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Posts Tagged ‘folklore

“You know, Hobbes, some days even my lucky rocket ship underpants don’t help”*…

 

Horseshoe charm made from a fragment of German shell by a wounded Belgian soldier.

 

During (and after) World War I, British folklorist Edward Lovett made a point of collecting examples of lucky charms and amulets that soldiers had carried to war. Some of these—included in a new book about the Imperial War Museum’s World War I collections, The First World War Galleries, by Paul Cornish—are below.

Lovett was a contemporary folklorist, collecting and analyzing material from his own city of London instead of working with archives or in other countries. Most active during the 1910s and 1920s, Lovett worked at a bank by day, gathering examples of amulets, charms, and talismans in his free time.Lovett was interested in seeing how country folklore lived on in working-class parts of London. He investigated the use of such charms to cure illnesses, wish ill upon enemies, or attract good luck. You can see some of his larger collection online through this Wellcome Library digital exhibition.

The charms Lovett collected from soldiers were sometimes fashioned from materials with some significance to their owners: bog oak or Connemara marble, carried by Irishmen as mementos of home; [or as in the photo above] bits of armaments that could have killed the bearer, but didn’t.

Take in more talismans at “The Lucky Charms Soldiers Carried Into WWI.”

* Calvin (Bill Watterson)

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As we rub our rabbit’s feet, we might spare a thought for George Frederick Ernest Albert, George V, King of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions, and Emperor of India; he died on this date in 1936.   In a statement, the King’s physician, Lord Dawson of Penn, reported that the King’s last words were “How stands the Empire?”  But in his diary, uncovered much later, Dawson recalls a less elegant end:  The physician confessed in his memoir that he prescribed the fast-failing King a fatal sedative so that his death would be announced in the Tory morning papers (and opposed to the afternoon tabloids).  George’s actual last words, as a nurse approached with the morphine- and cocaine-filled syringe, were God damn you, you’re going to kill me!”

George V

 source

 

Written by LW

January 20, 2015 at 1:01 am

Let me tell you a tale…

 

This map, by social realist artist William Gropper, was created to showcase the diversity of national myths and folk stories and was distributed abroad through the U.S. Department of State starting in 1946…

Gropper, born in New York City’s Lower East Side to a working-class family, deeply identified with labor movements and the Left throughout his life. He worked as a cartoonist for mainstream publications New York Tribune and Vanity Fair, as well as the leftist and radical newspapers Rebel Worker, New Masses, and Daily Worker. During the Depression, like many other out-of-work artists, Gropper designed murals for the Works Progress Administration.

The “folklore” on display in this richly illustrated map is a soup of history, music, myth, and literature. Frankie and Johnny are cheek-by-jowl with a wild-eyed John Brown; General Custer coexists with “Git Along Little Dogies.” Utah is simply host to a group of “Mormons,” in which a bearded man holds up stigmata-marked hands to a small group of wives and children, while a figure labeled “New England Witches” flies over New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Vermont…

Click here (and again) to see the map in much larger format (or find it at the Library of Congress); read the full story at Vault.

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As we revel in regional differences, we might recall that it was on this date in 1938 that Theodor Geisel– Dr. Seuss– published The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins.  Geisel had published And To Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street the prior year; 500 Hats was his second children’s book and the first of three (it was followed by The King’s Stilts and The Seven Lady Godivas in 1939), all of which were, atypically for him, in prose.  He returned to the rhyming form for which he’s known with his fifth book, Horton Hatches the Egg.

 source

 

Written by LW

September 1, 2013 at 1:01 am

Being there…

The Holy Land Experience is a 15-acre faith-based family theme park in Orlando, Florida owned and operated since 2007 by the world’s largest religious broadcaster, Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN). It features attractions and interactive exhibits like Smile of a Child Adventure Land, The Scriptorium research library and museum, a “breathtaking, inspirational water show” called the Crystal Living Waters and much more.

At their Jerusalem Street Market, “you will travel back in time to an ancient land that is 2000 years old and 7000 miles away!” and at Calvary’s Garden Tomb, you can spend time “resting, praying, or reflecting on the meaning and significance of the empty tomb”. To experience “first century shopping”, head on over to The Old Scroll Shop. There are even live theatrical performances. It’s almost like a modern day Bible Storyland but with less rides…

Read the full story at the ever-illuminating Laughing Squid.

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As we remark that this is the anniversary of the opening of Atlantic City’s Boardwalk, we might recall that this is also one dates given for the for the day that the Pied Piper (Rattenfänger) led the children of Hamelin, Germany, into a mountain cave.

A German version of the tale seems to have survived in a 1602/1603 inscription found in Hamelin in the Rattenfängerhaus (Pied Piper’s, or Ratcatcher’s house):

Anno 1284 am dage Johannis et Pauli
war der 26. junii
Dorch einen piper mit allerlei farve bekledet
gewesen CXXX kinder verledet binnen Hamelen gebo[re]n
to calvarie bi den koppen verloren  

which has been translated into English as:

In the year of 1284, on John’s and Paul’s day
was the 26th of June
By a piper, dressed in all kinds of colours,
130 children born in Hamelin were seduced
and lost at the place of execution near the Koppen.

 source

Written by LW

June 26, 2012 at 1:01 am

High, Meet Low…

 

From our friends at Coudal Partners (they of “Who Owns the Fish?” fame), another play-along delight: “Booking Bands.”  The idea is to mash up the name of a book with the name of a band. Here, few of Coudal’s examples to get one started:

The Things They Might Be Giants Carried
The Who Moved My Cheese
The Old Man and The Sea and Cake
Charlie Daniels and the Chocolate Factory
Catch 182
Horton Hears a Hoobastank
Of Mice and Men at Work
Bare Naked Lunch Ladies
The Agony and the XTC

Many more inspirational examples here.

 

As we reorder our library shelves, we might wish an extraordinarily-accomplished Happy Birthday to folklorist, anthropologist, and author, Zora Neale Hurston; she was born on this date in 1891.  She studied anthropology at Barnard with Franz Boas, then collected folklore and made recordings in Florida and other areas of the South in the late 1920s. During the Depression, she helped Alan Lomax, the son of pioneer folksong collector John Lomax, document the folk music of Georgia, Florida, and the Bahamas.  She also had short stints as a manicurist, a librarian, a dramatic coach with the Federal Theatre Project, a story consultant at Paramount Pictures, a maid, and a teacher.   She published folklore collections, an autobiography, and several plays; but she is best remembered for her 1937 novel Their Eyes Were Watching God— or as Coudal might have it, “Their Eyes Were Watching Godsmack.”

source

 

Written by LW

January 7, 2012 at 1:01 am

The man who made the clothes that make the man…

 Nudie Cohn, perched on one of his 18 custom cars (source)

Nuta Kotlyarenko immigrated to America from Kiev at age 11, and bought into the American Dream big time.  After kicking around the country as a shoeshine boy and a boxer (and indeed, he claimed, as a companion of Pretty Boy Floyd), Kotlyarenko– by then, “Cohn”– and his wife opened a New York lingerie store, Nudies for the Ladies, specializing in custom-made undergarments for showgirls.

In 1947, after relocating to Los Angeles– and taking “Nudie” as his given name– Cohn persuaded a young, struggling country singer named Tex Williams to buy him a sewing machine with the proceeds of an auctioned horse; in exchange, Cohn made clothing for Williams.  The creations were so popular that Nudie opened a North Hollywood store to feature his chain-stitched and rhinestone-studded creations.

Over the years, Nudie gave dozens of performers their signature looks, from Elvis’ $10,000 gold lame suit to the costumes of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans.  But his specialty was country (and country rock) singers: e.g., Porter Wagoner (a peach-colored suit featuring rhinestones, a covered wagon on the back, and wagon wheels on the legs), Hank Williams (a white cowboy suit with musical notations on the sleeves), and Gram Parsons (the suit he wears on the cover of the Flying Burrito Brothers album The Gilded Palace of Sin, featuring pills, poppies, marijuana leaves, naked women, and a huge cross).  John Lennon was a customer, as were John Wayne, Gene Autry, George Jones, Cher, Ronald Reagan, Elton John, Robert Mitchum, Pat Buttram, Tony Curtis, Michael Landon, Glenn Campbell, Hank Snow, and numerous musical groups including “that little band from Texas,” ZZ Top.

Nudie with The King in “the Suit” (source)

Nudie died in 1984; the store (which remained open under the management of his daughter) closed in 1994.  But his work remained prized–  Porter Waggoner reckoned, just before he died in 2007, that he had 52 Nudie Suits, costing between $11,000 and $18,000 each (and worth by then much, much more).

And Nudie’s legacy remains strong.  His glittering garments were a bright stab at the conformity of their times… and set the precedent (if they didn’t in fact lay the foundation) for the Culture of Bling that has erupted out of Rap and Hip Hop into life-at-large.

For more wonderful photos of Nudie, his creations, and his cars visit Nudie (“the official site”) and check out the wonderful pictorial essay at The Selvedge Yard.

As we smile at the irony of a clothier named “Nudie,” we might wish a tuneful Happy Birthday to James Henry Neel Reed, better known simply as Henry Reed; he was born on this date 1884, in the Appalachian Mountains of Monroe County, West Virginia.  Reed was a master fiddler, banjoist, and harmonica player whose repertoire consisted of hundreds of tunes, performed in several different styles.  But beyond his importance as a performer, he became, in effect, the Ur Source for academic research into the history of U.S. fiddle music.  (Learn more about Reed, and hear him play, at the Library of Congress’ Henry Reed Collection.)

Henry Reed (in street clothes), 1967 (source)

Lest we forget…

As we round the turn into 2010, it’s natural enough to sneak a peak back.  In the spirit of Michael Hughes (whom readers may recall), Jason Powell has created “Looking into the Past,” a Flickr pool devoted to collages that combine old photos of locations, buildings, and people with those of their present day realities.

Photo: Jason Powell, via Ed Hunsinger, via Laughing Squid

See the whole collection.  And see highlights curated by Ed Hunsinger (to whom, ToTH), Paulo Canabarro, or Wired UK.

As we contemplate the space-time continuum, we might raise a toast to a pioneer of a different sort of exploration:  Jacob Grimm, German folklorist and philologist, the elder half of the Brothers Grimm (with his brother, Wilhelm); Jacob was born on this date in 1785.

Jacob Grimm

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