Author Archive
Folk Beliefs

Right/Left Eye Twitches

Text: “It is believed somewhere I don’t know where that if your left eye twitches that means something good will happen and if your right eye twitches something bad will happen. I never really believed this or looked into it until there have been multiple cases where you could say it is hindsight bias, but to me it is the way this superstition works. After my right eye twitched the first two cases: I played my best volleyball game, I got an A on a test. Some left eye twitches included falling and getting hurt, arguments with my family, and just small things in general that are either positive or negative.”

 

Context: The subject is a Chinese-American female from Palo Alto, California. She is one of my peers at USC and I asked her casually if she had any superstitions. She then proceeded to tell me this one that she believes because she thinks it has successfully predicted whether good or bad things were going to happen to her.

 

Interpretation: I thought this was an interesting superstition that I had never heard before. I don’t necessarily believe it’s true, especially considering what the informant mentioned about “hindsight bias”. Because she had already heard about the superstition, she was actively taking note of good things that happened to her after her right eye twitched. Because she was so eagerly looking for something good to happen, she could have easily missed or ignored any bad things that happened to her that day. The same goes for after her left eye twitched; she was so intent on identifying bad things that happened to her that day that she could have easily ignored the good things. Although getting into an argument could have seemed bad on the day when her left eye was twitching, it could have seemed mundane on the day when her right eye was twitching.

Legends
Narrative

The Legend of George the Hunter

Text: “The Cape Cod Canal is very wide and the currents are dangerously swift. It divides the town of Bourne, MA into the mainland and Cape Cod. On the Cape Cod side is what was known then as the Edwards Air Force Base. It contained all the latest and most secret Air Force jets and other equipment and was very heavily guarded. The base was very big, comprising 20,000 acres. Trespassing of any kind was was not allowed. But there were lots of deer there. One legendary hunter by the name of George sneaked in there and shot a deer with his bow and arrow. Unfortunately, the deer ran away and George could not catch up with it. The next day the deer was found by the local officials. In those days, by law, you had to have your name on each arrow. Finding his arrow in the deer, they confronted George to arrest him for trespassing but his response was ‘I shot that deer legally on the other side of the Cape Cod Canal. He ran away and I saw him swim across the canal with my arrow stuck in him.’ With great embarrassment they had to let George go.”

 

Context: The subject is a 62-year-old white male from Cape Cod, Massachusetts. I casually asked him if he knew of any legends related to the area and this is one that he told me.

 

Interpretation: This is a legend that is specifically associated with the region of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. More specifically, it has circulated around Bourne, Massachusetts because that is the town in which the Cape Cod Canal is located. It is also the town in which the Monument Beach Sportsman’s Club is located, which the man who told this story is a part of. Within the town of Bourne, which is also the town where I personally am from, I believe this legend has mainly been passed around among the men and women in the club because they are a group of people in the town who enjoy and practice hunting and other activities of this nature. I believe the purpose of this story is to inform listeners about the history of hunting in the town of Bourne as well as the “legendary” hunters that existed in the past. It could be used as a form of motivation to the people in the club to live up to George’s hunting prowess. In other words, this is regional folklore as well as folklore that pertains to a specific group of people, hunters.

 

Legends
Narrative

Cutting the Ham

Text: “This story was passed down as if it were the true in my family. But I have heard it told by others as well. My mom was preparing a ham for Easter and she cut the end off the ham before putting it in the pan. When I asked her why she cut the end off the ham she said, ‘because Grandma always cut the end off the ham.’ So we decided to call Grandma and ask her why she cut the end off the ham. When she answered the call she replied, ‘I always cut the end off the ham because Great Grandma always cut the end off the ham.’ So we went to go visit Great Grandma in the nursing home and we asked her about it and she said, ‘oh well I always cut the end off the ham because my pan was too short.’ The moral of the story is two generations of women were doing something because of the way they had always seen it done but in reality there was no need for them to do it.”

 

Context: This story was told to me by a 45-year-old white woman from Denver, Colorado when I asked her if she knew of any folklore that was passed down within her family.

 

Interpretation: I assume that this story was told in the informant’s family for two main purposes. The first is for entertainment, since it is simply a funny story that I imagine most people who hear it would find humorous. The second is to give advice to its listeners because it has a moral to it, as the informant stated at the end of her text. One could reword the moral she stated as don’t do something just because someone else does. This story reminds me of a longer version of a common saying that is said to children that goes something like, “If (name) jumped off a bridge, would you?”.

 

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