Residence: Dallas, TX
Date of Performance/Collection: April 20, 2020
Primary Language: English
Context: My Grandfather -represented as G in the text- grew up in New Jersey in the 1940s. While I was in high school he lived with me and my family and introduced me to some traditions he grew up with. Some mornings on my way to make breakfast I would pass by him sitting in his chair singing a song. If I were to join in on the singing, he would immediately warn me that I shouldn’t sing before I eat breakfast. This was something he learned from his mother, the “lord, and master of the house,” as he described her. He adopted this superstition and says that neither he nor his brothers will sing before they eat. Below is a conversation I had over the phone.
Me: “Can you tell me about your superstition about singing before breakfast?”
G: “Oh! Gosh! You never want to do that! You never, never, never want to sing before you eat breakfast! You will have bad luck for the rest of the year!”
Me: “The entire year?”
G: “Oh yes the whole g***amn year”
Me: “Sounds like a big deal.”
G: “It is a huge deal”
Interpretation: The first time he told me about this superstition I thought perhaps it came from starting the day (breakfast) before doing anything. Perhaps one shouldn’t celebrate the joy of the day before it has begun. The more I thought about this, however, I came to a more cynical yet realistic conclusion. As a mother of three boys, my great grandmother probably valued peace and quiet in the morning. So if the boys were singing and screaming before they even had breakfast, it would be a reasonable solution to warn them of a year’s worth of bad luck if they continued.