Author Archives: avouac

Thumb-a-War

Context: 

This piece was collected in a casual interview setting on the informant’s living room couch . My informant (CH) was born in Pasadena, CA, but grew up in a very French household, learning English as her second language. All of her education has been in American schools, but she learned how to read and write French thanks to after school lessons her mom gave her and her older sister. She is currently a Sophomore in high school and enjoys horseback riding. 

Main Piece:

Interviewer: Do you remember the Thumb-a-Wars from when we were little? Can you describe them to me?

CA: Wait, wait, let’s just do it. *both turn to sit facing each other* Ok film it from above, yeah *moves the interviewer’s hand to a good position*

Interviewer: *interview switches from voice recording to camera and they proceed to film the video*

Both: *Sing Thumb-a-War song and then play*

One, two, three, four

I declare a thumb-a-war

Five, six, seven, eight,

Try and keep your thumb straight

Interviewer: *after settling down from laughing and playing a few games. Switches back to voice recording* Ok *laughs* so where and when did you learn this.

CH: I learned it at school! In like, kindergarten and we  played it during recess. Everyone I know knows the game so even today if my friend and I are bored we can just play for funsies. 

The following is transcribed from a conversation between the informant (CH) and interviewer.

Thoughts: 

Thumb-a-War was a very popular game when I was in elementary school. We would play it during recess or on bus rides to field trips. We would have big competitions between classmates to figure out who was the strongest boy and strongest girl in the grade, so I have a lot of very good memories of this game! Like CA said, everyone who’s around my age knows this game, so we can whip it out at any time and play if we’re bored. 

11:11 wish

Context: 

This piece was collected in a casual interview setting on the informant’s living room couch . My informant (CH) was born in Pasadena, CA, but grew up in a very French household, learning English as her second language. All of her education has been in American schools, but she learned how to read and write French thanks to after school lessons her mom gave her and her older sister. She is currently a Sophomore in high school and enjoys horseback riding, 

Main Piece:

The following is transcribed from a conversation between the informant (CH) and interviewer.

Interviewer: When can you make a wish?

CH: When the time is exactly at 11:11 you can make a wish and it is supposed to come true if you don’t tell anyone but you have to say it, say it at 11:11 exactly for it to come true. 

Interviewer: Where did you learn this from?

CH: My sister. She’s obsessed with it, she does it all the time. She learned it from our older sister I think. 

Interviewer: And where did her older sister learn it from?

CH: Umm *laughs* I would guess, guess from school, from a friend from school or something like that.

Thoughts: 

I absolutely believe in my 11:11 wishes, they are very important to me. I learned about them from my older sister who had heard of 11:11 wishes at school. When I was applying for college as a senior back in high school, my 11:11 wishes meant the world to me, and many other people at school also used them to wish to get accepted into their dream school. While some people did it a little as a joke, and others made fun of the rest of us for believing in these wishes, during a time of great stress they brought a bit of relief to our class. I believe this a rather new belief, from what I have heard on the internet and among friends, and that it dates back to digital watches. However, as it is folklore, I do not know this folkbelief’s origin. 

Cold Remedies – Whiskey & Honey Milk

Context: 

This piece is collected in a casual interview setting around a cup of coffee. My informant (BA) was born in Lille, France, and moved to California in 2002 with her husband for their jobs at Caltech. She has a Master in Human Resources and Detection of High Potentials, is a mother of two teenage girls, loves to garden and go on hikes, and is overall a very energetic and happy woman. 

Main Piece:

The following is transcribed from a conversation between the informant (BA) and interviewer.

Interviewer: How do you treat a sore throat?

BA: So, there are two ways. There’s the version a little more aggressive.  You take a chug of whiskey, you gurgle it around, you remove all the bacteria, and its supposed to leave [the bacteria and sore throat]. And the grandma remedy, which I love, and can’t do any har, is that you take a, a, a bowl of hot milk, actually more warm, you put two teaspoons of honey, you turn, you mix, and you drink it. That’ll take care of your sore throat.

Interviewer: Where did you learn these remedies? 

BA: My grandmother would make me drink the milk and my dad, who used the more aggressive method, made me drink whiskey. I liked the grandma version better *laughs* but I made my girls try both when they were little! 

Thoughts:

Growing up, the whiskey method was not my favorite either, but my parents and neighbors, who we are very close to, insisted I try it if medicine or hot milk and honey didn’t do the trick. The hot milk and honey is a remedy I use all the time, but I also use it to destress when I’m feeling anxious, not only for sore throats. Although I don’t think it cures a cold, it does help with the symptoms. 

Bubble Gum In a Dish

Context: 

This piece was collected in a casual interview setting on the informant’s living room couch . My informant (CH) was born in Pasadena, CA, but grew up in a very French household, learning English as her second language. All of her education has been in American schools, but she learned how to read and write French thanks to after school lessons her mom gave her and her older sister. She is currently a Sophomore in high school and enjoys horseback riding.

Main Piece:

The following is transcribed from a conversation between the informant (CH) and interviewer.

Interviewer: Other than the classic “eeny, meeny, miny, moe” what’s another way you know of picking something based on a song?

CA: We had the bubble gum song! The girls started to use it in like, I don’t know, 3rd grade. We would sing it while going around pointing at someone in the circle. It went like this

Bubble gum, bubble gum, in a dish,

How many pieces do you wish?

*the girl who’s designated chooses a number, then they start counting to that number and who ever the last number falls on is it*

Thoughts: 

At school, the girls would use this song in order to pick out a girl when nobody volunteered to do something. For example, it was to see who would be the first person to chase others in Tag. This was a very fair and effective way to choose who would be “it” when we were young (around 6-8 years old) but once people started to figure out you can count who it would fall on so the person who chooses the “random” number can cheat, it started creating problems. For some reason, only the girls would use this song.

Annotation:

For different variations of the Bubble Gum Song, please follow this link: https://kcls.org/content/bubble-gum-bubble-gum-in-a-dish/

Nose Goes

Context: 

This piece was collected in a casual interview setting on the informant’s living room couch . My informant (CH) was born in Pasadena, CA, but grew up in a very French household, learning English as her second language. All of her education has been in American schools, but she learned how to read and write French thanks to after school lessons her mom gave her and her older sister. She is currently a Sophomore in high school and enjoys horseback riding, 

Main Piece:

The following is transcribed from a conversation between the informant (CH) and interviewer.

Interviewer: What’s Nose-Goes?

CH: Um, its when you’re with a group of people and there’s this one thing that has to be done but noone wants to do it so you go “one, two, three nose-goes” and everyone tries to touch their nose with their indent, index finger as fast as they can, but the last person to touch their nose loses and has to do the thing that no one wanted to do.

Interviewer: And, um, does everyone know when its going to be initiated or its just like out of the blue?

CH: Its kind of… out of the blue. Like you don’t, don’t say in advance “I’m going to say nose-goes” you just say “nose-goes.”

Interviewer: When did you start doing this?

CH: I don’t know, like fourth grade? 

Thoughts: 

The popular Nose Goes, in my opinion, is very effective, but very unfair. Basically, the first one to think of the game will automatically not be “it” and if someone in the group is not paying attention, they will automatically lose. For dealing with trivial matters, like chores, taking out the trash, sitting in the car trunk, it is fine, but after a while, if overused, it can start to cause problems in a friend group, or the person to always call it will be labeled as childish. Overall, I believe it can be used once in a while, if everyone knows the rules, and its a fun way for children to learn to pay attention to their peers. 

Annotation:

Follow this link to see more variations of Nose Goes: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nose_goes