By Suzie Wilson Fentriss ‘54
This article appeared in the November, 2014, issue of The New Classen Life.
My husband Jim Fentriss ’52 and I were driving on a state road recently, when a truck loaded with hay passed us. Without missing a beat, I shouted, “Bale of hay! Bale of hay! Make a wish and look away!” Which I did, because I certainly wanted my wish to come true! You don’t often see trucks with hay traveling on highways around here anymore, so there haven’t been many opportunities lately to shout this.
That event brought us to think about other superstitions of sort that we used to have. Of course, there were the childhood worries about stepping on a crack and being responsible for your mother’s broken back.
And, just imagine what could happen if you walked under a ladder while a black cat was crossing in front of you! That could mean double bad luck!
We all recited, “Star light, star bright, first star I’ve seen tonight. Wish I may, wish I might, have the wish I wish tonight.” And speaking of the heavens, my old friend Sandra Davis Malone ’54 (dec) taught me the saying “Money, Money, Money.” If you spotted a shooting star, you said money as many times as you could before it faded. I guess the more you said, the more money you would get. Apparently, I didn’t say “money” fast enough!
Did a friend ever give you a “T L?” That stood for “Trade Last.” It meant that the friend had heard a compliment about you from someone, but would not tell you until you told her some compliment first.
Problem was, what if you hadn’t really heard anyone compliment that person lately? Well, you just made up something, so that you could get your own compliment!
My friends and I used to “stamp” white convertibles. If you saw a white convertible, you quickly licked your thumb, hit it on your other palm, and then “stamped” it with your fist. I can’t really remember if we kept a count of the number of white convertibles we stamped, or what.
My mother, who was born in 1903, used to “stamp” white horses. I believe we also stamped “one-eyed” cars (cars with only one headlight working).
My friend Joyce Appleton Hickey ‘54 tells me that when she saw a car with one headlight, she would say, “Padiddle!” (By the way, I understand that nowadays, if we see a car without headlights, we should not blink our lights, or a gang member’ll shoot us!) Oh, my!
Then there was “Kings X!” You held up crossed fingers when you said it. It meant either a truce or a temporary halt to whatever was going on. Crossed fingers also were used to hope for a good outcome to some situation. Just for safe measure, you might also knock on wood, to absolutely ensure the positive result.
You also crossed your fingers when telling a falsehood, usually behind your back so that they were unseen. Speaking of falsehoods, “Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire” could be shouted at a person you suspected of not telling the truth. If that saying really worked, there would have been a lot of people running around with flaming trousers!
If there was a pole or some other obstruction in front of you while you were walking with your girlfriend or boyfriend, you did not separate and go around it on each side. That would mean you were split up forever.
Jim Kyle ’48 reminds me that if you said “Bread and Butter,” you could walk around it without penalty. But I still don’t like to split up when I’m walking with my husband. I’m afraid he might take that opportunity to escape!