Tag Archives: Superstitions

My Great-Great Grandma was Superstitious ~ Tales from the Dark Side

I thought I would spend this month leading up to Halloween telling stories of things that happened in not only my childhood, but in the lives of my Ancestors that helped form most of my mothers superstition beliefs or were a result of her beliefs, the ones she tried to pass down to my sister and me. I hope you will enjoy them and even get a laugh or two out of them.

My 2 times Great Grandma, Elizabeth Marsh was born December 31, 1841, in Chillicothe Missouri. Elizabeth was a religious woman, attending Church every Sunday and reading her Bible daily. She loved reading all the accounts in the Old Testament, and she would tell not only her children but the other children in the surrounding areas the stories that she found there. Her favorite one was about Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. We all know the account of how God created man, then from Adams rib He created woman. He set the two of them in this perfect Garden and told them they could eat from any tree in the garden except from “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil”. This Garden was perfect and they wanted for nothing. One day Satan took the shape of a serpent (snake) and tempted Eve with the fruit from the one forbidden tree. Satan told her that she could eat from fruit, and she would not die but instead she would become like God and have great knowledge. She then ate from the fruit, and she did not die. She then took the fruit to Adam and told him to eat from it also, and he did. When God found out what they had done, he banished them from the Garden. Elizabeth came to believe that Satan inhabited ALL snakes, and she was afraid of them. She seldom ventured far from home on foot for fear of encountering one.

Elizabeth passed her fear of snakes down to her children and they in turn passed it down to their children and so on. My mom was raised in Missouri, and she knew about all the types of snakes that lived there and where they were most likely to live. She avoided any place where she thought a snake might be. When we moved to Arizona, my mom found herself with a new dilemma. She did not know any of the species of snakes that dwelt in the Desert, and she had no idea where they may hide. I remember once when we had relatives visiting us we took them on a cookout and hike in the Saguaro National Forest. Just so you know this is not a typical Forest with tall trees, it is filled with hundred-year-old Saguaro cacti. Some of these cacti grow to be 40-60 feet tall and can have up to 25 “arms” on it. While we were hiking up a hill, surrounded by beautiful cactus and Desert plants my mom decided to kick over a rock. Nestled beneath this rock was a very small snake, all coiled up trying to sleep. My mom took off running the opposite direction and didn’t stop until she got to our car. She then got inside and locked the doors. When we all finally reached the car it took a while before my Dad could convince her to come out. When she did she would only sit on the hood of the car! She tried to talk my Dad and my Uncle to go find the snake and kill it, but all they did was laugh.

We lived in a housing community just outside the Tucson City limits and the development was surrounded on 3 sides by Desert. A few years after this experience, early on a summer morning, I was taking a basket full of laundry out to hang on the clothes line. When I opened our back door and stepped outside I saw that there was a pretty large snake crawling along the wall of the house. I dropped the basket and jumped back inside, slamming the door. When my mom found out about the snake, she was hysterical. She started yelling that Satan was in that snake, and we had to kill it. I was 6 years old at the time and my sister was 10 so we were not going to be much help in the “snake killing” department. My Dad was at work, as was every other man in our neighborhood. So my mom devised a plan. I was to wait by the back door and wait for her to whistle. She was going to go out the front door, go into the shed and get a hoe and sneak up on the snake from behind.I was to open the back door and jump out and scream to get the snakes’ attention so that Satan would not see her coming at him. So it began…one…two…three…whistle…jump out…scream…my mom began hitting the snake with the hoe. She was crying and hitting and crying and hitting, and she didn’t stop until there was only a few recognizable pieces of the snake left. She then dropped the hoe, marched inside, crawled in bed and stayed there. When my Dad got home, and he saw what was left of the snake he just shook his head, told us to get in the car, and we went to Mc Donalds for dinner. My mom finally emerged from her bedroom two days later and by then the snake parts had been disposed of. She had another “episode” when she found out the snake had been a rattlesnake, but she got over it much quicker. From that day on until we sold the house and moved, which was 5 years, my mom never went out the back door again. Up until she died at the age of 80 years old she would remind us every chance she got that “Satan was in all snakes and it was our duty to kill them.”

BTW: I have never killed a snake in my life and in fact, I bought my Grandsons an Albino Corn snake for a pet!

Here are some more Superstitions that my mother had:

If you drop a fork you will be having company

Lift your feet up when driving over railroad tracks for good luck

If the bottom of your right foot itches, you are going to take a trip or walk in a new place

Do you or anyone in your family have a Superstition? I would love to hear about them.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

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Filed under Ancestry, Arizona, Family History, Family Search, Genealogy, Halloween, Memories, Snakes, Superstitions, Tales from the Darkside, Tucson Arizona, Uncategorized

My Mother was Superstitious ~ Dreams ~ Tales from the Dark Side

I thought I would spend these next 3 weeks leading up to Halloween telling stories of things that happened in not only my childhood, but in the lives of my Ancestors that helped form most of my mothers superstition beliefs or were a result of her beliefs, the ones she tried to pass down to my sister and me. I hope you will enjoy them and even get a laugh or two out of them.

Superstition -” A Friday night’s dream on a Saturday told will always come true no matter how old!”

Aunt Nellie

In 1966 while we were living in Tucson Arizona my Dad received a phone call that one of his twin sisters, Nellie, just had a heart attack. Apparently it was a bad one, and they didn’t expect her to live more than a couple of weeks. It was a Thursday evening and the decision was made to leave the next morning and drive to Seattle Washington as quickly as possible. Because of the urgency, my parents decided to drive straight through, with them taking turns driving. The next morning we left before the sun came out and started the long 1650-mile one way trip.

The Long Trip

We headed toward Los Angeles so we could take Highway 5 straight up to Washington. My Dad and Mom took turns driving for 8 hours each. First my Dad drove while my mom slept then my mom drove so my Dad could sleep and so forth. My sister and I sat in the back seat reading, playing games, watching the scenery and sleeping. About 10 pm that Friday evening my mom woke up and took the wheel and my Dad found a comfortable way to recline, and he was soon asleep. My sister and I also fell asleep. It was hard to stay asleep because my mom had a horrible habit of whistling. It was never a tune, just a sound and it was never loud enough to actually hear it, but it was loud enough to be annoying. In the quiet of the car it made sleeping next to impossible, at least for me.

I guess I finally did fall asleep at some point because all of a sudden we were all 3 jarred from our slumber by a horrifying scream. The sun was just coming up over the Western Mountain range illuminating the gorgeous pine trees and making the sky appear red. Of course it was hard to enjoy these beauties because there was my mom, sitting in the front driver’s seat, both hands on the wheel, holding it so tightly her knuckles were white. She had brought the vehicle to a complete stop, and she had a look of terror on her face like none I had ever seen before. She just sat there screaming to the top of her lungs. My Dad tried everything to try to calm her down, and he even tried prying her hands from the wheel. Nothing helped. Looking behind us there was a line of cars and trucks piling up for miles and some of them were honking their horns. Remember this was the mid 60s, and there was only a one lane road going in both directions. There were no passing lanes. My Dad climbed out of the car, walked around to the driver’s side, opened the door and literally picked my mom up off the seat. He had to yell at her to get her to turn loose of the wheel. Finally, he was able to carry her around to the passenger seat and put her in the car. He then reached into the glove box and pulled out a large handkerchief and made a blindfold out of it. Once he made sure it was securely in place he then got in the car, and he drove off. It still took about 10 minutes for my mom to quit screaming. All my sister and I could do was to hold our hands over our ears.

When we got to the next town we stopped at a rest area and my Dad had us all get out of the car. After eating sandwiches for breakfast my sister finally ask “What happened?” My mom just shook her head and looked pathetically at my Dad. He told us that she had always been afraid of heights and never liked driving through any mountains. That night we had driven over the Sexton Mountain Pass just north of Grants Pass Oregon which was about 2000 in elevation. My mom had driven all night through mountainous roads but because of the darkness she didn’t realize it. Once the sun started to come up she could see where she was driving and panicked.

My Dad then told us that this is not the only thing that had frightened my mom. Apparently about a month before this, on a Friday night, she had a dream that she was driving down a foggy road, and she ended up having a bad accident. As a result she lost her legs. She then told my Dad about the dream the next day. This is where the Superstition comes in. Mom believed ” A Friday night’s dream on a Saturday told will always come true no matter how old!” She was convinced that she was going to have an accident and lose her legs. It didn’t matter that in her dream she was driving alone and on a flat road, she had told her Friday night dream on a Saturday so she was doomed! From then on, all the way to Seattle and then all the way back home again, my Dad drove. We did stop for the night on the way back so we could rest. My mom rode the entire rest of the trip with the blindfold on.

My Aunt Nellie did get better and went on to live a long and happy life!

Here are some more Superstitions that my mother had:

If you lose an eyelash make a wish then blow it away

If you bite your tongue while eating, it is because you have recently told a lie

It is bad luck to open an umbrella inside

Do you or anyone in your family have a Superstition? I would love to hear about them.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

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Filed under Ancestry, Dreams, Family History, Family Search, Genealogy, Memories, Seattle, Superstitions, Tales from the Darkside, Uncategorized

My Mother was Superstitious ~ The #13 ~ Tales from the Dark Side

I thought I would spend this month leading up to Halloween telling stories of things that happened in not only my childhood, but in the lives of my Ancestors that helped form most of my mothers superstition beliefs or were a result of her beliefs, the ones she tried to pass down to my sister and me. I hope you will enjoy them and even get a laugh or two out of them.

My mom was a Triskaidekaphobe. What is that you ask? It is the “Fear of the number 13”. If you have been following this series of Blogs about my life with a mother who was plagued with Superstitions, you know that she had several “Fears of” things. Some had been passed down to her through her Ancestors and some she just developed on her own. I have no idea where she got this particular Superstition. All I know is this fear made life a little difficult.

This fear of the number 13 was pretty well ingrained in my mom. If we went to the grocery store and her purchases came to a total that had the number 13 in it, she had to either buy one more item or put one back. If we went into a building, and we had to take the stairs to another floor she would stand at the foot of the stairs and count the steps before walking up them. If there were 13 steps we had to take the elevator or leave. She would not do business with any store that was located on 13th street or avenue or one that had the number 13 in their address. When my Dad built the enclosure for our patio he used long 2 x 6s horizontally placed around the cement area. When he was finished my mom came outside to see it and after looking at it for a few minutes told him he had to either add one more 2 x 6 or take one away from the one side. Why? Because there were 13 boards. She also had the habit of staying in bed on whichever day the 13th of the month landed on.

Mary aged 10

I learned early on that I was not my mom’s favorite child. She never paid much attention to me and was always harder on me than she was my older sister. There was none of this “Isn’t she cute, she’s the baby of the family”. Looking back now I can assume it probably had a lot to do with the fact that I was born on the 13th of January. Not only that, but my first and last names had a total of 13 letters in them. Growing up I do not remember ever celebrating my birthday at home on the 13th. It was always the day before or after. My mom had imparted a lot of her fears unto my sister, Mary. The number 13 happened to be one of them. Mary loved parties, especially birthday parties. She would throw a tantrum because she didn’t receive any gifts so my mom would go out and buy her something. Mary knew that the chances of me ever having a birthday party were slim because of the date, so she thought she would try having one on a different date. My 6th birthday had fallen on Friday the 13th that year! So not only was the party planned for a different date, but it was in an entirely different month as well.

This year my sister threw me a 6th year birthday party on June 10th. The problem was she forgot to inform my parents about the party and to make things worse my brother was home on leave from the Air Force! So at 2 pm the doorbell rang and there stood the 4 kids from next door standing there all dressed up, each with a gift in their hands. My brother invited them in, he had no clue what was going on. Next thing he knew the doorbell was ringing again and in came more kids. When Mary told him and mom what was going on they were both upset but didn’t want to spoil the time for the kids that had come to the “party”. As my brother went to the grocery store, my Mom pulled down the pin-the-tail on the donkey game, and we started playing games. When my brother returned there were prizes for the games, ice cream, cake and even a gift for me. Mary decided to have a talent contest. The winning prize was a large chocolate candy bar. Since she was not only a participant in the contest but the only judge she won and got the candy! Even though it wasn’t really my birthday, I had a great time. It was the first and only birthday party I had until I became an adult.

I have always loved the number 13. After all it is my birthdate, how can that be unlucky?

Here are some more Superstitions that my mother had:

Ivy growing on a house protects the inhabitants from witchcraft and evil.

Cover your mouth when you yawn, or your soul can go out of your body along with the yawn.

Rosemary planted by the doorstep will keep witches away.

Do you or anyone in your family have a Superstition? I would love to hear about them.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

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Filed under Ancestry, Birthday, Family History, Family Search, Friday the 13th, Genealogy, Halloween, Memories, Superstitions, Tales from the Darkside, Tucson Arizona

My Great Grandma was Superstitious ~ Tales from the Dark Side

I thought I would spend these next 3 weeks leading up to Halloween telling stories of things that happened in not only my childhood, but in the lives of my Ancestors that helped form most of my mothers superstition beliefs or were a result of her beliefs the ones she tried to pass down to my sister and me. I hope you will enjoy them and even get a laugh or two out of them.

My Great Grandma, Asenath “Dolly” Walt was born February 27, 1863, in Camden, Ray County, Missouri. Dolly was said to be a very superstitious woman. Anyone who visited her home knew that she did have what they considered unusual quirks.

It is said that Dolly was petrified of “demons”. She believed that at night they would creep around her home and try to gain access. She kept a large container of salt by both the front and back doors for when visitors came. Upon answering the door she would take a scoop of salt and place it across the doorway. If the person was not a “demon”, they could cross over the salt with no problem. The salt would have kept out any non-human who wanted to enter. I guess she never thought that a “demon” would probably not come knocking on her door, he would just kick it open and come in!

Machpelah Cemetery

Dolly’s fear of “demons” began at a young age. She had lived her entire life within the 16-mile radius between Camden and Lexington Missouri. Most of her relatives who had passed away were buried in Machpelah Cemetery in Lexington. Even as a young girl, this cemetery was considered an old one as the first burial there was in 1839. When Dolly was about 6 years old, her younger sister Naomi passed away at the age of 1. In those days visiting a cemetery, especially one that was so far away, was an all day event. This day was no exception. After the small service for Naomi the women went about laying out the picnic lunch for the mourners on the edge of the grounds. Dolly and her other siblings were racing around, darting in and out of the nearby woods. Dolly, in an attempt to hide from the others ran out of the woods and hid behind a large Headstone. That is when she saw it! A large man/beast come out of a grave and began walking slowly towards her. She ran terrified, screaming, all the way across the cemetery and into her Mother’s arms. When Dolly calmed down enough to speak, she told the adults what had happened. They tried to convince her that what she saw was the grave digger climbing out of the hole he had just dug. Try as they might no one could convince her that she hadn’t just seen a “demon”.

After this experience she refused to set foot in the Machpelah Cemetery. When her own daughter Ella (My Grandmother) died in 1921 she pleaded with her son-in-law not to bury her in Lexington and so Ella was buried in the Buckner Cemetery in the town of the same name about 25 miles west. Dolly spent 61 years of her life afraid of the “demon” that came out of the grave and was convinced that he was out to get her. Upon her death on February 19, 1931, Dolly’s husband John McGowan, had her buried in the Machpelah Cemetery.

Here are some more Superstitions that my mother had:

If your nose itches, you will soon be kissed by a fool.

If your house is clean on New Year’s Eve, you will have a clean house all year.

If you get a chill up your back or goose bumps, it means that someone is walking over the place where your grave will be.

Do you or anyone in your family have a Superstition? I would love to hear about them.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

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Filed under Ancestry, Asenath Walt, Cemetery, Family History, Family Search, Genealogy, Halloween, Lexington MO, Machpelah Cemetery, Missouri, Superstitions, Tales from the Darkside, Uncategorized

My Grandpa was Superstitious ~ Tales from the Dark Side

I thought I would spend these next 3 weeks leading up to Halloween telling stories of things that happened in not only my childhood but in the lives of my Ancestors that helped form most of my mothers superstition beliefs, the ones she tried to pass down to my sister and me. I hope you will enjoy them and even get a laugh or two out of them.

Superstition: Watch what you eat!

My Grandpa was John Pleasant Smith Sr. born September 8, 1882, in Hazel Hill Missouri. On John’s mothers side his roots grew deep into Ireland’s fertile soil. He had all the superstitions of your typical Irishman, but he also had some that was passed down from his father’s side. Pleasant Smith was said to be a Creek Indian. I haven’t been able to prove nor disprove this since he is my biggest brick wall. I do know that my beloved Grandpa had one Superstition that I have never forgotten.

John Pleasant Smith Sr and my mother Emmajane, 1967

When I was 12 years old, we had just moved back to Missouri, and we settled in the quaint little town of Oak Grove, Missouri. It wasn’t a permanent situation, but we were there long enough for me to finally get to know my Grandpa. The house we rented was only 6 blocks from his home. I would go visit him after school and on Saturdays. He taught me a lot about growing vegetables and taking care of fruit trees. I always thought some of his planting ideas were really just Superstitions. He taught me to plant anything that grows on top of the soil when the Moon is full and anything that grows beneath the soil should be planted in the dark of the Moon. Over the years I have had bumper crops of veggies by following his instructions and I recently discovered that this is even written about in the Farmer’s Almanac. Oh well, so much for that Superstition.

He did other things because of his belief in Superstitions. One was if he left the house by the back door he would have to re-enter the house by that same door. To do otherwise brought bad luck. He believed that if the Moon had a ring around it then it was sure to rain within 3 days. I distinctly remember one day while I was visiting, my Grandma and I were sitting in the living room shelling peas. My Grandpa came in and asked me if I wanted to see a Yellow Headed Blackbird. I was so excited I jumped out of the rocking chair I was sitting in and ran towards the door. My Grandpa froze in place and told me to go back and stop the chair from rocking. He believed if you leave a rocking chair rocking when empty, it invites evil spirits to come into your house to sit in the rocking chair.

Although I remember these Superstitions, they are not the strangest one that he had, the one that has stuck with me all these years. It all started the first time we went to eat at my Grandparents home. We were all sitting around the kitchen table and after my Grandpa said “Grace” my Grandma and mom served our plates. I sat in astonishment as my Grandma brought a plate with only 2 pieces of chicken on it and set it in front of my Grandpa. She went back into the kitchen and came back with 2 smaller plates, one with mashed potatoes and one with green beans, and she placed these in front of him. By the time all the plates were placed on the table Grandpa had 5 separate plates with just one specific food on each one. I had never seen anything like it. I looked at my own plate. I had all the same things as he did but it was all on just one plate. I watched as Grandpa slowly ate each plate of food, one right after the other. After dinner, I asked him why he ate his food like that. He told me that he was raised to believe that if you let your food touch each other on your plate that you will get sick and die. My Grandpa was 84 years old so it made it easy for me to believe it too!

I decided to eat the same way; I mean why risk it, right? When I told my mom about my decision she said if that is what I wanted then go ahead and do it, but I would have to wash my own dishes afterwards. Eating this way only lasted a couple of days. It just wasn’t worth adding all those extra dishes for me to wash!

Here are some other Superstitions held by my mom and Grandpa.

Finding a penny brings good luck. When you pick it up you MUST say “Find a penny, pick it up all the day you’ll have good luck!”

Crossing your fingers for luck or to ward off evil or to not have to tell the truth

Do you or anyone in your family have a Superstition? I would love to hear about them.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

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Filed under Ancestry, Emmajane Smith, Family History, Family Search, Genealogy, Halloween, John Pleasant Smith Sr, Memories, Missouri, My Stories, Personal Stories, Superstitions, Tales from the Darkside, Uncategorized

Freaky Friday’s ~ Lucky Number 13

Friday the 13thGrowing up my mother was what I call neurotically superstitious. She had one for every situation. Your hand itches, you’re going to get money. Find a snake in the yard, Satan is after you. She especially had a fear of the number 13. She wouldn’t do business in a store that had the number 13 in the address. She would not buy anything in multiples of 13. Don’t get me started on a baker’s dozen of donuts! I always believed that her irrational fear of the number was why she hated me. You see I was born on January 13th!

white horse

Once I got married and moved out of her house I made the decision to never give in to superstitions. At times it was harder than I thought. Having them ingrained in your mind for 20 years makes it so you don’t even think about it. Knocking on wood came too natural, making a wish on a white horse happened without an afterthought. I had to literally stop when I found myself facing a compulsion type reaction to a superstition. It took a while but I finally had victory over it.

It is hard to write about my upbringing because if I wrote down the things that went on most people wouldn’t believe me. What I will say is I never saw my parents kiss, hug or hold hands. They barely spoke to each other. So when I first started my Genealogy journey over 20 years ago, imagine my surprise when I discovered my parents got married on December 13, 1948! They never celebrated their anniversary nor bought each other’s gifts so I never knew.

13 with a heart

Well, the number 13 may have been bad for my mother but it turned out to be a lucky number for me. If they hadn’t gotten married I wouldn’t be here and both of those events happened on the 13th. In preparation for this blog, a skimmed through about half of my trees and I was amazed to find over 100 of my Ancestors who were born on the 13th of the month! That seems pretty lucky to me, especially the direct line ones. To me, this was both exciting and a little FREAKY!

 

cropped-blog-pic1.jpg

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

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A “Long Line” of Superstitions #52 Ancestors

superstitionsGrowing up my mother had a superstition for everything. First of all, she was a Triskaidekaphobe. What is that you ask? It is the fear of the number 13. She would not do business with any store where their address had a number 13 in it. She made my dad redo the trellis he built for our patio because it had 13 slats. But mostly she didn’t like me because I was born on the 13th. Her life was controlled by superstitions. We couldn’t tell our Friday night dreams on a Saturday because it would come true. She killed my pet parakeet that my dad gave me for my birthday because a bird in the house brings death. If someone gave us a plant we could never say thank you as that will cause the plant to die.

I always wondered why she was like this. Then I met my Grandpa when I about 10 Food plateyears old. He too had lots of superstitions. If you leave by the back door you have to come back in the same way. If you got up from a rocking chair and it continued to rock it would bring evil to the house. One of the strangest things he did was while eating. He had to have all the food on separate plates because food touching on a plate would make you sick and die. My poor Grandma had lots of dishes to clean.

Over the years I had many of my Smith family tell me stories of our superstitious ancestors. My 2x Great Grandpa James McGowan was Superstitious about his fishing, believing it was very unlucky for someone to ask a man on his way to go fishing where he was going. Any time this happened to him he would turn back because he knew the question was an evil spell.

spilled saltMy Great Grandma Asenath Walt believed that at night demons/ghosts would creep around her home and try to gain access. She kept a large container of salt by both the front and back doors for when visitors came. Upon answering the door she would take a scoop of salt and place it across the doorway. If the person was not a “demon/ghost” they could cross over the salt with no problem. The salt would have kept out any non-human who wanted to enter. I guess she never thought that a “demon/ghost” would probably not come knocking on her door, they would just come in!

My 2x Great Grandmother Elizabeth Marsh believed that Satan inhabited ALL snakes and she was afraid of them. She seldom ventured far from home on foot for fear of encountering one. If she did have to go somewhere she always carried a gun to shot them with.

From my research I found superstitions going back several generations. No wonder I adhered to so many of these growing up. 

Do you have any superstitions in your family?

 

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

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Part 2: My Mother was Superstitious –A Month of Tales from the Dark Side

superstitions moonGrowing up our lives revolved around superstitions. My Mother had one for every occasion or event, everything from the fear of Friday the 13th to dropping a knife on the floor.  I know that my Mother wasn’t the only person to hold to these superstitions but to this date I have never met another person who believed as many or as strongly as she did. I thought I would spend this month leading up to Halloween telling stories of things that happened in not only my childhood but in the lives of my Ancestors that helped form most of my Mothers superstition beliefs or were a result of her beliefs.  I will post a blog every Friday and Tuesday and I hope you will enjoy them and even get a laugh or two out of them.

Superstition #2:  A bird in the house is a sign of death

Me at 12 years old.

Me at 12 years old.

For my 12th birthday all I wanted was a parakeet. I had always loved birds and as a young girl I even cut out pictures of birdsand pasted them in a scrapbook. My favorite was the Mountain Bluebird. When I told my parents what I would like my Dad immediately agreed. He felt it would be a great experience for me as I would learn to be responsible for the care and feeding of the bird. My Mom had other ideas. She believed that having a bird in the house was bad luck. They were an omen of impending death to someone in the family. Why would we want to invite something like that into our home? Her reasons for not having a bird far outweighed my reasons for wanting one. I was devastated.

blue-parakeet

“Red” Bird

When I got home from school on my birthday, which by chance was January, Friday the 13th, I walked into my bedroom and there it was, a brand new shiny bird cage with a beautiful blue parakeet singing away inside.  I was so happy I cried. My Mom came to the bedroom door and with a very serious voice informed me that the care and feeding of the bird was all my responsibility and at no time was I to let it out of the cage. I had a hard time deciding what to name the bird so after much thought I named him “Red”.

Over the next 2 months I taught Red how to wolf whistle, say “pretty bird” and “hello”. I realized that since I got the bird my Mom no longer came into my bedroom. It was like suddenly I had some privacy and freedom. Knowing that she avoided my room I began to let Red out of his cage and let him fly around the room. I would practice my clarinet and Red would come and sit on the end of it and look up inside the instrument as I played.

Car pink & Gray 1955 Chevy Belaire

This was the type and color of our car!

About the same time that I got Red my parents made the decision to move our family to Missouri. They put the house up for sale and it sold faster than they anticipated. So at the end of March we packed all our belongings into a U-Haul trailer and hit the road. From Tucson AZ to Independence MO it was about a 1200 mile trip. My Mom didn’t want us to bring Red but my Dad over-ruled her. So with Red, sitting comfortably in his cage settled into the back seat between me and my sister we began our journey.

Tularosa-New-Mexico-Map-SWe were in New Mexico, somewhere between Tularosa and Carrizozo, traveling through some mountainous roads when we came over a mountain incline a little faster than we should. The next thing we knew the trailer began to weave from side to side. My Dad tried to correct it by jerking the steering wheel the opposite direction but this only made it worse. I don’t know how long the hill was but we weaved from side to side almost all the way to the bottom, at one point almost going over the edge of the mountain. When we got close to the bottom of the hill we were actually facing the wrong way. My Dad decided to drive back up the hill instead of turning around. When we reached the top he stopped. At this point the trailer fell off the hitch!

It was at this point that I thought to make sure that Red was alright. I saw the cage sitting between me and my sister, the top had popped off and one side had caved in and Red was nowhere to be found. I began to panic looking everywhere. I looked towards the front seat and I saw my Mom sitting there shaking and crying hysterically. Then I noticed, sitting on the top of her head was Red. My Mom was so upset she didn’t feel him there. I slowly reached up and grabbed him placing him back in the damaged cage and placing my pillow over it.

It took about 30 minutes before another vehicle came by and it just so happened to be a man in a truck with a heavy duty jack. He stopped and helped my Dad reconnect the trailer and we were on our way. My Mom was uncharacteristically quiet for the rest of the day. When we stopped for the night my Dad helped me put the birdcage back together and he suggested I leave Red in the car for the night. When I went into the room my Mom was sitting on the bed and she told me what had happened was entirely my fault because we had to bring that D@#n bird. She wanted me to release him before the next morning. Thankfully my Dad stepped in and convinced her to let me keep him although nothing could convince her that having the bird in the vehicle did not cause the accident.

So what did eventually happen to Red? About a year later I had let Red out of his cage in my room so he could get some Red's grave 2exercise. I was sitting on the couch in the living room practicing my clarinet and my Mom asked me to play a song from the Hymnal that she kept in the bookcase. She got up from the couch and instead of going straight to the bookcase she opened my bedroom door so she could take yell at my sister to get ready for school. She then closed the door, retrieved the Hymnal and sat down next to me. I played the song and when I was done my Mom took the book and got up to put it back. I looked down on where my Mom was sitting and there was Red, dead with a broken neck! Apparently he flew out when my Mom went in my room and we hadn’t noticed. He must have seen the clarinet and decided to sit next to me so he could enjoy the music. My Mom swears that she never saw him there. I buried him in the back yard.

Along with this Superstition my Mother had all the regular ones too. You know like:

your left ear itches, someone is speaking ill of you.If your left ear itches, someone is speaking ill of you.

white horse

You lick your right thumb push it into your left palm and hit it with your Right fist for good luck when you see a white horse.

Dead potted platNever say thank you to a person if they give you a plant as the plant will die.

Do you or anyone in your family have a Superstition? I would love to hear about them.

Come back on Friday for the next installment of “My Mothers Superstitions  – Tales from the Dark Side.”

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, crafter, reader, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

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Filed under Ancestry, Arizona, Family History, Genealogy, Halloween, Missouri, Superstitions

My Mother was Superstitious –A Month of Tales from the Dark Side

SUPERSTITION 1Growing up our lives revolved around superstitions. My Mother had one for every occasion or event, everything from the fear of Friday the 13th to dropping a knife on the floor.  I know that my Mother wasn’t the only person to hold to these superstitions but to this date I have never met another person who believed as many or as strongly as she did.

I thought I would spend this month leading up to Halloween telling stories of things that happened in not only my childhood but in the lives of my Ancestors that helped form most of my Mothers superstition beliefs or were a result of her beliefs.  I will post a blog every Friday and Tuesday and I hope you will enjoy them and even get a laugh or two out of them.

Superstition #1:  If you scare a pregnant woman they will have a child with a mark on it. 

Baby with a birthmark

Baby with a birthmark

 

When I was 5 years old my Brother Gordon came home on leave and he brought his wife and 2 children with him.  Lily was born and raised in France. She had met Gordon while he was stationed there and it didn’t take long before they were married. When they showed up at the door we were all so surprised and thrilled to learn that there would be another child added to their family. It was odd for me to have a niece and a nephew that were only a couple of years younger than I.

Lily

Lily

Lily was a fun person to be around. She had learned to speak English pretty well , although she still had a little trouble making us understand some things she said. One day Lily and I were out in the yard walking around and she was looking very nervous. I asked her what was wrong and she said “I like spiders and I am looking for one.” I thought she was nuts! I hate spiders; they are probably the only creepy crawler that scares me.  The next day my Brother took me with him to the store and he gave me some money to spend. I bought a rubber spider. When I got home I put it in a box and wrapped it up really nice. I was so excited; I ran to the dinner table and gave it to Lily. She was so touched that I thought of her she eagerly tore the wrapping off and opened the box. The next thing I knew chaos broke out. Lily threw the box against the wall and was screaming hysterically! My Brother was trying to calm her down, my Dad grabbed the box and tossed it outside, my Sister was laughing, the two kids were crying and my Mother fainted.

Michael and Baby Earl

Michael and Baby Earl

When everything calmed down my Mother asked me “How could you do such a horrible thing to Lily?” I told her what she had told me the day before and then Lily started laughing. She realized she had said that she liked spiders instead of disliked them. Everyone was fine with it except my Mother. I got in a lot of trouble for it and almost every day until my Nephew Earl was born I had to hear my Mother tell me that the poor little baby was now going to have a spider shaped birthmark on it and that it will be all my fault. After Earl was born Gordon called to tell us he was fine, no birthmarks of any kind. My Mother never believed them; she thought they were just saying that to make me feel better.

Soon after their last son was born, Gordon and Lily divorced. She and the children stayed in France and Gordon was transferred to the Philippines. I never got to see Lily or the kids again.

Along with this Superstition my Mother had all the regular ones too. You know like:

broken mirror 2Breaking a mirror brings 7 years of bad luck

A black cat crossing your path brings bad luckBlack cat crossing your path

knocking on woodKnocking on wood after you say something and you don’t want it to get jinxed.

spilled salt

Throwing salt over our shoulders was a common occurrence at the dinner table. To say the least things were never dull in the Hughes household!

Do you or anyone in your family have a Superstition? I would love to hear about them.

Come back on Tuesday for the next round of My Mothers Superstitions  – Tales from the Dark Side.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, crafter, reader, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

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Filed under Ancestry, Family History, Family Search, Genealogy, Halloween, Story telling, Superstitions