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The James T. Callow Folklore Archive

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IT'S NOT THE COUGH
THAT CARRIES YOU OFF.
IT'S THE COFFIN
THEY CARRY YOU OFF IN.

Submitter comment: HEARD AND SAID WHEN YOUNG, 1915-1920.

Where learned: PENNSYLVANIA ; PITTSBURGH

Keyword(s): DEATH ; HUMOR TANGLETALK PUN ; IAMBIC-DACTYLIC, FEMININE RHYME, WORD PLAY, REPETITION ; OBSERVATION, TONGUETWISTER ; QUATRAIN SURPRISE ENDING CONTRAST ; RHYME: AABB

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

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YOUR MOTHER AND MY MOTHER WERE HANGING CLOTHES.
MY MOTHER PUNCHED YOUR MOTHER RIGHT IN THE NOSE.
WHAT COLOR WAS HER BLOOD?
PERSON TOUCHED PICKS A COLOR AND THE COLOR IS SPELLED OUT,
LETTER BY LETTER.
(BLANK) SPELLS (COLOR PICKED) AND YOU ARE OUT!

Where learned: PENNSYLVANIA ; PITTSBURGH

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

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CUSTOM

WHEN BORROWING A PIN OR ANYTHING SHARP, ALWAYS GIVE THE LENDER A
PENNY SO YOUR FRIENDSHIP IS NOT BROKEN.

Submitter comment: INFORMANT HEARD AND SAW THIS PRACTICED SINCE SHE WAS YOUNG (1915),
BUT DOES NOT PRACTICE IT HERSELF. HOWEVER, SHE KNOWS SOME WOMEN
WHO DO PRACTICE THIS TODAY.

Where learned: PENNSYLVANIA ; PITTSBURGH

Subject headings: CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Street Trip Relations between relatives, friends, host and guest Social class Rank

Date learned: 10-02-1971

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SUPERSTITION

NEVER GIVE ANYONE A PURSE WITHOUT PUTTING A PENNY IN IT, OR IT WILL
BE BAD LUCK

Submitter comment: INFORMANT BELIEVES THIS AND PRACTICES IT.

Where learned: PENNSYLVANIA ; PITTSBURGH

Subject headings: CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Street Trip Relations between relatives, friends, host and guest Social class Rank

Date learned: 10-01-1971

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NEW YEAR'S CUSTOM

EXCHANGE APRONS AS GIFTS WITH FRIENDS ON NEW YEAR'S DAY TO KEEP
THE FRIENDSHIPS.

Submitter comment: INFORMANT PRACTICES THIS CUSTOM.

Where learned: PENNSYLVANIA ; PITTSBURGH

Subject headings: CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Street Trip Relations between relatives, friends, host and guest Social class Rank
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- December 21 solstice to March 20

Date learned: 10-02-1971

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THE BRIDGE TO NOWHERE

LATE IN THE 1950'S, CONSTRUCTION BEGAN ON A BRIDGE ACROSS THE
ALLEGHANY RIVER LINKING DOWNTOWN PITTSBURGH WITH THE CITY'S
NORTHSIDE. THE BRIDGE WAS BUILT AT GREAT EXPENSE, OR IT SHOULD
BE SAID THAT IT WAS ALMOST BUILT. ABOUT TWO YEARS AFTER CONSTRUC-
TION BEGAN, IT ENDED, SOME 40 FEET SHORT OF THE OPPOSITE BANK.
NOT ONLY WASN'T THERE ANY ROAD ON THE OTHER SIDE TO CONNECT THE
BRIDGE TO, BUT RIGHTS-OF-WAY HAD NOT YET EVEN BEEN PURCHASED.
THE BRIDGE REMAINED UNCOMPLETED FOR 14 YEARS, AND QUICKLY ASSUMED
THE NAME OF THE "BRIDGE TO NOWHERE." THE BRIDGE BECAME A SYMBOL
FOR INEFFICIENCY IN GOVERNMENT AND THE TARGET FOR NUMEROUS JOKES.
MANY STORIES ARE TOLD ABOUT PEOPLE DRIVING OFF THE END OF IT
(SOME ACTUALLY DOCUMENTED). THE BRIDGE WAS FINALLY COMPLETED IN
1970 AND OFFICIALLY NAMED THE FORT DUQUESNE BRIDGE, BUT PITTSBURGH
RESIDENTS CONTINUE TO REFER TO IT AS THE BRIDGE TO NOWHERE.

Where learned: PENNSYLVANIA ; PITTSBURGH

Subject headings: PROSE NARRATIVE -- Explanation of a name
ART CRAFT ARCHITECTURE -- Plan, design, color, building material, and technic
ART CRAFT ARCHITECTURE -- Bridge

Date learned: 10-02-1971

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GHOST HILL

MY INFORMANT WORKED AT CAMP SEMECONON OUTSIDE BUTLER, PENNSYLVANIA
ONE SUMMER AND TOLD ME OF THIS OLD LADY THAT LIVED ON TOP OF THIS
VERY HIGH HILL WITH HER BROTHER WHO WAS ALSO AGED. ON THE WAY TO
THIS OLD LADY'S LOG CABIN THERE WAS AN OLD GRAVE YARD JUST OFF THE
PATH ABOUT 3/4 UP THE HILL. SOME OF THE TOMBSTONES WERE DATED IN
THE LATE 1700'S. THE OLD LADY WOULD TALK ABOUT HOW THE SPIRITS
OF THE PEOPLE BURIED IN THIS GRAVEYARD WOULD START YELLING AND EVEN
FIGHTING AMONG THEMSELVES. THE LADY SEEMED TO BELIEVE IN WHAT SHE
WAS SAYING AND EVERY TIME MY INFORMANT WOULD ASK HER BROTHER ABOUT
THESE THINGS, HE WOULDN'T SAY A WORD AND SEEMED TO GET FRIGHTENED
WHENEVER THE SUBJECT WAS BROUGHT UP.

Where learned: PENNSYLVANIA ; PITTSBURGH

Subject headings: PROSE NARRATIVE -- Ghost Spirit Phantom Specter
PROSE NARRATIVE -- Product or activity of man or animal
ART CRAFT ARCHITECTURE -- Cemetery

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THE MYSTERY

NEAR PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA, THERE WAS AN OLD STRIP MINE THAT
HAD BEEN BURIED OVER AND LEFT BY A MINING COMPANY. TWO LITTLE
KIDS WANDERED NEAR THIS OLD STRIP MINE AND DISAPPEARED. A SEARCH
PARTY SET OUT TO FIND THE TWO KIDS AND HEADED TOWARD THIS ONE
PARTICULAR STRIP MINE WHERE THE KIDS WERE LAST SEEN. NEAR THIS
OLD STRIP MINE WAS AN OLD BARN. WHEN THE SEARCH PARTY ARRIVED AT
THE MINE, THERE WAS NO TRACE OF THE TWO KIDS OR THE OLD BARN.
THEY ALL JUST DISAPPEARED.

Where learned: PENNSYLVANIA ; PITTSBURGH

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

Date learned: 11-07-1968

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BELIEF

NEVER THANK PEOPLE FOR ANY FLOWERS THAT THEY MAY GIVE YOU
OR THE FLOWERS WILL NEVER GROW.

Submitter comment: INFORMANT HEARD THIS WHEN A YOUNG GIRL, 1915,
BUT DOES NOT BELIEVE IT NOW.

Where learned: PENNSYLVANIA ; PITTSBURGH

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

Date learned: 10-02-1971

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WHISTLING BELIEF

GIRLS ARE NOT ALLOWED TO WHISTLE BECAUSE THE BLESSED MOTHER
WOULD TURN HER HEAD AND CRY.

Submitter comment: INFORMANT WAS TOLD THIS BY HER MOTHER WHEN SHE WAS YOUNG.
SHE PRACTICED THIS WHEN YOUNG, BUT DOES NOT BELIEVE IN THE
TRUTH OF IT NOW. (1920S).

Where learned: PENNSYLVANIA ; PITTSBURGH

James Callow Keyword(s): VANITY

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Religious hero
BELIEF -- Entertainment Diversion

Date learned: 10-02-1971

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WHISTLING

GIRLS ARE NOT SUPPOSED TO WHISTLE BECAUSE THE BLESSED VIRGIN
WILL TURN HER HEAD AND CRY.

Submitter comment: INFORMANT TOLD BY MOTHER IN THE 1920'S. SHE PRACTICED
WHEN YOUNG, BUT DOESN'T BELIEVE NOW.

Where learned: PENNSYLVANIA ; PITTSBURGH

James Callow Keyword(s): VANITY

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Religious hero
SPEECH -- Extra Corporal Means of Communication

Date learned: 10-02-1971

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HALLOWEEN

IN BELGIUM, HALLOWEEN IS NOT CELEBRATED AT THE SAME TIME AS IN
AMERICA. AS A MATTER OF FACT, OUR MARDI GRAS IS THEIR HALLOWEEN.
IT IS ALWAYS CELEBRATED THE SUNDAY, MONDAY, AND TUESDAY BEFORE
ASH WEDNESDAY.

Where learned: PENNSYLVANIA ; PITTSBURGH

Subject headings: 663 Ash Wednesday
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Spring Planting Pre Lent

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GOOD FRIDAY

IN ITALY, ON GOOD FRIDAY, IT WAS A CUSTOM FOR THE PEOPLE TO TAKE
NOISEMAKERS TO CHURCH. AT A PRESCRIBED TIME DURING THE SERVICES,
EVERYONE WOULD BEGIN MAKING NOISES. SOMETIMES THIS WOULD BE A PIECE
OF WOOD AND A HAMMER AND NAILS--ANYTHING THAT WOULD MAKE NOISE.
ALSO IF SOMEONE IN FRONT OF YOU HAD A COAT ON AND LAID IT ON
THE PEW, YOU MIGHT NAIL THE COAT TO THE PEW AS A TYPE OF PRANK.

Submitter comment: AS RECOUNTED FROM MRS. BENESTELLI, A NEIGHBOR, ON TAPE.

Where learned: PENNSYLVANIA ; PITTSBURGH

Keyword(s): HOMEOPATHIC MAGIC ; PRANKS

Subject headings: 663 Good Friday
Favorites
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Entertainment Diversion
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Church
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Typical Elements of a Festive Pattern

Date learned: 11-01-1970

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GOOD FRIDAY BELIEF

IT IS A SIN TO USE A NEEDLE ON GOOD FRIDAY, OR TO USE ANY KIND OF
ANIMAL FATS ON GOOD FRIDAY.

Submitter comment: SHE LEARNED THESE BELIEFS FROM HER MOTHER AS A CHILD, BUT DOES NOT
BELIEVE IN THEM OR PRACTICE THEM NOW. (1920'S)

Where learned: PENNSYLVANIA ; PITTSBURGH

Keyword(s): FOOD CUSTOM ; IRON ; SEWING ; WORK TABOO

Subject headings: 663 Good Friday

Date learned: 10-02-1971

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GOOD FRIDAY BELIEF

IF YOU CUT YOUR HAIR ON GOOD FRIDAY, IT WILL COME IN THICK.

Submitter comment: INFORMANT HEARD THIS AS A CHILD DURING THE LATE TEENS AND EARLY
1920'S. INFORMANT'S MOTHER PRACTICED THIS THEN, AND DID CUT
INFORMANT'S HAIR ON GOOD FRIDAY. THE INFORMANT CLAIMS TO STILL DO
SO IF SHE REMEMBERS, BUT DOES NOT CLAIM TO DO IT EVERY GOOD FRIDAY.

Where learned: PENNSYLVANIA ; PITTSBURGH

Subject headings: 663 Good Friday
Favorites
BELIEF -- Body part Senses

Date learned: 10-02-1971

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GOOD FRIDAY

IN BELGIUM, ON GOOD FRIDAY, IT IS BELIEVED THAT ALL THE CHURCH BELLS
FLEW TO ROME ON THAT DAY. THEY ALSO FLEW BACK ON EASTER SUNDAY AT
WHICH TIME THEY DROPPED EASTER EGGS FOR THE CHILDREN.

Submitter comment: RECORDED ON TAPE

Where learned: PENNSYLVANIA ; PITTSBURGH

Subject headings: 663 Good Friday
Favorites
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Spring Planting Easter eggs
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Spring Planting Easter Sunday
BELIEF -- Daily Life

Date learned: 11-01-1970

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EASTER CUSTOM

A BASKET OF FOOD CONTAINING HARD-BOILED EGGS, KHOBASI, SALT, HOMEMADE
NUT OR/AND POPPYSEED CAKE, AND BREAD (HOMEMADE IF
POSSIBLE) IS TAKEN TO THE CHURCH ON HOLY SATURDAY TO BE BLESSED BY
THE PRIEST WITH HOLY WATER. THIS FOOD CANNOT BE EATEN UNTIL
EASTER SUNDAY MORNING. ALL OF THE FOOD MUST BE EATEN. IT CANNOT BE
THROWN AWAY.

Submitter comment: (1890'S)
INFORMANT'S PARENTS FOLLOWED THIS PRACTICE AND INFORMANT ALSO STILL
FOLLOWS IT.

Where learned: PENNSYLVANIA ; PITTSBURGH

Keyword(s): FOOD CUSTOM ; SWIECZONKA

Subject headings: 663 Holy Saturday
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Spring Planting Easter Sunday
BELIEF -- Prayer

Date learned: 10-02-1971

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IN BELGIUM, ON MAY 1, PEOPLE GO OUT TO LOOK FOR LILLIES-OF-THE-
VALLEY. THEY WOULD THEN MAKE THEM INTO A BOUQUET AND GIVE IT
TO A LOVED ONE.

Where learned: PENNSYLVANIA ; PITTSBURGH

Keyword(s): FLOWERS ; GIFTS

Subject headings: CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- May 1 May Day
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Marriage

Date learned: 11-01-1970

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ASSUMPTION

IN ITALY, APPROXIMATELY 50 YEARS AGO, THE BIGGEST FEAST OF THE YEAR
WAS THE ASSUMPTION ON AUGUST 15. DURING THE DAY, EVERY HALF HOUR A
GROUP OF PEOPLE WOULD ENTER THE CHURCH AND THE PREVIOUS GROUP
WOULD LEAVE THEIR VIGIL. THERE WOULD BE BIG PROCESSIONS, PARADES
IN THE STREETS. THIS WOULD BE CONCLUDED WITH FIREWORKS AT NIGHT.

Where learned: PENNSYLVANIA ; PITTSBURGH

Subject headings: CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- August 15 Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Date learned: 11-01-1970

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CHURCH NAMESDAY

IN BELGIUM, EACH CHURCH PARISH CELEBRATES "CHARAMESSE" (SP.),
PRONOUNCED KARA-MESS', ON THE SUNDAY NEAREST THE CHURCH'S
NAMEDAY. AT THIS TIME, THERE IS A CARNIVAL WITH MERRY-GO-ROUNDS,
RIDES AND AMUSEMENTS FOR ALL THE MEMBERS OF THE COMMUNITY.

Where learned: PENNSYLVANIA ; PITTSBURGH

Subject headings: CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Church
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Fixed DateFor specific dates, use the following system:

Date learned: 11-01-1970

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