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Custom

Lenten Customs:

About two weeks before the Lenten fasting begins, the people of New Orleans celebrate the festival of "Mardi Gras."

Actually, "Mardi Gras" means "Fat Tuesday," and this is the day before Ash Wednesday. But the people celebrate for a couple weeks beforehand, much the same way as most people celebrate Christmas.

Mardi Gras is characterized by its magnificaent parades. Various groups spend enormous amounts of time, effort and money to make their floats as beautiful as possible. throughout the parade, people sit on the floats and throw trinkets, beads and other cheap toys to the crowds who clamor to see who can catch the most. Many of these articles are virtually worthless, but I have seen expensive beads, gold pieces and even $20.00 bills being thrown too.

Besides this, each parade has its own particular name (eg- the Rex Parade) and throws off "dubloons" with the name of the parade and that year stamped on it. A "dubloon" is a silver-dollar sized plastic coin, always in purple, gold or green. Long after Mardi Gras is over, people continue to trade dubloons-to try to get a dubloon of each color from each parade. This collection of worthless plastic coins can be quite valuable.

So the parades, dubloons, balls and parties make Mardi Gras the most festive time of the whole year in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Data entry tech comment:

Motifs added by TRD

Where learned: LOUISIANA ; New Orleans

Keyword(s): Beads ; Celebration ; CUSTOM ; Float ; Mardi Gras ; New Orleans ; Parade ; PARTY ; Trinkets

Subject headings: CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Spring Planting

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Entry filtered.

Joke: Off-Color

How did Helen Keller burn her fingers?

She was reading a waffle iron

Data entry tech comment:

Helen Keller was an American author, political activist and lecturer who lived from 1880-1968. She was deaf and blind.

Motifs added by TRD

Where learned: LOUISIANA ; New Orleans

Keyword(s): BLIND ; BLINDNESS ; BRAILLE ; DEAF ; Distasteful ; IRON ; JOKE

Subject headings: PROSE NARRATIVE -- Jest Anecdote

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Jokes

How do you fit four elephants in a Volkswagon?

Two in the front, and two in the back.

Data entry tech comment:

Entered by TRD

Where learned: LOUISIANA ; New Orleans

Keyword(s): AUTOMOBILE ; ELEPHANT ; Funny ; JOKE ; Volkswagon

Subject headings: RIDDLE -- Riddle Question

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LEGEND OF THE DOGWOOD

THE DOGWOOD TREE WAS ONCE A BEAUTIFUL SHADE OF WHITE, HOWEVER, WHEN
JUDAS ISCARIOT HUNG HIMSELF ON ITS BRANCHES AFTER BETRAYING CHRIST,
THE TREE BLUSHED PINK. IT REMAINS PINK TO THIS DAY.

Submitter comment: THIS IS AN OLD SOUTHERN LEGEND WHICH I WAS TOLD WHEN I LIVED IN
NEW ORLEANS, IN 1968

Where learned: LOUISIANA ; New Orleans

Keyword(s): COLOR

Subject headings: PROSE NARRATIVE -- Plant

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NEW ORLEANS MARDI GRAS

REGARDLESS OF WHEN ONE TRAVELS TO THE CITY OF NEW ORLEANS, THE
VISITOR IS SURE TO BE GREETED BY BEAUTIFUL AND HISTORIC SCENERY,
SUPERB CUISINE, AND A WILDLY PULSATING NIGHT LIFE. THOSE FORTUNATE
ENOUGH TO VISIT THIS CITY DURING THE ANNUAL PRE-LENTEN MARDI GRAS
FESTIVAL, HOWEVER, WILL SEE THIS ALREADY UNIQUE CITY TRANSFORMED INTO
A FUN-FILLED PARADISE THAT LITERALLY DEFIES JUSTIFIABLE DESCRIPTION.
MARDI GRAS, WHICH TRANSLATES FROM THE FRENCH TO MEAN "FAT TUESDAY"
IN ENGLISH, IS THE TRADITIONAL CELEBRATION MARKING THE END OF A
CARNIVAL SEASON THAT BEGINS ON THE TWELFTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS.
HISTORICALLY, IT IS A CELEBRATION THAT HAS BEEN PRACTICED FOR YEARS.
GEOGRAPHICALLY, IT IS A CUSTOM THAT OCCURS ON A WORLD WIDE SCALE.
AFTER VISITING NEW ORLEANS, HOWEVER, ONE WILL SWEAR THAT THIS
CELEBRATION IS THE SOLE PROPERTY AND INVENTION OF THIS SOUTHERN
LOUISIANA CITY, FOR NEVER WILL ONE SEE AN ENTIRE URBAN DEVELOPMENT
OF THIS SIZE SO GEARED TOWARD ONE GOAL -- SEEING THAT MILLIONS HAVE
THE MOST ENJOYABLE TIME OF THEIR LIVES. HAVING BEEN LUCKY ENOUGH
TO ATTEND THE MARDI GRAS CELEBRATION IN NEW ORLEANS, I BELIEVE THAT
MILLIONS DO INDEED HAVE THE TIME OF THEIR LIVES, AND ALMOST ALL
HOPE FOR THE OPPORTUNITY TO RETURN AGAIN. HERE, THEN, ARE JUST A
FEW OF THE FACTORS WHICH CONTRIBUTE TO THIS WILDLY FESTIVE CARNIVAL,
ALL OF WHICH (WITH THE EXCEPTION OF THE BALL SCHEDULE AND A FEW
TECHNICAL TERMS WHICH WERE PROVIDED BY TEXT BOOKS) I PERSONALLY
WITNESSED WHILE I WAS THERE.
MARDI GRAS DAY ITSELF OCCURS ON SHROVE TUESDAY, THE DAY BEFORE ASH
WEDNESDAY AND THE BEGINNING OF LENT TRADITIONALLY, THIS DAY MARKS
THE CULMINATION OF NEARLY TWO MONTHS OF MERRY-MAKING AND UNINHIBITED
INDULGENCE. IN NEW ORLEANS, THIS PERIOD THAT LEADS UP TO MARDI GRAS
IS MARKED BY A SERIES OF FORMAL MASQUERADE BALLS THAT ARE SPONSORED
BY BOTH SECRET AND WELL KNOWN SOCIAL ORGANIZATIONS. MILLIONS OF
DOLLARS GO INTO THE FUNDING OF THESE ELABORATE PRODUCTIONS, AND
SECURING AN INVITATION TO THE MORE ELITE BALLS IS NEARLY AN LM IMPOSSIBILITY.. THOSE ATTENDING THESE BALLS, THEREFORE, ARE
USUALLY MEMBERS OF THE SO CALLED "UPPER CLASS" OF NEW ORLEANS
SOCIETY. FOR A YOUNG LADY TO BE CHOSEN QUEEN OF SUCH A BALL IS
A MOST HONORED AND FLATTERING PRIVILEGE FOR BOTH HER AND HER FAMILY.
A CALANDER OF CARNIVAL BALLS FOR A TYPICAL YEAR IS PROVIDED BELOW,
WHICH SHOWS NOT ONLY THE EXTENSIVENESS AND TIGHT SCHEDULING OF THESE
PARTIES, BUT ALSO, PROVIDES AN ACCURATE LIST OF THOSE GODS WHO ARE
TRADITIONALLY HONORED DURING THIS CARNIVAL SEASON.

DECEMBER
31, MONDAY. BALL OF HARLEQUINS
JANUARY
5, SATURDAY. BALL OF TWELFTH NIGHT
6, SUNDAY. BALL OF OKEANOS
10, THURSDAY. BALL OF JUPITER
11, FRIDAY. BALL OF NAIADS
13, SUNDAY. BALL OF HERA
16, WEDNESDAY. BALL OF ACHAENS
16, WEDNESDAY. BALL OF DIANA
17, THURSDAY. BALL OF THERON
18, FRIDAY. BALL OF IRIS
19, SATURDAY. BALL OF OLYMPIANS
22, TUESDAY. BALL OF ORION
23, WEDNESDAY. BALL OF PANDORA
24, THURSDAY. BALL OF NEOBIANS
24, THURSDAY. BALL OF CUPID
25, FRIDAY. BALL OF CALIPHS OF CAIRO
26, SATURDAY. BALL OF BARDS OF BOHEMIA
28, MONDAY. BALL OF VIRGILIANS
30, WEDNESDAY. BALL OF HYPATIAYNS
31, THURSDAY. BALL OF NEREUS
31, THURSDAY. BALL OF MOKANA
FEBRUARY
1, FRIDAY. BALL OF EROS
1, FRIDAY. BALL OF MAIDS OF TROY
2, SATURDAY. BALL OF OSIRIS
3, SUNDAY. BALL OF ALLA
4, MONDAY. BALL OF ELENIANS
5, TUESDAY. BAL MASQUE
6, WEDNESDAY. BALL OF ALHAMBRA
7, THURSDAY. BALL OF DORIANS
8, FRIDAY. BALL OF APAROMEST
9, SATURDAY. BALL OF ATHENIANS
11, MONDAY. BALL OF PROMETHEUS
12, TUESDAY. BALL OF SPARTA
13, WEDNESDAY. BALL OF ORPHEUS
148 THURSDAY. BALL OF MITHRAS
15, FRIDAY. BALL OF LES MARIONETTES
16, SATURDAY. BALL OF PERSIA
16, SATURDAY. BALL OF OMARDZ
17, SUNDAY. BALL OF CARROLLTON
18, MONDAY. BALL OF OBERON
19, TUESDAY. BALL OF ATLANTEANS
19, TUESDAY. BALL OF THE KNIGHTS OF MARS
20, WEDNESDAY. BALL OF MYSTERY
238 WEDNESDAY. BALL OF BABYLON, PRECEDED BY PARADE
21 THURSDAY. BALL OF MOMUS, PRECEDED BY PARADE
21, THURSDAY. BALL OF ALPHEUS
22, FRIDAY. BALL OF HERMES, PRECEDED BY PARADE
23, SATURDAY. BALL OF MYSTIC CLUB
23, SATURDAY, BALL OF MOSLEMS
24, SUNDAY. BALL OF MID-CITY, PRECEDED BY AFTERNOON PARADE
248 SUNDAY. BALL OF VENUS, PRECEDED BY AFTERNOON PARADE
25, MONDAY. BALL OF PROTEUS, PRECEDED BY PARADE
26, TUESDAY. MARDI GRAS -- STREET MASKINGS; PARADES OF ZULU
KING, REX, KREWE OF ORLEANIANS; MANY NEIGHBORHOOD PARADES,
INCLUDING CARROLLTON; NIGHT PARADE OF MYSTIC KREWE OF COMUS;
BALLS OF REX, COMUS, AND ZULU.

BUT WHILE MASQUERADE BALLS ARE A VERY IMPORTANT PART OF THE MARDI
GRAS CELEBRATION, THEY CAN IN NO WAY COMPARE TO THE PARADES WHEN IT
COMES TO PURE MASS APPEAL. FOR MANY, IN FACT, THE PARADES ARE THE
HIGHLIGHT OF THE ENTIRE CARNIVAL SEASON. THE SCHEDULED PARADE
PROGRAM BEGINS OFFICIALLY ON THE THURSDAY NIGHT PRECEDING MARDI
GRAS, AND CONTINUES AT A RATE OF SOME FIVE PARADES PER DAY RIGHT
ON THROUGH TO MARDI GRAS NIGHT, WHEN THE PARADE COURTS OF COMUS AND
REX MEET AT ELEVEN OCLOCK P.M. IN WHAT IS PERHAPS THE PEAK OF THE
ENTIRE MARDI GRAS CARNIVAL. AND WHILE IT IS THE UNION OF THESE TWO
PARADES THAT EVENTUALLY BECOMES THE CENTER OF ATTENTION, ANY MAJOR
MARDI GRAS PARADE IS TRULY A SENSUAL TREAT FOR ALL WHO EXPERIENCE
IT. THE SIGHT OF A MARDI GRAS PARADE IS SIMPLY AWESOME. HUNDREDS
OF THOUSANDS, PERHAPS MILLIONS OF PEOPLE LINE THE WIDE BOULEVARDS
OF CANAL, ST. CHARLES, AND RAMPART STREETS WAITING FOR A CHANCE TO
SEE THE KING OF COMUS, OR REX, OR THE ZULU KING, THE LATTER, AS HE
MAKES HIS WAY FROM HIS BARGE ON THE MISSISSIPPI TO THE DESTINATION
POINT OF ALL MAJOR PARADES, THE MUNICIPLE AUDITORIUM. THE CROWD
THAT LINES THESE WELL TRAVELED PARADE ROUTES IS THE MOST COLORFUL
ONE TO BE SEEN ANYWHERE, AND THE ENERGY THAT IS GENERATED THROUGH
THEIR ANTICIPATION ALONE IS FANTASTICALLY EXCITING. MANY VIEWERS
WEAR COSTUMES THAT RIVAL THOSE OF THE PARADERS THEMSELVES. OTHERS
DANCE (WHERE THEY CAN FIND ROOM) TO THE RHYTHM OF A FAR OFF PARADE
BAND. STILL OTHERS WAIT IN EAGER ANTICIPATION (SOME WITH BUSHEL
BASKETS OR LONG HANDLED NETS IN HAND) FOR A CHANCE TO CATCH
ONE OF THE MANY TOKEN FAVORS THAT ARE TOSSED FROM THE PARADE FLOATS.
IF ONE IS LUCKY, HE WILL OUTDUEL SCORES OF OTHER HUNGRY SOUVINEER
SEEKERS AND EMERGE VICTORIOUS FROM A MAD SCRAMBLE FOR A CHEAP
TRINKET (A STRING OF PLASTIC BEADS OR AN IMITATION DOUBLOON) THAT
IS WORTH PERHAPS A FRACTION OF A CENT , AND YET, IS INVALUABLE AS
A MARDI GRAS SOUVINEER. AND THEN OF COURSE, THERE ARE THOSE WHO ,
WHETHER STRENGTHENED OR WEAKENED BY EXCESSIVE AMOUNTS OF THE
ALCOHOL THAT FLOWS SO FREELY, COULD CARE LESS ABOUT PARADES.
OCCASIONALLY, BEFORE THE ACTUAL ARRIVAL OF A LONG AWAITED PARADE,
A YOUNG MAN, A MILK CARTON FULL OF BEER IN HIS HAND, WILL FIND HIS
WAY OVER ONE OF THE RETAINING BARRIERS THAT LINE THE PARADE ROUTE.
IN THE MIDDLE OF CANAL STREET WITH THOUSANDS WATCHING HIS EVERY
ACTION, THE YOUTH RAISES HIS MILK CARTON IN A TOAST TO THE CROWD
AND TO MARDI GRAS. THE ONLOOKERS ROAR THEIR THUNDEROUS APPROVAL,
AND SECONDS LATER, ONE OF NEW ORLEANS FINEST, A THREE FOOT NIGHT
STICK IN HIS HAND, IS ESCORTING THE YOUNG MAN BACK INTO OBLIVION.
MINUTES LATER, HOWEVER, SOMEONE ELSE WILL STUMBLE UPON THE SAME
STAGE, AND THE ACT, WITH SOME CREATIVE VARIATION, WILL BE REPEATED.
WHEN THE PARADE FINALLY DOES ARRIVE, NO ONE IS EVER DISAPPOINTED.
THE ROARING CONVOYS OF POLICE MOTORCYCLES, FOLLOWED BY ROWS OF
STATELY MOUNTED POLICE ARE BOTH IMPRESSIVE AND FUNCTIONAL, AS THEY
CLEAR THE WAY FOR THE PARADE THAT FOLLOWS. EACH PARADE WILL CONSIST
OF AT LEAST TWENTY OR THIRTY FLOATS, INTERSPERSED BY MARCHING
PARADE BANDS OR TRUCKLOADS FULL OF JAZZY DIXIELAND MUSICIANS.
THE MASKERS ON THE FLOATS ARE A MOTLEY BUNCH, COSTUMED SO AS TO
DISPLAY THE THEME OF THE PARADE, AND ARE CONTINUALLY ACTIVE AS THEY
THROW BOTH KISSES AND TRINKETS TO THE WAVING AND SCREAMING CROWDS
BELOW THEM. AS THE LAST FLOAT PASSES BY, THE CROWD QUICKLY BREAKS
UP; WITH SOME PEOPLE FOLLOWING THE PARADE ON ITS WAY TO THE
AUDITORIUM; SOME GOING IN SEARCH OF ANOTHER PARADE, WHICH THEY
WILL INEVITABLY FIND; AND SOME HEADING DOWN FOR THE CHAOTIC
EXCITMENT OF THE FRENCH QUARTER.
FOR THOSE WHO ARE NOT INTERESTED IN PARADES, OR FOR THOSE WHO HAVE
ALREADY SEEN THEIR SHARE OF THEM FOR ONE DAY, NOTHING CAN BEAT THE
ROUND THE CLOCK EXCITMENT OF THE FRENCH QUARTER FOR PURE, NON-STOP
MARDI GRAS ENTERTAINMENT. IT IS IN THIS MOST FAMOUS SECTION OF NEW
ORLEANS THAT THE REAL GRASS ROOTS CELEBRATION OF MARDI GRAS SEEMS
TO TAKE PLACE. HERE, IN THIS HISTORIC DISTRICT THAT IS ALSO KNOWN
AS THE VIEUX CARRE (VEE-YUH CAR-RAY) OR "OLD SQUARE", JAZZ MUSIC,
CREOLE FOOD, AND WILD DANCING IN THE STREETS CONTINUE TWENTY FOUR
HOURS A DAY FROM THURSDAY NIGHT THROUGH MIDNIGHT ON MARDI GRAS.
ONE COULD EASILY ENJOY THESE SIX MOST ACTIVE DAYS OF THE MARDI
GRAS CELEBRATION WITHOUT EVER STEPPING BEYOND THE NINETY SQUARE
BLOCKS THAT MAKE UP THE FRENCH QUARTER. MANY PARTYERS, NO DOUBT,
DO EXACTLY THAT.
THE FRENCH QUARTER OFFERS AN ABUNDANCE OF ENTERTAINMENT FOR
EVERYONE, AND FEW PEOPLE, IT SEEMS, WILL EVER WANT TO SPEND LESS
THAN SEVERAL DAYS THERE. ACTIVITY IN THE FRENCH QUARTER IS A
TWENTY FOUR HOUR A DAY AFFAIR. DURING THE DAYLIGHT HOURS, ONE MAY
WANT TO JOIN THE CROWDS WHO STROLL UP AND DOWN THE HISTORIC STREETS,
PEEKING INTO QUAINT ANTIQUE SHOPS AND BEAUTIFULLY LANDSCAPED
COURTYARD GARDENS. OR ONE MAY SPEND THE BETTER PART OF A DAY
MERELY SAMPLING THE WIDE VARIETY OF CREOLE FOODS THAT ARE SOLD THERE.
RED BEANS AND RICE, MISSISSIPPI BAYOU CATFISH, SOFT SHELL CRABS,
OYSTERS ON THE HALF SHELL, GUMBO, JAMBALAYA A LA CREOLE, OR FRESH
CRAWFISH ARE JUST A FEW TASTY POSSIBILITIES. FURTHER, ONE WILL
SURELY WANT TO WALK DOWN TO THE JACKSON SQUARE AREA TO VISIT
HISTORIC SAINT LOUIS CATHEDRAL, THE FAMOUS CABILDO, PIRATES ALLEY,
AND DOZENS OF ADDITIONAL LANDMARKS THAT SIMPLY MUST BE SEEN.
AS THE LATE AFTERNOON APPROACHES, HOWEVER, BE SURE TO GET ONE FINAL
LOOK AT THE "DAYLIGHT" FRENCH QUARTER, FOR ONCE DUSK FALLS, THE
QUARTER DOES A COMPLETE FLIPFLOP. THIS DISTRICT THAT WAS SO QUAINT
BY DAY BECOMES EXCITINGLY NAUGHTY AND WILD BY NIGHT. THE BEAUTIFUL
SECOND AND THIRD STORY WROUGHT IRON BALCONIES THAT LINE THE STREETS,
FOR THE MOST PART VACANT DURING DAYLIGHT HOURS, NOW BECOME HOTBEDS
OF ACTIVITY. MANY BALCONIES BECOME HOME BASE FOR NECKLACE AND
DOUBLOON PITCHERS WHO TEMPT THE TEEMING ELBOW-TO-ELBOW CROWDS
BELOW WITH THE SAME CHEAP TRINKETS THAT ARE THROWN DURING PARADES.
WILD SCRAMBLES ENSUE AS THESE COLORFUL REMEMBRANCES ARE DROPPED
TO THE EAGER STREET CROWDS BELOW. THOSE LUCKY ENOUGH TO CATCH A
STRING OF BEADS WEAR THEM PROUDLY AROUND THEIR NECK. OCCASIONALLY,
A BALCONY BECOMES A STAGE FOR AN UNINHIBITED YOUNG LADY AS SHE DANCES
EROTICALLY FOR THE CHEERING ONLOOKERS. IT SHOULD BE POINTED OUT,
OF COURSE, THAT DURING MARDI GRAS, SUCH DISPLAYS ARE TOLERATED BY
THE LAW. ON THE STREET BELOW, OPENINGS THAT WERE MERELY DOORWAYS
BY DAY BECOME TEMPORARY BEER, WINE, OR "HURRICANE" STANDS AT NIGHT
(A HURRICANE IS A VERY POTENT RUM BASED DRINK THAT IS EXTREMELY
POPULAR IN NEW ORLEANS). NO GLASS BOTTLES OR CANS ARE ALLOWED IN
THE FRENCH QUARTER DURING MARDI GRAS, BUT THE MERCHANTS WHO DEAL
IN SPIRITS OBLIGE THE THIRSTY CROWDS BY SELLING THEIR QUENCHING
DRINKS IN LARGE QUART OR FORTY OUNCE PAPER CUPS. A QUART OF DRAFT
BEER DURING MARDI GRAS USUALLY SELLS FOR ABOUT $1.50 .
DURING THE DAY, EVERY FRENCH QUARTER STREET APPEARS EQUALLY
INTERESTING, AND THE CROWDS SEEM EVENLY DISTRIBUTED AMONG THEM.
AT NIGHT, HOWEVER, BOURBON STREET UNDOUBTEDLY BECOMES THE CENTER
OF ATTENTION. LITERALLY FROM DUSK UNTIL DAWN, THE STREET IS
COVERED BY A CURB TO CURB CARPET OF HUMANITY. BOURBON STREET, LIKE
MOST OF THE NARROW VIEUX CARRE STREETS, IS CLOSED TO AUTOMOBILE
TRAFFIC DURING CARNIVAL EVENINGS, LEAVING IT FREE TO BECOME ANYTHING
FROM A LARGE DANCE FLOOR, TO AN INSTANT JAZZ BANDSTAND, TO AN
IMPROMPTU PARADE ROUTE. IMPRESSIONS OF BOURBON ON A CLEAR AND WARM
MARDI GRAS NIGHT WILL REMAIN ETCHED IN ONES MIND FOREVER, AS THE
MAGIC OF THIS STREET LITERALLY ATTACKS ALL OF ONES SENSES. PERHAPS
THE STRONGEST OF THESE OVERWHELMING IMPRESSIONS IS CREATED BY THE
PIERCING SOUND OF JAZZ MUSIC THAT CONTINUALLY FILLS THE AIR. DURING
MARDI GRAS, ONE SEEMS NEVER TO BE OUT OF EARSHOT OF THIS GREAT
SOUND THAT WAS BORN ON BOURBON STREET NEARLY A CENTURY AGO. THE
ARTISTS WHO PROVIDE THIS FINE MUSIC, CONTRARY TO WHAT ONE MAY EXPECT,
ARE NOT YOUNG MEN, BUT INSTEAD, ARE SEASONED VETERANS OF THE JAZZ
CIRCIUT, MANY OF WHOM ARE IN THEIR FIFTIES, SIXTIES, OR EVEN
SEVENTIES. THESE GREATS, IT SEEMS, ARE ATTRACTED TO THE FRENCH
QUARTER AS IF IT WERE A GIANT MAGNET DURING MARDI GRAS, THE BEST
OF THE BEST INVADE BOURBON STREET, AND BECAUSE OF THIS,
THE MUSIC THAT ONE HEARS HERE IS THE BEST DIXIE JAZZ TO BE HEARD
ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD. THE LARGE WINDOWS, WIDE OPENED
FRENCH DOORS, AND THE HIGH STAGES IN THE CLUBS WHERE THESE MASTERS
PERFORM ALLOW THE MUSIC AND THE MUSICIANS TO BE APPRECIATED NOT
ONLY BY THOSE INSIDE, BUT ALSO BY THE HYSTERICALLY HAPPY MASSES
WHO JAM THE STREETS. AND WHEN ONE IS READY TO TAKE A "REST" FROM
THIS MAD STREET SCENE, THERE IS A GOOD CHANCE HE WILL END UP AMONG
THOSE CROWDED TOGETHER IN THE STANDING ROOM ONLY GATHERING AT
PRESERVATION HALL, TO HEAR WHAT IS PERHAPS THE EPITOME OF SOLID
NEW ORLEANS JAZZ. THE CONSTANT SOUND OF JAZZ MUSIC THAT ROLLS OUT
INTO THE STREETS OF THE FRENCH QUARTER LEADS QUITE NATURALLY TO AN
ABUNDANCE OF UNCONTROLLABLE DANCING. MARDI GRAS, IT SEEMS, HAS
A WAY OF FREEING THE PENT UP INHIBITIONS OF ALL PRESENT, AND THIS
RELEASE MANIFESTS ITSELF BEST THROUGH WILD DANCING. YOUNG AND OLD
PEOPLE ALIKE, INSPIRED BY A FEW DRINKS, SOME GREAT MUSIC, AND THE
FACT THAT THEY ARE OFTEN INDISTINGUISHABLE BEHIND ELABORATE
COSTUMES, LET THEMSELVES GO. PERHAPS A COUPLE WILL SIMPLY START
DANCING ON A CROWDED STREET CORNER; OR MAYBE A HUGE CIRCLE OF
FIFTY OR SIXTY DANCERS WILL FORM SPONTANEOUSLY AROUND A "SPASM"
BAND, COMPRISED OF MUSICIANS PLAYING ON KAZOOS, EMPTY BEER CANS,
AND OLD TREE LIMBS. OR PERHAPS A SNAKE LIKE CARAVAN OF DANCING
BODIES WILL WIND ITS WAY THROUGH THE THRONG, LED BY A MAN IN A
GORILLA SUIT PLAYING A SOUR VERSION OF "WHEN THE SAINTS COME
MARCHING IN" ON A RUSTY TRUMPET. MINUTES LATER, ONE MAY FIND A
LARGE CROWD GATHERED AROUND A GROUP OF FOUR, EIGHT YEAR OLD BLACK
BOYS, TWO OF WHOM ARE FEVERISHLY TAP DANCING WHILE THE THIRD SHINES
THE SHOES OF INTERESTED ONLOOKERS AND THE FOURTH BUSILY CIRCULATES
THROUGH THE CROWD PASSING A BEAT UP OLD TOP HAT. THE CROWD
CONTRIBUTES GENEROUSLY, FOR THEY ARE BEING ENTERTAINED, AND THEY
LOVE EVERY MINUTE OF IT. BUT ASIDE FROM SIMPLY "BEING ENTERTAINED",
THE MARDI GRAS CROWD IS ALSO THE ENTERTAINER -- AND EVERYTHING ONE
SEES DURING MARDI GRAS, IN SOME STRANGELY INEXPLICABLE SENSE,
BECOMES AMUSING. ESPECIALLY WHILE IN THE FRENCH QUARTER, ONE NEVER
KNOWS WHERE TO LOOK NEXT. LOOK IN ONE DIRECTION, AND YOU CAN SEE
A BEAUTIFUL YOUNG LADY, DANCING ENTHUSIASTICALLY TO JAZZ MUSIC, WHO
REFUSES TO SPILL A DROP FROM THE CUP FULL OF BEER THAT BALANCES
STEADILY ON HER HEAD. LOOK IN ANOTHER DIRECTION, AND SEE SEVERAL
OVER-ZEALOUS DRINKERS, SLEEPING WITH BOWED HEADS ON NARROW
DOORSTEPS, WHO ARE COMPLETELY OBLIVIOUS TO THE NOISY CROWD THAT
SHUFFLES PAST THEM. FURTHER ENTERTAINMENT MAY BE PROVIDED BY A
DANCING SEVENTY YEAR OLD MAN SPORTING A FULL, GREEN BEARD; OR BY A
HELL AND DAMNATION PREACHER WHO CONDEMNS THE CROWD FOR THEIR LOOSE
AND CAREFREE LIFESTYLES; OR BY THE BANTERING BARKERS WHO TRY TO
LURE PASSERS-BY INTO THEIR BOURBON STREET STRIP PALACES, WHERE
THE DRINKS ARE WEAK AND THE PRICES ARE STRONG. IN TIME, IT SEEMS,
EVERYONE BECOMES THE CENTER OF ATTENTION OR THE PROVIDER OF A
GOOD, HEARTY LAUGH. THIS, PERHAPS, IS THE
KEY BEHIND THE CONTINUAL SUCCESS OF THE NEW ORLEANS MARDI GRAS
CARNIVAL. EVERYONE PARTICIPATES; PEOPLE LAUGH AT AND WITH EACH
OTHER; AND BECAUSE THOUSANDS IN FULL COSTUME MINGLE TOGETHER, IT
IS POSSIBLE, WITHIN THE SPAN OF A FEW MINUTES, TO WALK WITH DEATH,
DRINK RUM WITH BLUEBEARD, AND DANCE WITH A RED GORILLA. IT IS
A RELEASE THAT MANY PEOPLE NEED, AND ONE THAT SEEMS TO WORK
WONDERS FOR THOSE WHO PARTICIPATE IN THIS ANNUAL SPRINGTIME
CELEBRATION. ARRIVING HOME AFTER CELEBRATING MARDI GRAS IN SUCH
A WAY, MANY, NO DOUBT, WILL RECALL A SONG THEY HEARD SO MANY TIMES
WHILE WALKING THE STREETS OF THE FRENCH QUARTER, FOR NOW THEY TOO
"KNOW WHAT IT MEANS TO MISS NEW ORLEANS."

Data entry tech comment: AMEN

Where learned: LOUISIANA ; New Orleans

Subject headings: 663 Mardi Gras
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Spring Planting After all

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MARIE LAVEAU

AMONG SOME OF THE MORE SUPERSTITIOUS NEGROES OF SOUTHERN LOUISIANA
AND NEW ORLEANS IN PARTICULAR, THERE IS A PERSISTENT BELIEF
IN MARIE LAVEAU, THE VOODOO QUEEN OF NEW ORLEANS. BELIEVERS
MARK WITH CHALK ON HER TOMB WALL AND ASK FOR SUPERNATURAL
ASSISTANCE. ALSO, IT'S BELIEVED THAT SOIL FROM HER GRAVE HAS
MAGICAL PROPERTIES SO IT IS USED IN DIFFERENT VOODOO RITES.
MARIE LAVEAU'S GRAVE IN NEW ORLEANS DATES BACK TO THE LATE 18TH
CENTURY AND IS A WELL KNOWN PLACE FOR VOODOO FOLLOWERS. NEW
ORLEANS ABOUNDS WITH STORIES AND LEGENDS OF HER FANTASTIC LIFE.

Where learned: LOUISIANA ; New Orleans

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Witch Shaman
BELIEF -- Explanation of a name
BELIEF -- Emblem
BELIEF -- Use of Object

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MARIE LAVEAU

AMONG SOME OF THE MORE SUPERSTITIOUS NEGROES OF SOUTHERN LOUISIANA
AND NEW ORLEANS IN PARTICULAR, THERE IS A PERSISTENT BELIEF
IN MARIE LAVEAU, THE VOODOO QUEEN OF NEW ORLEANS. BELIEVERS
MARK WITH CHALK ON HER TOMB WALL AND ASK FOR SUPERNATURAL
ASSISTANCE. ALSO, IT'S BELIEVED THAT SOIL FROM HER GRAVE HAS
MAGICAL PROPERTIES SO IT IS USED IN DIFFERENT VOODOO RITES.
MARIE LAVEAU'S GRAVE IN NEW ORLEANS DATES BACK TO THE LATE 18TH
CENTURY AND IS A WELL KNOWN PLACE FOR VOODOO FOLLOWERS. NEW
ORLEANS ABOUNDS WITH LEGENDS AND STORIES OF HER FANTASTIC LIFE.

Data entry tech comment:

Informant and collector are the same person.

Where learned: LOUISIANA ; New Orleans

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Witch Shaman
BELIEF -- Explanation of a name
BELIEF -- Emblem
BELIEF -- Use of Object

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Entry filtered.

Joke: Off-Color

HOW DID HELEN KELLER SPRAIN HER FINGERS?
SHE FELL DOWN A WELL AND SPRAINED HER FINGERS SCREAMING FOR HELP.

Data entry tech comment:

updated 12-2010 by TRD

James Callow comment:

HELEN KELLER WAS DEAF AND BLIND
 

Where learned: LOUISIANA ; New Orleans

James Callow Keyword(s): SIGN LANGUAGE

Subject headings: PROSE NARRATIVE -- Jest Anecdote

Date learned: 00001972 (SUMMER)

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Entry filtered.

Joke: Off-Color

DID YOU HEAR ABOUT THE NEW HELEN KELLER DOLL?
YOU WIND IT UP AND IT WALKS INTO WALLS.

Data entry tech comment:

Updated on 12-2010 by TRD

James Callow comment:

HELEN KELLER WAS DEAF AND BLIND
 

Where learned: LOUISIANA ; New Orleans

James Callow Keyword(s): BLINDNESS

Subject headings: PROSE NARRATIVE -- Jest Anecdote

Date learned: 00001972 (SUMMER)

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Entry filtered.

HELEN KELLER JOKE

HOW DID HELEN KELLER BURN HER FINGERS?
SHE WAS READING THE WAFFLE IRON.

James Callow comment:

HELEN KELLER WAS DEAF AND BLIND

Where learned: LOUISIANA ; New Orleans

James Callow Keyword(s): BRAILLE

Subject headings: PROSE NARRATIVE -- Jest Anecdote

Date learned: 00001972 (SUMMER)

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Entry filtered.

Joke: Off-Color

WHY DOES HELEN KELLER PLAY THE PIANO WITH ONLY ONE HAND?
SHE SINGS WITH THE OTHER ONE.

Data entry tech comment:

updated on 12-2010 by TRD

James Callow comment:

HELEN KELLER WAS DEAF AND BLIND

Where learned: LOUISIANA ; New Orleans

James Callow Keyword(s): SIGN LANGUAGE

Subject headings: PROSE NARRATIVE -- Jest Anecdote

Date learned: 00001972 (SUMMER)

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DIVINING ROD HAS BEEN OFFICIALLY ADOPTED BY THE MARINES AND
ARMY. THE OBJECTS THEY USE ARE "ANY METAL STRIPS BENT
TOGETHER IN AN "L" SHAPE." IF THE PERSON HAS ANY TALENT,
THE "ROD" WILL MOVE.
THE REASON FOR THIS ADOPTION WAS THAT ONE SOLDIER FOUND
TUNNELS, GUNS, BOOBY TRAPS, ETC. IN VIETNAM BY USING
TWO BENT HANGERS.

Where learned: LOUISIANA ; New Orleans

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Water
BELIEF -- Use of Object

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MARIA LA VEAUX WAS THE VOODOO QUEEN. AFTER HER TIME IF YOU
FOUND BROKEN EGG SHELLS AND COFFEE GROUNDS ON YOUR
DOORSTEP, THAT WAS A SIGN YOUR HOUSE HAD A CURSE ON IT.

Submitter comment: SISTER IS FROM NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA

Where learned: LOUISIANA ; New Orleans

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Curse P644.860

Date learned: 08-00-1968

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WITCHES' BALL

A GLASS BALL OF ABOUT FIVE INCHES IN DIAMETER AND WITH
A HOLLOW INTERIOR IS PLACED OVER THE CREAM PITCHER
TO KEEP OUT WITCHES.

Submitter comment: I ACTUALLY SAW ONE OF THESE ON A TOUR OF HOMES IN
NEW ORLEANS' GARDEN DISTRICT. THE CUSTOM I BELIEVE
IS NOW OBSOLETE AND WAS RESTRICTED TO THE EARLY
PEOPLE OF THE AREA.

Where learned: LOUISIANA ; New Orleans

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Sign Geometric figure Circle and other round forms

Date learned: 02-20-1971

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Louisiana Funerals

My uncle and grandfather always told me of Louisiana-style
funerals where there were actually bands playing blues songs at the
funeral. After the memorial portion of the sermon, the funeral
procession would "march" to the place of interment to the beat of
blues songs. After gravesite services were over, the procession
would leave to the tune of "When the Saints Come Marching In."

Where learned: LOUISIANA ; New Orleans

Subject headings: Ballad Song Dance Game Music Verse -- Joy Happiness
Ballad Song Dance Game Music Verse -- Sorrow Unhappiness
Ballad Song Dance Game Music Verse -- Death
Ballad Song Dance Game Music Verse -- Dance
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Death Funeral Burial

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If you remove a mole or wart from your body, you will bleed
to death.

Where learned: LOUISIANA ; New Orleans

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Body part Senses
BELIEF -- Means of Causing or Avoiding Illness

Date learned: 00-00-1970

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If you don't burn your hair, someone can get a hold to it and
put a spell or something on you.

Where learned: LOUISIANA ; New Orleans

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Body part Senses
BELIEF -- Curse

Date learned: 00-00-1969

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Putting your purse or your wallet on the floor makes your
money stay low.

Where learned: LOUISIANA ; New Orleans

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Product or activity of man or animal
BELIEF -- Measure of quality Monetary systemMoneyWealth

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You should never split a pole or a tree or anything when
walkin' with another person. It may bring you bad luck. If you do
split it, to keep you from having bad luck, you have to go back
around whatever you split the same way you came.

Where learned: LOUISIANA ; New Orleans

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

Date learned: 00-00-1968

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