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The James T. Callow Folklore Archive

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MOTHER MAY I

ONE PERSON IS CHOSEN THE "MOTHER." HE THEN TELLS THE OTHER
PEOPLE WHAT KIND AND HOW MANY STEPS THEY MAY TAKE E.G. THREE
GIANT OR BABY STEPS. THE PERSON MUST ASK "MOTHER MAY I"
BEFORE HE CAN MOVE. IF HE FORGETS, HE CANNOT TAKE THE STEPS
AND
MUST GO BACK TO THE BEGINNING. THE WINNER IS THE ONE WHO
REACHES MOTHER FIRST.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; SAINT CLAIR SHORES

James Callow Keyword(s): POLITENESS TEST

Subject headings: Ballad Song Dance Game Music Verse -- Memory

Date learned: 00001950S

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POEM

MONKEY SITTING ON THE INDIAN RAIL,
PICKIN HIS TOOTH WITH THE END OF HIS TAIL,
GRASS GREW UP AND TOUCHED HIS BALLS,
AND HE JUMPED IN HIS OVERALLS.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT

James Callow Keyword(s): EUPHEMISM OR SLANG: BALLS FOR TESTICLES

Subject headings: Ballad Song Dance Game Music Verse -- Narrative Verse

Date learned: 10-00-1974

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HANDSHAKE

"HOW DO YOU DO, I'M FROM THE UNITED SCREW CORPORATION"

Submitter comment: AS YOU ARE SHAKING THE PERSON'S HAND
YOU ROTATE YOUR OWN HAND TO SIMULATE THE TURNING OF A SCREW

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; OAK PARK

James Callow Keyword(s): ENDURANCE TEST

Subject headings: CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Entertainment Diversion
SPEECH -- Gesture

Date learned: 00001970S

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HAUNTED HOUSE

THERE IS A HAUNTED HOUSE ON JEFFERSON AND CADIEUX.
MANY OF HIS FRIENDS HAVE GONE INSIDE AND SEEN STRANGE SIGHTS,
BUT HE HAS NEVER BEEN ABLE TO GET UP ENOUGH
NERVE TO GO IN.

Submitter comment: THE INFORMANT HAS SEEN THE OUTSIDE OF THE HOUSE
AND HIS FRIENDS HAVE TOLD HIM ABOUT IT.
THIS HOUSE IS STILL THERE.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT

James Callow Keyword(s): FEAR TEST

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

Date learned: 05-12-1965

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ONE LESS TEST

WHEN I SET MYSELF DOWN TO STUDY,
I PRAY THE LORD I DON,T GO NUTTY;
AND IF I DIE BEFORE I WAKE,
THAT'S ONE LESS TEST I'LL HAVE TO TAKE

Where learned: HOME

Keyword(s): AABB ; PARODY-PRAYER QUATRAIN HUMOR STUDYING-TESTS ; RHYME

Subject headings: 730 Lyrical Verse

Date learned: 11-18-1968

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A MAN ACCEPTED A BET OF $200 TO GO INTO A CEMETERY AT NIGHT AND
POUND A STAKE INTO THE GROUND. AS HE WAS POUNDING THE STAKE,
SOMETHING KEPT ON PULLING ON HIS COAT. HE SCREAMED AND DIED. THE
POLICE CAME INTO THE CEMETERY AND FOUND HIS COAT WAS CAUGHT UNDER
THE STAKE.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; WARREN

Keyword(s): FEAR TEST

Subject headings: Favorites
PROSE NARRATIVE -- Physically handicapped Deformed

Date learned: 01-00-1968

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"BLOODY MARY" (BRAVERY GAME)

A TEST OF BRAVERY IN MY GRADE SCHOOL WOULD BE A GAME CALLED
"BLOODY MARY".
FIRST, ONE WOULD GO INTO A SCHOOL BATHROOM, TURN OUT THE LIGHTS
AND FILL THE SINK WITH WATER. AFTER STARING INTO THE WATER FOR
THIRTY SECONDS, ONE WOULD QUICKLY LOOK INTO A MIRROR IN HOPE OF
SEEING THE GHOST OF "BLOODY MARY" STABBING HERSELF.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; LIVONIA ; CASS ELEMENTARY

James Callow Keyword(s): CONJURATION ; FEAR TEST

Subject headings: Ballad Song Dance Game Music Verse -- Game Pastime
BELIEF -- Ghost Spirit Phantom Specter

Date learned: CA00001970

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THE MAN AND THE COAT

THE MAN AND THE COAT. THERE WAS A MAN WHO WAS VERY TIMID. HE WAS
IN LOVE WITH THE SCHOOLTEACHER. ANOTHER MAN LOVED HER TOO, THOUGH.
THIS OTHER MAN WAS VERY MEAN AND DECIDED TO PLAY A TRICK ON THE FIRST
MAN TO RID HIMSELF OF THE COMPETITION. KNOWING THAT THE FIRST MAN
WAS TIMID, THE SECOND MAN MADE A BET WITH HIM IN FRONT OF THE WOMAN
AND EVERY ONE ELSE. THERE WAS A VERY SPOOKY CEMETARY IN THE
MIDDLI OF TOWN WHICH NO ONE LIKED TO ENTER AT NIGHT ESPECIALLY
THE FIRST MAN. THE SECOND MAN TEASED THE FIRST ABOUT HIS TIMIDITY
AND TOLD HIM THAT IF HE WERE REALLY BRAVE HE WOULD WALK THROUGH THE
CEMETARY THAT NIGHT ON HIS WAY HOME. THE FIRST DID NOT WANT TO
BE OUTDONE SO HE AGREED THOUGH HE WAS VERY SCARED. THAT NIGHT
THE TOWN GATHERED TO SEND THE MAN OFF ON HIS JOURNEY. THE MAN
BEGAN WALKING. HE HEARD MANY STRANGE NOISES WHICH REALLY FIGHTENED
HIM AND HE BEGAN TO RUN. SUDDENLY HE TRIPPED RIGHT IN FRONT OF
A TOMBSTONE AND FELL DOWN. AS HE TRIED TO GET UP HE FELT SOMETHING
TUG ON HIS COAT. HE DID NOT REALIZE THAT IT WAS CAUGHT ON A TWIG.
HE PULLED AND TUGGED AND SCREAMED AND SCREAMED BUT COULD NOT GET
LOOSE. HE BEGAN TO GET SO SCARED THINKING THAT A GHOST HAD GRABBED
HIM THAT HE HAD A HEART ATTACK AND DIED. THE NEXT MORNING SOMEONE
FOUND HIM WITH A HORRIBLE LOOK OF FRIGHT ON HIS FACE. HE WAS
PALE AS A GHOST, LOOKED AS IF HE HAD BEEN SCARED TO DEATH.

Submitter comment: THIS STORY IS LIKE THE ONE ABOUT ICHABOD CRANE AND IN FACT I
BELIEVEVE THE MANS NAME WAS THE SAME BUT I CANT BE SURE NOW.

Where learned: NEW JERSEY ; TOMS RIVER

James Callow Keyword(s): FEAR TEST

Subject headings: Favorites
PROSE NARRATIVE -- Magic

Date learned: 00001970S

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326 Youth Who Wanted to Learn What Fear Is

There once was a little girl that claimed she was very
brave, and wasn't afraid of anything. So one day her
brothers dared her to go to the grave yard to steal a
tombstone and bring it back to show them. The little girl
did indeed go to the graveyard to get that tombstone but
never returned. What everyone says that happened was that as
she was putting her dress over the stone to carry it out the
stone fell on her dress and pulled her down. Of course the
little girl thought that the spirit of the grave was tugging
on her dress, and she was so scared that she died right there
on the spot.

Where learned: IOWA ; Des Moines

James Callow Keyword(s): dying of fright ; FEAR TEST

Subject headings: PROSE NARRATIVE -- Magic

Date learned: 00-00-1910

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It was the custom of young Cuban boys who were trying
to prove their manhood to dive into the waters of Havana
Harbor,near the old prison, and ride the sharks. It was
said that the sharks frequented the harbor because political
prisoners were placed in an underwater dungeon to be eaten
by the sharks.

Submitter comment: This need to confront death and danger in order to establish
"machismo" is also seen in such activities as bullfighting.
This story was told to Carmen by her father, Gustavo Sebastian
Albore', who was very proud that he had been brave enough to
ride the sharks. Gustavo was proud also of his Castillian
Spanish parents, since in his mind, to be "Cuban"
meant to be black. He always, therefore, referred to himself
as "Castillian" whenever someone asked him his nationality.

Where learned: NEW YORK ; NEW ROCHELLE

Keyword(s): Courage, test, Hispanic, rite-of-passage

Subject headings: Favorites
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Entertainment Diversion
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Maturity

Date learned: 00001930S

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SHAKING SAND

ONCE THERE WAS A HAUNTED HOUSE THAT NO ONE WAS ABLE TO STAY IN
OVERNIGHT. THE FOLK WHO OWNED THE HOUSE SAID THAT IF ANYONE WAS
ABLE TO REMAIN THERE FOR A WHOLE NIGHT (HE) COULD HAVE THE HOUSE.
A MAN, WITHOUT A HOME, DECIDED HE WOULD GIVE IT A TRY. THE
NIGHT HE CHOSE TO STAY IN THE HOUSE WAS UNUSUALLY DARK AND DREARY
LOOKING. WHILE IN THE KITCHEN PREPARING SUPPER, THE MAN HEARD A
VOICE SAYING, "I'M COMING CROSS THE FIELD SHAKING SAND. I'M COMING
IN THE FRONT YARD SHAKING SAND. I'M COMING UP THE STEPS SHAKING
SAND. I'M COMING ON THE FRONT PORCH SHAKING SAND. I'M COMING IN
THE FRONT ROOM SHAKING SAND. I'M COMING IN THE DINING ROOM
SHAKING SAND. I'M COMING IN THE KITCHEN SHAKING SAND." THE MAN
SAID, "I'M GOING OUT THE BACK DOOR SHAKING SAND."

James Callow comment: FINAL QUOTATION MARK ADDED.

Where learned: GEORGETOWN ; SOUTH CAROLINA, ASSUMED

James Callow Keyword(s): CHAIN ; FEAR TEST

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

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PROVERBIAL METAPHOR: VERIFICATION

THE PROOF IS IN THE PUDDING.

Submitter comment: MY GRANDMOTHER SAID THE ABOVE PROVERB WHEN SOMEONE WAS MAKING
SOME BIG PLANS THAT THEY HAD NOT YET TESTED.

Where learned: KENTUCKY ; ASHLAND

Keyword(s): VERIFICATION TEST

Subject headings: PROVERB -- Proverbial Metaphor

Date learned: NOT GIVEN

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GHOST STORY

IN A SMALL VILLAGE IN GREECE, AN OLD MAN DIED AND IT
WAS FOUND THAT HIS GHOST WAS ROAMING THE COUNTRYSIDE.
TO DISPEL THE GHOST, A BRAVE YOUNG MAN NAMED
KAFMAN TOLD THE VILLAGERS THAT HE WOULD STAY
BY THE OLD MAN'S GRAVE TO SEE IF THE GHOST WOULD
APPEAR. KAFMAN WORE A LONG, HOODED CAPE WHICH TOUCHED
THE GROUND, AND WHEN HE KNELT, THE CAPE SPREAD AROUND
HIM. BY AND BY, HE STARTED TO IMAGINE THINGS AND
HE STABBED AT THE DARKNESS WITH HIS DAGGER AND IT
STUCK INTO THE GROUND PIERCING THE CAPE. AS KAFMAN
STARTED TO LEAVE, HE FELT THE JERK OF THE CAPE
PINNED TO THE GROUND AND DIED OF A HEART ATTACK.

Submitter comment: JAMES LEARNED THIS FROM HIS FATHER.

Where learned: NOT GIVEN ; MICHIGAN ; UNIVERSITY OF DETROIT ; DETROIT

James Callow Keyword(s): DEATH FROM FRIGHT ; FEAR TEST

Subject headings: Favorites
PROSE NARRATIVE -- Ghost Spirit Phantom Specter
PROSE NARRATIVE -- Stupid man or woman

Date learned: 10-10-1967

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AT THE TURN OF THE CENTURY, WHEN IT WAS PREVALENT TO
WEAR LONG CAPES, A MAN, WHO CLAIMED TO TOTALLY
FEARLESS, WAS DARED TO STICK HIS DAGGER IN THE WOODEN
CROSS AT THE CENTER OF A CEMETERY, AT MIDNIGHT,
HALLOWEEN NIGHT. HE ACCEPTED THE DARE.
CONFIDENTLY, HE WALKED THROUGH THE CEMETERY THAT
NIGHT, DARK, EERIE AND WINDY, THOUGH IT WAS, AND DUG
HIS DAGGER IN THE CROSS. BUT, AS HE WALKED AWAY,
HE FELT A TUG AT HIS CLOAK. HE DISMISSED THE THOUGHT
THAT IT MIGHT BE THE DEVIL CALLING HIM BACK, AND TRIED
TO WALK AGAIN. BUT HE FELT ANOTHER TUG. HE WAS
WORRIED NOW, BUT REFUSED TO LOOK BACK. HE TRIED ONE
MORE TIME.
THE NEXT MORNING, HIS FRIENDS FOUND HIM LAYING BY THE
CROSS, DEAD FROM FRIGHT, WITH HIS CLOAK CAUGHT IN THE
DAGGER HE HAD STUCK IN THE CROSS.

Where learned: OHIO ; CLEVELAND

James Callow Keyword(s): FEAR TEST

Subject headings: Favorites
PROSE NARRATIVE -- Stupid man or woman
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- October 31 Halloween

Date learned: 11-22-1967

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GHOST STORY

IN A SMALL VILLAGE IN GREECE, AN OLD MAN DIED AND IT
WAS FOUND THAT HIS GHOST WAS ROAMING THE COUNTRYSIDE.
TO DISPEL THE GHOST, A BRAVE YOUNG MAN NAMED
KAFMAN TOLD THE VILLAGERS THAT HE WOULD STAY
BY THE OLD MAN'S GRAVE TO SEE IF THE GHOST WOULD
APPEAR. KAFMAN WORE A LONG, HOODED CAPE WHICH TOUCHED
THE GROUND, AND WHEN HE KNELT, THE CAPE SPREAD AROUND
HIM. BY AND BY, HE STARTED TO IMAGINE THINGS AND
HE STABBED AT THE DARKNESS WITH HIS DAGGER AND IT
STUCK INTO THE GROUND PIERCING THE CAPE. AS KAFMAN
STARTED TO LEAVE, HE FELT THE JERK OF THE CAPE
PINNED TO THE GROUND AND DIED OF A HEART ATTACK.

Submitter comment: JAMES LEARNED THIS FROM HIS FATHER.

Where learned: NOT GIVEN ; MICHIGAN ; UNIVERSITY OF DETROIT ; DETROIT

James Callow Keyword(s): FEAR TEST DEATH FROM FRIGHT

Subject headings: Favorites
PROSE NARRATIVE -- Ghost Spirit Phantom Specter
PROSE NARRATIVE -- Stupid man or woman

Date learned: 10-10-1967

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AT THE TURN OF THE CENTURY, WHEN IT WAS PREVALENT TO
WEAR LONG CAPES, A MAN, WHO CLAIMED TO TOTALLY
FEARLESS, WAS DARED TO STICK HIS DAGGER IN THE WOODEN
CROSS AT THE CENTER OF A CEMETERY, AT MIDNIGHT,
HALLOWEEN NIGHT. HE ACCEPTED THE DARE.
CONFIDENTLY, HE WALKED THROUGH THE CEMETERY THAT
NIGHT, DARK, EERIE AND WINDY, THOUGH IT WAS, AND DUG
HIS DAGGER IN THE CROSS. BUT, AS HE WALKED AWAY,
HE FELT A TUG AT HIS CLOAK. HE DISMISSED THE THOUGHT
THAT IT MIGHT BE THE DEVIL CALLING HIM BACK, AND TRIED
TO WALK AGAIN. BUT HE FELT ANOTHER TUG. HE WAS
WORRIED NOW, BUT REFUSED TO LOOK BACK. HE TRIED ONE
MORE TIME.
THE NEXT MORNING, HIS FRIENDS FOUND HIM LAYING BY THE
CROSS, DEAD FROM FRIGHT, WITH HIS CLOAK CAUGHT IN THE
DAGGER HE HAD STUCK IN THE CROSS.

Where learned: OHIO ; CLEVELAND

James Callow Keyword(s): FEAR TEST

Subject headings: Favorites
PROSE NARRATIVE -- Stupid man or woman
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- October 31 Halloween

Date learned: 11-22-1967

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MODEST: ONE WHO WEARS THE LATEST FASHIONS.

Where learned: TEXAS ; WACO

James Callow Keyword(s): DEFINITION ; HUMOR ; PUN ON "MOD"--FOR THE LATEST, THE MOST MODERN.

Subject headings: PROVERB -- Proverbial Apothegm Maxim

Date learned: 05-29-1970

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Numerology

If you are not sure of a true or false answer on a test, take the number of the question, divide it by 2 (drop the fraction if there is one), and add 7 to that number. If the final answer is even, then the answer to the question is true, and if odd, the answer is false.

Data entry tech comment:

Motif submitted by TRD.

Where learned: APARTMENT

Keyword(s): Cheat ; MATHEMATICS ; NUMEROLOGY ; TEST ; True or False

James Callow Keyword(s): NUMEROLOGY

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Use of Object

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Caught

Three men: a Catholic, Jew and Protestant; were digging a ditch in front of a house of inequity. They looked up and saw the Rabbi coming down the street. The Rabbi stopped in front of the house, looked both ways and ran up the steps. When this happened the Catholic and Protestant really gave it to the Jew. A little later, the Protestant minister came down the street, stopped in front of the house, looked both ways and ran up the steps. Well now it was the Protestant's turn to be razzed. A little later the three saw a Catholic priest walk up to the front of the house, look both ways and run up the steps. The Catholic man yelled "There must be somebody sick in there!"

Data entry tech comment:

Motifs added by TRD

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT

Keyword(s): ALLUSION TO PROSTITUTION ; Catholic ; HUMOR ; Jewish ; JOKE ; PROSTITUTION ; Protestant ; RELIGION

Subject headings: PROSE NARRATIVE -- Jest Anecdote

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Ethnic: Yugoslavian

Wedding:

In Yugoslavia, the bride must bring 40 different items with her to prove that she is versatile and can do all these things. If she fails to do this she can't get married.

Submitter comment:

Recounted from Mrs. Benestelli's mother, a neighbor, who just returned home from Yugoslavia.

Data entry tech comment:

Motifs added by TRD

James Callow comment:

Original BN [F572] crossed out and replaced with current classification.

Where learned: PENNSYLVANIA ; NEIGHBORS HOME ; PITTSBURGH

Keyword(s): Chores ; CUSTOMS ; Domestic ; MARRIAGE ; TEST ; WEDDING

Subject headings: CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Marriage

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