Tag Archives: sign

Mockingbird Messager

A is 54 years old. She was born in Ft. Waldon, Florida and moved to Sylvania, Georgia at 2 years old. She’d been there all her life until last year (2021). A has a thick Southern accent that’s very pleasant to listen to. She told me about this omen of mockingbirds carrying messages of impending death.

“If you have a mockingbird that keeps coming up to your house trying to get in, it means someone close to you or in your family is going to pass soon… It’s just a message, there ain’t nothing you can do about it.”

For more about bird folklore in general see https://raptorresource.blogspot.com/2017/10/birds-in-superstition-and-folklore.html for Mockingbird specific folklore see Power, Cathy Kelly. “Thirteen ways of looking at a mockingbird: A collection of critical essays,” Chapter 9. Georgia State University, ProQuest Dissertations Publishing, 1996. 9628838

Bubbles in Puddles

Context: 

This piece is collected in a casual interview setting around a cup of coffee. My informant (BA) was born in Lille, France, and moved to California in 2002 with her husband for their jobs at Caltech. She has a Master in Human Resources and Detection of High Potentials, is a mother of two teenage girls, loves to garden and go on hikes, and is overall a very energetic and happy woman. This specific conversation is about predicting rain.

Main Piece:

The following is transcribed from a conversation between the informant (BA) and interviewer.

Interviewer: Can you tell me again how you can tell if it will rain again tomorrow if it rains today?

BA: Yes, yes, yes, so it works like this, ok? When its raining, there are puddles that form on the ground right? And after a while, when it rains a lot, the puddles become a little bigger. So when it rains and you see bubbles forming in the puddles, that means it will rain again tomorrow. You understand? **pauses**

Interviewer: Yeah, yeah.

BA: And so when you don’t see bubbles, it won’t rain tomorrow! 

Interviewer: Ah ok, yeah, yeah, I understand. Oh and also where did you learn this trick from?

BA: My grandparents and dad use to tell me this when I was little. We would look at the puddles outside the window to see if there were bubbles when it rained. There was something really cute and magical about it.

Interviewer: And do you still believe it will really rain again the next day if you see bubbles? 

BA: Hmm… well. When I was little I believed it. I kinda forgot about it when I grew older. I guess when I moved to California with how little it rains here I stopped believing it. 

Thoughts: 

I have heard a version of this old wive’s tale before, but it was not for predicting rain the next day, per say. The version I had heard of before was that when women worked and it was raining outside, if there were no bubbles forming in puddles, or if the bubbles burst immediately, that meant they would go home for the day because the rain would subside. However, if the bubbles formed and stayed, the rain would last and so the women would continue working. 

Annotation:

For another version of this old wive’s tale, please visit this website and find the comment written by “daveq” comment: https://www.weather-watch.com/smf/index.php?topic=7551.0

Horoscopes

This folk belief was described by a friend and bandmate as we were finishing a rehearsal. I asked her to tell what she knew of the origin of horoscopes. Horoscopes are the belief that one’s birth date associates them with certain stars and planets, and that personality traits are given through this connection.

“Like, okay, so once upon a time someone was like, ‘Yo, homie, isn’t it weird that all these people who are born at the same time, or like, in the same general time period, have very similar attributes about them?’ And his friend was like, ‘Dude, agreed. I’ve definitely noticed that.’ And so they went off the, the stars. There wasn’t much else to do back then. Everyone’s like, ‘Oh my god, Galileo is great,’ but what else did he have to do, besides look at the sky? Um, anyway, I digress. So, that happened. A few hundred years later, someone else was like, ‘Aw, shoot, we forgot one.’ So they added in another horoscope which threw off the entire thing, and I don’t know why everyone was just cool with that. ‘Cause that means a whole group of people weren’t the zodiac that they thought they were. So um, there’s that. Um, I’m an Aeries.”

EVKitty

Informant DP is a 19-year-old male studying Biomedical Engineering at the University of Southern California. He is well-aware of most USC folklore and he describes a very peculiar one to me (AK).

In this piece, DP describes the folklore surrounding a very special cat that hangs around a dining hall at USC named Everybody’s Kitchen or EVK for short.

EVKitty

DP: So I actually found out about this cat my first time at EVK freshman year. Basically it’s this regular cat but it just hangs right outside EVK by the outdoor seating. I’m not really sure whose cat it is, but I just know it’s been there for a while.

AK: So you have no idea where it came from?

DP: Well there’s rumors that it’s Stan Rosen’s cat. He’s the faculty master for the Birnkrant Dorm. I should probably know this cause I lived there but oh well haha.

AK: Sounds interesting is there anything else I should know about EVKitty?

DP: Yeah there’s actually a facebook page dedicated to her. It’s legendary.

This was another piece of USC folklore, but I especially enjoyed this one because it is so specific and probably unknown to a lot of students. For those that have no idea, they would be thoroughly confused to see a cat roaming around the outside seating of a dining hall. However, for those who are aware of this folklore, they have really done their part to help spread it to the larger USC community. I found out about EVKitty through word of mouth, and I’m sure many other students have also found out from their fellow friends and peers.

Don’t Step on the Symbol

My informant does some work in the sports media field, which basically means he gets to interview players after the game in the locker room.  On of the teams he has interviewed is the Chicago Blackhawks, and he says that in their locker room, there is a big Blackhawk head on the middle of the floor.  It’s the team emblem.  You are not allowed to step on it, and the players ask all the media people not to step on it either.  Anyone who steps on it “gets a major razz from the players.”  During the playoffs, there are a lot of media people in the locker room, and some of these people don’t know the tradition because they don’t regularly come for interviews.  During these busy weeks, the team goes so far as to rope off the Blackhawk emblem to make sure that no one steps on it.  It’s not necessarily bad luck, but it’s just something you aren’t supposed to do.

A similar tradition is observed in the USC Trojan Marching Band.  There is a big emblem of the band trojan head on the floor in the band office by the front door, and you are not supposed to step on it.  If someone (usually a freshman) steps on it, everyone in the band office will turn to that person and yell at them, and say stuff like “Don’t step on the trojan!” and yell obscenities at the offender.  Like with the Blackhawks, it isn’t really bad luck, it’s just something you aren’t supposed to do.

My high school back home had a similar tradition but with a twist.  In the front entrance to Lake Forest High School, there is a big Compass-Rose-like star in the main hallway, right by the front doors.  I’m not entirely sure, but I think this was a gift from a graduating senior class.  When new freshmen come to the school, all the older kids tell the freshmen that this is the Senior Star, and that no one except seniors are allowed to walk across it.  And they say that any non-senior who violates this rule will get beaten up.  The reality is that nobody gives a shit about walking across the senior star.  In fact, given how big the star is compared to the rest of the hallway and the given the amount of students who walk through it in between classes, it would be pretty hard for everyone to avoid it.  But the reason they tell this to freshmen is just to see how long it takes them to figure out that indeed nobody gives a shit who walks across it.  Nevertheless, the fact that this faux rule exists proves that “Don’t Step on the Symbol” is a somewhat universal concept.