Monday, October 10, 2011

A HALLOWEEN HODGEPODGE! One of my favourite books as a kid was "The Hodgepodge Book" (1972) by Duncan Emrich with great illustrations by Ib Ohlsson published by Four Winds Press of New York (sadly out of print). As the subtitle explains, The Hodgepodge Book is "an almanac of American folklore. . . containing all manner of curious, interesting, and out-of-the-way information drawn from American folklore, and not to be found anywhere else in the world; as well as jokes, conundrums, riddles, puzzles, and other matter designed to amuse and entertain; all of it instructive and delightful." Phew! That's tellin' 'em! As the book focuses on each and every holiday, I thought I'd provide you with what the book says about Halloween - and since I can't find any Ib Ohlssen illustrations on the lousy internet, I thought I'd populate this post with some exquisite Halloween postcards from the Victorian era and the turn of the 20th century by the premiere postcard maker of the time: Tucks. All of these postcards are in the collection of my cousin Loran as well as a few which yours truly has managed to glom onto over the years. They perfectly evoke the era and the feel of the folklore which abounds in "The Hodgepodge Book"; especially the ones with the kiddies running around bobbing for apples and playing pranks. So let's get on with the Halloween Hodgepodge:
I'm going to town to smoke my pipe,
I won't be back until Saturday night --
Be sure and don't let the witch in!
Witches can only come out at midnight and they must be gone by the time the first morning star appears.
Witches are very curious, and they stop to count everything. You can protect yourself from witches by placing a broom or a bowl of salt outside your door. The witch will stop to count the straws in the broom and the grains of salt in the bowl. Before she can finish counting them, the morning star will appear, and then she will have to leave. You can also sleep with a sieve over your face. The witch will try to count all the holes in the sieve, but she will be unable to. (Just try it yourself sometime!)
Another very good way to keep witches at a distance is to hang a horseshoe over the door of your house or room. Witches cannot enter a house where there is a horseshoe, because before doing so they must travel every bit of the road that the horseshoe has traveled. This takes time, and the morning star will be palely shining just before dawn, and the witch will have to go.
Witches do not like the color blue because it is the color of the heavens. If you wear a blue bracelet or a blue bead, a witch cannot get you. If you paint your windowsill blue, a witch cannot come into your room.
If you carry a penny in your pocket or wear a new dime in each shoe, witches can't harm you.
Witches have fun on Halloween.
Always crush eggshells. The only way a witch can cross water is in an eggshell. When you have finished eating a soft-boiled egg out of the shell, push your spoon through the bottom of the shell and say, "Save a shipwreck!" If you do not do this, a witch may ride in the shell and cause a shipwreck.
Hippity pippity trae me trow,
I went to the river to wash my toe,
But when I got there my chicken was dead:
Hey, biddy, jing shang, snake root, poke
root, lil, oppy, dill, dock, penny royal tea!
(The last words are the names of herbs, plants, and roots which evil spirits cannot abide. Some of the words are misspelled: jing shang probably stands for ginseng and oppy may be poppy. But that is the way rhymes are passed on from one person to another - by the sound and meaning, not necessarily by the spelling. The evil spirits understand the meaning! And they move!
A ghost is never seen without mittens. (Ask anyone if they have ever seen a ghost without mittens).
Ghosts travel in a mantle of warm air. You sometimes feel a sudden warmth in the temperature while walking or riding in the country on a cool summer evening. This whiff of warm air that passes over you is the ghost traveling in its protective mantle.
If you count nine stars and nine bricks, and then look into a dark room, you will see a ghost.
A horse can see ghosts, and dogs with seven toes can see them.
People born at night never see ghosts.
If you count seven stars, and then count seven alleys, in the seventh alley you will see a ghost.
Ghosts vanish at cock crow
For today's Halloweenie Comic Book Cover of the Day we have SCARY TALES #42 with Ditko doin' that Ditko thang!


wellyousaythat© said...

Loving The DITKO

Cerpts said...

Don't we all!!! :)

KateGladstone said...

"Oppy, dill, dock" is probably the Renaissance-era medicinal compound called "opodeldoc."