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The James T. Callow Folklore Archive

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WHEN A PERSON ASKS HOW SOMETHING IS COMING ALONG AND
THE PERSON BEING ASKED DOESN'T WISH TO SPEAK AT THE
TIME THE PERSON BEING ASKED MAY PUT THE TIPS OF
HIS THUMB AND FOREFINGER TOGETHER AND FORM A CIRCLE
WITH THEM AND HOLD HIS OTHER 3 FINGERS TOGETHER AND
STRAIGHT UP, AND SHOW THIS SIGN TO THE PERSON WHO
ASKED AND HE WILL KNOW THAT ALL IS OK.

Where learned: PORT CHESTER ; NEW YORK, ASSUMED

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Sign Geometric figure Circle and other round forms
SPEECH -- All right O.K.

Date learned: NOT GIVEN

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GREETING-GESTURE

THERE IS A SPECIAL HANDSHAKE THAT IS USED IN THE
BOY SCOUTS WHERE THE MIDDLE FINGER AND THE FOREFINGER
ARE PLACED ON THE OTHER PERSON'S WRIST AND THE PALMS
ARE CLASPED AND THE THUMB IS PLACED ON TOP OF HIS
HAND AND THE RING FINGER AND PINKEY ARE PLACED ON THE
BOTTOM OF HIS HAND. THE HANDSHAKE IS GIVEN WITH THE
LEFT HAND.

Submitter comment: I WAS TOLD THIS IN THE SCOUTS IN 1961-1967.

Where learned: PORT CHESTER ; NEW YORK, ASSUMED

James Callow Keyword(s): POSITION DIRECTION

Subject headings: 602 Body Parts
SPEECH -- Body parts involved
SPEECH -- Greetings Salutations

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GREETING GESTURE

WHEN A PERSON MEETS A FRIEND AND THE OTHER PERSON
IS AT A DISTANCE, THE PERSON WAVES HIS ARM AND
HAND AND THIS IS A GREETING OF HELLO TO THE
OTHER PERSON.

Where learned: PORT CHESTER ; NEW YORK, ASSUMED

Subject headings: 602 Body Parts
SPEECH -- Body parts involved

Date learned: NOT GIVEN

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ROSES ARE PINK, FAIRIES ARE BLACK,
WHEN YOU ARE GONE, I'LL COME BACK.

Where learned: NEW YORK, ASSUMED ; ENDICOTT

Subject headings: Ballad Song Dance Game Music Verse -- Autograph Verse Roses are red and other such associations

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THE WAY IN WHICH A PERSON CAN TELL IF ANOTHER
PERSON IS A VAMPIRE IS BY HAVING THE SUSPECTED
PERSON LOOK INTO A MIRROR AND IF THERE IS NO IMAGE
THEN HE OR SHE IS A VAMPIRE. MM
IF A VAMPIRE IS EVER TO BE KILLED, A STAKE MUST BE
DRIVEN INTO ITS HEART.

Where learned: PORT CHESTER ; NEW YORK, ASSUMED

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Werewolf Vampire

Date learned: NOT GIVEN

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SCHOOL CUSTOM

IN COLLEGE THERE IS A TRADITIONAL WAITING PERIOD FOR A
TEACHER. IF THE TEACHER IS A FULL PROFESSOR, THE
WAITING TIME IS 20 MINUTES. IF HE IS NOT, THE WAITING
TIME IS 10 MINUTES. AFTER THIS TIME, THE STUDENTS MAY
LEAVE, IF THE TEACHER HAS NOT COME YET AND THE STUDENT
WON'T BE PENALIZED FOR IT.

Submitter comment: I WAS TOLD OF THIS IN 1967-68 AT UNIVERSITY OF DETROIT.

Data entry tech comment: NOT TRUE!

Where learned: PORT CHESTER ; NEW YORK, ASSUMED

Subject headings: CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- School

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A GESTURE MEANING "PEACE" IS MADE BY LIFTING UP
YOUR ARM STRAIGHT, MAKING A FIST, AND EXTENDING
THE FOREFINGER AND MIDDLE FINGER IN THE SHAPE OF
A V.

Where learned: NEW YORK, ASSUMED ; FRANKLINVILLE

Subject headings: SPEECH -- Wishes Wants Desires Predictions Victory Peace

Date learned: NOT GIVEN

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A DEROGATORY {OBSCENE} GESTURE IN AMERICA IS
MADE BY CLENCHING YOUR FIST AND UPLIFTING THE
MIDDLE FINGER TOWARD THE PERSON.

Where learned: NEW YORK, ASSUMED ; FRANKLINVILLE

Subject headings: SPEECH -- Derision Scorn

Date learned: NOT GIVEN

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WHEN A VOLUNTEER FIREMAN DIES IN FRANKLINVILLE, NEW
YORK, A BLACK BANNER IS DRAPED ACROSS THE FRONT
WHEN A PERSON DIES IN THE VILLAGE OF FRANKLINVILLE,
FRIENDS AND RELATIVES DONATE BOOKS TO THE TOWN
OF THE FIRE HALL.

Where learned: NEW YORK, ASSUMED ; FRANKLINVILLE

Subject headings: CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Death Funeral Burial

Date learned: NOT GIVEN

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EASTER CROSS

AN ITALIAN EASTER CUSTOM IS TO MAKE A CROSS OUT OF THE PALM LEAVES
RECEIVED IN CHURCH ON PALM SUNDAY. THIS CROSS IS MOUNTED ON THE WALL
AND IS TO REMAIN THERE THROUGHOUT THE EASTER SEASON. THIS BRINGS
GOOD LUCK.

Submitter comment: MY MOTHER AND GRANDMOTHER HAVE ALWAYS DONE THIS.

Where learned: NEW YORK, ASSUMED ; FRANKLINVILLE

Keyword(s): LUCK

Subject headings: 663 Palm Sunday
BELIEF -- Sign Geometric figure Cross and its various modifications
BELIEF -- Fate Destiny Luck Chance

Date learned: DATE NOT RECORDED BY COLLECTOR

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WHEN I WAS A YOUNG BOY, ABOUT TWELVE YEARS OLD, I HAD
TO PASS A HOUSE WHERE THERE WAS A RED HAIRED YOUNG
GIRL. I WOULD CLOSE MY EYES SO THAT I WOULD NOT
SEE, FOR IF I DID SEE, I WOULD CATCH NO FISH.

Where learned: ROCHESTER ; NEW YORK, ASSUMED

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Fish
BELIEF -- Sign Color

Date learned: 03-11-1972

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ROSES ARE RED, VIOLETS ARE BLUE,
PUT THEM TOGETHER AND THAT MAKES YOU!!

Where learned: NEW YORK, ASSUMED ; ENDICOTT

Subject headings: Ballad Song Dance Game Music Verse -- Autograph Verse Roses are red and other such associations

Date learned: 03-29-1960

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THREE FLIES UP

THREE FLIES UP IS A COMMON CHILDHOOD GAME. THE GAME FOLLOWS
THE USUAL RULES OF BASEBALL, WITH THE "BATTER" GIVEN THREE
OUTS, AND BOUNDARIES OF A FIELD ARE ESTABLISHED. THE GAME
IS USUALLY PLAYED BY TWO PEOPLE, A BATTER AND A FIELDER.
A RUBBER BALL IS THROWN AGAINST THE SIDE OF A TALL BRICK
WALL. THE OBJECT OF THE GAME IS FOR THE BATTER TO BOUNCE
THE BALL OFF THE WALL AND HAVE IT LAND IN THE FIELD
WITHOUT BEING CAUGHT, WHICH IS A HIT. RUNS ARE TALLIED
IN THE USUAL WAY, AND HOME RUNS ARE POSSIBLE, DEPENDING
ON THE FIELD BOUNDARIES. THE WINNER AT THE END OF THE
GAME HAS THE MOST RUNS.

Submitter comment: THIS GAME WAS PLAYED QUITE FREQUENTLY BY MYSELF DURING
CHILDHOOD.

Where learned: POUGHKEEPSIE ; NEW YORK, ASSUMED

Subject headings: Ballad Song Dance Game Music Verse -- Special Object or Implement Special Object or Implement

Date learned: NOT GIVEN

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STARLIGHT, STARBRIGHT
FIRST STAR I SEE TONIGHT.
I WISH I MAY, WISH I MIGHT,
HAVE THE WISH I WISH TONIGHT.

Submitter comment: LEARNED FROM SISTER.

Where learned: NEW YORK, ASSUMED ; HAMBURG

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Star
BELIEF -- Prayer

Date learned: 11-24-1967

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LAGOON MAN

ONE PLAYER IS SELECTED AS THE LAGOON MAN. HE IS BLIND
FOLDED, THEN ORDERED TO TWIRL AROUND. WHEN HE
STOPS, THOSE OTHER PLAYERS WHO HAVE TAKEN LEAVE
FROM HIM MUST ALSO STOP AND NOT MOVE. THE LAGOON MAN
PROCEEDS TO STEP FORWARD AND THE FIRST PLAYER HE
CORRALS IS THE NEW LAGOON MAN.

Submitter comment: I LEARNED THIS WHEN I WAS SMALL. I DON'T KNOW FROM WHO.

Where learned: NEW YORK, ASSUMED ; HAMBURG

Subject headings: Ballad Song Dance Game Music Verse -- Bodily Activity Song: Game, Pastime, Sport

Date learned: NOT GIVEN

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MIDNIGHT

ONE PLAYER IS THE FOX AND THE OTHER PLAYERS ARE THE
CHICKENS. THE FOX IS IN HIS DEN, A SMALL AREA
MARKED OFF AT ONE END OF THE PLAY SPACE. THE CHICKENS
APPROACH HIS DEN ASKING, "WHAT TIME IS IT?" THE FOX
MAY ANSWER ANY CLOCK TIME. WHEN HE ANSWERS "MIDNIGHT!"
THAT IS HIS SIGNAL THAT HE IS GOING TO CHASE THE
CHICKENS. AT THE SIGNAL, THE CHICKENS RUN FOR SAFETY.
THEY ARE SAFE WHEN THEY REACH A SPECIFIED AREA. ANY
WHO ARE CAUGHT BY THE FOX BEFORE REACHING SAFETY ARE
TAKEN TO HIS DEN AND ASSIST IN CATCHING THE CHICKENS
WHEN THE FOX SIGNALS. THE CHICKENS APPROACH THE FOX'S
DEN AND THE GAME CONTINUES UNTIL ALL THE PLAYERS ARE
TAGGED.

Submitter comment: SHE LEARNED FROM KIDS IN NEIGHBORHOOD.

Where learned: NEW YORK, ASSUMED ; HAMBURG

Subject headings: Ballad Song Dance Game Music Verse -- Bodily Activity Song: Game, Pastime, Sport

Date learned: 10-29-1967

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GUESSING GAME

A CERTAIN CHILDHOOD GUESSING GAME INVOLVES TRYING TO GUESS
WHAT OBJECT WAS PURCHASED AT A GROCERY OR DEPARTMENT STORE
FROM CLUES GIVEN BY A PERSON. THE PERSON LEADING THE
GAME BEGINS WITH THE WORDS, "I WENT TO THE STORE AND I
BOUGHT..." HE THEN GIVES SUBTLE HINTS AS TO WHAT THE
OBJECT MIGHT BE. IF A PARTICIPANT GUESSES WHAT THE
SUBJECT IS, THEN HE WILL CHOOSE THE NEXT ITEM TO BE
GUESSED AT. IF THE OBJECT IS NOT GUESSED AT CORRECTLY
AFTER A CERTAIN TIME, THE ANSWER IS GIVEN, AND THE
SAME PERSON CONTINUES WITH ANOTHER OBJECT TO BE GUESSED
AT. THIS GAME WAS PLAYED FREQUENTLY BY ME DURING
CHILDHOOD.

Where learned: POUGHKEEPSIE ; NEW YORK, ASSUMED

Subject headings: --

Date learned: NOT GIVEN

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BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION

MAKE A WISH ON YOUR BIRTHDAY CANDLES. THEN TRY TO BLOW
THEM OUT (ALL AT ONCE). IF ALL THE CANDLES ARE BLOWN
OUT, THE WISH WILL COME TRUE THAT YEAR. THE NUMBER
OF CANDLES LEFT BURNING REPRESENTS THE NUMBER OF
YEARS FOR THE WISH TO COME TRUE.

Submitter comment: FAMILY CUSTOM.

Where learned: NEW YORK, ASSUMED ; HAMBURG

Subject headings: CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Private birthday or anniversary
BELIEF -- Use of Object

Date learned: 12-01-1967

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Entry filtered.

MORON

Historical record from James Callow Folklore Archive.

DID YOU HEAR OF THE MORON WHO SLEPT ON THE CHANDELIER
BECAUSE HE WAS A LIGHT SLEEPER?

Submitter comment:

(HEARD) AT BOSTON COLLEGE

Where learned: NEW YORK, ASSUMED ; HAMBURG

Subject headings: PROSE NARRATIVE -- Stupid man or woman

Date learned: 11-24-1967

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RED SKIES AT NIGHT,
SAILOR'S DELIGHT.
RED SKIES IN MORNING,
SAILORS TAKE WARNING!

Submitter comment: AS A CHILD FROM HER MOTHER.

Where learned: NEW YORK, ASSUMED ; HAMBURG

Subject headings: BELIEF -- PC88 PC88.800

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