Nov 27, 2016

Superstitions and Sayings

Mama knew every superstition that was known to man. Whether she believed them or not, she knew them. But some people took them seriously. One night, Bobby Joe and I were going out with Uncle Tuffy and Sissy, and Uncle Tuffy turned the car around and went around the block rather than cross the path of a black cat. That's supposed to be bad luck.

One night Grandma and Aunt Oakie were trying to keep me busy and said, "If you put salt on a bird's tail, you can catch it!" It must have worked because I spent hours trying to catch a bird with a salt shaker!

Another thing Mama said was if you spill salt, you should throw it over your left shoulder "to undo the bad luck." When you throw it over your left shoulder, you're throwing the salt in the Devil's face.
She said if you're working with silverware and you drop a knife, it means a man is coming; if you drop a fork, a woman's coming. If you drop a spoon, you'll be disappointed!

We also heard if you break a mirror you will have 7 years of bad luck. It was bad luck to walk under a ladder, I can see how that was bad luck or could be. It was also bad luck to open an umbrella indoors. Grandma (Vina Anna Wood) had an old umbrella that was tattered to strings, that she called a parasol. It was brown, and I don't know how many times she told me not to open it in the house.

Daddy had a number of sayings. One of them was when someone left in a hurry, he said "they were off like a jug handle" We weren't sure how a jug handle was off, so maybe that was from before our time. Another one was if something involved a lot of red tape or they asked a lot of questions, he would comment that they had to "smell your socks."  It occurred to me after I was well grown that he may have adapted that saying for polite company.

Daddy always said someone was a blooming idiot if they were in love. He called cannas "Raymond flowers" because my cousin's husband was named Raymond and he gave the first ones that Daddy had to him.

Daddy told me many times that I had  a "yarn by the tale" when I was engrossed in a book.

Another saying I really didn't understand was one that some of the Young cousins told about at a reunion. They said that one time they thought it was their brother coming back to get something. They told him that he could come inside if his nose was clean. But instead of the brother, it was the preacher come to visit. I don't know what it means to have your nose clean.

One superstition we would remember for a long time was, "If you see a red bird, company is coming that you are not expecting." One summer we--Daddy, Mama, Bobby Joe, and I--went fishing and we saw red birds everywhere. When we got back to town we found out that my aunt was coming from Arkansas with my two cousins and the cousins' kids. Then, Daddy's boyhood friend from Tarpley, who lived in California then, was going to be in town with his family. We still think a red bird means unexpected company.

We also heard things like "kicking the bucket," "putting your nose to the grind stone," and "helping your neighbors."

Grandma and Aunt Oakie were quick to tell you that thunder was bowling pins that God was using to make the noise! This was supposed to make young kids feel better when they heard thunder. Mama would also say it was the old man throwing potatoes in his wheelbarrow. At Grandma's they also kept nest eggs in the chickens' nests. I thought nest eggs told the chickens where to lay eggs, but they were really to keep snakes from getting the eggs. The glass eggs would break inside the snake after he ate them.