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James Callow Folklore Archive

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The James T. Callow Folklore Archive

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PASTIME

WHENEVER DANDELIONS WERE IN SEASON, THE CHILDREN IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD
WOULD PINCH UNDER THE TOP OF THE FLOWER, CAUSING IT TO BREAK OFF THE
STEM. THE FLOWER WOULD THEN FLY THROUGH THE AIR. AT THE SAME
TIME, THE FOLLOWING WAS CHANTED: MM
MAMA HAD A BABY
AND ITS HEAD POPPED OFF.

Submitter comment: THE COLLECTOR FIRST HEARD OF THIS DANDELION PASTIME AS A CHILD IN
TAYLOR, MICH. IN 1970 AND CONTINUED PLAYING IT UPON MOVING TO
SOUTHGATE, MICH. AN ANALOGY IS MADE BETWEEN A MOTHER'S BABY AND
A DANDELION FLOWER. WHEN PLAYED AS DESCRIBED, NO COMPETITION IS
INVOLVED. HOWEVER, WITH TWO OR MORE CHILDREN, THE ELEMENT OF
DISTANCE IS PRESENT AND THE WINNER IS THE ONE WHO POPS THE FLOWER
THE FARTHEST. THIS IS SIMILAR TO THE BEHEADING OF A FLOWER AS
IT RELATES AS A SYMBOL OF A BABY.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; USA ; SOUTHGATE

James Callow Keyword(s): BEHEADING OF FLOWER (BABY)

Subject headings: Favorites
Ballad Song Dance Game Music Verse -- Special Object or Implement
Ballad Song Dance Game Music Verse -- Narrative Verse
Ballad Song Dance Game Music Verse -- Game Verse Game Verse
BELIEF -- Plant
BELIEF -- Street Trip Relations between relatives, friends, host and guest Social class Rank
PROVERB -- Proverbial Comparison

Date learned: 00-00-1970

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WEDDING SHOWER CUSTOMS AND SUPERSTITIONS

AT WEDDING SHOWERS, THE RIBBONS AND BOWS ARE COLLECTED FROM THE
GIFTS AND SAVED BY MAKING A SLIT IN A PAPER PLATE AND INSERTING
THEM INTO PLACE. WHEN THE BRIDE-TO-BE OPENS HER GIFTS, SHE SHOULD
NOT BREAK, CUT OR TEAR THE RIBBONS. THE NUMBER SHE BREAKS IS AN
INDICATOR OF THE NUMBER OF CHILDREN SHE WILL CONCEIVE. A
VARIATION IS THE NUMBER OF BOWS BROKEN IS EQUAL TO THE NUMBER OF
YEARS SHE WILL WAIT TO HAVE HER FIRST BABY.

Submitter comment: THE CUSTOM OF SAVING RIBBONS WAS FIRST HEARD BY THE COLLECTOR IN
1976. IT IS A RITE OF PASSAGE CEREMONY IN WHICH THE BRIDE-TO-BE
CHANGES FROM SINGLE TO MARRIED LIFE. HERE TWO VARIATIONS CAN BE
ILLUSTRATED. EACH IS DIFFERENT ALTHOUGH THE MAIN IDEA IS SIMILAR.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; USA ; SOUTHGATE

Subject headings: 686 Properties attributed to specific numbers or numerals individually.
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Birth
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Marriage Bows
BELIEF -- Birth
BELIEF -- Marriage
BELIEF -- Number Counting beliefs
BELIEF -- Use of Object

Date learned: 06-00-1978 ; 10-00-1976

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PASTIME

THE FOLLOWING IS A VERSE SUNG AND PLAYED BY YOUNG CHILDREN. IT IS
ASSOCIATED WITH VARIOUS HAND MOTIONS WHICH ARE PLAYED AGAINST A
SECOND PERSON'S BACK. MM
GOING ON A TREASURE HUNT
X MARKS THE SPOT.
DOT, DOT, DASH, DASH, QUESTION MARK.
POKE HER HERE,
POKE HER THERE.
CLIMBING UP THE LADDER,
STEP BY STEP,
GUSHING THROUGH THE MUD.
COOL OCEAN BREEZE.
TIGHT SQUEEZE.
AND NOW YOU HAVE THE CHILLS.

Submitter comment: THIS VERSE WAS FIRST HEARD BY THE COLLECTOR IN 1976 FROM A GRADE
SCHOOL AGE SISTER. THIS IS USUALLY CONSIDERED A PASTIME. HOWEVER,
WHEN THE OBJECT IS TO GIVE THE PERSON THE CHILLS, A GOAL IS
ESTABLISHED AND SUCCESS DEPENDS ON ITS ACHIEVEMENT. THE HAND
MOTIONS CORRELATE TO THE LINES SUNG. HERE, GUSHING IS AN EXAMPLE
OF AN ONOMATOPEIA.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; USA ; SOUTHGATE

James Callow Keyword(s): ONOMATOPEIA: GUSHING

Subject headings: Ballad Song Dance Game Music Verse -- Children
Ballad Song Dance Game Music Verse -- Athletic sport and exercise Gymnastics
Ballad Song Dance Game Music Verse -- Game Verse Game Verse
BELIEF -- Means of Causing or Avoiding Illness
SPEECH -- Vocabulary

Date learned: 10-00-1980 ; 06-00-1976

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JUMP-ROPE RHYME

THE FOLLOWING IS A JUMP ROPE RHYME ACCOMPANIED BY DIFFERENT ARM AND
LEG MOVEMENTS. MM
NOT LAST NIGHT, BUT THE NIGHT BEFORE
TWENTY FOUR ROBBERS CAME KNOCKING AT MY DOOR.
AS I STEPPED OUT, THEY STEPPED IN
AND THIS IS WHAT THEY SAID TO DO. MM
LADY, LADY TURN AROUND.
LADY, LADY TOUCH THE GROUND.
LADY, LADY TIE YOUR SHOE.
AND THIS IS WHAT THEY SAID TO DO.

Submitter comment: THE COLLECTOR HEARD OF THIS FIRST IN 1970 AS A CHILD IN TAYLOR,
MICHIGAN. IT MAY BE A VARIATION OF TANGLETALK SINCE THERE ARE
CONTRADICTORY STATEMENTS. THIS IS AN ACTION RHYME WHICH REQUIRES
THE JUMPER TO PERFORM SIMPLE TASKS WHILE JUMPING. THE OPENING
SECTION IS A PLAIN RHYME WHICH THE JUMPER SIMPLY CHANTS A RHYME
TO THE RHYTHM OF HER JUMPING.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; USA ; SOUTHGATE

Subject headings: Ballad Song Dance Game Music Verse -- Singing Dancing Marching
Ballad Song Dance Game Music Verse -- Special Object or Implement
Ballad Song Dance Game Music Verse -- Narrative Verse
Ballad Song Dance Game Music Verse -- Game Verse Game Verse

Date learned: 10-00-1980 ; 00-00-1970

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PRACTICAL JOKE AND PRANK

TWO PRACTICAL JOKES THAT ARE PLAYED AT PAJAMA PARTIES WITH THE
LIGHTS OUT INVOLVES THE UNSUSPECTING PERSON GETTING HIS FACE DIRTY.
THE FIRST INVOLVES PUTTING A GLASS OF WATER OVER A FLAME. THE
FORTUNE TELLER TELLS THE PERSON TO RUB UNDER THE GLASS WITH THEIR
FINGERS AND THEN RUB THEIR FINGERS ONTO THEIR FACE. WHEN THE
LIGHTS GO ON, HE DISCOVERS HIS FACE FULL OF SOOT. THE SECOND ONE
INVOLVES TAKING A QUARTER AND OUTLINING IT WITH A PENCIL. THIS
CAUSES SOME OF THE LEAD TO STAY ON THE OUTSIDE OF THE QUARTER ON
THE RIDGES. THE UNSUSPECTING PERSON IS TOLD TO ROLL THE QUARTER ON
HIS FACE AND HE WILL GET A WISH. OF COURSE, WHEN HE LOOKS IN THE
MIRROR, HE HAS LINES PENCILLED ALL OVER.

Submitter comment: THE COLLECTOR FIRST HEARD THIS PRANK IN TAYLOR, MICH. IN 1970. IT
WAS ACCOMPANIED BY A DRAMATIC AND LONG SESSION OF FORTUNE TELLING.
OF COURSE, ONLY ONE PERSON COULD BE DUPED PER SESSION SINCE ALL
OTHERS WOULD BE IN ON IT AND WATCHING EAGERLY.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; USA ; SOUTHGATE

Subject headings: CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Entertainment Diversion
BELIEF -- Prayer

Date learned: 10-00-1980 ; 00-00-1970

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TAUNT

LITTLE CHILDREN WILL TRY TO TEASE THEIR FRIENDS WITH THE FOLLOWING; MM
QUESTION - WHAT DID YOU HAVE FOR BREAKFAST?
ANSWER - PEA GREEN SOUP MM
QUESTION - WHAT DID YOU HAVE FOR LUNCH?
ANSWER - PEA GREEN SOUP MM
QUESTION - WHAT DID YOU HAVE FOR DINNER?
ANSWER - PEA GREEN SOUP MM
QUESTION - WHAT DID YOU DO ALL NIGHT?
ANSWER - PEA GREEN SOUP

Submitter comment: THE COLLECTOR FIRST HEARD THIS IN 1976 FROM A YOUNGER SISTER. IT
IS A CATCH QUESTION EMPHASIZING REPETITION TO EMBARRASS THE UNWARY.
PEA GREEN SOUP IS USED IN TWO DIFFERENT CONTEXTS - FIRST AS A NOUN
AND THEN AS A VERB. PEE IS USED AS A SLANG WORD FOR URINATE.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; USA ; SOUTHGATE

James Callow Keyword(s): CATCH ; SLANG: PEE FOR URINATE

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

Date learned: 10-00-1980 ; 09-00-1976

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PRACTICAL JOKE AND PRANK: TONGUE HOLDER

IF YOU WANT TO EMBARRASS SOMEONE, HAVE THEM HOLD THEIR TONGUE
WHILE SAYING THE FOLLOWING: MM
MY DADDY WORKS IN A SHIPYARD PITCHING ASHES. MM
THE RESULT WILL SOUND LIKE: MM
MY DADDY WORKS IN A SHITYARD PINCHING ASSES.

Submitter comment: THIS PRANK WAS FIRST HEARD BY THE COLLECTOR IN 1970. IT
IS A PLAY ON WORDS AND HAS THE OPPOSITE EFFECT AS A PRETENDED
OBSCENE RIDDLE. IT IS SIMILAR TO A TONGUE TWISTER IN THAT A
DIFFERENT SENTENCE FROM THE ORIGINAL IS PRODUCED. THIS CAUSES
EMBARRASSMENT TO THE UNKNOWING.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; USA ; SOUTHGATE

Subject headings: SPEECH -- Phonology Phonetics
SPEECH -- Formula

Date learned: 10-00-1980 ; 00-00-1970

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APRIL FOOL'S DAY PRANK

A POPULAR APRIL FOOL'S JOKE IN GRADE SCHOOL IS TO SWITCH A TEACHER'S
DESK FOR A STUDENT'S DESK. WHEN THE TEACHER WALKS INTO THE ROOM,
THE CLASS TROUBLE MAKER IS CONDUCTING CLASS.

Submitter comment: THIS HARMLESS APRIL FOOL'S DAY PRANK WAS FIRST LEARNED BY THE
COLLECTOR IN TAYLOR, MICH. IN 1970. THIS IS A ROLE-REVERSAL
TECHNIQUE BETWEEN THE CONVENTIONAL ROLES OF STUDENT AND TEACHER.
WITH THE ADDITION OF THE CLASS TROUBLE MAKER, IT SEEMS THAT THE
JOKE WOULD HAVE A HIGHER IMPACT.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; USA ; SOUTHGATE

Subject headings: CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- April 1 April Fools
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- April 1 (April Fool's Day)
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Entertainment Diversion

Date learned: 10-00-1980 ; 00-00-1970

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Whenever a black cat crosses in front of my mother, something
tragic will happen. When the cat crosses her path, she tells her
family to be extra careful because something wrong will happen.
Usually when my mom sees a black cat, she'll stay inside all day.

Submitter comment: My mother is a very superstitious person, especially when it
comes to black cats.

Where learned: USA

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Mammal
BELIEF -- Color
BELIEF -- Bad luck

Date learned: 00001950S

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Whenever someone sneezes, after say "God Bless You" to them.

Where learned: USA

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Product or activity of man or animal
BELIEF -- Prayer
SPEECH -- Formula

Date learned: 00001950S

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showing 10 items

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