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The James T. Callow Folklore Archive

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THE TWO TON CATFISH

IN MISSISSIPPI THE WORKMEN WERE LOWERING THE ROLLERS OF A ROLLER
DAM WHEN THEY JAMMED AND COULDN'T BE LOWERED ALL THE WAY. THEY
FIGURED THAT SOMETHING WAS CAUGHT IN THE ROLLERS SO THAY SENT A
SKIN DIVER DOWN TO SEE IF HE COULD FREE THE ROLLERS. THE DIVER
WENT DOWN AND CAME UP IN JUST A SHORT TIME. THE DIVER WAS WHITE
AND TOOK A WHILE BEFORE HE (COULD) TELL THE WORKERS WHAT HE SAW
BECAUSE IT WAS OBVIOUS THAT SOMETHING HAD FRIGHTENED THE DIVER.
FINALLY THE DIVER WAS ABLE TO SPEAK AND TOLD THE WORKMEN THAT HE
SAW A CATFISH THE SIZE OF A WHALE AND FIGURED THAT IT WEIGHED
AT LEAST TWO TONS. THE WORKMEN ASKED THE DIVER TO GO DOWN THERE
AGAIN AND FREE THE ROLLERS BUT HE JUST WOULDN'T GO DOWN THERE
AGAIN. SO THE WORKMEN RAISED THE ROLLERS TO SEE IF THEY COULD
FREE THEM AND WHEN THEY DID, THEY SAW AN ENORMOUS CATFISH SWIM
AWAY. THEY SAY IT WAS ABOUT THE SIZE OF A SMALL WHALE AND
WEIGHED ABOUT 2000 POUNDS.

Where learned: IOWA ; DAVENPORT

Subject headings: PROSE NARRATIVE -- Lie Tall tale

Date learned: 11-01-1968

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NIGHT WALKER

THE VILLA LOUIS IN PRAIRIE DU CHIEN, WISCONSIN IS A LARGE MANSION
BUILT BY A RICH FRENCH FUR TRAPPER IN THE ERA OF THE FUR TRAPPERS.
HE LIVED THERE WITH HIS WIFE AND WHEN HE DIED HE WAS BURIED STAND-
ING UPRIGHT ON A HIGH BLUFF OVERLOOKING THE WISCONSIN AND MISSISSIPP
RIVERS. HIS WIFE CONTINUED TO LIVE IN THE MANSION UNTIL ONE DAY
SHE FELL DOWN THE STEPS AND STARTED THE HOME ON FIRE WHEN THE
KEROSINE LAMP SHE WAS CARRYING STARTED THE HOME ON FIRE WHEN IT
FELL. SHE DIED IN THE FIRE, THE PEOPLE SAVED THE MANSION FROM BEING
DESTROYED BY THE FLAMES. PEOPLE SAY THAT IF ONE IS AT THE HOUSE
AT NIGHT ONE CAN SEE A LIGHT TRAVELLING SLOWLY DOWN THE FRONT HALLWA
STEPS AS SHE DID ON THE NIGHT OF HER DEATH.

Where learned: IOWA ; DAVENPORT

Keyword(s): MYSTERIOUS LIGHT

Subject headings: Favorites
PROSE NARRATIVE -- Ghost Spirit Phantom Specter
PROSE NARRATIVE -- Product or activity of man or animal

Date learned: 11-01-1968

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A TRUE WAR STORY

WHEN I JOINED THE ARMY IN THE FIRST WORLD WAR WE WERE USHERED IN
AT CAMP DODGE, IOWA. MY INTERVIEWER, A SOUTHERN LIEUTENANT,
DISCOVERED THAT MY FATHER HAD FOUGHT IN THE MICHIGAN CAVALRY IN
THE CIVIL WAR FOR THE NORTH AND THAT MY RELIGION WAS CATHOLIC.
SOUTHERNERS HAVE A TENDENCY TO DISLIKE US CATHOLICS. MONTHS
LATER AS I WAS SHOVELING COAL OFF A TRAIN GONDOLA, A MAJOR STEWART
ASKED ME WHAT I DID IN CIVILIAN LIFE. I EXPLAINED THAT I WAS AN
ACCOUNTANT. THE CAPTAIN HAD ME TRANSFERRED TO HIS OFFICE WHERE
I SHOULD HAVE BEEN PLACED TO BEGIN WITH. WHILE CHECKING FILES FOR
HIM I FOUND MY ENTERING INTERVIEW. IT SAID "THIS MAN CLAIMS HE WAS
AN ACCOUNTANT BUT NO DOUBT HE IS A FIRST CLASS LIAR. NOT TO BE
TRUSTED, APPEARANCE IS VERY TACKY." AS A BLOND, BLUE-EYED
INDIVIDUAL FROM A GERMAN BACKGROUND THIS WAS OBVIOUSLY A HIGHLY
SUBJECTIVE FALSE REPORT RESULTING FROM SOUTHERN PREJUDICES.
IT TOOK A YEAR WHILE IN FRANCE FOR THE REMARKS TO BE DELETED
FROM THE RECORD. THE CAPTAIN STEWART MENTIONED IS THE FAMOUS
JIMMY STEWART'S FATHER WHO WAS IN COMMAND OF MY ENTIRE ARMY
EXPERIENCE. JIMMY STEWART ALSO WROTE TO ME AFTER MY NEPHEW
WROTE TO HIM ABOUT MY EXPERIENCES WITH HIS FATHER.

Submitter comment: MY GRANDFATHER HAS THE CLEAREST, MOST HONEST BLUE EYES AND IS
ALWAYS GROOMED TO PERFECTION SO THE INTERVIEWER MUST HAVE
REALLY BEEN LIVING IN THE PAST WITH THE BACKWARD PREJUDICES.

Where learned: CAMP DODGE ; IOWA

James Callow Keyword(s): GIFT-GIVING

Subject headings: PROSE NARRATIVE -- B479

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FAMILY CUSTOM AT DEATH

WHEN MY PATERNAL GRANDMOTHER DIED IN APRIL, MY UNCLE'S FAMILY
SENT AN AZALEA BUSH TO THE FUNERAL HOME. MY UNCLE TOLD ME THAT THEY
SEND AZALEAS FOR EVERY DEATH IN THEIR FAMILY. WHEN MY UNCLE WAS A
BOY, HIS BELOVED YOUNGER BROTHER DIED TRAGICALLY. HE BURIED
HIS BROTHER WITH HIS OWN HANDS UNDER AN AZALEA BUSH. EVER SINCE
THEN, AZALEAS HAVE MEANT SOMETHING VERY SPECIAL TO HIM AND HIS
FAMILY NEVER FAILS TO SEND THEM.

Submitter comment: MY UNCLE IS VERY TACITURN AND RETICENT; CONSIDERING THAT FACT
AND THE CIRCUMSTANCES IN WHICH HE TOLD ME THIS, I DID NOT ASK
FOR DATES, PLACES OR DETAILS. BUT I DID NOTE THAT HE HAD TEARS IN
HIS EYES AS HE TOLD THIS TALE.
I KNOW VERY LITTLE ABOUT MY UNCLE'S BACKGROUND. I DO NOT KNOW
WHERE HE WAS BORN AND GREW UP, HIS ETHNIC BACKGROUND, OR
THE PLACES HE HAS LIVED BEFORE 1972.

Where learned: IOWA ; ESTHERVILLE

Keyword(s): FLOWERS

Subject headings: CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Death Funeral Burial

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MARRIAGE PREDICTION

TWIST THE STEM OF AN APPLE WHILE RECITING THE ALPHABET--SAYING
ONE LETTER FOR EACH TWIST. THE LETTER ON WHICH THE STEM BREAKS
WILL BE THE FIRST LETTER OF THE NAME OF THE MAN YOU WILL MARRY.

Where learned: IOWA ; ESTHERVILLE

Subject headings: 862 Use of object for determining future spouse
BELIEF -- Marriage

Date learned: 00-00-1975

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PENCIL TEST

THIS TEST IS TO DETERMINE HOW MANY CHILDREN A WOMAN WILL
BEAR, AND WHAT SEX THEY WILL BE. HOLD A PENCIL WITH A NEEDLE IN
THE ERASER, SUSPENDED BY A THREAD, OVER HER LEFT ARM. THE
ARM IS HELD WITH THE PALM UP, THE HAND IN A FIST. THE PENCIL
WILL CIRCLE OVER THE WOMAN'S ARM BETWEEN CHILDREN, SWING VER-
TICALLY TO INDICATE A GIRL, AND HORIZONTALLY TO INDICATE A BOY.
A DIAGONAL SWING INDICATES TWINS. A STRONG SWING INDICATES A
HEALTHY CHILD WITH A STRONG PERSONALITY.

Submitter comment: THIS TEST HAS BEEN USED ON ALL THE WOMEN ON MY FATHER'S SIDE
OF THE FAMILY AND HAS WORKED WITH 90 PERCENT ACCURACY. CK[ IRONY

Where learned: IOWA ; ESTHERVILLE

Keyword(s): PREDICTION

James Callow Keyword(s): IRONY

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Birth
BELIEF -- Use of Object Domestic object, wax, needle, dishware
BELIEF -- Use of object for determining number of children or sex of unborn

Date learned: 07-00-1983 ; 00001900CA

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HICCOUGH CURE

WHEN YOU HAVE THE HICCOUGHS, YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO EAT A
TEASPOON OF HONEY. IT WILL MAKE THEM DISAPPEAR IMMEDIATELY.

Submitter comment: MY GRANDMOTHER TOLD ME THIS CURE ONCE WHEN I HAD THE HICCOUGHS.
THE CURE WORKED ON ME, BUT DID NOT WORK ON ONE OF MY COUSINS.

Where learned: IOWA ; ESTHERVILLE

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Animal

Date learned: 07-00-1980

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326 Youth Who Wanted to Learn What Fear Is

There once was a little girl that claimed she was very
brave, and wasn't afraid of anything. So one day her
brothers dared her to go to the grave yard to steal a
tombstone and bring it back to show them. The little girl
did indeed go to the graveyard to get that tombstone but
never returned. What everyone says that happened was that as
she was putting her dress over the stone to carry it out the
stone fell on her dress and pulled her down. Of course the
little girl thought that the spirit of the grave was tugging
on her dress, and she was so scared that she died right there
on the spot.

Where learned: IOWA ; Des Moines

James Callow Keyword(s): dying of fright ; FEAR TEST

Subject headings: PROSE NARRATIVE -- Magic

Date learned: 00-00-1910

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IF LEAVES ON THE TREES ARE TURNED SO THAT YOU CAN SEE
THEIR BACKS, IT MEANS THAT THERE WILL SOON BE A STORM.

Submitter comment: INFORMANT SAYS THIS WAS TOLD TO HIM BY ONE OF HIS
GRANDPARENTS IN IOWA.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT ; IOWA

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Weather sign or control
BELIEF -- Plant

Date learned: 03-09-1972

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KISS THE BLACK ANGEL

IN AN OLD CEMETERY IN MOLINE, ILLINOIS THERE IS A BRONZE
STATUE OF AN ANGEL OVERLOOKING A GRAVE. THE STORY GOES
THAT IF YOU KISS THE BLACK ANGEL AT THE STROKE OF MIDNIGHT,
THAT DEATH WILL BEFALL YOU WITHIN THE YEAR. RUMOR HAS IT
THAT THERE HAS BEEN CASES OF PERSONS MISSING AFTER
KISSING THE STATUE.

Where learned: IOWA ; DAVENPORT

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Product or activity of man or animal P477.13

Date learned: 11-01-1968

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IF SOMEONE LEAVES A DIAPER AT A HOUSE, A BABY WILL COME.

Where learned: IOWA ; COLUMBUS JUNCTION

Subject headings: Observation
BELIEF -- Birth

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IF YOU SEE A NEW MOON OVER YOUR RIGHT SHOULDER YOU WILL HAVE
GOOD LUCK; IF YOU SEE IT OVER YOUR LEFT SHOULDER YOU ARE
IN TROUBLE.

Where learned: IOWA ; COLUMBUS JUNCTION

James Callow Keyword(s): POSITION DIRECTION

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Body part Senses
BELIEF -- Moon
BELIEF -- Good luck

Date learned: 02-23-1969

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PROVERB: NATURE-RAINBOW

RAINBOW IN THE MORNING, SAILORS TAKE WARNING;
RAINBOW AT NIGHT, SAILORS DELIGHT.

Where learned: IOWA ; COLUMBUS JUNCTION

Keyword(s): PINK SKY RED SKY

Subject headings: Prediction / Divination
Ballad Song Dance Game Music Verse -- Proverb Proverb
PROVERB -- Proverbial Apothegm Maxim

Date learned: 02-15-1969

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THE TWO TON CATFISH

IN MISSISSIPPI THE WORKMEN WERE LOWERING THE ROLLERS OF A ROLLER
DAM WHEN THEY JAMMED AND COULDN'T BE LOWERED ALL THE WAY. THEY
FIGURED THAT SOMETHING WAS CAUGHT IN THE ROLLERS SO THAY SENT A
SKIN DIVER DOWN TO SEE IF HE COULD FREE THE ROLLERS. THE DIVER
WENT DOWN AND CAME UP IN JUST A SHORT TIME. THE DIVER WAS WHITE
AND TOOK A WHILE BEFORE HE (COULD) TELL THE WORKERS WHAT HE SAW
BECAUSE IT WAS OBVIOUS THAT SOMETHING HAD FRIGHTENED THE DIVER.
FINALLY THE DIVER WAS ABLE TO SPEAK AND TOLD THE WORKMEN THAT HE
SAW A CATFISH THE SIZE OF A WHALE AND FIGURED THAT IT WEIGHED
AT LEAST TWO TONS. THE WORKMEN ASKED THE DIVER TO GO DOWN THERE
AGAIN AND FREE THE ROLLERS BUT HE JUST WOULDN'T GO DOWN THERE
AGAIN. SO THE WORKMEN RAISED THE ROLLERS TO SEE IF THEY COULD
FREE THEM AND WHEN THEY DID, THEY SAW AN ENORMOUS CATFISH SWIM
AWAY. THEY SAY IT WAS ABOUT THE SIZE OF A SMALL WHALE AND
WEIGHED ABOUT 2000 POUNDS.

Where learned: IOWA ; DAVENPORT

Subject headings: PROSE NARRATIVE -- Lie Tall tale

Date learned: 11-01-1968

View just this record

THE TWO TON CATFISH

IN MISSISSIPPI THE WORKMEN WERE LOWERING THE ROLLERS OF A ROLLER
DAM WHEN THEY JAMMED AND COULDN'T BE LOWERED ALL THE WAY. THEY
FIGURED THAT SOMETHING WAS CAUGHT IN THE ROLLERS SO THAY SENT A
SKIN DIVER DOWN TO SEE IF HE COULD FREE THE ROLLERS. THE DIVER
WENT DOWN AND CAME UP IN JUST A SHORT TIME. THE DIVER WAS WHITE
AND TOOK A WHILE BEFORE HE (COULD) TELL THE WORKERS WHAT HE SAW
BECAUSE IT WAS OBVIOUS THAT SOMETHING HAD FRIGHTENED THE DIVER.
FINALLY THE DIVER WAS ABLE TO SPEAK AND TOLD THE WORKMEN THAT HE
SAW A CATFISH THE SIZE OF A WHALE AND FIGURED THAT IT WEIGHED
AT LEAST TWO TONS. THE WORKMEN ASKED THE DIVER TO GO DOWN THERE
AGAIN AND FREE THE ROLLERS BUT HE JUST WOULDN'T GO DOWN THERE
AGAIN. SO THE WORKMEN RAISED THE ROLLERS TO SEE IF THEY COULD
FREE THEM AND WHEN THEY DID, THEY SAW AN ENORMOUS CATFISH SWIM
AWAY. THEY SAY IT WAS ABOUT THE SIZE OF A SMALL WHALE AND
WEIGHED ABOUT 2000 POUNDS.

Where learned: IOWA ; DAVENPORT

Subject headings: PROSE NARRATIVE -- Lie Tall tale

Date learned: 11-01-1968

View just this record

showing 15 items

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