Author Archives: Taylor Woods

Jealousy and Forgiveness

Story: George, my great great grandfather, had a neighbor was jealous of him. The neighbor was very poor, and my great great grandfather would give him bread and water. He was so jealous that one day he just shot him – right through the forehead. According to my grandfather- but I should really ask my Yaiya who knows the story better- after he shot George, he felt so much remorse for killing a kind man – he begged my great, great grandmother for her forgiveness, and she did forgive him- and he became so depressed that he never left his home and spent the rest of his life looking out across the road at George’s house.

Format: The informant told these to me in person, and I recorded them to better transcribe them later.

Context: The informant was told these stories by their father, who was handed down these stories from his father, who was told some of these stories by his father. They are stories about the informant’s great great grandfather, George, and the village he is from. The informant feels as if this story is bittersweet, and did not have much else to say about it.

Analysis: I believe that this legend shows the immense capacity for kindness that the informant’s ancestors had and show what someone is capable of when they truly care about others, but in the same story you hear about the worst that humanity can do, and where their minds are capable of going. It feels like a cautionary tale.

Work in the Tavern

Story: One story I remember, that was told to me my my father, that was told to him by my grandfather by one of his uncles, is that when George was about 10 years old and working at the tavern and he was so tired – I mean he was ten – that he sat at one of the tables one night at the very back of the tavern – so his legs were up like this so it looked like he was awake *demonstrates* – and put his head down on his arms and fell asleep. His boss found out, and sprinkled red pepper on his arm – right here *mimes* – right under his nose. When he inhaled, he inhaled the pepper which burnt the inside of his nostrils and woke him up in tears. Needless to say, he never fell asleep at work again!

Context: The informant was told these stories as bedtime stories by his father, who was handed down these stories from his father, who was told some of these stories by his father. They are stories about the informant’s great great grandfather, George, and the village he is from. The informant told these to me in person, and I recorded them to better transcribe them later.

Thoughts: When asked what this story means to them, the informant shrugs, and said they were told this story as a child, and even back then it made them want to work harder and be more like George. “He must’ve been exhausted from working so hard, right? I mean, what was I doing at ten years old?”

Analysis: Listening to this story, I was a bit shocked. My family doesn’t have any stories about our ancestors, and this informant had several! (Not all are included.) However, this struck me as folklore for the lesson that has become imbedded into it throughout the years and generations who have told them. This particular story, never put your guard down or show weakness.

You get what you get

Story: ‘You get what you get, and you don’t get upset!’ That’s the saying I heard countless times over my elementary years. Every time we got popsicles, prizes, books, or markers, it was always that saying – it didn’t matter if you got a flavor you hated, and the person next you you got your favorite. I hated that saying.

Context: The informant told me this particular story over text, and they heard this saying from teachers, their parents, and camp counselors.

Thoughts: The informant says this stuck with them because they always hated hearing it, especially since it usually meant that they couldn’t switch out whatever it is they has in the moment. However, they acknowledge that now, looking back, they understand why the saying was used by so many teachers of theirs.

Analysis: I also heard this as a kid! I also wasn’t the biggest fan, but I think the saying taught a very valuable lesson of learning to be happy for others, even if you aren’t for yourself. That seems super important to learn from an early age, especially since later in life it is so common to deal with feelings of insecurity over other people’s accomplishments.

The Emperor

Story: An emperor was once stranded in the desert with no food or water. He crawled for miles until one man came along and took him into his home and made him some soup, and to the emperor this was the best soup that had ever been made. From the man’s house he was able to send for help, and soon enough he was back in his palace. Months passed until one day he found himself longing for the soup that man had made him; he missed the way it tasted, the way it made him feel. so he sent for the man who made the soup and brought him to the palace, formally requesting the soup once more. The man made the exact same soup, but to the emperor’s surprise he now hated the way it tasted. Disappointed, he sent the man back home.

Thoughts: When asked about why the story stuck in his mind so much, the informant said that he “want[s] to taste that soup,” and that it “was a really fun lesson about relativity”. His mother used to tell him the story before bed, and it holds a special place in their heart.

Context: The informant told this to me over text as they were unable to FaceTime for a recording.

Analysis: My thoughts about this legend are complicated. I do not believe it is a real story, but it realistically could be. The metaphor of the story is very intriguing, in the sense that a memory will never be the same as reality. Chasing a memory is to chase a kind of perfection that is not real in our world, since our brains paint the past through rose colored glasses. Trying to attain that same feeling – like the life-saving relief the emperor experiences in the story- is impossible. Because it wasn’t the soup that gave him that feeling, it was the situation.

Lickey Doo

Story: My family on my dad’s side, they have passed down a tradition called lickey doo-n i don’t know how it’s spelled… I don’t know if I’m allowed to tell you or not… You can only learn it Christmas eve by candlelight and you can only learn it from the matriarch of your family because our family is Jewish so we go by the matriarchs are the boss. When my great grandma taught my father how to do it, it was christmas eve, and she was giving him instruction on how to do lickey doo because someone in the family was sick. They wanted to take care of that person…I … I don’t know all the details of how it’s learned because I haven’t had my session yet… I think how it’s done is you need a bowl of water, you need to do a blessing with oil in the water, um, you need to in some way anoint someone with that oil, um, there’s a prayer that you sing, you CLAP! Your hands together(informant claps) you rub them really fast like this (informant rubs hands together) and you pretty much – lay hands (demonstrates) on someone to administer the magic. I’m a chronic migraine sufferer, and when I was a kid my father would do lickey doo on my head to make it feel better!

Context: The context of this interview was in person in a sculpture yard. The informant watched as I made something with my hands, and in return told me their folklore.

Thoughts: When asked why this is significant to her, the informant says that finding magic in the world around them has been really important to them throughout their life. They also appreciate the matriarchal tradition to pass down the ritual. She learned all of this from her dad, who apparently only remembered a good bit of it because a celebrity on TV said it during an interview while he happened to be watching it.

Analysis: Despite this, I could not find anything about lickey doo on the internet. However, I found some ancient mesopotamian hand rubbing magic that echoed the informant’s. They read, “‘Where have you turned to?’—you recite over the oil [and you anoint yourself?]. 4 [The incantation] ‘To loosen [evil muscle]’—you recite three times over the salve….The incantation ‘Head disease, star, like in heaven’—you rub his temples…. The incantation ‘I recite the incantation for the trial of all gods’—you sprinkle water on the sick person”(Barbara). The links between the material usage is apparent, and the text goes on to instruct the spellcaster to rub nearly every part of the ill person’s body. Despite the informant’s Dutch and Jewish roots, I still believe this connection is important and possibly shows influences from other cultures to create this home remedy for illness.


Barbara B Ö CK, Consejo Superior De Investigaciones Cient …