Author Archives: Erin Hodgkins

“A Stitch in Time Saves Nine”

“A stitch in time saves nine.”

The informant was born in Atchinson, Kansas, but moved to California when she was seven, where she has lived ever since.

While the informant cannot remember a specific instance where she heard this saying, she explained that this was something that people would say over and over again. Essentially, part of her vocabulary growing up. She considers her generation to have been homebodies and that their sayings simply reflected the way people were living. To her, these sayings came from people who were doing more manual work, like farming and housekeeping, rather than office work. She herself never had a job, but fulfilled her goal of becoming a mother and homemaker.

In one sense, the saying is specifically talking about sewing. It means that if you have a tear in your stockings, for example, and you stitch it right away, it will not grow larger and require more than one (potentially nine) stitch(es).

However, the idea from the saying can be applied to other things. For example, if you take care of something when either first assigned or simply in the beginning, you save yourself work by doing it before it grows potentially more difficult, more stressful, etc.

The informant relayed her folklore to me at my dining room table. I have known her my entire life as she is a close relative. I had already asked her about her folklore weeks before, but upon meeting on this day, she brought a list that she had written of all she could think of so that she would not forget when she told me. While she read the specific folklore off the sheet, the other details I got from her were not pre-determined.

While using language related to sewing, I find that this really does apply to a lot of other areas, as the example shown above. I also think that the phrase itself is easy to understand, whether or not you have ever sewn in your life. Ultimately, it is a phrase with which to combat the desire to procrastinate that may not be effective, but might work once or twice for certain people.

The Back of a Knife Heals Wounds

“I had a friend over and we were playing outside and he got like a cut on his hand or something and just somewhere in the back of my mind I remembered hearing if you take, you know, the back of a knife, like a pocket knife, the not sharp edge and you just kinda gently brush that over top of the cut or if it is a small burn or any sort of small little injury, like that, it will help kind of soothe the pain.”

The informant grew up in North Carolina and lived there his entire life there until moving to Los Angeles around three years ago, where he currently resides. He does not remember exactly where or when he first heard this practice (he is not sure if from the television, the radio, or from someone directly), but recalls thinking of it when he was maybe four or five when his friend and he were playing outside.
As a child, he remembers always having a pocket knife on him, causing him to immediately pull it out when his friend got the cut in order to gently brush the knife over it to try and make him feel better. His friend did not trust him at first, but eventually allowed the informant to try it, ultimately making him “feel a lot better.”
The informant also admits that he is sure he tried it on himself at some point because he was always outside playing with sticks and such as a child.
Since then, the informant remembers looking it up and receiving some sort of conformation that this worked at some point, but has yet to be able to find it years later when looking it up again.

The informant relayed this to me while in the passenger seat of his girlfriend’s car as she drove us all back up to Los Angeles. I have known the informant since he moved to Los Angeles.

In my opinion, I believe the practice of using the knife to be partially mental as well as physical. My idea follows the idea of “the placebo effect,” where simply being told it will make you feel better, you start to feel better. However, I think the back of a knife, most likely cool and smooth, naturally would feel good on a burn or a cut and would soothe the pain even if only for a little while.

Broughton Jokes

“You still at Broughton?”
“I’ma take you to Broughton and get my $75 and a fruit basket.”

The informant grew up in North Carolina and lived there his entire life there until moving to Los Angeles around three years ago, where he currently resides.

According to the informant, Morganton (his hometown) is known for its’ insane asylum/mental institution, within North Carolina. That institution used to be called Broughton Hospital for the Criminally Insane (potentially has been changed since then, but this was what the informant remembers it as). This place was where people who either had mental disabilities or mental handicaps and were criminally dangerous, had committed crimes, and were a danger to others and themselves, would go. It is not to be confused with their other mental institution, Jay Iverson Developmental Center, which is for those with mental handicaps who are not criminally dangerous, but need extra care.

The reason these jokes are found humorous is because social work is one of the main industries in Morganton, meaning a lot of people both work at Broughton or have worked there at some point in the past (including the informants mother).

That being said, the first joke is only said to those known to have worked there or who are working there, implying that they are a patient and not an employee. The informant first heard it while with his dad, who said it to an old friend he ran into at the grocery store. However, the informant has never used the joke because he has never known anyone who worked at Broughton of his age group.

The second joke is based off of a rumor that if someone committed someone to Broughton, they would receive $75 and a fruit basket. The informant does not believe the rumor to be true and has not used the joke probably because of that belief.

The informant relayed this to me while in the passenger seat of his girlfriend’s car as she drove us all back up to Los Angeles. I have known the informant since he moved to Los Angeles.

Both of the jokes require a connection to the culture of North Carolina, potentially more specifically of Morganton. Without the understanding of where the joke comes from, it would not be funny to you because it would not make any sense. However, those in the town not only have a connection to Broughton Hospital, but would be finding humor in something that is part of their everyday life. In a sense, you have to be part of the group to understand the joke and could potentially be considered an outsider if it was unknown.

Concert Superstition: Not listening to the band before seeing them

“I don’t know exactly how it started, but we kind of came up with this unspoken rule that if you’re going to a concert, on the drive there, you don’t listen to the band that you’re going to see.”

The informant self identified this practice as a superstition, yet also attributed to its creation for other reasons. One of those is not wanting to listen to it before, so that when you arrive at the concert, you haven’t just heard the same songs multiple times. With it comes the idea that you will not enjoy the concert as much if you are tired of the songs before going. Another reason is that some bands are not necessarily that great live, so by not listening to their recorded songs beforehand, you will enjoy the live performance more without comparing it to what might actually sound better.

While this is something he started doing with just his close friends, he knows that other people have similar superstitions. If he is with people who were not part of the original friend group that created it, he does not force them to turn off the radio or unplug the aux cord, but he does mention it to them. He has found that it makes sense to most people and he practices it every time he goes to a concert if he can, while spreading the practice to others.

The informant relayed this to me while in the passenger seat of his girlfriend’s car as she drove us all back up to Los Angeles. I have known the informant since he moved to Los Angeles.

While I have never done this myself, I find that it actually does make a lot of sense. It is a superstition to preserve the quality and heighten the experience of a concert. If not followed, there is a chance that nothing negative will happen. However, there is always the chance that something will and your experience that you paid for (often a lot of money) will become less enjoyable.

“The Room”

“It is just a, you know, one screen theater, one screen thing, and so the entire theater is totally packed, mostly with young people, you know, people in their twenties and thirties. And it’s just like packed. And we sit behind this group of college kids who explain to us that there is certain things that you have to do when certain scenes come up or when certain things come on screen and that one of the most important things is that you throw spoons when there is this picture of a spoon like sitting on the mantle of one of the things in the apartment and so they actually gave us some spoons so that we could do that. So we all four were sitting there going like ‘okay. What have we gotten ourselves into?’ And the movie starts and it is just ridiculous. And we suddenly … it is kinda like Rocky Horror Picture Show, where everybody has their certain things that they say so like when there is water shown, you know the ocean or something like that, everybody in the room screams water. Or, there is a bunch of parts where two of the main characters are throwing a football around so they throw a football. There’s all sorts of stuff like that throughout the entire movie, which is ridiculous in and of itself, so by the end of the night, we realized that this is some sort of like phenomenon that we’ve happened upon that none of us really knew what we were getting into.”

The informant was explaining the first time she went to see “The Room,” but has since been ten or more times since.

Before her first time going to see it though, she had known nothing about it, except that it was a film that something called “Rifftrax” had done (it is a website that has three guys watching a movie and making fun of it on a track you can play alongside the film at home). When she was a sophomore at USC, she saw an ad for a screening of the “The Room” in Westwood Village and asked her roommate if she would go with her. However, the movie screening started at 12am, so they decided it would be better to get a bigger group and asked the two guys that lived across the hall from them.

When the four of them got to the screening, they immediately saw people dressed up as characters from the film and reanacting scenes from the film, making them realize that this screening was a much bigger thing than they had believed. They also learned it was screened there every first Saturday of the month. The theater was filled with people between in their thirties, but also a lot of college students because of it being near two huge universities. It became clear to the informant that a lot of the audience members had been going to this for some time. On top of everything, a Scandinavian news program was there interviewing people as to how they came to find it. The four of them realized this wasn’t even just local, but was also known internationally.

After their first experience, the group started taking anyone they could convince to go. The group continued to grow and soon became a regular thing, with their own traditions building along with it of getting desert at Diddy Reese in Westwood Village, then getting tickets and waiting in line.

In regards to the actual screening, the informant explained that what is being yelled or acted out is usually led by a few people who are the loudest, with the rest of the audience following along with them. There are certain things that are always said, but there is also a ton of room for variation. People are always yelling out something entirely of their own, which sometimes will build into the “routine” of sayings.

The informant feels as if she has been accepted into this sort of cult surreptitiously. She felt even more exclusively in the group when the star, director, producer of the movie, Tommy Wiseau, came to a screening to sign autographs and she got her “Room” t-shirt signed by him.

The informant relayed this story to me while driving us back to Los Angeles. This informant is a relative. The informant has also taken me to see “The Room.”

Having personally experienced “The Room,” I can say I also am part of “The Room” group. This is solidified after you go the first time because you definitely feel like an outsider not knowing what or when to say the specific things. I found it to be an extremely fun experience, but I believe that it is made fun because of the group that you create. Inside jokes and memories are made there others will never understand until experiencing it for themselves.