Superstitions, Colloquialisms, Customs

(Medicines, Applications, and Charms to Cure and Prevent)
ASTHMA A charm (or fetish) to cure asthma is made of some of the victim's hair tied up in red flannel, which is then placed in a crack in the floor.

Medicine: Make a tea of the root of the wild plum cut from the sunrise side. Cut and boil two hours in an iron pot. Give two tablespoons three times daily.

Folk practices: Wearing a muskrat skin; fur side in, on the chest. Smoking jimson weed.

Charm: Make nine knots in a tarred rope and tie it around your waist. Mrs. A. Antony, 718 Orleans Street.

Charm: Belt of snakeskin.

Apply seven different kinds of leaves to a bee sting. Mrs. Josephine Fouchi.
For insect bites: Soak whole balsam apples in whiskey. Apply apple skin.

Charm for snakebite: If bitten near water, beat him to the water and dip the part bitten. That will remove the poison and the snake will die instead of you. Mrs. C. Andry, 1947 N. Johnson Street.

Medicine for snakebite: The juice of plantain banana leaves every hour in doses of one teaspoonful, and the mashed leaves applied to the wound. Raoul.

Charm: Cut open a black hen, and while she is still jumping hold her over the bite. When the chicken has stopped fluttering the poison will be gone. Mrs. Davis, 412. Sixth Street.

Charm: Have a snake doctor suck the bite.

Treatment: Burn a reed and let the smoke rise into the bite.

Feed roasted rat to a bed-wetter. Vance Balthazar, Isle Breville.

Feeding fried rat to a person with a weak bladder will stop bed-wetting. Mrs. W. Nicholas, 1979 Miro Street.

Feed parched pumpkin seeds with salt for bed-wetting.
There is a secret verse in the Book of Ezekiel which, if read, will stop bleeding, Jack Penton, 1508 St, Charles Street.

To prevent Charm: Pierce ears and wear earrings. Mrs. Truseh.

Medication: Infusion of parsley roots with pinch of alum. Mrs. S. James, 1951 Johnson Street.

BLOOD (Poor or Bad)
Medicine: 'Jack Vine tea is the best blood purify you can get. We allus made tea out of it when we would be in the swamps. Verise Brown.

Medicine: For bad blood, a handful of gum moss, thimbleful of anise seed, handful of corn shucks, rain water. Steep and take every morning. Clorie Turner, 1467 Sere Street.

Application: A poultice of catnip leaves for chigger boils, or flea boils. Or, an infusion of equal parts of sumac leaves, sage, and swamp-lily roots boiled down. Add a cup of lard to the strained infusion and boil until the water is out, and use the salve.

Application for ordinary boils: Poultice of mashed jimson weed or mashed elderberry leaves.

Or: Pounded okra blossoms and sugar will bring a boil to a head. Katherine Hill, 638 Lafayette Street.

To draw a 'rising' to a head, or draw festering splinters out, beat the skin of the tail of a 'possum and put sugar on it, and apply. Bill Harris, Spring Creek.
Treatment (said to cure): Wipe the legs of child with a greasy towel every day. Theresa Martin, 2318 Jackson Avenue.

Treatment: Wrap in clay mud. Mrs. O. Crowden, 1954 Johnson Street.

Cajun treatment: If you burn your finger while lighting a cigarette, stick it quick behind your ear.

Charm for burns: Read the 'fire passages' in the Bible. Those who know these passages never reveal them till death, for to do so would cause them to lose the power. Bill Harris, Spring Creek.

Charm: Squeeze a frog to death in the hand. Katherine Hill, 638 LaFayette Street, Baton Rouge.

Charm: Go toward the bed as if to get into it, but get under instead. Medicine: Tea of L'Herbe Cabri (coatgrass).

Medicine (Cajun): Red wine in which a melted tallow candle has been mixed. Mrs. Oscar Scott, Natchitoches.

Medicine: Mamou tea made with the beans or the roots. Also crapeau (toadgrass) tea.

Treatment for pleural complications: Mare's milk rubbed on the back of the neck will cure pleurisy. Vance Balthazar, Isle Breville.

Medicine for croup: Powdered birdeye vine added to milk. Lizzie Chandler.

Charm to prevent: Wear a dime and some salt in the heel of your shoe.

COLIC (baby)
Medicine: Chicken gizzard tea. Or catnip tea.

Charm (fetish): A string with nine knots in it worn around the waist until it rots off.

Ceremony with incantation: Say your prayers and turn the baby head down and heels up three times an hour. Mrs. S. C. Douglas, 2010 St. Thomas Street.

Medicine: 'Ole missus useter give us Blue Mass Pills when we needed medicine. It sho did make us sick. We had to get sick to get well, ole missus said/ Rebecca Fletcher.

Let a snail crawl across your toes.

CRAMPS (in legs, in stomach)
Charm (reptile fetish) for cramps in legs: An eel skin with nine knots tied in it worn around the leg. Vance Balthazar.

Medicine for cramps in stomach: A tea of snake root. J. Eccles, 710 Bourbon Street.
Incantation to prevent bleeding and infection: Recite a verse from the Bible. Jack Penton, 1508 St. Charles Street.

Application: Fat meat, garlic, and live cockroaches bound on.

Medicine: Instead of water, drink, for three months, tea made of boiled huckleberry leaves.

Medicine: Oakleaf tea.

Medicine: Tablespoon of the juice of elder sprouts three times a day until cured. Albert Dupont, Houma.

Medication: Pinch the head off a sowbug and drop the drop of blood you will find into the ear. You won't have earache again. Mrs. Bill Harris, Spring Creek.

Medication: The blood of a live roach, tablespoon of hot water, pod of red pepper, three grains of sugar. Heat and mix with lard. Put on cotton and insert in ear. Mrs. U. Lipinay, 2522. St. Anthony.

Application: Poultice of raw cranberries.

Application: Blood from the ear and tail of a horse. If a very bad case, more than one application will be necessary.

Treatment: Let the patient smell his left shoe. Rub his right hand. E. Blanchard, 1920 Sixth Street.

Chinaberries strung and placed about the baby's neck will absorb and prevent fever. Mr. and Mrs. J. C. Sanders, Spring Creek.

For a high fever: Obtain a pigeon which has never flown out of the cage, cut him open and lay him on the 'mole' of the patient's head. The fresh blood of the pigeon will draw the fever. Mrs. W. Nicholas, N. Miro Street.

For fever, wrap the head completely in leaves from the Palma Christi (castor oil plant). Mrs. A. Barry, 1134 Feliciana Street.

'St. Jacob's quinine grows mos' everywhere, an' that's good for fevers.' - Gracie Stafford.

To exorcise yellow fever: Place about two inches of water in a tub. Stand an axe head on its nose in the water and balance three black horsehairs and a white one on the edge of the axe. Sprinkle a small amount of red pepper on the horsehairs and carefully push the tub under the bed the contents must not be disturbed. Then scatter a handful of corn meal in the form of a cross in front of the patient's bed and wet this cross thoroughly with rum made from molasses. Then repeat the following incantation (voodoo):'Heru mande, heru mande, heru mande.
Tigli li papa.
Do se dan godo
Ah tingonai ye!'

Charm: Touch a dead person, then lay the hand on the goiter.

To make it grow, cut off a piece on Good Friday and bury it.

Medicine: Tea of goldenrod roots.p
Charm (fetish): A string with nine knots in it hung around the neck will cure. Mary Rachel, Isle Breville.

Charm: Rattles of a rattlesnake worn in the hatband and back. Wear them for twelve months and you will never have another headache. Mr. and Mrs. Bill Harris, Spring Creek.

Wrap the head in the leaves of the Palm de Christi (castor oil plant).

Charm (fetish): Two nutmegs worn on a string about the neck until the string breaks and the nutmegs fall off.

Charm: Look directly at the point of a knife blade. This will also cure sneezing. Rev. E. D. Billoups, 318 Eve Street, Baton Rouge.

Eat sand and charcoal.

Make a tea of the inside skin of a chicken gizzard.

An infusion of swamp-lily root should be used as drinking water. Crush half a cup of the root and steep in a quart of water.

'Tea made out of roaches is good for lockjaw. My maw give my brother one spoon and his jaws came unlocked. He ain't never had dat anymore.' Wilkinson Jones.

Medicine: A strong tea of chicken manure taken while hot. Miss M. Reiss, 1534 Bourbon Street.

If roach tea does not bring relief to a lockjaw sufferer, mash up live roaches and make him eat them.

Medicine: A tea of blackjack vine.
Charm: Put a piece of nightshade in a pan under the middle of your bed. On the tenth day pick it up, turn your back to the east, and throw it over your right shoulder. Don't look back at it.

To exorcise after-pains: Cross an axe and a hatchet under the bed and place a jar of water on the dresser.

The red thread attached to egg yolks is fed to young mothers to give them strength.

Turn the child's navel cord to the left to keep it from wetting the bed. Henrietta Lewis.

Measure an undernourished child from neck to toes with a woolen string. Burn the string and feed the ashes to the child. Henrietta Lewis.

When a baby has been cross and fretful for several nights, it is a sign that an evil person or a witch has been sucking at its breasts. (The sticky ooze from an infant's breasts is called witch's milk.) To keep the evil person from returning, stand a broom at the front door. Mrs. A. Antony, 718 Orleans Street.

Medicine: Shuck tea and sheep pills (dung) are widely employed. Wilkinson Jones.

Boiled garfish with red pepper.

To exorcise: Make a cross on each side of the throat with lard and retrace with soot from the chimney. Wrap a snake skin next to the face.

A piece of valerian root in the pillow will quiet nerves.

To stop it, place a tight coral necklace about the neck. Or a chain of silk.

Medicine: A strong infusion of cactus leaves in water.

Medicine to prevent babies from having hives: Catnip tea.

Medicine: A strong tea of the roots of wild iris (pneumonia plant).

Application: Boil the hoofs of a pig until of the consistency of molasses and spread on the back and chest.
Charm: Rub on hair off a black cat's back. Application: Three crushed oak buds. Snake skin, raw flesh side next the skin.

Apply: Rattlesnake oil; alligator fat, buzzard grease, worm oil or frog oil.

The Irish potato and buckeye are favorite charms.

Medicine: Fry a toad frog and a handful of red worms and feed to the sick person. Victoria Boland, Houma.

Treatment: Wash the baby's legs in cow's milk. Mrs. Regina, 2331 Allen Street.

Application: The milk from fig trees.

Birthmarks will disappear if the newborn is fed a few drops of whatever caused the mark.

Strong black pepper tea. Let the tea stand one night before drinking. Lizzie Chandler.

Tea made of dry dog manure.

Drink rabbit-track tea. One must find the trail and take up the tracks oneself.

Peeled prickly pear in water until the water is slimy. Drink the water. Miss R. Page, 1510 Annette Street.

Application: Beat up mullein leaves and apply to old sores.

Years ago when children had sores on their heads the old folks would put tar caps on their heads.

A live frog, split, and applied to a cancerous sore, will effect a cure.
If a person has 'spasms,' pull his clothes off and burn them right away. He will quiet down. Vance Balthazar.

Strip a child, burn his clothes, and give him two drops of beef gall.

Favorite treatments are winding with snake skin or applying a piece of mud-dauber's nest mixed with vinegar.

Make the child eat from the same dish as a little dog.

For sore eyes, take a rose and put it in a water glass and let it stand outside at night where the dew can fall on it. Before the sun rises, wipe your eyes with the dewy rose. Take the rose in and use it three times a day. Miss I. Prude, 1917 Annette Street.

'When you get a sty, go to the cross-road and say: "Sty, sty, leave my eye, and catch the first one who passes by." It sho will leave.' Silas Spotfore.

Charm: 'A very dirty dishrag stolen from a house unbeknownst to the occupants and wrapped about the afflicted one's neck will cure it.' Mrs. Blue, 1310 Bourbon Street.

Put a tub of water with stale bread under the bed, or a steel object under the pillow. Henrietta Lewis.

Medicine: Tea of blackberry roots.
Make a fetish with ashes off the hearth sprinkled with salt and water and put in an old stocking. Place this on the stomach. Ellen Mollett.

In the Delta country there is an affliction called sun pain, which the older people claim is peculiar to that section of the country. Sun pain is a periodic pain located at the back of the head. It grows and wanes with the sun's movements in the sky. To cure' this, several remedies have been developed. One old man goes from door to door calling out, 'Cure you sun pain!' He has little bottles of river water in which spiders' eggs have been placed. The user is directed to bathe his fore-head with the water. Another cure is to bathe the forehead three times a day in a pan of river water, and when the sun goes down to throw the water toward it. In the most elaborate cure, the affected person must strip and seat himself in a tub of river water, facing toward the setting sun. Then a friend or relative stands behind him and dipping the hands into the water, passes the water first over the seated one's shoulders, then over the head in the form of a cross. When this is done, the pain leaves at sunset and never returns. Mrs. A. Antony, 718 Orleans Street.

Treatment: Tie a towel over the top of a glass of water; place glass upside down on patient's head and in a few minutes the water will boil. When it stops boiling, the patient is better.

For night sweats place a pan of water under the bed and the sweating will cease. Laura Rochon, 1410 Conti Street.

Swamp lily, dried, strung, placed around child's neck. Lizzie Chandler.

'Take crawfish, rub de chilluns' teeth, will make them cut teeth easy.' Lindy Joseph, McDonoghville.

If baby is teething hard, let a dog kiss him in the mouth. Put a hog's eye tooth on a string around the baby's neck (teether). A necklace of alligator teeth (charm or teether). To keep a teething baby from being sick, kill a rabbit and rub the child's gums with the warm brains. Mrs. Bill Harris, Spring Creek.

Negro teether: A cow tooth, or a string of Jacob's Tears (a kind of seed). Mrs. A. Antony, 718 Orleans Street.

A necklace of eight vertebrae of the dog shark. (The dog shark is noted for large sharp fine teeth.)

A man who has never seen the father of the child may blow his breath in the baby's mouth. A letter written to such a one, giving the name and birth date of child, will be as effective. When the man reads the letter the thrash will be gone.

Rub the liver of a white dog in the child's mouth.
Rub inside of mouth with chicken manure.
Nine live sowbugs worn in a sack about the neck.
Tie a garlic bag around the thumb.

Rub the gums with the bark or seed of a Prickly Ash (known on Pecan Island as the Toothache Tree), or insert some in the cavity.

A dime, or copper-wire worn around the ankle, will prevent.

Sea gum (a tarry solidified marsh ooze), mixed with grease and taken as well as applied by rubbing, is good for consumption. Albert Dupont, Houma.

Alligator oil. Give daily. (An old woman, seeing that the dogs fed cracklings of alligator fat left a grease spot, where they slept, knew the oil was good.) Mrs. A. Antony, 718 Orleans Street.

An old woman once had a 'vision,' then made a medicine of cow manure and rain water for tuberculosis. It cured the tuberculosis.

Bathe with a tea of peach leaves.

An aid in convalescence: Teaspoon of chimney soot (not stovepipe soot) steeped in a pint of water. Settle with a beaten egg, drink with sugar and cream three times daily.

'UNDERGROWTH' (puniness)
To make a stunted child grow, wipe the soles of his feet every day with an old dishrag.

To make him walk: Set him in the doorway and sweep his legs with a new broom.

Crush and steep peach tree leaves. Drink water slowly.

Pass the affected part over a dead person. Katherine Hill, 638 Lafayette Street, Baton Rouge.

Haydel and Reynold, wart curers of Old New Orleans, examined the growths, then told patient, if a man, to return with a rooster; if a woman, to bring a hen. When this was done, the wart disappeared.

Urine and salt taken three times a day for three days. Isaac Mahoney, Houma.

A Negro charm is to make the patient cough in the face of a catfish.
Have a blown horse breathe into the child's nostrils. August Coxen, Schriever.

Candy made from jimson weed and sugar.
Garlic mashed and put in milk, taken on a dark moon, will stop worms in kids. Lindy Joseph, McDonoghville.
Tie garlic around neck to prevent.
A tea of mashed roaches. Tablespoon every two hours. Laura Jenkins, Hubbardville.

Smoke a wound made by a rusty nail with the fumes of burning woolen cloth or sugar.

To prevent poison ivy, wear metal on neck, arm, or leg.

To stop nosebleed, let the blood drop on a cross made of two matches.

To cure sore throat, swallow a gold-colored bead.

To prevent poisoning from snakebite, carry the tooth of the kind of snake to whose bite you may be exposed.

Garlic and asafoetida placed around the neck in times of epidemic will make it immune.

A remedy, if it is to do the most good, must be given without being asked for, and the recipient must not thank the giver.

Witchcraft: Black and White Art

('Good Luck' charms to bring good luck and ward off bad luck)

Present the newborn with a silver dime. A hole should be bored in a dime and placed about the left ankle.

Suspend a bit of slippery elm bark about the child's neck to give it a persuasive tongue.

To bring luck to a house, put guinea-pepper leaves in the scrubbing water and plant a guinea-pepper tree in the yard.

Always burn the onion peels and you will always have money.

A picture of Saint Peter hung over the door of the house you have just moved into will bring you good luck, because Saint Peter holds the key to everything and opens all doors.

A wishing fetish is made as follows: Cut a round piece of leather and make a bag of it. In this place 13 pennies, 9 cotton seeds, and a bit of hair from a black hog. Rub the bag when you want a wish to come true.

Eat Creole cabbage on New Year's Day, for good luck all the year.

The inhabitants of Ponchatoula often placed the horseshoe under the front doorstep, rather than overhead. To step over it rather than under was said to bring luck quicker.

To ward off 'hurt' or spells, secure the bristles from a pig slaughtered at a voodoo feast, tie them together with a piece of string, and carry them on the person.

'If you get an egg which a black hen has laid within the hour and eat it, it will remove a hoodoo spell off'n you.'

Keep a frizzly chicken around you at all times. If someone hoodoos you, the chicken will dig it up.

If a black cat crosses your path, make the sign of the cross on the ground with your feet.
To free a criminal, secure a strand from the rope to be used to hang him and have a 'Conjurer Doctor' say a prayer over it. Slip it to the condemned and he will go free.

To hurt an enemy, put his name in a dead bird's mouth and let the bird dry up. This will bring him bad luck.

A fetish to cause death by sickness: Hair from a horse's tail, a snake's tooth, and gunpowder. Wrap in a rag and bury under your enemy's doorstep.

To drive a woman crazy, sprinkle nutmeg in her left shoe every night at midnight.

To get revenge on a woman, keep a bit of her hair and all her hair will fall out.

To make her drown herself, get a piece of her underwear, turn it inside out and bury it at midnight, and put a brick on the 'grave.'

To get rid of a rival in love, put his name in some ashes and let the chickens pick in the ashes.

To cause a woman to go blind, put powder made out of a dried snake in a powder box. She will put it on her face thinking it is face powder.

To cause to go crazy, write the person's name backwards on an egg from a black hen and throw the egg over his house or bury it under his doorstep.

To cause suffering, light a black candle at the bottom, write the person's name on a piece of paper, and wrap around the burning candle. Stick needles into it while it is burning and let it burn out.

Bury something belonging to the person you dislike and his liver will rot.

If someone has bitten you, put some chicken manure on the wound and all your enemy's teeth will fall out.

To keep your neighbor in a constant state of disappointment, take a piece of earth from a graveyard and throw it in his yard.

To harm a person in any way you may wish, write his name three times on a piece of paper and burn a black candle on it on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Whatever you wish will happen to him.

To kill by voodoo, the conjurer has a photograph of the victim which he buries face downward while burning a black candle. The victim will die a horrible death as the picture fades.

To kill by voodoo, mix in a bottle, bad vinegar, beef gall, gumbo file, and red pepper. Write the names of the victim across each other (superimposed) and place in bottle. Shake the bottle for nine mornings and tell it what to do; then bury it breast deep upside down and the victim will die.

Do not raise your foot higher than your head.
Don't let any kind of greens go to seed in the garden.
Don't walk on salt, peanut shells, or onion peels.
Never sweep a porch after sundown.
Never break a broom handle or kill a black cat.
Don't set your bed 'cross ways o' the world' set it east and west.
Never entirely remove an old house if building a new one on the same site.
Put a cassava stick in one hand of the victim, and a knife and fork in the other. The spirit of the victim will first drive the murderer insane, then kill him with great violence.

Bury a murdered man face down and the murderer will confess.

A murderer can be made to confess by placing a saucer containing a little salt on his chest when he is asleep. Soon he will talk and reveal the name of the man he murdered.

Write the names of the lawyer, the judge, and the person against you, put the names in a beef tongue, and freeze the tongue until the case comes up.

Or, go to the courtroom with a luck bead under your tongue. This will deaden the tongues of your opponents.

Or, rub yourself well with luck powder. This will charm the accusers.

TO WIN LOVE (Fetishes and charms used by men)
Take some of the desired one's hair and sleep with it under the pillow.

Rub love oil into the palm of your right hand.

Carry a piece of weed called 'John the Conqueror' in your pocket.

(Charms used by women)
Write the man's name and yours on separate pieces of paper. Pin them together in the form of a cross with yours on top. Put them in a glass of water containing sugar and orange-flower water and burn a red candle before this glass for nine days.

Place the man's picture behind a mirror.

Wrap a thimble in a small piece of silk and carry this in your pocket for three days. Every time you enter or leave the house, make a wish regarding your sweetheart. Your wish will come true in three months.

Gut live hummingbirds. Dry the heart and powder it. Sprinkle the powder on the person you desire.

Put a live frog in an ant's nest. When the bones are clean, you will find one flat, heart-shaped, and one with a hook. Secretly hook this into the garment of your beloved, and keep the heart-shaped one. If you should lose the heart-shaped bone, he will hate you as much as he loved you before.

Write his name on a piece of paper and put it up the chimney. Pray to it three times a day.

Put a little rain water in a clean glass. Drop in three lumps of sugar, saying, 'Father, Son, Holy Spirit.' Then three more lumps, saying, 'Jesus, Mary, Joseph.' Drop in three more lumps while making your request. Put the glass in a dark room (never before a mirror), and place a spoon on the top of the glass. Next morning stir the contents toward you, then, with back toward the street, throw the contents against the house or fence, saying, 'Father, Son, Holy Spirit, Jesus, Mary, Joseph, please grant my favor. ' Water must not be spilled, for it must not be walked on.

GRIS-GRIS (For a successful marriage)
Join the hands of two dolls with a ribbon. Take some sand and pile it up in a mound. On top of this place nine wax candles, sprinkle the whole with champagne, saying: 'Saint Joseph, make this marriage and I'll pay.' When the marriage takes place, put a plate of macaroni sprinkled with parsley near a tree in Congo Square in payment.
If a young unmarried couple see their reflections together in the chapel, they will be married within the year.

Carry an image of Saint Joseph in the purse for six months.

Essences of vanilla, verbena, Jack honeysuckle, wintergreen, rosebud, and 'follow-me-boy* water. Scrub place and sprinkle mixture from front to back. Mix thyme seed, popcorn, and brown sugar in a jar, place three lighted candles over it, then fling the last mixture in the four corners of the room. (Marie Contesse method.)

Pick a rooster naked, give him a spoonful of whiskey, then put in his beak a piece of paper on which is written nine times the name of the person to be gotten rid of. The rooster is then turned loose in Saint Roch's cemetery. Within three days the man dies.

Take nine needles, break each needle in three pieces. Write each person's name three times on paper. Write one name backward and one forward, then lay the broken needles on the paper. Take five black candles, four red ones, and three green ones. Hang one of the candles upside down from a string in a doorway, placing a tin pan containing the names and needles underneath where it will catch the drip. Light the candle. Do this every twenty-four hours until the candles are gone.
Go into the street and get some dung from a black-and-white dog. A dog only drops his dung in the street when he is running and barking and whoever you curse will run and bark too. Put the dung in a bag with the paper, needles, drippings, and candle stubs, throw the whole into running water and one of the parties will leave town.

In New Orleans it is said that a collector or salesman will never return if you sprinkle salt after him.

Dry three pepper pods in an open oven, then place them in a bottle, fill with water, and place under your doorstep for three days. Then sprinkle the water around your house, saying, 'Delonge toi de la (remove yourself from here), and the person will never return.

Kill a black chicken and throw it over his house.

Take the hair off a dead black cat, fill its mouth with lemons that have been painted with melted red wax crayon. Wrap animal in silver paper, repeat your desire over it, and place it under the house of the person.
Put some sugar in his mouth at nine o'clock on a Friday morning.

Rub grease on his paws, or make him look in a mirror.

Spit in its throat and throw it up the chimney.

Put a mirror and a piece of codfish in the pigeon cote, and others will come.

Cut hair from his tail and bury it under the front step. If he gets lost, he will find his way home.

If you wish to steal a dog, leave two strips of fat from shoulder meat in your shoe for nine days. On the ninth day call the dog to you and he will not return to his master.

Fill your hands with your own sweat and rub on its nostrils and fur.

Place a shovel in the fireplace. Squeeze your wrist tightly, or turn your pocket wrong side out. Don't mock an owl.

Plant gourd vines around the house.

Take a left shoe and place it upside down under the bed.

Contain wool, perfume, and colored brick or lodestone.

One kind is made of a snake tooth, a piece of human flesh, and a lock of human hair. (These must be obtained from a professional conjurer.)

Have a jet-black girl rub your head every morning at eight for eight days.

The left hind foot of a rabbit that has been killed on a dark night in a cemetery.

Ashes of a water moccasin. A conjurer will treat it for whatever luck or misfortune you want it for.

Essence of Van Van, Oil of Lemon grass, in alcohol (ten per cent). This is the most popular conjure drug in Louisiana.

The Bible. Many hold that the Bible is the great Conjure Book, and Moses the greatest conjurer that ever lived.

Some of the roots and herbs (used under various names): Big John the Conqueror; Little John the Conqueror (used to win); World Wonder Root, used in treasure hunts, and also to hide in the four corners of your house to keep things in your favor. Ruler Root (used as above); Rattlesnake Root; Dragon's Blood (red root fibres crushed), used for many purposes. Valerian Root, to quiet nerves; Adam and Eve Roots, worn in a bag for protection. Five-Fingered Grass, used to uncross. Make tea, strain, and bathe in it nine times. Waste Away Tea, same as preceding. French Lilac, for vampires.
Stories and Beliefs Concerning the Supernatural
Spirits sometimes make their appearance in the form of a cat or a rabbit. You can tell spirit-cats and spirit-rabbits from ordinary cats and rabbits by the fact that the former can disappear at will. (Negro.)

Sometimes, when a wind is blowing, or there is a small whirlwind, horses in a pasture will break and run. They do so because they have seen a spirit, presumably in the wind. (Negro.)

Jack o' lanterns (swamp lights) are said to lead searchers to buried treasure. (Negro.) They are very mischievous and delight to harass animals, particularly horses, whom they cause to shy, or to resist the rider's directions. They also follow hunting parties, misleading the dogs. They are usually unseen by humans.

Once a party consisting of two Negroes and a white man were digging for treasure thought to have been buried by pirates on the bank of Ponchatoula River. They had dug a deep hole at the designated spot when an unearthly scream, seeming to come from the hole, frightened them so badly that they fled and never returned. (Negro.)

Negroes say that if haunts are seen about a house, it means that money is hidden there. You can never recover such treasure unless you have the permission of the guardian spirits, and there are some people who can communicate with them and gain this permission. Nobody who has ever shed blood can hope to find treasure, and if one talks while digging, the treasure will move away.

Just below Plaquemine, on the other side of the Mississippi from Baton Rouge, and just before you reach a place known as 'Redoville,' there is a well-known haunted house from which many tenants, and later, passers-by, have been driven by the sound of dragging chains, rolling wagon wheels, thunder, and large objects falling. (Negro.)

The old Fluker place, in East Feliciana, just across Carr's Creek, is haunted by spirits which always take the form of cats. At the close of day these enter in a file, each one larger than the preceding one, and gather silently about the fire. Needless to say, tenants do not stay long. Another haunted house is the Willie West place in West Feliciana, about nine miles from St. Francis ville. (Negro.)

Some distance out on the Plank Road, on Cypress Bayou, near Baton Rouge, is the old Puckett place, where one day a party of Negro men went rabbit-hunting. They walked up to the house and met a woman at the door who asked them if they wanted to know where there was a fine rabbit they could hunt. She directed them to a patch of brush, and when they neared it a very large rabbit leaped out. All fired at the animal, but it showed no sign of having been harmed, and the dogs fled from it. It then made its way leisurely into the woods, and was never seen again. (Negro.)

The spirits of people who were associated in life are to be found together, and all keep their original characteristics. Sometimes lying spirits amuse themselves by giving false clues to buried treasure. Spirits haunt the places they frequented in life, and when they are not in the form of a cat or rabbit, they may be seen as a vaporous form resembling their former body. If such a vapor strikes a solid object, it disappears like a burst bubble. Usually spirits do no harm, but merely gather in their former home at night where they may be seen talking until dawn. Sometimes they will appear to a former friend and direct him to some long-lost possession, though often the recipient of the message is so disturbed that the message must be repeated on successive occasions.

One man was sitting on his porch when a woman in a car stopped at his gate and directed him to go with her to a place several miles out of Baton Rouge. On reaching an old place, the woman directed him to dig under a peach tree in the yard, saying, 'See that tree? There's something under it for you.' She then got into her car and drove away. The man walked home, and when he came to himself he was sitting on his own front porch. Returning to the place pointed out to him by the mysterious woman, he found that the people who lived in the house were not the owners, and as he did not want to dig without the owner's consent he never discovered what was under the peach tree. (A personal experience narrated by a Negro preacher.)

Vindictive spirits are usually those of murdered men. These never cease to plague and question their murderers. A man who was in the habit of visiting relatives who lived about six miles from his home, and frequently returned through the woods at midnight, met a dumb man wandering through the woods, and, becoming frightened, killed him with a pistol. When the body was found, the murderer confessed, but was released. Thereafter the murdered one's spirit followed the murderer's mules in the field, constantly frightening them. The man could be heard cursing and talking to the dummy's ghost, whom nobody could see but the haunted man himself. (Story told to Forgotson by a Negro preacher.)

Not so long ago on almost every plantation there was someone who was witch-ridden. Such a one would have terrible spasms, screaming and grabbing about him. The only way to give the sufferer relief was to take hold of him, but this was only temporary, for as soon as he again fell asleep the witches would return. (Told to Forgotson by a Negro preacher.)

There is a haunted woods near Springfield which Negro children are always warned to avoid.

The 'Christmas Tree' which formerly stood near the heart of Ponchatoula was so called because it was at one time decorated by four lynched Negroes. Negroes avoided the spot as a hanged Negro is said to invariably haunt the spot near which he was hung. Jack Penton and family, 1508 St. Charles Street.

Somewhere on the road between Bogalusa and Ponchatoula there is said to be a beautiful tomb. Directly after the body was buried in it, the head of a mule appeared distinctly on the fore part of the tomb. Printing this head out did no good. Each time it would reappear clearly through the print. The stone was finally removed. Jack Penton.

Negroes about Ponchatoula will never cut or mar a dogwood tree in any manner, for they say that a spirit lives in the trees, and when the tree is hurt, the spirit screams in agony. They are even afraid to tie their horses to a dogwood tree. Jack Penton.

Candles are used with set meanings for the different colors. They are often very large, one candle costing as much as six dollars.

White: For peace and to 'uncross.' Also for weddings.
Red: For victory.
Pink: For love (some say for drawing success).
Green: To drive off (some say for success).
Blue: For success and protection (for causing death also).
Yellow: For money.
Brown: For drawing money and people.
Lavender: To cause harm (to bring triumph also).
Black: Always for evil or death.

Saint Michael the Archangel: To conquer.
Saint Expedite: For quick work.
Saint Mary: For cure in sickness.
Saint Joseph with Infant Jesus: To get job.
Saint Peter without the Key: For success.
Saint Peter with the Key: For great and speedy success.
Saint Anthony of Padua: For luck.
Saint Mary Magdalene: For luck in love (for women).
Sacred Heart of Jesus: For organic diseases.

Carnation: Three Jacks and a King.
Narcisse (mild);
'Has-no-harra' - (jasmine lotion).

Red Fast Luck: Oil of cinnamon and oil of vanilla, with wintergreen.
Used in scrubbing water to bring luck. There are many scrubbing mixtures.

If a person fears or dreams of a death in his family, that person should get up in the morning before sunrise, throw over his left shoulder a glass of water that has been standing overnight, say: 'God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost,' and afterward ask the Lord to avert that death. Father Joseph, Jerusalem Temple, Baptist Church, Fourth and Johnson Streets.
To dream of fresh pork and fish is a sign of death.

If you dream of meat with blood, it means death; if cooked, a disappointment.
A dream of fat meat or of pulling a tooth means death is coming.
Dreaming of trees, particularly apple trees, according to miscellaneous sources, always presages joy and profit.
Dreams of horses are always good.
To dream of a church, a priest, and clear water is a good dream. If you play lottery, play 2-19~33 for the church, 4-11-14 for the priest, and 1-2~3 for the clear water.
If you dream of a baked chicken, play lottery and select 1122-66, I did it. It cost me 25 cents and I won $45.
If you get a love letter from your boy friend, lay it open and then fold the letter in nine different ways and pin it on your clothes, right over your heart. Let it stay there until you go to bed. Then put the letter in your left^glove, placing the glove under your head. If your lover is true to you, you will dream of gold or diamonds, but if you dream you see washing or graves, you will either lose him by death or go through poverty for a long time.
A generally accepted belief in the South concerns snakes. If one dreams of killing a snake, one will triumph, but if one dreams that the snake escapes, one has enemies who are seeking to destroy one.

There are no particular signs given in dreams. The Lord, however, can, in dreams, tell you where to go and where not to go, and through dreams one often learns the best numbers to play in lottery.

With the discovery of oil in North Louisiana, divining rods of all sorts made their appearance. Some are of metal and others merely branches from trees. A divining rod which is capable of finding underground oil deposits is generally known as a 'doodle bug.' This term is likewise used for the true appliances used by geologists. Here, in Louisiana, water-finding rods are either willow wands or forked sticks of peach, black haw, walnut, or witch-hazel.

If you are walking alone in the country on a dark night and you suddenly see lights bobbing up and down trying to attract your attention, do not follow them, for they are treasure lights and very dangerous things. If you follow them, you will not be able to stop until daylight, and they will take you through such a maze that you will be lost.

If you dream that a bright light appears before you as if coming to you, it is a sign that there is treasure for you in that particular spot.

- When a person walks in his sleep, let him go where he pleases; sometimes he will walk to. the spot where there is a hidden treasure.
- Nobody who has ever shed blood can hope to find buried treasure.
- No one must speak while digging for treasure or the treasure will go away.
- Look for treasure on the second day of a new moon, or in the full of the moon.
- If burying treasure which you hope your heirs will find, bury a rooster's head with it. When they approach the rooster will crow.

During leap year the girl who counts all the gray (some say white and that a gray mule counts for five horses) horses she sees, until she gets up to a hundred, will be married within the year to the first gentleman with whom she shakes hands after counting the hundredth horse. (Some say she will marry the first man she sees who is wearing a red tie.)

On Good Friday one should arise at midnight and look into the mirror in the dark. If you see a face, it is that of your future husband, but if you see a coffin instead, it means you will die soon.

- When the rain is coming the bullfrogs sing, or, as the Cajun says it: 'Laplie tombe' ouaouaron chante.'
- Three frosts will be followed by rain.
- If you kill a cat or reptile, it will rain.

(There are 140 omens concerning death and ill health in the files.)

If, when you are walking along the street or sitting quietly in the house, you hear a voice calling, don't answer, because that is a sign of death calling.

The transplanting of a weeping willow will bring about violent death.

If you plant a cedar tree, you will die when the shadow cast by the tree at high noon becomes large enough to cover your grave.

If you are hurt by falling out of a fig tree, you will never get well.

A death in a family is often preceded by a 'little white dog' who suddenly appears in the house and then disappears. He will just 'pass into the wall.' Mrs. Henry Prudhomme, Natchitoches.

Kill de lizard on de grave, dey ain't no charm yo' life can save.

When 'Chouette' (screech owl) or ' Gimme Bird' sings around a house, it means there will be a death in the house.

A swallow in the bedroom is a sign of death.

A baby whose cradle is rocked while it is empty will die without fail.

Rain or tears at a wedding are bad luck.

(There are about 150 bad luck omens in the files.)

- It is bad luck to have Spanish daggers growing near the house.
- Spanish moss brings bad luck.
- Flowers out of season bring bad luck.
- Don't let love apples grow in your yard; this brings bad luck.
- Arbor vitae brings bad luck.

- Night-blooming cereus brings bad luck.

Everything that masters of slaves did not want Negroes to do was presented to them as bad luck.

If you move a cat, put an ear of corn in the sack to break the spell.

Sleeping with arms over head, the sleeper is calling trouble. Resting the head on the hands, the Devil is hanging on your back.

Sweet basil planted on either side of the doorstep brings good luck.
A pepper bush in the yard brings good luck.

If a cat follows you home, or if you befriend a cat, it is good luck.

To see a shooting star is usually said to indicate a death.

In the days of Creole chivalry (only a hundred years ago), the spilling of wine foretold the spilling of blood; and if a sword fell from the wall, it presaged the coming of an enemy.

Gathering about the house they bring good luck.

If the trail is straight, the animal will return over the same trail.
A hunter who eats the brains of the animal he kills will be able to outthink the next one he chases.

If the dog howls with his nose to the ground, there will be a fire; with his head raised, there will be a death.

If the rooster crows at the back door, it means death; at the front door, visitors; if he comes to the step and crows three times, he is saying, 4-11-44,' and if you like to play lottery, play this gig and win.

If the animals of woods, swamps, and barnyard are unusually vocal, it is a sign of rain.

When passing a lavender bush, known to the Negroes as the 'money tree,' pluck a sprig of leaves, count the leaves, and repeat the Commandment of the number counted. This brings luck. Nine leaves on a sprig brings money.

To cook Creole cabbage on New Year's Day is lucky. You will have green money the entire year.

'Don't loan no salt on Monday 'cause it will take all de seasonin' outen your home for a week.' Roxanna Moore.

Eat cow peas and hog jowl on New Year's Day and you will have plenty to eat the rest of the year.

If you play lottery in August, you will lose, because 'It was on the 1st of August dat God put de Devil out of heaven, and dat's why we has a hell, an' since dat happen, de Devil crosses everything we does in August.'

According to II Kings 4:35, when Elisha raised the child from the dead, the child sneezed seven times. 'Ever since dat day, when anybody sneeze seven times, it's a sign a ha'nt is riz up f'om de dead.'

- If you spit at someone, you will die like a dog.
- Never spit in the fire. It will draw your lungs up.
- A hungry person's saliva looks like cotton.

Is always bad luck to a woman.

Is usually bad luck. Don't sing before breakfast, on Friday or Saturday till past noon, nor while eating, nor in bed, nor when going to bed. 'You mustn't never sing befo' breakfus'. In ol' times, my Pa said, "Look at de pore mockin' bird, he so happy when he opens his eyes that he jes' lets out an' sings befo' night he's killed and de slave, if he sang, he wuz whipped."

If a little baby cries and jumps in his sleep, an evil spirit is bothering him.
You should never sleep with the moon in your face. It will draw your mouth over and make it crooked.

Cutting a baby's nails before he is a year old makes a thief of him. Bite them off.
Cutting a child's nails under a fig tree (or a rosebush) will make him a singer.
Old darkies do not cut their nails, for they say their strength is in them.

A red-headed Negro is a witch or wizard.
If birds weave some of your hair into their nests, you will go crazy.
A widely prevailing superstition among some groups in the Delta country concerns the curl and nail paring in a bottle. An enemy will try to secure one or the other, or both. These he will place in a bottle and hide it near the one he wishes to harm. Sickness immediately follows.

One woman in the country makes her living by going to the homes of the sick to 'discover the bottle,' while another healer, when called in, places a bottle of charmed wine and a loaf of bread under the bed of the sick. This is supposed to neutralize the effects of the evil charm.

It is bad luck to sweep after sundown. Don't sweep under a sick bed or the patient will die. Don't sweep under a girl's feet or she will never marry. Don't sweep under a chair. Don't sweep when someone else is sweeping. A broom can be moved into a new house if the spell is removed from it by passing it through the window of the new house.

Never take up ashes at night. Never spill any ashes. Never take up ashes until thirty days after the birth of a child, for if you do either mother or child will die. Don't take ashes out of the room of anyone ill.

If you should break a mirror, you can wash away the seven years' bad luck by throwing the pieces in running water.

Creole mirror superstition: When three men look into a mirror at once,
the youngest is to die; but if three girls look into a mirror at once,
the eldest will marry within the year.

A young couple must not bring an old broom with them into the new house unless it is thrown in, handle first.

An old couple moving into a new house must bring an old broom. If they don't, one of them will have bad luck.
August is a bad month in which to buy a broom, and housecleaning should never be done in August.

It is good luck for a buzzard to light on your house on Monday.
If a red-headed woman comes to your house on Monday, there will be confusion all week.
Never let a woman come into your house on Monday or Friday until a man has first crossed the threshold.
If a person dies on Saturday, the Blessed Virgin will have that person out of purgatory by the following Saturday.

There is a widely prevailing superstition that to step over a child will stunt him.
A child's growth will be arrested if he leaves the house by the window.

Playing with keys makes children hard-headed. Looking into a mir- ror makes children's teething difficult.

If a pig gets the baby tooth, a tusk will grow in the child's mouth; if a dog gets it, the child will have a fang.
If the child desists from placing the tongue in the place of the missing tooth, he will get a gold one.

If the loaf is upside down on the table, it means the Devil is around.

Never use any kind of fruit or nut tree, or one struck by lightning, for if you do, your house will burn down before the year is out.

It is bad luck to have two clocks going in the house at the same time.

The last six days of the old year and the first six days of the new indicate the weather for the twelve months ahead.
A period of good weather is ahead in the summer time when the weather clears off warm, never when it clears off cool.
In the early spring if a bull bat swoops down and says 'broke,' it is a sign that winter is over.
A whirlwind is a sign of dry weather.
Heavy dew is a sign of fair weather.
A red sunset in autumn is a sign of cold weather.
When sounds like muffled footsteps are heard in a wood fire, there will be snow. As the Negroes say, 'The fire is stomping snow.'

Anything that matures under the ground should be planted in the dark of the moon, and those which mature on top in the full moon.
Vegetable and melon seeds should be planted by a growing child, as they will grow as the child grows.
Always plant four seeds if you expect one to come up. One for the blackbird, one for the crow, one for the cutworm, and one for to grow.
Plant corn when the dogwood is in full bloom.
Some Negroes place rice on the graves to keep the dead from catching their hoes or spoiling their rice crop.
Sometimes rice husks are put in a fish trap and hung high so that the rice may be tall.
When shelling butterbeans (limas) for planting, throw the hulls in the road. If they are burned, your crop will be poor; if fed to the cows, the stock will eat your vines; if thrown in the trash, not only will your crop be poor, but your stock will not reproduce and your wife will not bear children.

Don't put your hand on a young tree that is bearing its first fruit or the fruit will always fall off.
If a tree bears wormy fruit, chop a piece from the trunk and tie a bottle of water somewhere around the tree. Next year you will have solid fruit.
To make a tree bear, bore a hole in the trunk and drop some Epsom salts in it. This purges the tree.

Mix ashes with turnip or mustard seed before you plant and they will 'make' better.
Planting a grain of corn with seeds or cuttings will make them grow.
Plant beans in the scorpion or twin days (by the almanac) and they will bear well. Never plant vegetables on bloom days or you will have nothing but bloom. Bill Harris, Spring Creek.
Plant cabbage when the signs are in the head.
Plant potatoes on dark nights.
Never plant peas until you hear the whippoorwill. His call is the signal that the season is at hand.
Plant English peas during the 'Old Twelve Days' the last and first six days before and after Christmas and the peas will have a better flavor.
Never plant a crop while a woman near-by is holding a flower in her hand.
Cajuns say that sweet potatoes should always be planted when the moon is full because if planted when the moon is in any other shape the potatoes will be like the moon.
Plant pepper when you are mad, or let a red-headed person plant it.
Never plant okra while standing. Always stoop and the plant will bear while still low.
People who are able to plant everything with unfailing success are said to have a green thumb. But children should always plant the vegetable and melon seeds.

If you plow on Good Friday, lightning will strike your field and the ground will bleed.

To protect one's chickens from predatory hawks, keep a horseshoe in the fireplace and it will cause the hawk's claws to become so soft that they will be unable to do any damage.
To keep eggs from spoiling, place nails in the form of a cross in the nest.
When it thunders, the eggs won't spoil.
If you wish to have more pullets from a hatching of eggs, place the eggs into the nest with your left hand. Using your right will increase the number of roosters.
Chickens which are set to hatch in May will be crippled or crazy.

Fence in the dark of the moon if you do not want your fence to settle.

Never start building a house on Friday. If this is done inadvertently, build a piece of green bough into the peak of the house to avert the bad luck. Best days for shingling are from the thirteenth to the twenty-second of the month. Best days for painting are the sixth, seventh, eighth, sixteenth, and seventeenth.

Brand and castrate on the decrease of the moon; slaughter on the increase.
If you stir milk with a fork, the cow will have sore tits; if it is stirred with a knife, the flow will be cut down.
Killing a 'toad-frog' will make your cows dry up.

Three frosts or three fogs on successive nights bring rain.
There is always a storm after the death of an old woman.
There is a frog whose call is like a mallard duck. To hear his cry at night foretells a high river.
'If the oak is out before the ash, it will be a summer of wet and splash.
If the ash is out before the oak, it will be a summer of fire and smoke.'

A silver hook used to be used during full moon, as it was thought that the fishes' mouths were then too tender to bite on any other kind.
Best time to start going fishing is when the dogwood blooms.
Eat onions before you go fishing and you will have good luck.
Fish bite quicker on Good Friday than on any other day in the year.
Fish bite well when the country road is full of fiddlers.
When there is little bait, the fish bite.
If you are having no luck, put a bit of asafoetida on the bait and the fish will come.
If there is no bait, beat the ground with a switch, and the worms will think it is raining and come up.

When a Northwester blows it brings in high tide. This is the time of good hunting.
Don't go hunting on Friday night. It is bad luck. The dogs will bark as if they had treed something, but 'dey won't be nothin' there.'
A trapper must never take a broom or a cat with him when he breaks camp.
If a stick breaks when you are passing through the woods, there are two ghosts arguing over you, saying they know you.
If you hunt on Friday, you will see no jaybirds, for on that day every jay carries a grain of sand to hell where it will be heated to make things hot for you when you get there.
If you get lost in the swamp, you can find north and south by feeling the bark of the trees. Smooth bark is on the south side, rough on the north. Jack Penton and family.
Don't hunt on Sunday.

Some say that when it thunders, Le Bon Dieu is rolling his stones. Others, that the Devil is driving his two black horses and chariot across the sky.

Said in the dark are said to the Devil.
Every year on Palm Sunday have magnolia leaves blessed and place them in your house to calm storms. During a storm hold a leaf in your hand to shift the wind.
If you are drowning and accidentally cross your hands, you will come to the surface and float. You are saved by the sign of the cross.
Make the sign of the cross over your bread so that you will always have some; over your fire so it will burn, etc.

Eat one and no bullet or knife can harm you.

Blood spilled will kill the grass, and every time it rains the blood of the slain will appear fresher.

Cutting a banana is the same as cutting the cross of Christ.

Cover the mirrors in the room occupied by a corpse or the image of the dead will remain, and, if seen, will cause the death of the beholder. Others say that the part of the corpse reflected in the mirror is a part of the Devil's body.

If a girl kisses her toe, she will become a boy.
Kiss your elbow and you will change your sex.

One who has never seen his mother will be able to cure.


I feel so feelsy. I love I. I'm going wild crazy. I feel like a stowaway.

I wouldn't give a pinch of snuff for my life. Big I and little you.

You gotta it. Somebody hit you on the head real hard. You need a doseta Salapatekie. You're a hickory-nut cracker. You're just slap happy.

You're tellin' me. What you got your neck poked out for? Wish you would make up your feeble mind. Come see, Chere. If I'm lyin' I'm dyin'.
If I'm jokin' I'm chokin'.

Blow me down!
Fan my brow!
Hush my mouth!
I'll be jinks swing!
If that don't take the rag off!
Sho nuff!
Shut my mouth wide open!
You're telling I!

Feel like a million dollars that's done been spent.
Now I know how a bug feels when he's been stepped on.
Cuttin' up just like a little man.
Somebody sold some gaged water.
Cream-puff sissy.
Whopper-jawed (lop-sided).
Oh, he's been drinkin' hydraulic brake fluid.
He's pushin' fire (making trouble).
He won't purge (foam at the mouth) when he dies. (Means he speaks his mind.)
He's havin' a blood rush (getting angry).

Hog dead; no water on. (Country saying meaning that something very unexpected has happened.)
There will be a big coffee-drink there soon. (Awake.)
God don't like ugly.
Answer to stupid question: Digging a file, my boy. Query: Who dug in at the dug-out?

Don't be horsey. Keep your bill out. If you ain't seed nothin', don't say nothin'.

How you comin'? (Ans.) Nicely. Right smart. How you feelin'?
(Ans.) Poly, thank Gawd.

Woman chaser: 'High Flier.'
Tall man: 'High pockets.'
Singer: 'Songster.'
Coal-black Negro: 'Eight Ball.'
Minister: 'Rev'und.'
Small woman : 'Little Bit.'
Seamstress : 'Seamster.'

Peculiar Pronunciations and Grammatical Construction
Bawge, for barge.
Tow out the cotton, bring out the cotton.
Gyarden sass okra, turnips, cabbage, onions, garlic, snap beans, lettuce.
She birds female birds. Sulo silo.
Palmetto - palmetto.
Turckle - turtle.
Whop - whip.
Wast - wasp.
Cameera - camera.
Specimens - specimens.
Cathin' - catching.
Difforance - difference.
Ha'nt - haunt.
Sopin' - something.
Jaint - joint.
Sarvey - survey. Furce - fuss.
Retched - reached.
Nair - none.
Yore'un - yours.
Grieved up - filled with sorrow.
Drudged - dredged.
Keep us hoped up - keep us encouraged.
Might stunter you - might stunt you.
Aw no - not really.
Whatcha gonna say, boy? - how is everything?
Passed around - to walk or ride around the same place.

Terms Used in the Home, in Agriculture and in Industry

Mud-daubing: mud and moss used for chinking and chimney-making.
Puncheons: split logs, adzed, then planed, then used for flooring and furniture.
Floor map: a rug.
Sad iron: old-fashioned irons for smoothing clothes.
Ash hopper: a container for ashes used in making lye for home-made soap.
Music-maker: a musical instrument, usually a fiddle.
Chamber lye: urine.
Horse: a wooden stand over which hides were draped while in the process of being scraped clean of hair. Shoe and saddle-making was often done at home.
Lapstone: used in shoemaking.
Carabee: used in making horsehair into ropes and bridle reins.
Des cheveaux Choctaw: in southern Louisiana, a small horse. (The Choctaws were short.)
Leaders: the leading team of oxen.
Old wheelers: oxen broken to the yoke.
Pole whip: a whip attached to a long pole used when several pairs of oxen comprised the team.
Swing: part of the yoke used in hitching oxen to a cart.
Sheep tatling: sheep dung. (Negro.)
Catproof: a term used to describe a pen built to protect pigs from the invasion of wildcats.

Brick mill: used by old settlers for making their own bricks.
Field: yard where bricks were dried after being molded.
Glossy bricks : those bricks in which there was a portion of unmixed sand which melted into glass and made those bricks unfit for use in masonry work.

Bowed: an old-time method of fluffing cotton by using a bow held across the cotton with the left hand while the string was snapped with the right hand.
Burrs: the remainder of the boll on the stalk after the cotton has been removed.
Breaking land: the first plowing.
Hand-gin bench: used in front of the hand-gin in ginning cotton for home use.
Drilling: seeding in open furrows.
Pulling staple: pulling the cotton fiber to determine its length.
Sacking it up: putting cotton in sacks.
Steady cropping: repeatedly planting the same land.
Step-dropping: dropping a seed, or seeds, with each step.

Clay root: the exposed roots of a tree which has been blown out in such a way that a large hole is left where the tree was standing.
Coups: water drains across ridges.
Courees: same as coup.
Smoke pot: employed in obtaining wax from wild bees' nests.
Goobers: peanuts.
Water chinquapins: seeds of the yellow lotus. (Also called duck acorns.)

Flatboat: a boat designed for use in shallow water.
Flesh fork: used in hunting.
Jumped: said of animals as 'flushed' is said of birds.
'Gators: alligators.
Pole hooks: used in hunting alligators.
To pole: to shove through water too shallow for oars.
Fire-hunting: hunting at night with the aid of a wood fire in a frying pan attached to a long handle.
Still-hunting: waiting beside an animal trail.
Gather up: get up and follow the dogs.
Give tongue: bark.
Tree: put up a tree and remain until the hunter comes (said of dogs).

Sea gum: tar-like ooze which solidifies on surface of marshes in some places.
Black gum top: black gum tree.
Cant: to turn over with a hook.
Dogging: pulling the log into position for the skidder to lift.
Log rolling: hauling logs from one place to another (?).
Light-wood: small bits of cypress or pine.
Skidder: small derrick on flat car used to lift logs onto the car. Also the man who operates same. (Negroes will not touch live oaks or dog-woods.)

Baton pill: the stick used with rice pill for pounding hulls from rice. (Creole.)
Rice pill (spelling not certain pronounced peel): the hollowed block on which rice is husked. (Creole.)
Van: shallow tray of cane reed used for separating chaff from rice.


Bagasse: the pulp of the ground stalk of cane.
Brake cane: wild cane.
Piggin: container for liquids.
Skim: the trash and silt from boiling juice.
Stripping: taking the flags from the cane stalks in preparation for grinding.

Poor as a snake.
Deep as a loon.
Naked as a jay bird in the whistling time.
Nervy as a gnat.
Flat as a chinch.
Higher than a cat's back (expensive).
Crazy as a Bessie bug.

A patch by patch is friendly, but a patch on patch is 'bomination. Mary Harris.
He who is able to talk and never talks is a wise man.
Too much sit-down break trousers.
(If you are lazy, you won't have any clothes to wear, as they wear out just the same.)
Married got teeth. (Marriage isn't all bliss.)
Hard head bi'd (bird) don't make good soup.
(Disobedient children don't turn out well.)
When man drunk, him stagger; when woman drunk, him lay down.

(Women go to extremes.)
Take keer, Marster! is better than 'O Lord, Marster!'
Some mans does dead befo' dem time.
(They make trouble for themselves.)

A boy was standing on the corner with his father's pants on.
What two corners was he standing on? (Toulouse and Broad.)
What's the name of a bird without wings?

Long slick black fellow, pull his tail and make him bellow.

Dere wuz a man who rode through town, Greengraveler wuz his name; his bridle and saddle wuz dipped wid gol'; three times I've tol' his name. (Mr. Was.)

What has patches on top of patches, but no hole?

Creole Colloquialisms
'Une aune' still used by those who weave.
'La banquette' the sidewalk.
'Casser la paille' instead of 'rompre la paille.'
'Des pentures' used rather than 'gonds' or 'charnieres.'
'Le blue grass' Bermuda grass (said to have been brought from Texas by Rosamond Breaux).
'Des couronnes de chene' - mistletoe clusters.
'Le cresson' - peppergrass. Also applied to chickweed.
'Le gazon' carpet grass (axono-pus compressus).
'Les printanieres' - bluets, Houstonia (springers, bluebottles).
'L'Herbe a la Puce' - poison ivy. People used to think that the trumpet creeper was poisonous. Many knew nothing of poison ivy.
'Le cenellier' - the winterberry.
'Une binette' - a face. (Now rarely heard.)
'Des dormeuses' - pendant earrings set with solitaire diamonds.
'Un rabougri' - a very small man.
'Un tonnerre a la voile' - an unruly person.
'Pique' - adj., drunk.
'Menterie' - lie or story.
'Un tour de Jarnac' - instead of
'Un coup de Jarnac' - (a brick of Jarnac. instead of a thrust of Jarnac).
'Un carcan' - a small yoke for pigs.
'Le balai de del' - the north wind, not the northeast.
'Le train train'- the chores, the little things regularly done.
'Les quatres paroisses' - the whole world (the original four parishes).
'Rester a Lafayette' for 'demeuer a.' - (To stay in instead of to live in.)
'Cotoyer' - (sailing coastwise), for skirting the edge of a swamp.
'C'est un charrette a trois roues' or ' c'est une girouette rouillee' - said of anything that is very inefficient, ineffectual.
'C'est bon comme la vie' - said of a person (or thing) who is very good. 'Frou-frou' - giddy.
'La ripopee' - slops, low class.
'Une cargaison' - not a cargo, but a load.
'Une paillasse' - not a straw mattress, but a shuck one.
'Un en-tout-cas' - not necessarily an. umbrella, but anything that might serve in an emergency.
'La famille de rikiki' - (une plaisanterie) said of any large family.
'C'est un p'tit homme, mais il a le coeur bien place, allez!' - (Quite a compliment.)
'Cheval donne, on ne regarde pas a la bride' - don't look a gift horse in the mouth.
'Cela ne vaut pas les quartes fers d'un cheval mort' - used instead of 'Cela ne vaut pas les quatres fers d'un chien.'
'La pauvrete n'est pas un deshonneur, mais c'est une fichue misere.' - (Poverty is not a sin, but a mighty inconvenience.)
'Se debattre comme un diable dans un benitier' - to writhe like a demon in a holy-water basin.
'Bon chien tien de race' - instead of 'bon chine chasse de race.'
'Marchand d'oignons connait les ciboules' instead of 'marchand d'oignons se connait en ciboules.'
(Onion merchant knows his chives, instead of Onion merchant is conversant on chives.)
'Il cache son argent dans des cornes a boeufs' - he lives a simple life (does not do business with banks). Not often heard now.
'Ca date du temps d'Artaguette' or 'Ca date de Tan quarante' - of anything very out of date.
'Homme de paille, pistolet de bois' - a man who is a bluff.
'Il a peur de se noyer dans son crachat' - he is afraid to undertake anything.
'Ca marche comme un papier dc musiquc' - there is no trouble, everything is going on smoothly.
'Ficele a sur quartres epingles' - all dressed up.
'Ca m'enquiquine!' - (tsk> tsk!) it makes me boil.
'Je vais lui foutre un galop' - I'll get after him.
'Se mettre un trente-six' - to do one's utmost.

Cajun Colloquialisms
'Ca grimace' - it's raining (drizzling).
'Un naufroge' - (a shipwreck) for an auto or buggy wreck.
'Je vais naviguer' - I am going to navigate, for, I am going out.
'Grouille ton casaquin' - hurry up.
'A la voirie' - in plain view (illiterate).
'C'est mon chaudin qui fait mal' - my stomach aches (illiterate).
'Ah! gougre non' - certainly not.
'La chanterelle va casser' - that will be the last straw.
'line zirete' - (something hideous).
'Cognier un bon somme' - to enjoy a good nap.
'Un carabosse' - an ugly, clumsy hat.
'Aller a la passee' - to hunt snipe and woodcocks.
'De la fraicheur'- fresh pork (illiterate).
'Le rhodaire' a prairie near Lafayette.
'Un warraron' or 'wawaron' - a bullfrog.

The French of rural Louisiana is composed of French, Spanish, and Indian. In French, 'Smoked Meat' is 'Viande Fume,' but this would not be understood in the country. One must ask for 'Viande Boucanee,' the last word being the Choctaw, and the one commonly used.

Locally the Spanish word 'Vamose' (Get out) becomes 'Bamose.'

A familiar term of endearment is 'Mon petite chou' (My little cabbage head) which has become 'Mon 'te chou.'

Gumbo (Negro') French
'Larguer' - to tire out.
'Braliner' - to bleach clothes in the sun.
"Tiyer la mousse' - to clean moss.
'Faire shingo' - to doze, especially in front of the fire.
'Beurdacer' - to kill time.
'Charrer' - to chat.
'Cthamander' - to beg or ask for things.
'Partir la guinguette' - to go on a frolic, or gad about.
'Les prairies molles' - swamps, trapping grounds.
'Un ilet' - a small island. Also used to designate a square.
'Le large' - the prairie north and west of Lafayette.
'Des cthoucoulouques'- dollars.
'Caille' - black and white, said of cloth.
'Ta cagouette' - your head.
'Un souci d'oreiller' - a pillowcase.
'Un facthin' - about the same thing as bajoe (jowl).
'Un baire' - mosquito bar.
'Un bajoe' - an uncultured man (pigface?).
'Une couette' - mattress covering (ticking).
'Un nioque' - a nest egg.
'Un soutadaire' - a saddle blanket.
'Les Zerbes Lapin' - oxalis europaea.
'Des jines herbes' - pot herbs.
'P'tit Paques' - Palm Sunday.
'Cete ca dans to coloquinte' - get that notion out of your head.
'Mo t'ape jongler' - I was thinking and dreaming, or, I was thinking that (jongler c,a).
'Mo coeur tacher dans to chaine comme boskoyo dans cypiere' - my heart is linked in your chain like 'boskoyo' in a cypress.
'Qa depend de la position des gonflots' - maybe, with quite a bit of doubt.
'Lever un lapin' - get a beau.
'Ce fil est assiz long pour pendre un ine' - long enough to hang a donkey (sewing thread).
'Chacta'- mean, contrary (said of persons).

Negro Sayings
To say of a man that 'He is wearing the horns' means his wife is untrue to him.
A person with big feet is called 'Foots.'
'Hugging Molly': a half-wit who wound himself in a sheet and accosted women on the street, frightening them by hugging them. He was never punished, but was greatly feared by the Negroes, as his costume was similar to that of the Ku Klux Klan.

Unidentified Terms
'Le sent bon' - false onion (bivalve).
'Des crocros' - heavy, ill-fitting shoes.
'Des yeux goueres' - very pale-colored eyes.

Negro Customs

At Ponchatoula, unofficial marriages, with only the ceremony of jumping over the broomstick, were often practiced. (This custom was formerly widespread.) Mrs. Antony.

Plantations (such as the Esterbrook at Ponchatoula) had their own churches. Because of the young men's habits of using the church for a place to meet their girls, the minister would have all the doors and windows firmly bolted during services so that the young couples could not slip out. Mrs. Antony.

A Negro mother with child is highly respected. Friends and relatives will tramp for miles around to beg, borrow or steal any special food she desires, because it is said that if a pregnant woman has a desire for any special food, it is because the unborn child is crying for it. Mrs. Antony.

It is a custom in some communities for whole families to rush to a home to see an ill person, whether or no the disease is contagious.

The Negroes in Louisiana hold wakes for the dead, as do many white families in rural and small urban communities.

Some years ago, when Negro shacks had no windows, and shutters were the only form of ventilation, there was always a very serious problem to be considered when a member of the household died. It was, of course, necessary that the house should be thoroughly aired at once, but it was also true that if the shutters were left open, the corpse would be exposed to dire peril. As soon as death occurs, the cats all over the world are immediately notified and at once assemble in order to try to gain access to the corpse, and if they were able to accomplish this, would eat it up entirely. To prevent this dreadful procedure, relatives and friends kept constant guard over the corpse until it was buried, and this custom came to be known as the Death Watch.

In the case of Negro burials, the corpse is usually kept until all members of the family arrive, regardless of the distance some of them may live. Funeral sermons, usually two or three, are preached at the burial, though sometimes months later.

'Society' members, the term relating to fraternal organizations, are required to attend the funerals of their departed brethren, and are penalized by a stiff fine if they do not do so.

Negroes who have been hanged are not permitted to be buried from the church, which is called 'Christian burial,' unless they have repented and joined the church before execution.

During the winter Negroes gather any type of edible greens, even grass, to cook, because they say that since the dog and cat must have greens, so must the human. In spring, pokeberry leaves are used. Mrs. Antony.

A Negro family seldom eats indoors at table, preferring to take the plate of food to the porch or yard. Mrs. Antony.

Old Negro women always said: 'If a pusson could leave off eating red meat and white flour, they wouldn't never die.' Jack Penton and family, 1508 St. Charles Street.

Beds were commonly 'pallets.' (Quilts on the floor.)

Currently children are in favor as pickers in the berry fields. They have always been employed for this work.

Negroes formerly copied many of their amusements from their white masters. Corn-shucking with singing and dancing, and cock-fighting are still popular.

At Christmas time the Negroes used to go to all the homes where they had worked during the year. If they could sneak up on the white family and say 'Christmas gift' before the white, they were entitled to a present. Mrs. Antony.

On the river plantations in North Louisiana, the mistress of the household, regardless of age, is called 'Ole Miss.'

Best remembered are the mammy-dolls and bean-bags.

Julia la fol (Julia the crazy): She was an old Negro woman of Vermillion Parish who loved to pin scraps of colored material to her blouse, with the idea that they enhanced her appearance. Her shoes were always shoddy and unclean. When anyone appears dressed up, but wearing shabby shoes, the natives say, 'Look at Julia la fol.'

Ginnie: She was a half-witted colored woman who stayed on with her mistress after the slaves were free. On giving her mistress money where-with to buy cotton for a dress, she could not understand why she should not have the money back again after the storekeeper had seen it. A 'Ginnie' is consequently anyone who cannot understand what is explained to her.

Two-bit Suze: She was an old Negro woman who always wore a variety of clashing colors. Anyone in Saint Martin's Parish who is cheaply and gaudily dressed is called 'Two-bit Suze.'

Pastimes of Old Louisiana
THE MYSTERY LUNCH (box social}
Girls prepare lunches and pack them in elaboratedly decorated boxes. At the gathering the young men bid for these boxes, being able to identify their sweetheart's box by some peculiar article used in trimming. Jack Penton and family, 1508 St. Charles Street.

GREASED PIG (picnics)
Pig was shaved and greased. Object was to catch and hold the animal.
(Sand on hands disqualified a player.) Penton.

Head of gander was plucked and greased. Horsemen tried to pull head off.

The one who climbed the highest won the prize.

Winner was the one coming closest to the mark or line.

Stilt-walking. George Walkers was a local name for stilts.

Catching rings on spears from the back of a running horse.

Many plantations had courses. Sometimes races were held on the public roads.

'INFARES' - Soiree, or small party.

Old-Time CHRISTMAS Customs
Custom: use of fireworks (as in France) and that of 'Christmas Gift. Toys: bean-bags, mammy-dolls.

Trees girdled the previous spring, either for building purposes, or to clear the land, were removed and piled in community gatherings, similar to the 'bees' of the north.

The custom of calling a married woman by her husband's given name, as 'Mrs. Felix,' is a compromise between the formal 'Mrs. (Felix) Smith' and the very informal 'Louise' (Smith).

It was customary to go to the road to bid newly-weds farewell as they drove by. 'Yoyo tou seul' was the reply of an old Negro whose fiancee failed to meet him at the church. Since that time the old Negroes' reply has been the customary one denoting that one has been left in the lurch, 'stood up,' etc.

Spaniards marrying into French families always spoke French thereafter.

'Mourning' and 'half-mourning' are still worn'by families of French descent, and by Negresses.

Face-powder used to be made by scraping young corn and placing it in water until the starch had settled.

Custard pie was eaten on Good Friday; lamb, on Easter Sunday. Egg-fighting was a custom.

The stiffly starched collars worn by men were smoothed out on a piece of tin and baked in the sun.

No man is ever exactly six feet tall, for that was the height of Christ.
The ear is the only part of the body that does not stop growing till death.
Wax is supposed to lubricate the brain, and too much thinking will cause this wax to get too hot and cause insanity.
If you live in the swamp, you will become web-footed.
A left-handed person owes the Devil a day's work.