For years I've been collecting magazine articles, books, and listening to word of mouth stories about what is commonly known as 'old wives tales', or just wives tales. I'm descended from a lot of mountain people, so their ways of life and beliefs have always interested me. So many of them are just superstitions~but many have a lot of truth hidden within them. Yarb women and housewives were using a lot of the herbs that are being touted today as improved treatments for many ailments.
I've always heard that if your nose is itching, or you drop a dishtowel while you're drying dishes, you're going to have company soon. According to Vance Randolph's Ozark Superstitions, if the towel falls in a wad, the visitor will be a woman. If it falls 'open' it will be a man coming to visit. And if you drop the towel twice, the guest will be hungry.
Have you ever seen anyone throw salt over their shoulder to take back what they've just said? My grandmother and her sisters used to do that a lot. Or maybe they knock on wood after they've said something like--"that's never happened to me". I still see people do that quite often.
I think this one is interesting. It is bad luck to pick up a spoon you find lying in the road. In fact, some women who thought they were having a spell of bad luck, actually sometimes threw away a spoon to 'bring luck'. (I suppose they thought the ones in the road were thrown out by other women with 'bad' luck!)
These are just a few of the household superstitions that I've come across. Next week, I'd like to talk about more of them, especially some involving courtship and marriage. I'd be interested in hearing any oldtime wives tales that you'd like to share.