Author Archives: Laurel Goggins

“Wear it in Good Health”

 The informant explains how a common Jewish expression came into existence and the importance of it within the community.

L: Why do the Jews say “wear it in good health?” 

M: Okay, so that’s something– um, basically every adult in my life, whenever I got a new pair of shoes, would tell me to “wear them in good health”. And for years, I just thought that was a thing that people said, until I moved away from south Florida and was made aware, no that’s just Jewish people. 

So, I asked my one grandmother who’s still alive about it and she told me it’s because, like, growing up in New York– or not even New York — growing up as a Jewish person in the 40s and 50s, like, there was always this sense that you could just die. So, when someone tells you to wear something in good health it’s both like a command to tell you that you need to be healthy, but it’s also, like, a wish for your well being. Because, like, there’s a culture of worrying about people. 

Like, there’s a stereotype of the Jewish grandmother who’s always worried. Those things sort of come from the same place. They’re sort of like, a wish for your health — like, don’t do something stupid!


Upon further research, this Yiddish saying is directly related to the saying “Use it in good health”. “Use it in good health” is simply a version of “wear it in good health” that has become popularized throughout the United States.

It’s interesting how much Yiddish vocabulary has made it into the American vernacular. Words like “schmuck”, “bagel”, “glitch”, and “klutz” are just a small selection of words that have crossed over from Yiddish into American English. It’s no surprise that Yiddish sayings have followed with the Yiddish words themselves.

The Salt Witch

The informant grew up in Omaha, Nebraska. Here, he tells the story of an old chieftain from the American Indian Omaha Tribe who encounters a witch after his wife’s passing.

N: There’s the Salt Witch. There’s a chief– I don’t know if he’s of the Omaha Tribe or not, cause there are some stories of chiefs of the Omaha Tribe. But, there’s a chieftain who lost his wife and he basically, like, shut down because his wife was dead. I don’t remember how his wife died. She just passed away, or something?

Um, but he retreated into his hut and the other members of the tribe were like “We gotta vote a new chief in. This guy’s doing shit all”. So one day he just came out of his hut, like, full war dress on adn just fucking leaves. And he, like, comes back a week or something later with a shitload of scalps, like heads, and a buncha salt. 

And the story– like the scalps are like, “Okay. He can still kill white people. Still strong” like whatever. But like, the salt part is he told a story about one night he was trying to sleep and he heard a ruckus. So he went out and he saw a young woman, who was being held down by an old crone about to chop her head off. And the chieftain ran and buried his tomahawk into the old crone’s head. Saved the young woman, and the young woman looked up at him and had his wife’s face. But then, when he reached down to grab her, she, like, disappeared, leaving a buncha salt behind. And he sorta scooped it all up.

Peruvian Kiss Greeting

A: Peruvians greet each other by, uh, at least I do, by kissing — kissing the other person like, cheek to cheek on both sides.

L: Ah, like la bise in france.

A: Yeah. And whenever you go to, like, a gathering of some sort, you have to greet every single person. Like, when you enter they do that, and other people, when they enter are expected to come by and do that. And when you’re leaving its the same thing. 

L: Oh god, how do you–how do you–? Is 50% of that time just spent greeting and —

A: It takes like, ten minutes to leave. You don’t have to do it to, like, there are exceptions. Like, uh, you don’t have to do it to, like, people that aren’t Peruvian. You don’t do it to Americans. You don’t have to go looking for all the kids. Only the ones that are, like, are around. 
L: But it’s like, aunties, uncles, grandma, and grandpa are a must?

A: Mm-hmm.


The first thing that came to my mind upon hearing this folk tradition was how similar it is to the la bise tradition in France. Both of these traditions are greetings where people kiss each other on the cheek. To learn about the similar French custom, please visit .

The informant is Peruvian, so it is most likely that Spanish colonization brought this custom over the pond to this South American country.

Twelve Grapes

The informant recounts a Peruvian good luck tradition preformed on New Years Day.

A: I just googled twelve grapes, and it is a thing. Apparently it’s Spanish. So that’s fun. 

L: Tell me about twelve grapes. 

A: You eat twelve grapes, for good luck. One for every month of the year. 

L: When do you do it? 

A: When the clock strikes to the next year, so like–
L: Oh, so it’s a New Years tradition?

A: Mm-hmm. Eat grapes. And like that, but in a cup *Shows me a picture of twelve grapes in a sparkling wine glass*


As I’ve collected folklore about New Years traditions, there are a lot of traditions that are centered around food. There is another folklore I collected from the Southern states of America that also revolves around food and prosperity.

The informant had looked up the origins out of this tradition out of curiosity and discovered that the apparent origin is from Spain. However, the informant grew up in a Peruvian household. It’s interesting to see how this tradition has most likely spread through Spain’s colonization of South America, and has been passed down from generation to generation over the centuries.

Benches for the Dead

This folklore was collected after three other ghost stories were collected from the informant. Previously discussed folklore also included a dead child (or children) in some capacity. Halfway through this collection, We realized that a lot of the ghost centered folklore in Brentwood, Northern California had to do with children.

C: There’s a garden at my elementary school dedicated to um–JC Dugard is the lady who got put in some guys basement so it’s not her. But there’s this girl who went to the school and her, and her sister, and her family were going on a snow trip and they died in a car crash.

And, I don’t know why, but there’s this garden in the middle of school dedicated to her now. And people reported, like, “Aww, ghost!”

L: It’s her ghost!

C: It’s her ghost!

L: Lotta ghosts.

C: Lotta dead children! There’s also a bench at the front of the school dedicated to this, um, she actually was buried at the same time. But um, I never really realized what happened because no one really talked about it, but like, allegedly her father, like, snapped and killed her, possibly her sister and himself. That or like, one of the daughters’ survived. Like, “ooh, you get a bench.”

Brentwood isn’t the only place that memorial benches are erected in honor of someone’s passing. Institutions all over the United States engage in the same practice. My proposed reason for why memorial benches are so popular is two fold. The first reason being that the bench is large enough to be regularly noticed by people passing by. The second, is that the bench is inherently useful to the living, as it provides a place to sit.