An old wives' tale is a type of urban legend, similar to a proverb, which is generally passed down by old wives to a younger generation. Such 'tales' usually consist of superstition.
My Grandmother had many of them. I really believed when she said, as I would whistle what she said about that. She would say a whistling girl and a crowing hen always would end up to no good in the end. That made me feel that I was bad. I then had to ask, what happens to a crowing hen? The answer to that was the farmer cut her head off because it was bad luck for a hen to crow. Which then made me wonder about my head. She was real good at making me think I should be good at all times. Really I was convience that she could read my mind. I finally just realized she did not miss much. She pretty much paid attention to everything, everyone around her was doing. That is I am sure how she caught me throwing the cotton on to my little brothers row that day. He always picked more than I did. I was trying to make it look as though he was leaving some on his row. He was not getting it all that was skipping cotton and was a bad thing. I reached over and put pieces on his row a couple of time not getting caught. I should have quit while I was ahead. Grandmother saw as I pitched the cotton over and shamed me more than I have ever been shamed by her. She told me over and over she could not believe I would do such a thing. I still get flushed when I think of it. Not because I did it more because I got caught. The only time I picked two-hundred pounds, he still tells this story. The only time I picked that much, Grandmother, Mama and Daddy helped me finish the last sack of the day. He leaves out the part that it started raining and I did not have enough time to get my two-hundred. Grandma up north had her wives' tales also; One of hers was if when you loose a tooth and don't stick you tongue in the empty spot that a gold tooth would grow into that spot. Impossible to do of course. A redbird was good luck. A bird trying to get in the house meant someone was going to die. Shoes on the kitchen table are bad luck. I have passed them along to my daughters. Saturday night one of them mentioned this one. Giving me the satisfaction that they had listened to things I truly want to pass on to them. Keeping the wonderful things we receive from our ancestors. My girls have never picked cotton, but I wish they knew that feeling of dread and accomplishment that was associated with starting a whole field that had to be put into sacks. Gathering cotton was one thing that I did not love as much as some of the stuff I have gathered along the way.
Bad Luck Wives Tales
*An owl hooting three times in a row.
*Spilling salt – this one can be redeemed by grabbing some of the salt and throwing it over your left shoulder. This is believed to be the way in which to throw the salt into the eyes of the evil spirits that are lying in wait.
*A five leaf clover.
*Putting your shirt on wrong side out.
*A rooster crowing at night.
*Never get out of bed with your left foot first or you will have bad luck all day.
*Breaking a mirror will bring on 7 years of bad luck.
*Singing before breakfast .
*Opening an umbrella inside the house is sure to bring bad luck to the entire household.
Thank God for Good Directions and Turnip Greens
4 to 4 1/2 pounds turnip greens
1 pound salt pork, rinsed and diced
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon sugar
A pod of whole dried red pepper
Cut off and discard tough stems and discolored leaves from greens. Wash greens thoroughly and drain well. Cook salt pork in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat until crisp and brown. Add the turnip greens, water, onion, sugar, pepper, and red pepper; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer 40 to 45 minutes or until greens are tender. Taste and adjust seasonings.
Serve with vinegar or pepper sauce and cornbread.
Fresh turnip greens are one of my favorite things. I always think of my aunt and uncles grass that turned out to be turnip greens instead of grass. The practical joking neighbor across the road came over in the dark of night and sewed turnip seeds in the freshly planted grass seed my uncle had planted. In with the grass was a good stand of turnip greens. One of the funniest stories from my childhood I must remember to do to someone.