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The James T. Callow Folklore Archive

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MISCELLANEOUS CUSTOMS

A SEAMAN LEAVING THE FORECASTLE TO GO AFT, EITHER FOR HIS TRICK AT
THE WHEEL OR OTHER WORK, GOES AFT ALONG THE LEESIDE OF THE VESSEL,
UNLESS HIS IMMEDIATE DUTY LIES TO THE WINDWARD.
A SEAMAN SUMMONED TO THE CAPTAIN'S CABIN REMOVED HIS CAP AND
DROPPED IT TO THE DECK JUST OUTSIDE THE DOOR.
A MARINER ENTERING A NEW SHIP, OR EVEN AN OLD SHIP, FOR THE FIRST
TIME MAKES CERTAIN THAT HIS RIGHT FOOT IS THE FIRST TO TOUCH THE
DECK.
IT WAS A BREECH OF ETIQUETTE FOR A SEAMAN TO LOCK HIS SEA CHEST
WHILE ON BOARD HIS SHIP. OFFENDERS OFTEN FOUND, WHEN THEY
RETURNED TO THE FORECASTLE FROM THEIR WATCH ON DECK, THAT THE
COVER HAD BEEN NAILED DOWN.
IN THE BRITISH AND UNITED STATES NAVIES, A SCARF OF BLACK SILK IS
WORN, ORIGINALLY AS A MARK OF WARNING (MOURNING?) FOR THE DEATH
OF LORD NELSON.
IN THE ROYAL NAVY, OFFICERS WHO HAVE BEEN ROUND EITHER THE CAPE
OF GOOD HOPE OR CAPE HORN MAY PUT ONE FOOT ON THE WARDROOM TABLE;
BOTH CAPES CARRY THE RIGHT TO PUT BOTH FEET ON THE TABLE.
BY NAVAL CUSTOM THE SENIOR OFFICER PRESENT IS ALWAYS THE LAST
INTO A BOAT AND THE FIRST OUT OF IT.

Submitter comment:

CAPTAIN LUMAS SAYS THAT HE HAS LEARNED THESE CUSTOMS THROUGH THE
YEARS THAT HE HAS BEEN SAILING, BOTH IN THE U.S. NAVY AND UP AT
MACKINAW ISLAND.

Data entry tech comment:

Updated by TRD

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; MACKINAW ISLAND

Keyword(s): British ; Captain ; Etiquette ; Language ; Lingo ; Naval ; Navy ; POSITION ; Seaman ; Ship ; Uniform ; United States

James Callow Keyword(s): DIRECTION ; LEFT ; POSITION ; RIGHT

Subject headings: CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Street Trip Relations between relatives, friends, host and guest Social class Rank
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Work Commerce Business
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- F535
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Maturity
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Death Funeral Burial
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Initiation rite Hazing
ART CRAFT ARCHITECTURE -- Dress Overall body coverUpper body and arms
BELIEF -- Body part Senses
BELIEF -- Color
BELIEF -- Number Last events: the last person to the table...
SPEECH -- Gesture

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THE CUSTOM OF TATTOOING

SAILORS ADOPTED THIS PRIMITIVE PRACTICE OF MARKING THE SKIN IN
A DESIRE TO ASSURE IDENTITY IN CASE OF DEATH BY SHIPWRECK OR
DROWNING. IT SEEMS TO HAVE ORIGINATED AMONG THE NATIVES OF THE
SOUTH PACIFIC AND SPREAD AS FAR NORTH AS JAPAN, WHERE IT WAS
BROUGHT TO HIGH, ARTISTIC DEVELOPMENT UNTIL PROHIBITED BY LAW.
ROMAN CATHOLIC SAILORS WERE THE FIRST TO ADOPT IT, HAVING A
CRUCIFIX TATTOOED ON THEIR BODIES SO THAT IN CASE OF SERIOUS
INJURY OR ILLNESS THEY MIGHT RECEIVE THE LAST RITES OF THEIR
CHURCH AND BURIAL IN CONSECRATED GROUND.
"AND MANY SAILORS, NOT CATHOLICS, WERE ANXIOUS TO HAVE THE
CRUCIFIX PAINTED ON THEM, OWING TO A CURIOUS SUPERSTITION OF
THEIRS. THEY AFFIRM--SOME OF THEM--THAT IF YOU HAVE THAT MARK
TATTOOED ON ALL FOUR LIMBS, YOU MIGHT FALL OVERBOAD AMONG SEVEN
HUNDRED AND SEVENTY-FIVE THOUSAND WHITE SHARKS, ALL DINNERLESS,
AND NOT ONE OF THEM WOULD SO MUCH AS DARE TO SMELL AT YOUR
LITTLE FINGER."

Submitter comment: THIS QUOTE IS TAKEN FROM MELVILLE'S "COMPLETE WORKS" (LONDON,
1922). IT IS TAKEN FROM THE "WHITE JACKET" STORY. CAPTAIN
LUMAS HIMSELF HAD A TATTOO ON HIS CHEST AND CLAIMS THAT HE
ALSO HAD ONE ON EACH OF HIS FOUR LIMBS BUT HIS WIFE MADE HIM
REMOVE THEM.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; MACKINAW ISLAND

Subject headings: 686 Fourths / Quarters
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- F535
ART CRAFT ARCHITECTURE -- Human or animal body Tattoo
BELIEF -- Sign Geometric figure Cross and its various modifications

Date learned: 09-00-1963

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COINS AT THE STEP OF THE MAST

THE CUSTOM OF PLACING A COIN OR COINS AT THE HEEL OF THE MASTS
SEEMS TO HAVE A DOUBLE PURPOSE. IN ANTIQUITY IT WAS TO PAY THE
FARES OF THE CREW ACROSS THE RIVER STYX IF THE SHIP SHOULD BE LOST
AT SEA; MORE LATTERLY IT WAS DONE TO ASSURE GOOD FORTUNE. THE
COINS MUST BE PLACED FACE UP, FOR TO HAVE THEM FACE DOWN WOULD BE
TO INVITE DISASTER. EVEN TO THIS DAY THE OWNER OF A SMALL CRAFT
WILL SECRETE A COIN ABOARD, THE LOCATION, VALUE, AND DATE OF WHICH
ARE KNOWN TO HIM ALONE--THE KNOWLEDGE ENABLING HIM TO PROVE HIS
OWNERSHIP SHOULD IT EVER BE QUESTIONED.

Submitter comment: CAPTAIN LUMAS SAID THAT HE LEARNED OF THIS TRICK THE FIRST TIME
HE EVER OWNED A BOAT, WHICH WAS ABOUT FORTY YEARS AGO.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; MACKINAW ISLAND

James Callow Keyword(s): POSITION DIRECTION

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

Date learned: 09-00-1963

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POLLY'S LOVER

IN ABOUT THE MIDDLE OF THIS CENTURY A WITHERED WOMAN OF
NINETY WAS BURIED FROM A NOW DESERTED HOUSE IN WHITE
PLAINS, NEW YORK, POLLY CARTER THE NAME OF HER, BUT
"CRAZY POLLY" WAS WHAT THE NEIGHBORS CALLED HER, FOR
SHE WAS ECCENTRIC AND NOT FOND OF COMPANY. AMONG
THE BELONGINGS OF HER HOUSE WAS A TALL CLOCK, SUCH AS
RELIC HUNTERS PRIZE, THAT TICKED SOLEMNLY IN A LANDING
ON THE STAIRS. FOR A TIME, DURING THE REVOLUTION, THE
HOUSE STOOD WITHIN THE BRITISH LINES, AND AS HER FATHER
WAS A COLONEL IN WASHINGTON'S ARMY, SHE WAS LEFT ALMOST
ALONE IN IT. THE BRITISH OFFICERS RESPECTED HER SEX,
BUT THEY HAD AN UNPLEASANT WAY OF RUNNING IN UNANNOUNCED
AND DEMANDING ENTERTAINMENT, IN THE KING'S NAME, WHICH
SHE FELT FORCED TO GRANT. ONE RAINY AFTERNOON THE DOOR
WAS FLUNG OPEN, THEN LOCKED ON THE INSIDE, AND SHE FOUND
HERSELF IN THE ARMS OF A STALWART, HANDSOME LIEUTENANT,
WHO WORE THE BLUE. IT WAS HER COUSIN AND FIANCE.
THEIR GLAD TALK HAD NOT BEEN GOING LONG WHEN THERE CAME
A ROUSING SUMMONS AT THE DOOR. THREE ENGLISH OFFICERS
WERE WAITING ADMITTANCE.
PERHAPS THEY HAD SEEN LAWRENCE CARTER GO INTO THE HOUSE,
AND IF CAUGHT HE WOULD BE KILLED AS A SPY. HE MUST BE
HIDDEN, BUT IN SOME PLACE WHERE THEY WOULD NOT THINK OF
LOOKING. THE CLOCK! THAT WAS THE PLACE. WITH A LAUGH
AND A KISS THE YOUNG MAN SUBMITTED TO BE SHUT IN THIS
NARROW QUARTER, AND THROWING HIS COAT AND HAT BEHIND SOME
FURNITURE, THE GIRL ADMITTED THE OFFICERS, WHO WERE WET
AND MAD AND DEMANDED DINNER. THEY TRAMPED ABOUT THE
BEST ROOM IN THEIR MUDDY BOOTS, TALKING LOUDLY, AND IN
ORDER TO BREAK THE EFFECT OF THE CHILL WEATHER, THEY
PASSED THE BRANDY BOTTLE FREELY. POLLY SERVED THEM WITH
A DINNER AS SOON AS POSSIBLE, FOR SHE WANTED TO GET THEM
OUT OF THE HOUSE, BUT THEY WERE IN NO MOOD TO GO, AND THE
BOTTLE PASSED SO OFTEN THAT BEFORE THE DINNER WAS OVER
THEY WERE NOISY AND TIPSY AND WERE USING LANGUAGE THAT
DROVE POLLY FROM THE ROOM.
AT LAST, TO HER RELIEF, SHE HEARD THEM PREPARING TO LEAVE
THE HOUSE, BUT AS THEY WERE ABOUT TO GO, THE SENIOR
OFFICER, LOOKING UP AT THE LANDING, NOW DIM IN THE PALING
LIGHT, SAID TO ONE OF THE OTHERS, "SEE WHAT TIME IT IS."
THE OFFICER ADDRESSED, WHO HAPPENED TO BE THE DRUNKEST
OF THE PARTY, STAGGERED UP THE STAIR AND EXCLAIMED, "THE
DAMNED THING'S STOPPED." THEN, AS IF HE THOUGHT IT A
GOOD JOKE, HE ADDED, "IT'LL NEVER GO AGAIN." DRAWING
HIS SABRE, HE GAVE THE CLOCK A CARELESS CUT AND RAN
THE BLADE THROUGH THE PANEL OF THE DOOR; AFTER THIS THE
THREE PASSED OUT. WHEN THEIR VOICES HAD DIED IN DISTANT
BRAWLING, POLLY RAN TO RELEASE HER LOVER. SOMETHING
THICK AND DARK WAS CREEPING FROM BENEATH THE CLOCK-CASE.
WITH TREMBLING FINGERS SHE PULLED OPEN THE DOOR, AND
LAWRENCE, HER LOVER, FELL HEAVILY FORWARD INTO HER ARMS,
DEAD. THE OFFICER WAS RIGHT; THE CLOCK NEVER WENT AGAIN.

Submitter comment: YUNK-YUNK HEARD THIS AS AN OLD INDIAN LEGEND. REFER TO
INFORMANTS LIST FOR MORE DETAILS CONCERNING HIM.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; MACKINAW ISLAND

Subject headings: PROSE NARRATIVE -- Outlaw Criminal Bandit Pirate
PROSE NARRATIVE -- Product or activity of man or animal

Date learned: 09-00-1963

View just this record

POLLY'S LOVER

IN ABOUT THE MIDDLE OF THIS CENTURY A WITHERED WOMAN OF
NINETY WAS BURIED FROM A NOW DESERTED HOUSE IN WHITE
PLAINS, NEW YORK, POLLY CARTER THE NAME OF HER, BUT
"CRAZY POLLY" WAS WHAT THE NEIGHBORS CALLED HER, FOR
SHE WAS ECCENTRIC AND NOT FOND OF COMPANY. AMONG
THE BELONGINGS OF HER HOUSE WAS A TALL CLOCK, SUCH AS
RELIC HUNTERS PRIZE, THAT TICKED SOLEMNLY IN A LANDING
ON THE STAIRS. FOR A TIME, DURING THE REVOLUTION, THE
HOUSE STOOD WITHIN THE BRITISH LINES, AND AS HER FATHER
WAS A COLONEL IN WASHINGTON'S ARMY, SHE WAS LEFT ALMOST
ALONE IN IT. THE BRITISH OFFICERS RESPECTED HER SEX,
BUT THEY HAD AN UNPLEASANT WAY OF RUNNING IN UNANNOUNCED
AND DEMANDING ENTERTAINMENT, IN THE KING'S NAME, WHICH
SHE FELT FORCED TO GRANT. ONE RAINY AFTERNOON THE DOOR
WAS FLUNG OPEN, THEN LOCKED ON THE INSIDE, AND SHE FOUND
HERSELF IN THE ARMS OF A STALWART, HANDSOME LIEUTENANT,
WHO WORE THE BLUE. IT WAS HER COUSIN AND FIANCE.
THEIR GLAD TALK HAD NOT BEEN GOING LONG WHEN THERE CAME
A ROUSING SUMMONS AT THE DOOR. THREE ENGLISH OFFICERS
WERE WAITING ADMITTANCE.
PERHAPS THEY HAD SEEN LAWRENCE CARTER GO INTO THE HOUSE,
AND IF CAUGHT HE WOULD BE KILLED AS A SPY. HE MUST BE
HIDDEN, BUT IN SOME PLACE WHERE THEY WOULD NOT THINK OF
LOOKING. THE CLOCK! THAT WAS THE PLACE. WITH A LAUGH
AND A KISS THE YOUNG MAN SUBMITTED TO BE SHUT IN THIS
NARROW QUARTER, AND THROWING HIS COAT AND HAT BEHIND SOME
FURNITURE, THE GIRL ADMITTED THE OFFICERS, WHO WERE WET
AND MAD AND DEMANDED DINNER. THEY TRAMPED ABOUT THE
BEST ROOM IN THEIR MUDDY BOOTS, TALKING LOUDLY, AND IN
ORDER TO BREAK THE EFFECT OF THE CHILL WEATHER, THEY
PASSED THE BRANDY BOTTLE FREELY. POLLY SERVED THEM WITH
A DINNER AS SOON AS POSSIBLE, FOR SHE WANTED TO GET THEM
OUT OF THE HOUSE, BUT THEY WERE IN NO MOOD TO GO, AND THE
BOTTLE PASSED SO OFTEN THAT BEFORE THE DINNER WAS OVER
THEY WERE NOISY AND TIPSY AND WERE USING LANGUAGE THAT
DROVE POLLY FROM THE ROOM.
AT LAST, TO HER RELIEF, SHE HEARD THEM PREPARING TO LEAVE
THE HOUSE, BUT AS THEY WERE ABOUT TO GO, THE SENIOR
OFFICER, LOOKING UP AT THE LANDING, NOW DIM IN THE PALING
LIGHT, SAID TO ONE OF THE OTHERS, "SEE WHAT TIME IT IS."
THE OFFICER ADDRESSED, WHO HAPPENED TO BE THE DRUNKEST
OF THE PARTY, STAGGERED UP THE STAIR AND EXCLAIMED, "THE
DAMNED THING'S STOPPED." THEN, AS IF HE THOUGHT IT A
GOOD JOKE, HE ADDED, "IT'LL NEVER GO AGAIN." DRAWING
HIS SABRE, HE GAVE THE CLOCK A CARELESS CUT AND RAN
THE BLADE THROUGH THE PANEL OF THE DOOR; AFTER THIS THE
THREE PASSED OUT. WHEN THEIR VOICES HAD DIED IN DISTANT
BRAWLING, POLLY RAN TO RELEASE HER LOVER. SOMETHING
THICK AND DARK WAS CREEPING FROM BENEATH THE CLOCK-CASE.
WITH TREMBLING FINGERS SHE PULLED OPEN THE DOOR, AND
LAWRENCE, HER LOVER, FELL HEAVILY FORWARD INTO HER ARMS,
DEAD. THE OFFICER WAS RIGHT; THE CLOCK NEVER WENT AGAIN.

Submitter comment: YUNK-YUNK HEARD THIS AS AN OLD INDIAN LEGEND. REFER TO
INFORMANTS LIST FOR MORE DETAILS CONCERNING HIM.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; MACKINAW ISLAND

Subject headings: PROSE NARRATIVE -- Outlaw Criminal Bandit Pirate
PROSE NARRATIVE -- Product or activity of man or animal

Date learned: 09-00-1963

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showing 5 items

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