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.
TO FIND TREASURE
- 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.
TO DISCOVER FUTURE HUSBAND
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.
DEATH, ILL HEALTH
(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.)
PLANTS THAT BRING BAD LUCK
- 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.
HANDS ON OR ABOVE HEAD
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.
NEW YEAR LUCK
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.
BROOM SUPERSTITIONS FROM ISLE BREVILLE
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.
DAYS OF THE WEEK
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.
STEPPING OVER A CHILD
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.
CAJUN BELIEFS CONCERNING CHILDREN
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.
EGGS AND CHICKENS
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.
MORE WEATHER SIGNS
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.
HEART OF A BLACK CAT
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.
FIRST PERSON SINGULAR
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.
SECOND PERSON SINGULAR (repartee)
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!
Shut my mouth wide open!
You're telling I!
EXPLANATORY AND DESCRIPTIVE
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.
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.'
Coal-black Negro: 'Eight Ball.'
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.
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.
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?
'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.
'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).
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.
'Le sent bon' - false onion (bivalve).
'Des crocros' - heavy, ill-fitting shoes.
'Des yeux goueres' - very pale-colored eyes.
MARRIAGE, DEATH, ETC.
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.
ON THE FARM AND IN THE HOME - FOOD
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.
NAMES USED IN DERISION
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.
COCK-FIGHTING -- HORSE-RACING
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.