Author Archives: Eric Finch


A tradition that has been passed down over time as far back as Sherri’s grandmother (to her recollection at least), is to cut the symbol of wheat into pies that her family makes.

Sherri explained to me that while at first she thought it was for decoration, not until she was twenty did she know the real reason.  Sherri’s mother taught her that the symbol has a greater meaning.  It symbolizes the harvest that was collected that season.  This “harvest” is the income that is collected by members of the family that was used to help make the food.  It also represents the hard work that was put into making the meal, both by those that made the money to pay for the ingredients, as well as the sweat and tears put into preparing it all.

She told me that this design is very important to her family, as it both shows respect and dignity for those who did it in the past and provided for her and her sisters, as well as shows hope for the future that she may, in turn, be able to provide for her children.

I believe this is a very interesting tradition that is expressed through cooking.  While it is not as noticeable as a family recipe, it is a subtle tradition that carries a large symbolic meaning behind it.

Proverb – American

” You don’t learn anything the second time the mule kicks you in your head”

Barry informed me that he learned this proverb as a young child approximately age 8 from his father, Leonard.  The context in which he learned the proverb was after he had broken a second glass cup in the past week.  In a playful demeanor, his father said, “you don’t learn anything the second time the mule kicks you in your head.”  Barry recalls his father using many of these playful, light-hearted sayings to teach Barry important life lessons when he was a young boy.  Barry strongly believes that his father’s use of these proverbs helped him remember these important lessons much more so than if he had learned them through everyday, mundane conversations.

Barry believes the proverb to mean “you don’t learn anything the second time you make a mistake.”  He recalls that as soon as his father told him this saying, he was sure to never make the same boneheaded mistake twice.  Barry taught this same proverb to his children when they were young in order to instill the same ideas in them.

I believe that the explanation Barry provided was spot on.  I do not think there is any other way to interpret this good-natured proverb.  It is an excellent proverb to teach to young children as it both teaches them a lesson as well as gives them a good laugh by making light of the situation.

Joke – University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California

“How come the Bruins haven’t dumped ice on their coach this century?

Because the guy who knew the recipe graduated.”

Barry informed me that he first learned this joke while he was a student in high school.  His father and mother are University of Southern California alums so they raised Barry to be a USC football fan.  The background for the joke is that UCLA and USC have a heated rivalry in sports and academics, as both schools are located in the greater Los Angeles area and are very similar.  Also, the ice being alluded to in this joke represents the ritual that football players will douse their coach with the ice and water that is found in their coolers.  Barry explained that the joke just symbolized the intense competition between the Trojans of USC and the Bruins of UCLA.

While this joke may not represent an entire country or region’s ideas, it is still considered folklore as the folk in this case are USC students, alums, faculty, and fans in general.  Sports teams are usually followed by a large group of people who bleed their team’s colors and share a large hatred for their team’s rivals.  This same hatred between two groups is seen across many different groups and helps bind them together to create their own folklore.  Some other examples may be rival countries, states, gangs, religious groups, and many other groups as well.

Joke – American

An Oakland Raiders’ fan was watching a game in a sold out Coliseum, he could not see one empty seat in the whole stadium.  Then he saw an empty seat a couple rows in front of him so he walked down and asked the guy next to that seat if he knew the person whose seat that was.

The guy responded, “Yeah, you see that’s my wife’s seat and we haven’t missed a game since the sixties, but she’s dead now.”

The fan told the guy he was sorry and that it’s a shame he couldn’t find any family member or friend to come to the game with him.

The guy says, “well, they would except they’re all at her funeral.”

Barry says he learned this joke when he was a teenager of approximately fifteen years of age.  His father taught him this as both were fans of the Los Angeles/ Oakland Raiders.  Barry recalls his father supplying him with a new joke practically everyday, which he would then teach to his friends at school.

Barry believes that this story could be applied to any sports’ team and it would have the same impact, as is the case that is seen through the annotation (below.)  The punch line of this joke is that all the other family members are at his wife’s funeral, but he is not at the funeral because he is watching the ball game instead.  There is a whole genre of these jokes that revolve around men’s lack of sympathy for their significant others, many of which focus on the wife’s death and the husband missing her funeral to go to a game or out fishing.

Annotation: This joke was found at:

Proverb – American

“Play hard, have fun”

Mrs. Finch informed me that she thought up this proverb four years ago in 2003 when her son was a freshman in high school.  He was on the basketball team and was too worried about making a mistake that he ended up making many of them.  She recalls telling him this midseason in order to let him know that there is no need to worry about little mistakes if he is playing his best and having fun at the same time.  She said, “after all, it is a game.”

She said she still uses this proverb when her son worries too much about little mistakes in life.  She says it helps calm her son’s nerves and get a firmer grip on reality.  She recalls writing it on little pieces of paper and putting it on his mirror in the morning to remind him about what is really important in life.  Sherri says it has helped her son not only in basketball or sports, but in life experiences in general.  She says that he is no longer worried about making a mistake, but rather is concerned with having a good time and doing his best in all that he does.

I believe this proverb brings up a very interesting concept.  It reminds us what is truly important in life.  All too often we as humans living in the twenty first century are too worried about whether or not people are watching when we make a mistake, rather than just giving all activities our best shot and having fun along the way.