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The James T. Callow Folklore Archive

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THERE WAS A MAN UPON THE STAIRS,
GEE I WISH HE WASN'T THERE.
HE WASN'T THERE AGAIN TODAY,
GEE, I WISH HE'D GO AWAY.

Submitter comment: INFORMANT LEARNED THIS FROM HER MOTHER MANY YEARS AGO.

Data entry tech comment: YESTERDAY UPON THE STAIR, I SAW A MAN THAT WASN'T THERE.
HE WASN'T THERE AGAIN TODAY,
OH, HOW I WISH HE'D GO AWAY (THAT'S THE WAY I HEARD IT)

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT

Keyword(s): CHIASMUS CONTRADICTIONS QUATRAIN ; FIRST PERSON NARRATIVE ; REPETITION METER: IAMB. RHYME: IMPERFECT, DOUBLE ; RHYME AABB ; SLANG CONTRADICTION ; WISH GHOSTS FEAR

Subject headings: Ballad Song Dance Game Music Verse -- Verse without Music

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RETURN OF THE DEAD

AROUND 1940 A WOMAN NAMED BESSIE SABOL DIED IN SOUTHWEST
DETROIT. MRS. HURLEY ASSISTED IN THE ARRANGEMENTS FOR BURIAL
AND SUBSEQUENTLY WAS ASKED TO STAY WITH THE DAUGHTER OF THE
WOMAN, WHO FEARED LIVING ALONE IN THE HOME. SEVERAL OTHERS
HAD STAYED WITH THE WOMAN, BUT HAD LEFT WITH STORIES OF A
GHOST IN THE HOME. MRS. HURLEY STAYED IN THE HOME FOR
2 DAYS. THE THIRD NIGHT LOUD BANGING AND CLANGING NOISES
WERE HEARD IN THE PANTRY, MRS. HURLEY WENT TO
INVESTIGATE AND SAW THE GHOST OF THE DEAD WOMAN CLEANING UP THE
MESS THAT THE DAUGHTER HAD LEFT IN THE PANTRY. THE POTS AND PANS
WERE SCATTERED ALL ABOUT. THIS WOMAN HAD BEEN KNOWN FOR
HER NEATNESS. MY GRANDMOTHER TOLD THE DAUGHTER THAT AS LONG
AS SHE KEPT THE PANTRY CLEAN, THE NOISES WOULD STOP. THEY
DID, AND THEY HAVEN'T BEEN HEARD SINCE.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT

James Callow Keyword(s): GHOST RETURNS TO DO HOUSEWORK

Subject headings: 686 Thirds / Thrice / Three / Triple
Favorites
BELIEF -- Ghost Spirit Phantom Specter

Date learned: 11-11-1974

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NAMING A RIVER

THE RIVRE ROUGE WHICH RUNS THROUGH DEARBORN GOT ITS NAME
FROM THE FRENCH EXPLORER LASALLE. HE NOTICED THAT THE RIVER
WAS A DEFINITE RED IN SOME PARTS, INQUIRING INTO THE MATTER,
HE FOUND OUT THAT THIS WAS BLOOD WHICH WAS COMING FROM UPSTREAM
AREAS WHERE THE INDIANS AND THE FRENCH WERE FIGHTING. THUS
HE NAMED THE DISCOVERY RIVRE ROUGE.

Submitter comment: MR. BARRYS SOURCES ARE TRADITIONAL AND OCCUR
IN CONJUNCTION WITH HIS JOB AS A GUIDE THROUGH THE FORD
ROUGE PLANT.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DEARBORN

James Callow Keyword(s): COLOR ; HOSTILITY

Subject headings: PROSE NARRATIVE -- Running water Small current. Brook, spring....
BELIEF -- Explanation of a name

Date learned: SUMMER 1963

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SHOE BELIEF

DO NOT PUT YOUR SHOES ON THE TABLE, OR YOU WILL HAVE A FIGHT.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT

James Callow Keyword(s): ADVICE: NEGATIVE ; CLOTHING ; HOSTILITY

Subject headings: Daily Life
BELIEF -- P87O

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BELIEF

IF SOMEONE LOANS YOU A NEEDLE, YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO
PAY THEM A PENNY OR ELSE YOU WILL BE ENEMIES.

James Callow Keyword(s): HOSTILITY

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Street Trip Relations between relatives, friends, host and guest Social class Rank

Date learned: 02-17-1972

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BELIEF

DO NOT GIVE ANY SHARP OBJECTS, (SCISSORS, KNIVES, ETC.)
AS A GIFT. YOU WILL SEVER YOUR FRIENDSHIP WITH THAT PERSON.

Submitter comment: INFORMANTS MOTHER-IN-LAW WAS VERY DEVOUT IN THIS BELIEF.

Where learned: OHIO ; CANTON

James Callow Keyword(s): HOMEOPATHIC ; HOSTILITY

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Street Trip Relations between relatives, friends, host and guest Social class Rank

Date learned: 02-12-1972

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SUPERSTITION ABOUT SCISSORS (POLISH)

POLISH BELIEF. YOU MUST NEVER HAND A PAIR OF SCISSORS OR A KNIFE
TO A PERSON. BECAUSE THIS WILL SEVER THE FRIENDSHIP. YOU LAY
THEM DOWN ON A TABLE AND LET THE OTHER PERSON PICK THEM UP.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; ROSEVILLE

James Callow Keyword(s): HOMEOPATHIC ; HOSTILITY

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Street Trip Relations between relatives, friends, host and guest Social class Rank

Date learned: 01-00-1970

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PREDICTION BELIEF

DO NOT GIVE A KNIFE AS A GIFT OR YOU WILL FIGHT WITH THE
PERSON TO WHOM YOU GAVE IT.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT

James Callow Keyword(s): HOMEOPATHIC ; HOSTILITY

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Street Trip Relations between relatives, friends, host and guest Social class Rank

Date learned: 10-00-1969

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OLD IRISH CUSTOM

IRISH MOTHERS THROW HOLY WATER ON THEIR KIDS WHEN THEY ARE
FIGHTING IN ORDER TO DRIVE OUT THE DEVIL. THE THROWING OF HOLY WATER
WAS SUPPOSED TO BE AN EXORCISM TO DRIVE THE RAGE (DEVIL) OUT OF
PEOPLE WHO WERE FIGHTING.

Where learned: UNIVERSITY OF DETROIT

James Callow Keyword(s): HOSTILITY ; SPRINKLING HOLY WATER

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Devil Demon
BELIEF -- Water
BELIEF -- Street Trip Relations between relatives, friends, host and guest Social class Rank
BELIEF -- Magic of Speech, Sign, Color
SPEECH -- Gesture

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SUPERSTITION

WHEN TWO PEOPLE MEET AN OBSTACLE IF THEY GO DIFFERENT WAYS AROUND
IT THEY WILL HAVE AN ARGUMENT.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; WARREN

James Callow Keyword(s): HOSTILITY ; POSITION DIRECTION

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Street Trip Relations between relatives, friends, host and guest Social class Rank

Date learned: 01-00-1968

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PREDICTION -DIVINATION

IF TWO PEOPLE ARE WALKING AND A POLE IS IN THEIR PATH THEY MUST
WALK ON EACH SIDE AND SAY BREAD AND BUTTER WHEN THEY COME
TOGETHER. IF THEY DO NOT THEY WILL HAVE A FIGHT.

Where learned: PENNSYLVANIA

James Callow Keyword(s): HOSTILITY ; POSITION DIRECTION

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Street Trip Relations between relatives, friends, host and guest Social class Rank
SPEECH -- Formula

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THE POT FIGHTS WITH THE KETTLE BUT THEYRE BOTH BLACK.

Where learned: UNIVERSITY OF DETROIT

James Callow Keyword(s): COLOR ; COOKING UTENSIL ; HOSTILITY ; SYMBOL

Subject headings: PROVERB -- Proverbial Metaphor

Date learned: 09-23-1971

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CUSTOM

IF A THAI ARRIVES AS A GUEST IN THE HOME, HE FIRST ASKS THE SPIRIT
FOR PERMISSION AND PROTECTION BEFORE HE CAN SLEEP IN THE HOME. IF
HE DOES NOT FOLLOW THIS TRADITION IT IS BELIEVED THAT HIS SLEEP WILL
BE DISTURBED WITH NIGHTMARES, WHILE THE SPIRIT SITS ON HIS CHEST AND
MAKES IT DIFFICULT FOR THE SLEEPER TO BREATHE. IN THE MORNING
THE GUEST VISITS THE SPIRIT HOUSE TO ASK FOR A SAFE JOURNEY.

Where learned: THAILAND

Keyword(s): HOST GUEST ; INCUBUS

Subject headings: CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Street Trip Relations between relatives, friends, host and guest Social class Rank
BELIEF -- Supernatural Being

Date learned: 03-00-1971

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HOSPITALITY CUSTOM

AMONG THE UKRANIANS, IT IS A CUSTOM, WHEN INVITED TO EAT AT
SOMEONE'S HOUSE, TO TURN DOWN THE INVITATION THREE TIMES. IF ASKED
A FOURTH TIME, IT WOULD BE POLITE TO ACCEPT.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT

Keyword(s): HOST GUEST NUMBER ; HOST GUEST THREE

Subject headings: Favorites
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Street Trip Relations between relatives, friends, host and guest Social class Rank
BELIEF -- Number

Date learned: 10-02-1971

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CUSTOM

"ENRYO" IS A FORM OF SOCIAL CUSTOM OF POLITENESS WHICH JAPANESE
MUST PRESERVE IN THEIR INTER-PERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS. THE INDIVIDUAL
IS NOT PERMITTED TO INDULGE HIS REAL DESIRE. AT A DINNER, ETC.
WHILE ETIQUETTE FORCES THE HOST TO URGE HIS GUEST NOT TO DO "ENRYO"
(TO ACCEPT ANOTHER CAKE OR SERVING), THE GUEST IN TURN IS BOUND TO
DO "ENRYO" AND REFUSE THE OFFER ALTHOUGH HE MAY BE DYING TO INDULGE
HIMSELF.

Submitter comment: INFORMANT LEARNED THE ABOVE WHILE GROWING UP IN JAPAN.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; WARREN

Keyword(s): HOST GUEST POLITENESS ETIQUETTE

Subject headings: CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Street Trip Relations between relatives, friends, host and guest Social class Rank

Date learned: 08-01-1964

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"MAUMEE RIVER LEGEND"

"ONCE UPON A TIME, A LONG, LONG TIME AGO, AN INDIAN FAMILY
WAS TRAVELING DOWN THE RIVER. ONE NIGHT, THERE WAS A TERRIBLE
STORM AND THE LITTLE INDIAN BOY BECAME LOST. THE MOTHER AND
FATHER LOOKED HIGH AND LOW FOR HIM BUT COULDN'T FIND HIM. ALL THEY
HEARD WAS A FAINT CRY " MOMEE " EVEN TO THIS DAY, YOU CAN STILL
HEAR HIM CALL " MOMEE." "

Where learned: OHIO ; PEMBERVILLE

Keyword(s): CALLING GHOST.

Subject headings: PROSE NARRATIVE -- Ghost Spirit Phantom Specter
PROSE NARRATIVE -- Explanation of a name

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HAUNTED HOUSE.

I WAS HOME WITH THE BABY. THE BABY WAS ASLEEP AND I HEARD THIS
CHILD RUNNING AND IT SOUNDED LIKE THE CHILD BUMPED INTO THE WALL.
SO WHEN I CHECKED ON THE BABY HE WAS STILL ASLEEP.

Where learned: COLLECTED BY MAIL

Keyword(s): GHOST- CHILD.

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

Date learned: 10-30-1971

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HAUNTED HOUSE.

IT HAPPENED IN CHICAGO DURING THE 1960'S. AT ONE TIME I HEARD SOMEON
WALKING IN MY HALLWAY AND IT CONTINUED PASS MY LIVING ROOM WHERE
A FRIEND AND I WERE SITTING. WE SEARCHED THE HOUSE AND COULDN'T FIND
ANYONE. AT ANOTHER TIMES I HAVE HEARD MOVING SOUNDS AND I KNEW
NO-ONE ELSE WAS HOME BUT ME.

Data entry tech comment: THE WORD " PASS " I FEEL IS PAST. " AT ANOTHER TIMES " I FEEL MEANS
AT OTHER TIMES.

Where learned: COLLECTED BY MAIL

Keyword(s): NOISY GHOST.

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

Date learned: 10-30-1971

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LEGEND

THERE IS A STREET ON DETROIT'S EAST SIDE, NEAR THE VICINITY
OF CONNORS AND GRATIOT THAT IS KNOWN AS " KNOCK- KNOCK " STREET.
ONE NIGHT, AS A YOUNG COUPLE SAT TALKING IN A CAR, A GROUP OF
CHILDREN PLAYED BALL. THE BALL ROLLED BENEATH THE CAR AND
ONE OF THE CHILDREN CRAWLED UNDER THE CAR TO RETRIEVE IT.
UNAWARE OF THIS, THE DRIVER BEGAN TO DRIVE AWAY, AND AS HE DID
SO DRAGGED THE CHILD FOR SEVERAL YARDS. TO THIS DAY THE THUMP-THUMP
OF HIS BODY CAN BE HEARD WHEN TRAVELING ON THIS STREET.

Submitter comment: THE INFORMANT REMEMBERS THIS AS BEING TOLD TO HIM AS A TRUE
STORY BY OTHERS WHO HAVE TRAVELED THIS STREET AND HEARD THE
NOISES.

Where learned: DETROIT

Keyword(s): GHOST

Subject headings: Favorites
PROSE NARRATIVE -- Ghost Spirit Phantom Specter
PROSE NARRATIVE -- Product or activity of man or animal
PROSE NARRATIVE -- Explanation of a name

Date learned: 04-12-1965

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TRAVELING VIGIL LIGHT OF MT. OLIVET CEMETRY.

SEVERAL YEARS AGO ONE OF THE GRAVES OF MT. OLIVET CEMETRY
WAS DUG UP AND THE BODY MOVED TO ANOTHER SPOT IN THE CEMETRY.
THE MOTHER OF THE DEAD PERSON LOOKED AND LOOKED FOR THE GRAVE
OF HER BELOVED BUT COULD NEVER FIND IT. IT HAS BEEN SAID THAT THE
VIGIL LIGHT WHICH THE MOTHER KEPT BURNING ON THE GRAVE NOW
ROAMS THE CEMETRY SEARCHING FOR THE GRAVE OF THE BODY THAT
WAS MOVED. MANY PEOPLE IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD HAVE BEEN KNOWN TO
SEE THE LIGHT MOVING ABOUT THE CEMETRY. ONE NIGHT WHEN AT A
GIRL FRIEND'S HOUSE THE INFORMANT WAS ASKED IF SHE WANTED TO GO TO
THE CEMETRY WITH A GROUP OF GIRLS TO LOOK FOR THE LIGHT. THE GIRL
FRIEND LIVED RIGHT NEXT TO THE CEMETRY AND KNEW THE SCHEDULE OF
THE WATCHMEN WHO WORKED IN THE CEMETRY. THE GIRLS CLIMBED THE FENCE
AND AFTER THEY HAD GONE A SHORT WAY INTO THE CEMETRY, THEY SAW THE
VIGIL LIGHT NOT MANY FEET IN FRONT OF THEM, MOVING ABOUT. THEY
RAN BACK TO THE HOUSE IN FEAR.

Submitter comment: THE INFORMANT WAS SURPRISED THAT MY BROTHER AND I WHO LIVE IN
THE IMMEDIATE NEIGHBORHOOD HAD NEVER HEARD OF THE TRAVELING
VIGIL LIGHT OF MT. OLIVET CEMETERY.

Data entry tech comment: THE WORD CEMETRY IS AS SPELLED BY THE COLLECTOR.

Where learned: HOME ; DETROIT, ASSUMED ; MICHIGAN, ASSUMED

Keyword(s): GHOST

Subject headings: Favorites
PROSE NARRATIVE -- Ghost Spirit Phantom Specter
PROSE NARRATIVE -- Product or activity of man or animal

Date learned: 03-31-1967

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