Author Archives: olord@usc.edu

Getting a Cold with Wet Hair

Context:

Madeleine Hall is Junior at USC, studying Communications. When I set out to explain folklore to her, for some reason my mind went straight to folk remedies and I gave her several examples of these, and then got into general folk beliefs around sickness. Obviously, my niche explanation led to this piece of folklore she then provided.

Transcript:

Madeleine: There are two parts of it, though. The first part is my Mom used to say that you can’t go outside with your hair wet because you’ll get a cold when it was cold out, or really hot out, doesn’t really matter, you’ll just get a cold. Uhhm, annndd, the other one is that you can’t go to bed with your hair wet, which really makes no sense, uhm, but now I dry my hair before bed every night, because I’m not gonna go to bed with my hair wet.

Interpretation:

This is something I investigated to see if there is any scientific truth to it. It seems that there is no science behind this claim, but I had also heard it before. Many people had, it seems, because after typing only a few words into Google, Google auto filled the rest of my search. Like drinking eight glasses of water a day, or the above wet hair folk belief, many people often hear these things over and over. With the Internet, people can finally seek out their validity.

Movies on Christmas Eve

Context:

Leighton Lord is my father. Given this relation to me, I was interested in procuring some folklore that both of us participated in, but obviously from his perspective as he and my mother were the ones who set the traditions that we followed. Another unique perspective he has is being instilled in Southern traditions after twenty two years spent in Columbia, South Carolina following his marriage to my mother, a native South Carolinian. He grew up in Delaware, and was fascinated upon arriving in the South and witnessing the obsession with tradition and particularly talk about ancestors. I collected several pieces of folklore from him during a recent trip he made to Los Angeles. He currently practices law.

Transcript: 

Owen: Can you talk about our Home Alone tradition? From your perspective.

Leighton: I guess from my perspective, we wanted to have traditions, have traditions that were fun, that everyone enjoyed. I think everyone in our family enjoys movies. It was kind of the easiest thing. Kind of doing the same thing every year. Forced us to be in the same room…you know…the older you get. It’s harder now to do things like that.

Interpretation:

Small family traditions like this one are interesting because as a kid the context of most of your life is your family and your household. So our tradition of watching the movie Home Alone seemed a uniquely Lord tradition to me. Of course, as I grew older and spent time around more and more people, I learned that many families watch a Christmas themed movie on Christmas Eve and many specifically watch Home Alone. It was also interesting hearing about this tradition from the man who started it. As you can tell from his rather general explanation, he simply felt a need to establish a tradition of some sort on a date where every family seems to be doing something together.

Office Folk Speech for Being Busy

Context:

Leighton Lord is my father. Given this relation to me, I was interested in procuring some folklore that both of us participated in, but obviously from his perspective as he and my mother were the ones who set the traditions that we followed. Another unique perspective he has is being instilled in Southern traditions after twenty two years spent in Columbia, South Carolina following his marriage to my mother, a native South Carolinian. He grew up in Delaware, and was fascinated upon arriving in the South and witnessing the obsession with tradition and particularly talk about ancestors. I collected several pieces of folklore from him during a recent trip he made to Los Angeles. He currently practices law.

Transcript:

Owen: Can you give me some lawyer folklore? Like some water cooler kind of talk? Lingo, that kind of thing.

Leighton: Well there’s kind of this competition to always be the busiest. Like it’s embarrassing to not have anything to do. So you run into someone, elevator, whatever, and you ask how they’re day’s going. And in the office it’s usually something like “I can’t breathe with all this work” or “client’s got me in the weeds.” Stuff like that. Just complaining about how busy you are all the time. But I think most lawyers would go crazy if they weren’t. I think it’s American.

Interpretation:

I have also noticed this folk speech in college. Often, even if I am having an enjoyable week, I’ll catch my self complaining about work to someone merely to relate to them. It sort of feels like a ‘we’re in this together’ sort of mentality. Also, I find it interesting that my father included the bit about his particular work experience being a more general American thing. There could be truth to this, as laziness is looked down upon in the US.

 

Adams Family Ancestors

Context:

Leighton Lord is my father. Given this relation to me, I was interested in procuring some folklore that both of us participated in, but obviously from his perspective as he and my mother were the ones who set the traditions that we followed. Another unique perspective he has is being instilled in Southern traditions after twenty two years spent in Columbia, South Carolina following his marriage to my mother, a native South Carolinian. He grew up in Delaware, and was fascinated upon arriving in the South and witnessing the obsession with tradition and particularly talk about ancestors. I collected several pieces of folklore from him during a recent trip he made to Los Angeles. He currently practices law.

Transcript:

When I got to the South, my mother and father in law took me under their wing. They’d take me to all these parties with old South Carolina people. At one party this guy comes up to me, says “oh let’s go sit with so and so”…Oh Weston Adams. So this Adams, he starts telling this story about his ancestors, a few generations back. He starts talking about Uncle Jed or whoever, I don’t know. Then the guy that took me over says “no, no, no. We don’t wanna hear about the good Adams’s, we wanna hear about the bad ones. So he tells a story about someone who killed someone over a land dispute or something. I don’t know. The point the guy was trying to make was that they’d rather talk about the good ones, but as long as they’re talking about their ancestors, they’re happy. I always thought that was the most South Carolina thing.

Interpretation:

This example tells of the general folk speech of Southerners. Southerners do love to speak about their ancestors and tell stories like the one my father vaguely mentions about a man of one family shooting a man of another family over a land dispute. The way my father told this made it sound like the story itself was irrelevant. In fact, that Southern story almost feels like a trope. It is even told in Huckleberry Finn. The truth, of course, is a moot point. What is fascinating is that this man is proud of an ancestor for allegedly defending the family’s honor.

Rice and Ancestors–Southern Folk Speech

Context:

Leighton Lord is my father. Given this relation to me, I was interested in procuring some folklore that both of us participated in, but obviously from his perspective as he and my mother were the ones who set the traditions that we followed. Another unique perspective he has is being instilled in Southern traditions after twenty two years spent in Columbia, South Carolina following his marriage to my mother, a native South Carolinian. He grew up in Delaware, and was fascinated upon arriving in the South and witnessing the obsession with tradition and particularly talk about ancestors. I collected several pieces of folklore from him during a recent trip he made to Los Angeles. He currently practices law.

Transcript:

Leighton: What do Charlestonians have in common with the Chinese? They both eat a lot of rice and talk about their ancestors.

Interpretation:

By Charlestonians, my father is referring to people from Charleston, South Carolina. He could not remember exactly where he heard this joke, having heard several versions of it, and even once seeing a cartoon with similar content. This was his simple synthesization. The joke is straight forward, explaining that both Southern culture and Chinese culture appreciate rice and ancestors. Though relying heavily on stereotypes, my personal experience confirms this Southern speech about ancestors. Folk stories of ones ancestors are often told at dinner parties.