Author Archive
Childhood
Folk speech
Protection

“God don’t like ugly.”

This saying was told to my informant  when he would act out of line as a kid. This usually came as a warning prior to some harsh discipline like a spanking or a grounding.  He said one time he had a temper tantrum in the supermarket over a piece of candy. When he wouldn’t stop his mother harshly warned him, “God don’t like ugly.”, and he knew he was in trouble.

Folk speech
Proverbs

“Once begun is half done.”

My mom told me this wise saying when I was young, and had trouble getting my chores done.  They always seemed like they took so long that I would just not do them until I had to be forcibly told. My mother explained to me that all chores are boring and tedious and the hardest part is getting started. In other words, once you’ve started a job you’ve nearly finished because the hardest part is getting over.

Folk speech
Proverbs

“It is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.”

My informant told me that her mother was the first person to tell her this phrase. When my informant was a teenager she had a boyfriend that  treated other people with disrespect all the time. my informant could not take his attitude anymore so she had to split up with him. This left her wondering if she actually did the right thing. When she consulted her mother about it, her mother said, “Well, it’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.”, and left it at that.

Folk speech
general
Proverbs

The early bird catches the worm.

This proverb was told to me by my father. He explained to me that what he meant was that a successful day starts early in the morning before anyone else wakes up. What he meant was that going the extra mile, doing things that other people don’t or won’t do is the best way to of going after something that others are also striving for.

This saying was first recorded in John Ray’s A Collection of English Proverbs in 1670.

Folk Beliefs
general
Protection

Baseball Superstition

My informant is a pitcher on the baseball team, and he told me that the first game that he started this season he had gotten  a brand new pair of baseball socks from the manager, because the ones he had been wearing had too many holes in them. That night he had a really good game and won. From then on, he says that he has been wearing a new pair of socks every time he has gone out to pitch.

It wasn’t anything he planned on doing, and nobody suggested that he do it. Neither him nor I had ever heard of another instance of a person who did the same thing. There have been instances in sports where players will, for good luck, do things like where the same socks or other articles of clothing, or use the same equipment (like a bat or shoes), while their performance is good. My guess is that he subconsciously feels that by wearing new  socks every time he pitches he is somehow starting fresh, free from the memory of the successes, and failures, of the past.

Folk Beliefs
general
Protection
Stereotypes/Blason Populaire

Irish Shoe Superstition

My informant is of Irish decent, and he told me of an old superstition he learned about shoes in the home. Apparently,  the Irish believe that it is bad luck to put one’s shoes on a table in the house. He has no idea as to the reason for such a superstition, all he knows is that in his house whether you believe it or not you’re afraid to find out if it is true.

The reason for this superstition may be unknown, but there is another version that I have come across on the internet. The other version says that it is bad luck to put one’s shoes on the bed, and the reasoning behind it is that it would bring a death in one’s family.

Folk speech
general
Proverbs

A Stitch in Time Saves Nine.

My informant first heard this saying from her grandmother when she was a child. She said that her grandmother was teaching her to sew using the baste method, which uses one long stitch over a piece of fabric in order to hold the fabric together for the main stitches which are smaller. My informant told me that along with the reasoning for using this method, her grandmother used the phrase, “A stitch in time saves nine.”, meaning that using this method, even though it seemed time-wasting and tedious, would save time in the ling run by keeping the the fabric in place and preventing mistakes when sewing the small stitches.

The person who originally said the phrase was Benjamin Franklin. My informant’s grandmother likely read it in his Poor Richard’s Almanac. Benjamin Franklin wrote the almanac under the pseudonym “Poor Richard” between 1733 and 1758. My informant’s grandmother used the phrase in a situation that actually involved a stitch, but the saying can also be applied to a number of situations.

Folk Beliefs
general
Protection
Stereotypes/Blason Populaire

Baseball Superstition

My informant gave me an example of a superstition about the foul lines in baseball. He told me that before a
baseball game it is bad luck to step on the foul lines before the game starts. He first learned of the superstition when he
was in little league, and a teammate of his told him not to step on the foul lines. My informant had no idea why it was bad luck, and his teammate was no help because he didn’t know either.
You see, on a baseball field the lines are either painted, or made with chalk. Usually this is done well before the
start of the game. A team will usually start getting ready for a game about three hours prior to the game. They will play
catch down the foul lines in the outfield, (But at no time during the catch play will anyone step on the line), take ground
balls and batting practice. After all this, the field is re-prepared for the game; the dirt is raked and smoothed over, and
new bases are put in, all the while the foul lines stay straight and neat. My guess is that the field of play is very important to a ballplayer, not every field is the same, there can be bad hops in the infield and bad bounces of the walls in the outfield, so to respect it by keeping it in good shape could only be good for a ballplayer, therefore any mistreatment to it would warrant “bad luck”.

Folk Beliefs
Foodways
general
Legends
Material
Stereotypes/Blason Populaire

Pop Rocks Legend

My informant told me of a myth he heard when he was young that involved a candy called Pop Rocks. Pop Rocks are little pieces of hard candy that pop and crack when one puts them inside his or her mouth. He explained to me that it has been believed that if one was to eat these Pop Rocks and drink a soda, or any carbonated beverage, at the same time, the combination would make his or her stomach explode.

This is very interesting, because I remember hearing this myth when I was a kid; about nine or ten. My informant is from Riverside, California, and I was living in Encino, California, when I first heard it so it seems that this version has diffused throughout multiple areas. Whether there is actually any evidence that such a result could occur from this combination remains to be seen. Neither one of us, my informant nor myself, has ever witnessed the result of ingesting the combination in person, therefore I can safely say that this myth remains nothing more.

Contagious
Folk Beliefs
Folk speech
general
Magic
Proverbs
Stereotypes/Blason Populaire

Take Care of the Field, and the Field Will Take Care of You.

My informant was my baseball coach  last year, and he used this saying at a time when our team, who was usually very good, wasn’t doing so well. We were uncharacteristically making a lot of errors, and we just couldn’t seem to get the ball to bounce our way when we were hitting. One day after practice my coach noticed that the field and batting cages had not been worked on or cleaned. He brought us all together and annoyed he said, “How about we  get our jobs done and take care of this place. Take care of your field and the field will take care of you. Let’s get some good karma going and turn this thing around.”

This is a saying that my informant likely made up himself. That was the first time I had heard the saying, however, I have recently heard several versions of it, namely, “Be good to the field and the field will be good to you.” While I don’t believe in things like karma, I can see the logic in the statement he made. By taking care of the field, dragging and watering the dirt, making sure there it is smooth and there are no holes or big rocks in it will greatly decrease the chances of a ball hitting a rock or a hole and taking a bad hop, which in turn causes errors. So it’s simple: Take care of the field, and the field will take care of you.

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