USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘Nautical’
Customs
Material

Rings out of Quarters

Content:
Informant – “Sailors used to make rings out of quarters. They would set the quarter on a hard surface, standing up on it’s edge. They would tap the edge, rotate the coin, tap the edge, rotate the coin. Then they would drill a hole through the center.”

Context:
Informant – “I heard this from a navy friend of mine. He said they would tap the quarters with spoons, but I’m skeptical. I’ve made rings like these before, but I’ve always used hammers. But my friend swore they used spoons. I guess it makes sense. When you finish your chores on a ship, you have a lot a free time and nothing to do. My friend said they used to wear through spoons making these rings.”

Analysis:
Having made a ring like this myself (using a hammer), I can say that it is a very contemplative experience. There is a comfortable zen to the robotic monotony. It’s an easy task to perform on auto-pilot. You can zone out – a wonderful cure for boredom. Also, my informant’s friend was in the Navy in the 60s. There were still silver quarters in circulation then, so any ring a sailor made would be far more valuable than the quarter itself.

Folk Beliefs
Folk speech
Proverbs
Signs

Red Sky at Night, Sailors Delight; Red Sky at Dawn, Sailors Take Warning

Content:
Informant – “Red sky at night, sailor’s delight. Red sky at dawn, sailor’s take warning.”

Context:
Informant: “This is an old sailor’s saying. Sailors are deeply superstitious people. I’m not sure where I heard it from, it’s just always been around. I’m not sure where it comes from. Maybe it’s because the jet streams blow west to east? The general idea though is that if the sky is red in the morning, that means a storm is coming your way. If it’s red at night, then the next day will be clear.”

Analysis:
There is actually truth to this saying. A red sky at night means that the sun is being refracted through a lot of dust and moisture as it sets. This indicates that a high pressure system is passing, moving west. Good weather will follow. A red sky in the morning however, means that the pressure system is arriving, moving east. This indicates bad weather.

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