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The James T. Callow Folklore Archive

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FREEZING WATER

I MET A PERSON WHO FIRMLY BELIEVED THAT HOT WATER FROZE BEFORE
COLD WWATER. THIS MAN WAS FROM DENMARK AND I QUESTIONED HIS
RELATIVES ABOUT THE SAME PHENOMENON. THEY ALL BELIEVED THIS
SAME THING--THAT PLACING TWO PANS OF WATER (ONE HOT, ONE COLD)
OUT IN THE FREEZING COLD, THAT THE HOT WATER WOULD FREEZE FIRST.
I TRIED TO CONVINCE THEM OTHERWISE BUT TO NO AVAIL. THEY ACCUSED
ME OF SWITCHING PANS. I COULD ONLY CONCLUDE THAT SOMEONE IN
THEIR FAMILY OR CIRCLE OF FRIENDS HAD TRIED THIS EXPERIMENT AND
HAD COME BACK TO FIND ONE PAN OF WATER FROZE AND THE OTHER PAN
FILLED WITH COLD WATER. PRESTO, HOT WATER FREEZES BEFORE COLD
WATER.

Submitter comment: AT THE TIME OF OBSERVING THEIR BELIEF I COULD HARDLY SEE THE
HUMOR OF THEIR ERROR. I WAS AT THE TIME TRYING TO UNFREEZE
MR. H'S WATER PUMP BY POURING HOT WATER OVER AND THROUGH IT.
DUE TO HIS INSISTENCE, I HAD TO SWITCH TO COLD WATER.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; FRASER

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Mammal

Date learned: 12-00-1963

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FULL MOON EFFECTS

IN ENGLAND A MAN WILL NOT BE EXECUTED IF HE CAN PROVE THAT HE
COMMITTED HIS CRIME DURING THE TIME OF A FULL MOON. THEY HAVE
LAW AGAINST EXECUTION DURING THIS TIME.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; FRASER

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Planet

Date learned: NOT GIVEN

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TALKING OF EVIL

THIS PERSON BELIEVES THAT IF ANYONE SPEAKS OF EVIL,
ESPECIALLY OF NOT WORRYING ABOUT THE EVIL,
THEN HE OR SHE IS TEMPTING FATE TO STRIKE THIS
PERSON WITH THE EVIL THAT THEY ARE TALKING ABOUT.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; FRASER

Subject headings: Charm / Enchantment / Conjuration
BELIEF -- Fate Destiny Luck Chance

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FIRST COMPANY

MRS. SULLIVAN AND HER NEIGHBORS BELIEVE THAT GUESTS ON THE
FIRST DAY OF A NEW YEAR WHO ENTER BY ONE DOOR AND
LEAVE BY ANOTHER WILL FORETELL BY THIS ACTION THAT MANY
GUEST (MORE THAN USUAL) WILL VISIT THE HOUSE IN THE
ENSUING YEAR. THE MAJORITY OF THESE VISITORS WOULD BE MERELY
ACQUAINTANCES PEOPLE NOT TOO CLOSE TO THE FAMILY. SO THE
HOUSE IS CURSED TO BEING SOMETHING LIKE A TRAIN STATION.
CROWDS OF IMPERSONAL PEOPLE WILL COME AND GO, FEW
BRINGING WITH THEM THE WARMTH OF REAL FRIENDSHIP.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; FRASER

Subject headings: Observation
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- January 1 New Year's
BELIEF -- Street Trip Relations between relatives, friends, host and guest Social class Rank

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SEEING THE PERSON THAT YOU'RE GOING TO MARRY

MY MOTHER IS FILLED WITH ALL SORTS OF SUPERSTITIONS.
I REMEMBER ONCE AS WE VISITED MY GRANDFATHER'S BUSINESS
OFFICE, WHICH STILL HAD A POT-BELLIED STOVE IN IT, THAT SHE
TOLD US (CHILDREN) THIS ONE.
AS WE WERE WARMING OURSELVES BY THE POT-BELLIED STOVE
SHE SAID THAT WHEN SHE WAS A GIRL HER MOTHER ALWAYS
TOLD HER THAT IF SHE WANTED TO SEE THE PERSON THAT SHE
WOULD MARRY THEN HERE WHAT ONE SHOULD DO. FIRST STRIP
DOWN NAKED AND GO OUTSIDE (AFTER DARK, OF COURSE) AND
RUN AROUND THE HOUSE THREE (3) TIMES, WHILE REMAINING
COMPLETELY NAKED. THEN COME INSIDE AND LOOK INTO THE
FLAMES OF THE FIRE, EITHER IN THE POT-BELLIED STOVE OR FIRE PLACE,
BEFORE LOOKING AT ANYTHING ELSE. IN THE FLAMES YOU WILL SEE
THE PERSON THAT YOU ARE GOING TO MARRY. MY MOTHER NEVER TOLD
WHETHER SHE HAD TRIED THIS.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; FRASER

Subject headings: Observation

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THE FIRST DOLLAR A MAN EARNS SHOULD BE HUNG PROMINENTLY ON A WALL AT
HIS PLACE OF BUSINESS TO BRING GOOD LUCK.

Submitter comment: THE INFORMANT'S PARENTS WERE BORN IN LEBANON, AND HIS FATHER PLACED A
DOLLAR FROM THE FIRST PAYCHECK HE EARNED IN THE U.S. ABOVE THE FRONT
DOOR OF HIS HOME SINCE HE DID NOT HAVE HIS OWN PLACE OF BUSINESS.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; FRASER

Subject headings: 686 Properties attributed to specific numbers or numerals individually.
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Home
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Work Commerce Business
ART CRAFT ARCHITECTURE -- Wall Partition Door Window
BELIEF -- Measure of quality Monetary systemMoneyWealth
BELIEF -- Good luck Money

Date learned: 03-00-1982

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IF YOU WALK OVER A CHILD LYING ON THE FLOOR, YOU MUST WALK BACK OR
THE CHILD WILL NOT GROW ANYMORE.

Submitter comment: THE INFORMANT HEARD THIS FROM HIS MOTHER, WHO WAS BORN IN LEBANON AND
HEARD IT THERE. NEITHER THE INFORMANT NOR HIS MOTHER TAKE THIS
SUPERSTITION SERIOUSLY.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; FRASER

James Callow Keyword(s): POSITION DIRECTION

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Product or activity of man or animal
BELIEF -- Means of Causing or Avoiding Illness

Date learned: 03-00-1982

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PALMS RECEIVED ON PALM SUNDAY SHOULD BE PLACED ON THE FOUR CORNERS
OF ONE'S PROPERTY TO KEEP AWAY NATURAL DISASTERS.

Submitter comment: THE INFORMANT HEARD THIS BELIEF FROM HIS MOTHER, WHO IS OF POLISH
HERITAGE, BUT NEITHER ONE TAKES THIS BELIEF SERIOUSLY.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; FRASER

Subject headings: 663 Palm Sunday
686 Fourths / Quarters
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Measure of space: distance, height, depth
BELIEF -- Weather sign or control

Date learned: 03-00-1982

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"THE BUMBLE BEE SONG"

I'M BRINGING HOME MY BABY BUMBLE BEE,
WON'T MY MOMMY BE SO PROUD OF ME,
I'M BRINGING HOME MY BABY BUMBLE BEE,
OOOH! HE STUNG ME!
I'M SQUISHING UP MY BABY BUMBLE BEE,
WON'T MY MOMMY BE SO PROUD OF ME,
I'M SQUISHING UP MY BABY BUMBLE BEE,
OOOH! WHAT A MESS!
I'M LICKING UP MY BABY BUMBLE BEE,
WON'T MY MOMMY BE SO PROUD OF ME,
I'M LICKING UP MY BABY BUMBLE BEE,
OOOH! MY TUMMY HURTS!
I'M THROWING UP MY BABY BUMBLE BEE,
WON'T MY MOMMY BE SO PROUD OF ME,
I'M THROWING UP MY BABY BUMBLE BEE,
OOOH! WHAT A MESS!
I'M SWEEPING UP MY BABY BUMBLE BEE,
WON'T MY MOMMY BE SO PROUD OF ME,
I'M SWEEPING UP MY BABY BUMBLE BEE,
BYE, BYE, THERE HE GOES!
I THINK I SEE ANOTHER BUMBLE BEE,
WON'T MY MOMMY BE SO PROUD OF ME,
I THINK I SEE ANOTHER BUMBLE BEE,
OOOH! I CAUGHT HIM!
I'M BRINGING HOME MY BABY BUMBLE BEE............

Submitter comment: THIS IS ANOTHER INFINITE LOOP-TYPE SONG. IT CAN BE SUNG
UNTIL THE SINGERS ARE TIRED OF IT.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; FRASER

Keyword(s): INSECT

James Callow Keyword(s): VERSE ROUND

Subject headings: PROSE NARRATIVE -- Formula tale
Ballad Song Dance Game Music Verse -- Ballad Epic
Ballad Song Dance Game Music Verse -- Good humor Jest

Date learned: 00001970S

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"OUTHOUSE SONG"

I'M A JUVENILE DELINQUENT,
I CAN'T GO HOME ANYMORE.
I BEAT UP SINNERS AND I DRINK WITH BUMS,
AND I WAIT ON THE CORNER FOR MY PICK-UP TO COME.
OH I'M A JUVENILE DELINQUENT,
I CAN'T GO HOME ANYMORE.
MY MOTHER HATES ME AND MY FATHER BEATS ME,
AND I BET ON THE RACES CAUSE MY HORSES CAN RUN.
AND THEN THERE'S GRANNY,
SWINGIN' ON THE OUTHOUSE DOOR,
WITHOUT HER NIGHTY ON.
AND THEN THERE'S GRANDPA SCREAMIN' GRANNY GET YOUR NIGHTY BACK,
GRANNY GET YOUR NIGHTY BACK,
GRANNY GET YOUR NIGHTY BACK ON!
I REALLY MEAN IT!
GRANNY GET YOUR NIGHTY BACK ON.

Submitter comment: THE FIRST EIGHT LINES OF THIS STRANGE TUNE WERE SUNG TO
THE WELL-KNOWN MELODY WHICH WE RECOGNIZE AS "YANKEE DOODLE."

James Callow comment: TUNE OF "I'M A YANKEE DOODLE DANDY" MIGHT BE MEANT.

Where learned: HOME ; MICHIGAN ; FRASER ; COUSINS

Subject headings: Ballad Song Dance Game Music Verse -- Good humor Jest

Date learned: 00001970S

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If you leave food uneaten at a big family gathering
you will have bad weather the next day. Conversely,
if you make sure that all the food has been consumed,
you will be sure to have good weather on the morrow.

Submitter comment: Elinor heard this saying while a young girl. She has
been told that it is a German belief. To this day in her
family, the phrase "Finish it so it'll be a good day
tomorrow" is used to encourage everyone to eat.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; FRASER

Keyword(s): function, prediction, celebrations, meals

Subject headings: CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Measure of time Eating For menu, see N222.
BELIEF -- Measure of time WeekDayHour
BELIEF -- Measure of time Eating For menu, see N222.
BELIEF -- Use of Object Food
BELIEF -- Weather sign or control

Date learned: 00001950S

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(sung to a funeral dirge)
The worms crawl in
The worms crawl out
The worms play pinochle on your snout.
(spoken in a hushed and fearful tone)
When you see a hearse go by
You may be the next to die.
They wrap you up in a big white sheet
And drop you down a couple of feet.
(sung)
They eat out your eyes
They eat out your nose
They eat out the dirt that's between your toes.

Submitter comment: When I hummed the melody of the dirge in this song and
asked Elinor if she had learned a children's song with
this same tune, she knew exactly the one I was referring
to, and repeated the one that I had learned, word for word.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; FRASER

Keyword(s): Death, Burial, Decomposition, Gore

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

Date learned: 00001950S

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(sung to the tune of the Notre Dame fight song)
Cheers, cheers, for old Fraser High
You bring the whiskey
I'll bring the rye.
Send the Freshmen out for gin
And don't let a sober sophomore in. MM
Juniors and Seniors are always on the ball
They sober up on pure alcohol.
When your son comes staggering in
You'll know he's from Fraser High!

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; FRASER

Keyword(s): Drinking, Parody,

Subject headings: Ballad Song Dance Game Music Verse -- Good humor Jest
Ballad Song Dance Game Music Verse -- Ill humor Ridicule Mockery
Ballad Song Dance Game Music Verse -- Social reunion
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- School

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If you thank someone who gives you a plant, it will
not grow.

Submitter comment: Elinor really believes this saying to be true, and states
that she is very careful to avoid thanking someone for a
plant.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; FRASER

Keyword(s): superstition, vegetation, curse

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Plant
BELIEF -- P535
BELIEF -- Bad luck Plants

Date learned: 00001950S

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It is very unlucky to purchase Tarot Cards; they must be
given to you. Once someone gives them to you, you must wrap
them in silk and then place them in a satin bag for storage.
If you do not store them in this manner, they will bring you bad luck. You may only give the Tarot cards to someone who
really wants them.

Submitter comment: Elinor found out about these proscriptions regarding Tarot
cards when she casually mentioned to an acquaintance that she
was interested in buying some. The woman became alarmed that
Elinor might bring bad luck upon herself, and so gave her
the set which she owned, and instructed her in the proper
(safe) way to store them. Elinor was careful to follow the
instructions.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; FRASER

Keyword(s): occult, magic, precaution

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Use of Object
BELIEF -- Bad luck Objects

Date learned: 00001960S

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It is unlucky for someone who is not a Scorpio to
wear an opal.

Submitter comment: Elinor's great aunt was a Scorpio (Oct. 23 - Nov. 21),
and owned a lovely opal ring. Her daughter, Nettie, wanted
the ring, but her mother cautioned her against wearing it,
as it would bring bad luck. Nettie wore the ring anyway. The
first time she wore it, she was almost hit by a car. The
second time that she wore the opal, she had a mishap,
mangling the ring beyond repair, and losing the opal. After
that, Nettie believed what her mother had told her.
Nettie told this to Elinor as a warning, because they are both
Sagittarius. Elinor also was told by one of her students,
Molly, that she had a terrible string of bad luck for a
whole week, until she gave away her opal ring.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; FRASER

Keyword(s): Horoscope, proscription, advice, astrology, gems, jewelry

Subject headings: Favorites
ART CRAFT ARCHITECTURE -- Metal Stone Bone Precious stone Gem
BELIEF -- Mineral
BELIEF -- Bad luck Jewelry (gems, rings, etc.)
BELIEF -- Bad luck Time (year, season, week, hour, etc.) Occasion Event

Date learned: 00001960S

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Eraser Tag

This is a game that is usually played during lunch
time when it is too cold to go outside. One person
is designated as "it" or the chaser, while four
or five other players are selected to play. The "it"
places a chalkboard eraser on top of his/her head
and tries to tag someone without dropping the
eraser off their head. If they tag someone without
dropping the eraser then the person tagged becomes
"it" and the person who was "it" now becomes one
of the people trying not to be tagged. However, if
the eraser falls off "its'" head, that person is
out of the game and a new "it" is selected as well
as four or five new class members.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; FRASER

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

Date learned: 00001976 CA

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My uncle told me that Japanese people do not
put handles on their cups because they believe
that if it's too hot the cup shouldn't be picked up.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; FRASER

Subject headings: ART CRAFT ARCHITECTURE -- Color Design
Food Drink -- Service
BELIEF -- Product or activity of man or animal

Date learned: 00001990ca

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TO KILL A SNAKE

I HAVE LONG HAD A KIND OF DREAD FEAR OF SNAKES, ANY KIND
OF SNAKE. I'M SURE THAT MY FEAR WAS NOT HELPED OUT BY
SOME PEOPLE THAT I KNEW. I REMEMBER BEING TOLD BY A
CERTAIN MR. H., WHOSE OPINION I RESPECTED VERY HIGHLY AT
THE TIME, THAT REGARDLESS WHAT YOU DID TO TRY TO KILL
A SNAKE, IT WOULD NEVER DIE UNTIL THE SUN WENT DOWN.
YOU CAN'T IMAGINE MY HORROR AS I WOULD TRY DESPERATELY
TO KILL LITTLE GARTER SNAKES THAT I FOUND. I WOULD HACK
THEM INTO LITERALLY MILLIONS OF PIECES AND THEN STAND
BACK FEARFULLY AS I WAITED FOR THE DISMEMBERED
PIECES OF SNAKE TO REGROUP ITSELF AND ATTACK ME. AND
EVEN THOUGH NONE OF THEM EVER DID, I STILL RETURNED TO
THE SCENE OF MY ENCOUNTER, RIGHT AFTER SUNSET. I NO
LONGER BELIEVE IN THIS SUPERSTITION.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; FRASER

Subject headings: CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Death Funeral Burial
BELIEF -- Death Funeral Burial

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WHEN I WAS A CHILD, MY MOTHER WOULD CONSTANTLY FILL
MY BROTHER, SISTER AND MYSELF WITH BITS OF "NONSENSE,"
IN WHICH, I THINK, SHE REALLY BELIEVES. ONE OF
THESE BITS WAS, IF YOU TOOK A FRESH BUTTERCUP AND
HELD IT CLOSE UNDER A PERSON'S CHIN, THEN IF THE
PERSON'S CHIN SHOWED YELLOW (WHICH IN MY OPINION, IT
WOULD ALMOST HAVE TO, IF THE SUN WERE SHINING AND
REFLECTING ON THE BUTTERCUP), THEN THE PERSON WAS
MOST ASSUREDLY GOING TO GET MARRIED.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; FRASER

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Marriage Dating Courtship

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