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Term Paper



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folklore, superstitions, folk sayings, luck, itching, freckles, hair, warts, Ethel McNelic, Dorothy Echert, Raymond Krushinski


A handwritten, untitled term paper completed at Franklin and Marshall College by Raymond J. Krushinski, dating from circa 1950. Within, Krushinski provides his findings from speaking with two women named Ethel McNelic and Dorothy Echert of Lancaster, Pennsylvania about folk sayings, beliefs and folk medicine.

Corresponds to:

Packet 596


Lancaster, Pennsylvania


Raymond J. Krushinski


Term Report

An actual interview with Mrs. Ethel McNelic and Miss Dorothy Echert

Interviewer: Raymond J. Krushinski for term report in Folklore II.


Mrs. Ethel McNelic

age 53, grade school education, employment- housemother in nurses home. Married, three sons, husband dead. Very able conversationalist.

Miss Dorothy Echert

age 40, high school education, employed at local department store, one of eleven children, address 648 So. Lime St. Lancaster, Pa.

Place of interview- Home of interviewer,

648 Ocean Ave Lanc. Pa. Dinner given by Mrs. Raymond Krushinski for the purpose of getting material for report.

Folk Sayings and Beliefs

Good and Bad Luck

Miss Echert: Carry a four leaf clover or a rabbit's foot is good luck. Mrs. McNelic agreed, and added that when you get up in the morning always put your right foot on the floor first and you will have good luck.

Miss Echert: It is bad luck if while you are walking with someone to let a pole or tree come between you. And don’t kill an ant or it'll rain, if you can call that bad luck. Mrs. McNelic: She said it is bad luck to kill a spider but didn’t say why, also it is bad luck to sew on Sundays.

If your nose itches you will be kissed- both women agreed on this one. Miss Echert added- if your nose itches you might also get a letter or something better.

Mrs. McNelic added- Well if your right ear burns someone is speaking evil about you.

Miss Echert said “No, if the left ear itches someone is speaking evil and if it’s the right ear someone is speaking good of you.”

Mrs. McNelic laughed when she started telling about a hand that itches. She said “if your hand itches rub it on wood and it will be good, rub it on your ass and it will come to pass”. Miss Echert said that when your right hand itches you will get some money.

On the subject of hair both agreed that a person who is red headed is either very bright or very dumb.

Mrs. McNelic said that a person will become gray at an early age if he is weaned while snow is on the ground. Miss Echert said she didn’t know anything about that.

On the subject of freckles Mrs. McNelic said if a person has freckles just wash their face with a wet baby diaper. She said not one wet from washing either.

Miss Echert- If you have freckles you can get rid of them by washing your face with dew early in the morning. She said she knows this worked because she did it herself, she said they left her face and appeared on her arms. On this point I asked her why she didn’t wash her arms in the same manner. Her reason was that she was afraid they would appear on her face again.

The only explanations for the freckles were that if it rains on a baby before it is a year old they will have them. Both women agreed on this and Miss Echert said if you let a baby get a sunburn the first summer after it is born it will have freckles.

Both women agreed that the babies that are born in the winter months will be more intelligent than those born in the hot weather.

Mrs. McNelic said that if you kiss a baby on the mouth before it has teeth it will teethe hard. Miss Erchert said “a baby who gets a lot of kisses in early life will get very few when he grows up”. Also a baby born on the 13th of the month will be unlucky.

Mrs. McNelic said if you want to play a dirty trick on a newly wedded couple you should take a newly born baby to their house before you take it anyplace else, then the newly married couple will soon have a child of their own.

A child growth will be stunted if you step over him while he is lying on the floor, also if the child crawls through a man’s legs. Both women agreed on this.

Mrs. McNelic added that if you don’t want a child to be left handed he should be nursed the first time on the right breast.

At this point Miss Echert took notice to my son whistling and she said it reminded her of when she went to school, she had to pass the home of an old lady and one day she was whistling while she was walking by the house. The old lady was at the door and she called to Miss Echert and she shouldn't whistle because it was bad luck, she said “Whistling girls and crowing hens come to a bad end.”

Mrs. McNelic said she remembered a saying for a young bride. For good luck in marriage a bride should wear something old and something new, something borrowed and something blue on her wedding day.

Folk Medicine

How to remove freckles- Early in the morning wash your face with dew from the grass, also by washing your face with the dew from a tombstone. Both women agreed on this.

How can you remove warts- Miss Echert said, “Just rub the wart with a potato and put it under a rain spout.” Mrs. McNelic said, “Rub the wart on a corpse and when the corpse decays the wart will go away”


1 Do you know of any saying that has to do with good or bad luck?

2 Do you know any sayings about different parts of the body- such as if your nose itches you are going to be kissed or something?

3 How about when your hand itches?

4 Do you know any sayings about hair?

5 Do you know any sayings about freckles on a person’s face?

6 Now we know how to get rid of freckles but do you know how you got them in the first place?

7 While we’re on the subject of babies do you know any sayings about them?

8 Do you know anything about the babies growth?

Time passed so rapidly as we talked that the women were sorry they couldn’t stay any longer but promised to visit again.




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Folklore Term Report



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