Author Archives: William Morse

“Ships are safe in harbor but thats not why they’re built”

Context: Story was prompted by asking about any childhood traditions that this person had. 


“So when I was in elementary school my dad would read to me before I went to bed. One day, when reading this book… ugh I don’t remember what it was called. If I had to guess I would say Million dollar put, but that’s a reach. So we were reading, and this quote came up “ships are safe in harbor but that’s not why they’re built”.  My dad loved it, started saying it, thinking about it, and talking about it at the dinner table and everything.”


This piece of folklore is a piece of familial folklore, folklore that stems from a familial relationship and could then be passed down from generation to generation. Additionally, the quote’s ambiguous origins lead to much mystery existing around its true meaning. An in depth study done by Quote Investigator traces the quote back to many different authors, such as John A. Shedd , Grace Hopper, and others.


Quote Investigator. “Tag: John A. Shedd.” Quote Investigator, 21 June 2019, 

The Story of Mount Timpanogos

Context: The ranch mentioned here is near where he vacations in Utah with his family. This story was initially told to him by the owner of the ranch, who he described as being like a second mom to him. The valley mentioned in the story is the Heber Valley in Utah. 


“So this story is about a Native American tribe, well actually two native American tribes, I wish I could remember the names of them. So, this story is regarding this mountain in the Heber Valley, which is called Mount Timpanogos. And, if you look up pictures of this mountain, it looks like a silhouette of this woman laying down on her back with her arms laying over her chest. Her head is on the left side and her feet are on the right. The story goes that she fell in love with this guy from a different tribe, from a different native american tribe. Her dad was the leader of the tribe she was a part of and her dad wanted her to marry someone from her tribe, to keep her tribe together or for whatever reason. And she was like no i really love this guy I really want to marry him. So, they came to the conclusion that they’d host a competition to see who can marry the leader’s daughter. The competition was whoever can get to the top of mount Tipanogos would win and get to marry her. So they started the competition and they were racing up and it turns out the guy from her own tribe and some of his friends cheated and threw the guy she really loved off the mountain. Little did they know, she was sitting right there watching it all happen. She watched the love of her life get thrown off this mountain. The story goes that she died of a broken heart on top of the mountain. There’s a series of caves in the mountain now, with a series of crystals in the center of the mountain resembling a heart, her heart. And in the winter, when the snow starts to melt, there’s a silhouette in the snow of her horse on the right side of the mountain.”


This piece of folklore is a good example of a local legend specific to this area. The reason this is a legend and not one of the other tale types is because it is possibly based in truth and reality and it takes place in the real world. Additionally it is aligned with the folklore based on geological anomalies such as this mountain that looks like a woman. 

Snow Dance

Context: Has been vacationing in Utah for the past 10 to 11 years. He goes during the winter mainly to ski with family and friends. 


“And we go during the winter and during the summer. But especially during the winter, we do this thing called a powder dance or a snow dance. Just like right before we go to bed, me and my family do some crazy dance that doesn’t make any sense at all. But it’s not just the dance itself. It’s just the fact you are dancing, dancing for the “snow gods’ ‘. And I say it’s worked like 50 percent of the time, but it’s just a fun tradition I have with my family. And when it does work it’s epic, and we go ‘yooooo we did that’”. 


This piece of folk dance here has three broader connections to the greater discussion around the discipline of folklore. Firstly, it is an example of folk dance, exemplifying the genre as variation is common with no two dances being the same. Additionally, it is another example of familial folklore, something that could be then spread down from generation to generation. Finally, it is also indicative of folklore generated as an attempt at explaining the unexplained. To pretend like we actually have any power of the all powerful forces such as weather is done through the means of folklore quite often. 

Bananas in the boat

Context: This person spent much of his childhood on a boat. Believes this tradition originated with sailboat trade from around the 1600s. 


“But, anyways, I’ve been fishing my whole life and growing up I was told that it’s bad luck to have bananas on the boat. If you had bananas on the boat, you’re going to run into bad weather, you’re not going to catch any fish, and just random bad things. I’ve continued that tradition onward when I go fishing. Can’t be cooked into anything else, or any other forms of bananas. Just no bananas. There are also people though, like this YouTuber I watch who’s a contrarian, who always goes fishing with a banana as a joke”.


This particular piece of folklore highlights the extreme amount of folkloric content existing around the boating world. Consistently and without fail sailors and seamen in general have proven to be an extremely superstitious subsect of society. While maybe just an unexplainable trait for that group of people, could also be explained by the rich history with boating and seamen activities. Additionally, with so much of what happens out on the water being left up to the whims of mother nature, it makes sense that people would try and explain the unexplainable with superstitions. 

“Stay in your Lane”

Context: This was a phrase handed down to him by his father. Was prompted about any possible mantras he lives his life by. 

Text: “So I have this saying, or mantra, or life lesson, I don’t know how you really wanna classify. But my dad used to say it and still says to this day, and that’s “stay in your lane”. And stay in your lane just kinda means like don’t worry about what other people are doing, like it doesn’t really effect you. Don’t worry if they’re going out to better parties, or getting better grades. Just focus on yourself, stay in your lane, and everything will come to you. There is no need to worry about what other people are doing”


I liked this mantra as it is one increasingly applicable to the modern world. The internet has made it impossible not to constantly compare yourself to others and forced everyone to have an opinion on everything. This is not a healthy way to live your life and impedes a person’s ability to fully discover their true self. This motto also acts as an example of a familial sort of folklore. Passed down from generation to generation, folklore spread through this manner ensures that everyone in that family would at least be passive bearers of that tradition.