971

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Ethnic: Polish

IN POLAND, AND IN MANY POLISH-AMERICAN HOMES, THE VIGIL OF
CHRISTMAS IS A VERY SOLEMN OCCASION. A VARIETY OF FOOD IS SERVED,
TWELVE DISHES IN ALL, TO REPRESENT THE TWELVE APOSTLES. NO DAIRY
PRODUCTS ARE ALLOWED. IT ALSO CONSISTS OF SPECIAL WAFERS CALLED
OPTATKI, WHICH THE HEAD OF THE HOUSEHOLD DISTRIBUTES TO EACH
MEMBER OF THE FAMILY.

Data entry tech comment:

Updated / 02-24-2011 / TRD

Where learned: OHIO ; TOLEDO

Keyword(s): ABSTINENCE ; CHRISTMAS ; CUSTOM ; DAIRY ; Dinner ; ETHNIC ; FAMILY ; Feast ; FOOD ; holiday ; POLAND ; POLISH ; SYMBOL ; Symbolic ; Vigil

Subject headings: 122 Christmas
686 Seconds / Twice / Two
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- December 24 Christmas Eve F122.82

Date learned: 10-27-1968

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IRISH FAIRY STORY

MY GRANDFATHER TOLD US THIS STORY ONCE ABOUT HOW WHEN HE WAS A YOUNG
MAN HE WAS CAUGHT IN A FAIRIE-RING. HE WAS IN THIS FIELD WHICH WAS
ENCLOSED BY A CIRCULAR WALL. WHEN HE WAS FINISHED WORK FOR THE DAY
HE WALKED TO THE GATE BUT THERE WAS A FAIRIE ON IT AND IT WOULDN'T
LET HIM OUT. A FAIRIE IS A LITTLE GHOST. HE RAN TO ANOTHER GATE BU
THERE WAS A FAIRIE ON THAT ONE TOO. HE WALKED AROUND THE FIELD FOR
DAYS BEFORE HE GOT OUT. YOU CALL THIS A FAIRIE-RING.

Submitter comment: TOLD BY MY GREATGRANDFATHER TO MY MOTHER WHEN SHE WAS FIVE YEARS OLD
EVERY NIGHT HE WOULD TELL STORIES. THE 1892 DATE IS ABOUT THE TIME
GRANDFATHER O'BRIEN WAS CAUGHT IN THE FAIRIE-RING, HE TOLD THE STORY
TO MY MOTHER IN 1932. MY MOTHER LIVED IN BUNCLODY, COUNTY WEXFORD,
IRELAND.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; BLOOMFIELD HILLS

James Callow Keyword(s): FAIRY RING

Subject headings: Favorites
PROSE NARRATIVE -- Fairy Elf Goblin Gnome
BELIEF -- Fairy Elf Goblin Gnome

Date learned: 00-00-1892 ; 00-00-1932

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SAYING.

IF I'VE ONLY ONE LIFE TO LIVE, LET ME LIVE IT AS A BLONDE.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT

Keyword(s): ADVERTISING ; HAIR COLORING, BLEACHING ; HUMOR. ; TELEVISION COMMERCIAL

Subject headings: PROVERB -- Proverbial Apothegm Maxim

Date learned: DATE NOT RECORDED BY COLLECTOR.

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IF MEN CAN FLY THE SKY LIKE BIRDS,
IF MEN CAN SWIM THE SEA LIKE FISH- -
WHY CAN'T MEN WALK THE EARTH LIKE MEN.

Data entry tech comment: COLLECTOR'S LINE DIVISIONS CHANGED BY KEYPUNCHER

Where learned: UNIVERSITY OF DETROIT, ASSUMED ; THEOLOGY

Keyword(s): AIRPLANES ; ALLITERATION. ; BOATS ; VERSE.

Subject headings: PROVERB -- Proverbial Apothegm Maxim

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THE FATAL HAIRDO

WHEN THE BUBBLE HAIR DO FIRST BECAME POPULAR MY MOTHER IN LAW
WAS GETTING HER HAIR DONE REGULARLY FROM AN UNLICENSED BEAUTY
OPERATOR IN A HOME BASEMENT. ONE DAY SHE CAME HOME WITH THE FOLLOWING
STORY WHICH THE BEAUTY OPERATOR TOLD HER HAPPENED TO THE NIECE OF ONE
OF HER CUSTOMERS. THIS GIRL GOT A BUBBLE TYPE HAIRDO AND HAD IT
RATTED SO HIGH THAT SHE DIDN'T WANT TO WASH IT LEST IT LOSE ITS
TEXTURE. A LONG PERIOD OF TIME WENT BY (I'VE HEARD FROM TWO WEEKS TO
TWO MONTHS) AND SHE BECAME ILL. THE DOCTORS FINALLY EXAMINED HER
BUT IT WAS TOO LATE. A NEST OF SPIDERS HAD DEVELOPED IN HER HAIR
AND THEY HAD BURROWED INTO HER SKULL, CAUSING AN INFECTION WHICH
RESULTED IN BLOOD POISONING. SINCE THE INFECTION WAS SO CLOSE TO THE
BRAIN THERE WAS NOTHING THE DOCTORS COULD DO AND THE GIRL DIED.

Data entry tech comment: THERE ARE TWO OTHER STORIES LIKE THIS.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT

Keyword(s): THE FATAL HAIRDO

Subject headings: Favorites
PROSE NARRATIVE -- Body part Senses

Date learned: 00-00-1960

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Entry filtered.

Historical record from James Callow Folklore Archive.

HOW CAN YOU TELL THE BRIDE AT A POLISH WEDDING? SHE'S
THE ONE WITH BRAIDED ARM PITS!

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; WARREN

James Callow Keyword(s): CUSTOM OF SHAVING HAIR FROM ARMPITS AND LEGS.

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Poli

Date learned: 10-00-1983

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BELIEF

"IF AN EMPTY ROCKING CHAIR IS ROCKING, SOMEONE IS GOING TO DIE."

Submitter comment: INFORMANT'S MOTHER USED TO GET REAL UPSET IF SOMEONE MADE THE
CHAIR ROCK DELIBERATELY.

Where learned: NEW YORK ; ROCHESTER

Keyword(s): ROCKING CHAIR

Subject headings: Observation
Favorites
BELIEF -- Death Funeral Burial
BELIEF -- Number Emptiness, nothingness, zero

Date learned: 00001965CA

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IF IT'S RAINING AND THE SUN IS SHINING THE DEVIL IS ABUSING HIS
WIFE AND IF YOU WANT TO HEAR IT PUT A HAIRPEN AND STICK IT
IN THE GROUND.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT

James Callow Keyword(s): HAIRPIN

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Devil Demon
BELIEF -- Weather sign or control

Date learned: 11-00-1987

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RIDDLE

WHAT IS IT THAT BALD-HEADED FOLKS HAVE NO NEED FOR?
KEYS, BECAUSE THEY HAVEN'T ANY LOCKS.

Where learned: NEW YORK CITY ; NEW YORK

James Callow Keyword(s): LOCKS OF HAIR - PUN

Subject headings: RIDDLE -- True Riddle

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LOW FOREHEADS INDICATE LOW IQ AND BRUTISH DISPOSITIONS
WHILE HIGH FOREHEADS ARE RELATED TO HIGH INTELLECTUAL
ABILITY AND LOFTINESS OF THOUGHT AND FEELING.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT

Keyword(s): HAIRLINE

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Body part Senses

Date learned: 00001980S

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BACK WHEN MY GREAT UNCLE WAS GROWING UP, ON SUNDAYS
WHEN THEY SAT DOWN TO EAT DINNER AND UNEXPECTED COMPANY
SHOWED UP, HIS MOTHER WOULD SAY TO THE CHILDREN NOT TO
EAT ANY OF THE MEAT SO THE COMPANY COULD HAVE SOME. AS THE
MEAT DISH WAS PLACED AROUND THE DINNER TABLE, THE CHILDREN
WOULD PASS ON THE MEAT. AT THE END OF DINNER WHEN HIS
MOTHER GOT UP TO GET THE DESSERT, SHE WOULD SAY, "ALL
THE CHILDREN WHO DIDN'T EAT ANY MEAT FOR DINNER COULDN'T
HAVE ANY DESERT."

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; SAGINAW

Keyword(s): UNFAIR PRACTICE

Subject headings: CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Street Trip Relations between relatives, friends, host and guest Social class Rank
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Measure of time Eating For menu, see N222.

Date learned: 00001970S

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Weather Predictor

Flying a kite with a northern wind direction on a bright sunny
day will mean that it will rain the next day. If you fly your
kite in a southern wind direction on a cloudy day the next day
will be bright and sunny. If you attempt to fly your kite on
a stormy day look forward to a week of terrible weather.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT

Keyword(s): Game, Air.

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Weather sign or control
BELIEF -- Cloud Fog Mist Rain Hail Ice Snow Frost Dew
BELIEF -- Product or activity of man or animal

Date learned: 00-00-1988

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My mother told me that when any of my teeth came out I should
put them under my pillow so that the tooth fairy would leave me
some money. My mother also said I had to be a good boy in order to
receive any money.

Submitter comment: My mother sounded very convincing.

Where learned: MISSISSIPPI ; Louise

Keyword(s): Little magical people

James Callow Keyword(s): Fairy

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Fairy Elf Goblin Gnome
BELIEF -- Body part Senses

Date learned: 00-00-1970

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POLISH

ON A BABY'S FIRST BIRTHDAY, PLACE A WINE GLASS, A
PRAYER BOOK, AND SOME COINS. WHATEVER HE REACHES
FOR FIRST WILL INDICATE THE TYPE OF CAREER HE
CHOOSES. THE INW GLASS INDICATES THAT HE WILL
BE A DRUNK; THE PRAYER BOOK, A PRIEST; AND THE
COINS, A BUSINESSMAN.

Submitter comment: WE TRIED THIS AT THE FIRST BIRTHDAY OF MY CURRENTLY
SEVEN YEAR OLD COUSIN. ONLY TROUBLE WAS THAT HE
KNOCKED ALL THREE OBJECTS OFF THE HIGH CHAIR
TRAY AT ONCE.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT

James Callow Keyword(s): IN A HIGH CHAIR. ; SEVEN MONTH OLD COUSIN I HOPE, SINCE HE STILL IS

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Use of object for determining future of young

Date learned: 00-00-1962

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IF A FEMALE LETS A PREGNANT WOMAN FIX HER HAIR, SHE WILL
BECOME BALD HEADED.

Where learned: SOUTH CAROLINA ; GEORGETOWN

James Callow Keyword(s): HAIRDRESSING.

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Body part Senses Hair, on head, mustache, widow's peak
BELIEF -- Product or activity of man or animal
BELIEF -- Daily Life
BELIEF -- Daily Life
BELIEF -- Birth
BELIEF -- Means of Causing or Avoiding Illness

Date learned: NOT GIVEN

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IF YOU TAKE A STRAIN (STRAND) OF YOUR HAIR AND PUT IT ON THE
HEAD OF YOUR BOYFRIEND, WHEN HE IS NOT LOOKING, HE WILL FALL
MADLY IN LOVE WITH YOU.

Where learned: NOT GIVEN

James Callow Keyword(s): STRAND OF HAIR

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Body part Senses Hair, on head, mustache, widow's peak
BELIEF -- Marriage

Date learned: 06-09-1972

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