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The James T. Callow Folklore Archive

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BELIEF

IF THE TAME RAVENS KEPT AT THE TOWER OF LONDON ARE EVER LOST, OR
FLY AWAY, THE CROWN WILL FALL, AND BRITAIN WITH IT.

Where learned: ENGLAND ; LONDON

Subject headings: Observation
BELIEF -- Bird

Date learned: NOT GIVEN

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BLOODY

WHAT A BLOODY MESS} HE'S GOT HIS BLOODY COAT ON BACKWARDS}

Submitter comment: MRS. COLBURN USES THE TERM BLOODY AS AN ADJECTIVE IN ANGER, BUT SHE
ALSO USES IT IN JEST. BLOODY IS USED BY THE ENGLISH IN ALMOST EVERY
SITUATION. IT IS INTERESTING TO NOTE THAT BLOODY ALWAYS IS
AN ADJECTIVE AND IS NEVER USED ALONE, LIKE FOR EXAMPLE, DAMN}

Where learned: ENGLAND ; LONDON

Subject headings: SPEECH -- Formula

Date learned: 00001930S

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ENGLISH BREAKFAST

FRIED TOMATOES, ENGLISH MUFFINS AND TEA IS WHAT I (MRS. COLBURN)
HAD EVERY MORNING WHEN I WAS A GIRL IN LONDON.

Submitter comment: MRS. COLBURN LIVED IN LONDON DURING WWII. SHE EXPLAINED THAT FOOD
WAS RATIONED DURING THE WAR BUT TOMATOES COULD BE GOTTEN FAIRLY EASY.
FRIED TOMATOES SHE SAID IS CONSIDERED AN ENGLISH CUISINE.

Where learned: ENGLAND ; LONDON

Subject headings: Food Drink -- Typical menus for the various meals For meal hours, see F574.84. Morning mealsBreakfast

Date learned: 00001930S

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AT A RATHER SMALL BUT FORMAL DINNER PARTY IN THE HOME OF A
BRITISH TELEVISION AND RADIO HOST, I WAS SEATED TO THE LEFT
OF MICHAEL MEYER, AN IBSEN TRANSLATOR AND SCHOLAR OF LITERATURE.
MR. MEYER IS A RETIRED UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR. HIS FATHER HAD
BEEN A PROMINENT, LONDON IMPORT-EXPORT MERCHANT. DURING
THE MEAL, I WAS ENTHRALLED WITH THE LOFTY CONVERSATION AND
RECOLLECTIONS OF THE INTIMATE GROUP OF OXFORD ALUMNI.
ONE SUCH REMINISCENCE CAME FROM MR. MEYER. HE TOLD ME THAT
GEORGE ORWELL, THE BRILLIANT AUTHOR, WAS A FREQUENT VISITOR TO
HIS FATHER'S BUSINESS. ONE SATURDAY MORNING, ORWELL ENTERED
WISHING TO PURCHASE SOME FINE, IMPORTED CHERRY LUMBER. WITH IT,
HE PLANNED TO BUILD BOOKSHELVES. ORWELL ENGAGED THE SERVICE OF
YOUNG MEYER TO HELP IN THE PROJECT.
THE IMPRESSIVE WOOD WAS DELIVERED TO ORWELL'S HOUSE, AND THE
PAIR SET TO WORK. THEY LABORED CAREFULLY, NOT WISHING TO MAR
THE EXTRAORDINARY LUMBER. ONCE THE SHELVES WERE COMPLETED,
ORWELL AND MEYER MOVED THEM INTO PLACE IN ORWELL'S STUDY. THEY
STOOD BACK IN ADMIRATION AND SILENCE FOR QUITE SOME TIME.
SUDDENLY, THE ECCENTRIC AUTHOR DASHED OUT THE DOOR, CALLING
BACK TO THE YOUNG BOY TO WAIT THERE FOR HIM.
HE RETURNED MANY HOURS LATER WITH A TIN OF WHITE PAINT. UNDER
ORWELL'S DIRECTION, THE TWO WORKED FEVERISHLY TO COVER THE FINE
FINISH OF THE CHERRY WOOD WITH A WHITE OVERCOAT! THE
GORGEOUS AND EXTRAVAGANT CHERRY LUMBER NOW LOOKED AS ORDINARY
AS ANY SCRAPS OF WOOD! MEYER WAS DUMBFOUNDED AND RESOLVED NEVER
TO TELL HIS FATHER OF THIS "SIN" IN WHICH HE HAD TAKEN PART.
ORWELL, HOWEVER, SEEMED EXCEEDINGLY PLEASED WITH THE WHITE
BOOKCASE, AND SHOWED THE BOY OUT WITH A HEARTY LAUGH AND A
SERIES OF HANDSHAKES AND PATS ON THE BACK.

Where learned: ENGLAND ; CHELSEA ; LONDON

Subject headings: PROSE NARRATIVE -- Secular hero

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There is a tale of mistletoe that tells of priests
harvesting it, never letting it touch the ground.
It thereafter was hung over doors and arches as a
sign of welcome to priests, and as a protection
against witches.

Submitter comment: Some priests still practice this for sake of
tradition.

Where learned: ENGLAND ; LONDON

Keyword(s): SAFETY

Subject headings: CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Church
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Autumn Fall Harvest Thanksgiving
BELIEF -- Witch Shaman
BELIEF -- Plant

Date learned: 00-00-1990

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In England myrtle is considered lucky. In Wales
myrtle is planted on each side of a home to
insure love & to keep the atmosphere peaceful.

Submitter comment: Many people still consider myrtle a sign of peace.

Where learned: ENGLAND ; LONDON

Keyword(s): nature, beauty

James Callow Keyword(s): POSITION DIRECTION ; SYMBOL

Subject headings: CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Spring Planting
BELIEF -- Plant
BELIEF -- Good luck

Date learned: 00-00-1990

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Tale of Kate Elshender

A woman in the highlands, Named Kate Elshender, went to
a quarry hole to wash her clothes. As she passed the
village shop, she went in and bought a half pound of
soap and proceeded to wash; the soap slipped from her
hands, and she went back and bought another half pound.
The shopkeeper warned her to be careful, remembering the
old superstition...(when soap slips from your hand it
means death)...It slipped from her hands once again and
she returned for a third half pound of soap. This time
the shopkeeper was thoroughly frightened and begged her
not to go back again, but Kate went. Shortly after the
shopkeeper went to the quarry to find no one there. She
gave the alarm, and Kate Elshender was discovered drowned
at the bottom of the quarry hole.

Where learned: ENGLAND ; LONDON

Keyword(s): BAD LUCK

Subject headings: Observation
PROSE NARRATIVE -- Still water Small body. Lake, pond....
BELIEF -- P447
BELIEF -- Death Funeral Burial
BELIEF -- Measure of time Working

Date learned: 00-00-1991

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In the old days beggars used to stand outside the churches
after services and ask for money from the worshippers. If
someone didn't give, he was cursed by the beggar. It is
believed that even today beggars have the power to curse
people.

Where learned: ENGLAND ; LONDON

Keyword(s): MAGIC

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Outlaw Criminal Bandit Pirate
BELIEF -- Curse

Date learned: 00-00-1991

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Old English Saying

Mirror, mirror tell me
Am I pretty or plain?
Or am I downright ugly, and ugly to remain?
Shall I marry a gentleman?
Shall I marry a clown?
Or shall I marry old knives and scissors
Shouting through this town?

Submitter comment: A saying of women in fear of becoming an "old maid."

Where learned: ENGLAND ; LONDON

Keyword(s): Knife Grinder

Subject headings: Ballad Song Dance Game Music Verse -- Lyrical Verse
BELIEF -- Marriage
BELIEF -- Use of Object

Date learned: 00-00-1990

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Put the first money you receive each day into an
empty pocket; it will attract more coins.

Submitter comment: In English market places this custom is still very
popular; that original coin is called handsel.

Where learned: ENGLAND ; LONDON

James Callow Keyword(s): Pilot

Subject headings: 686 Properties attributed to specific numbers or numerals individually.
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Measure of time Week Day Hour
BELIEF -- Measure of time WeekDayHour
BELIEF -- Measure of quality Monetary systemMoneyWealth
BELIEF -- Number Emptiness, nothingness, zero
SPEECH -- Common Word

Date learned: 00-00-1989

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In many English Weddings, the shoe of the bride is thrown
by the principal bridesmaid, and the others run after it.
It is supposed that she who gets it will be married first.
It is then thrown amongst the men and he who is hit
will be first wedded.

Submitter comment: Old English custom.

Where learned: ENGLAND ; LONDON

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

Date learned: 00-00-1990

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POLISH

THE BRIDE DANCES FOR THREE DAYS AND EVERY TIME
SOMEONE WANTS TO DANCE WITH HER, THEY MUST PIN
MONEY TO HER DRESS--BREAKS ARE TAKEN AS THE
BRIDE LEAVES TO TAKE THE MONEY OFF BEFORE THE
NEXT SET.

Where learned: ENGLAND ; LONDON

Subject headings: CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Marriage Paying for dance

Date learned: 04-00-1972

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POLISH EASTER EGGS

TAKE THE SKIN OF SEVERAL ONIONS AND BOIL THE EGGS
WITH THE SKINS. THE COLOR TURNS OUT A LOVELY
NUTTY BROWN.

Where learned: ENGLAND ; LONDON

Subject headings: CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Spring Planting Easter eggs

Date learned: 11-00-1972

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IF WHEN YOU GET A CUP OF TEA AND A LEAF FLOATS TO THE TOP,
TAKE IT OUT, PUT IT ON THE BACK OF YOUR LEFT HAND
AND THEN PUT THE BACK OF YOUR RIGHT HAND ON TOP OF YOUR
LEFT. IF, ON REMOVING YOUR RIGHT HAND THE TEA LEAF
STICKS, YOU WILL HAVE A LETTER IN ONE DAY. KEEP DOING
IT UNTIL IT STICKS AND THEN YOU WILL KNOW IN HOW MANY
DAYS A LETTER IS COMING.

Where learned: ENGLAND ; LONDON

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Use of Object

Date learned: 04-00-1972

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ROASTED CHICKEN FAT JUICE RUBBED ON THE WART WILL MAKE IT
GO AWAY.

Where learned: ENGLAND ; LONDON

James Callow Keyword(s): TRANSFER

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Animal

Date learned: 04-00-1972

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ON A FULL MOON ONE GOES OUT AND FINDS A TOAD AND RUBS
IT ON THE WART AND BY THE NEXT FULL MOON THE WART WILL
BE GONE.

Where learned: ENGLAND ; LONDON

James Callow Keyword(s): TRANSFER

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Moon
BELIEF -- Animal

Date learned: 04-00-1972

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TO CURE WARTS: QUARTER A CARROT LONGWAYS, RUB IT ON THE WART
AND BURY EACH QUARTER CARROT AT EACH CORNER OF THE HOUSE AND
WHEN THE CARROT ROTS FROM THE WATER FROM THE EAVES, THE
WARTS WILL GO.

Where learned: ENGLAND ; LONDON

James Callow Keyword(s): POSITION DIRECTION ; TRANSFER PLUGGING

Subject headings: 686 Fourths / Quarters
BELIEF -- Method of Curing

Date learned: 04-00-1972

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IT IS BAD LUCK NOT TO SET THE SALT AND PEPPER DOWN BETWEEN
EACH PERSON WHEN YOU'RE PASSING THEM.

Submitter comment: I FIRST HEARD THIS ON THE WINSEY TOUR IN 1966. I HAD PASSED

Where learned: ENGLAND ; R-MWC ; LONDON

Subject headings: Favorites
Food Drink -- Flavoring
BELIEF -- Measure of time Eating For menu, see N222.
BELIEF -- Bad luck Food and drink

Date learned: 00-00-1966 ; 00001967-1968

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THE LITTLE GIRL WHO HAUNTED HER HOUSE

PENNY LIVED ABOVE HER FATHER'S PUB IN ENGLAND (LONDON).
SHE CLAIMS THAT ON QUIET NIGHTS SHE AND HER FAMILY
OFTEN HEAR SOMEONE RUNNING DOWN THE HALL. THEY
HAVE LEARNED THAT ABOUT 100 YEARS AGO, A LITTLE GIRL
WAS MURDERED IN THE PUB. THE STEPS ARE SUPPOSEDLY
THE LITTLE GIRL'S GHOST.

Where learned: HOME ; ENGLAND ; LONDON

Subject headings: PROSE NARRATIVE -- Ghost Spirit Phantom Specter

Date learned: 01-07-1968

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THE LITTLE GIRL WHO HAUNTED HER HOUSE

PENNY LIVED ABOVE HER FATHER'S PUB IN ENGLAND (LONDON).
SHE CLAIMS THAT ON QUIET NIGHTS SHE AND HER FAMILY
OFTEN HEAR SOMEONE RUNNING DOWN THE HALL. THEY
HAVE LEARNED THAT ABOUT 100 YEARS AGO, A LITTLE GIRL
WAS MURDERED IN THE PUB. THE STEPS ARE SUPPOSEDLY
THE LITTLE GIRL'S GHOST.

Where learned: HOME ; ENGLAND ; LONDON

Subject headings: PROSE NARRATIVE -- Ghost Spirit Phantom Specter

Date learned: 01-07-1968

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