ILMASSAC-L ArchivesArchiver > ILMASSAC > 2004-12 > 1103501463
From: Bill <>
Subject: Little Egypt Heritage, 19 December 2004, Vol 3 #39
Date: Sun, 19 Dec 2004 19:11:03 -0500
Little Egypt Heritage Articles
Stories of Southern Illinois
© Bill Oliver
19 December 2004
Vol 3 Issue: #39
Osiyo, Good Evening Ladies and Gentlemen of Little Egypt,
My Dad was a people person. Mom was a strong family person. And, me,
their only living son, am a mix. My remaining daughter tells me that I
can work a crowd much like my Dad. She never new my Mother. Mom died of
lymph cancer forty two years ago. Mom “ordered” me to study my heritage
and learn who I was.
There have been many brick walls along the way and my mind has felt numb
most of these past forty two years. For a long while the history of my
wife’s family was easier than my own. However, “my side” has gained much
ground these past half dozen years.
During this time it became painfully evident that close relatives were
never asked all the “right” questions for me to pass along to the
younger generations. Suddenly in the past year there is mighty few of an
older generation left to tell me their stories. If their stories weren’t
written down then there would be no one to know them or how they lived.
The best of my parents created an offspring who now must write their
heritage as “second hand” knowledge and/or childhood memories. These
historical tales should be passed to our children, grandchildren and
Grandpa Oliver and one of his brothers worked as operators for the
Cincinnati Streetcar Company in the early years of the twentieth
century. Cincinnati was certainly not as large as it is today. One acted
as conductor while the other drove the car. Young mischievous tads would
play Halloween tricks by stretching a strong line across the street,
then wait around fo the rope to snag a trolley as the unsuspecting
driver piloted the car down the street. If the streetcar would jump the
tracks the trick be considered successful and the young hooligans would
boast of the prank for a long time.
The weather outside is finally turning to winter with temperatures below
freezing. Winters have changed some though. Early signs of winter could
be foretold by winged formations of ducks and geese flying south. We’ve
had mild winters for so long that these migratory birds seem to fly in
huge circles. At least one sees them flying north on alternate days, as
well as, south.
Has your horse put on a “heavy” coat? A heavy coat was another indicator
that a long cold winter was ahead. Have you noticed the position, or
elevation, of your local hornet’s nest? The height a hornet’s nest is a
barometer as to how long and cold a winter will be.
How about your apple skins, or the corn husks?? Though apple skins and
thick tight husks indicate cold weather ahead. Burrrrrrrrr....
When we were children we were taught wooly worms would forecast the
weather by their color. There were problems with this though, for each
adult would tell us a different color to watch for.
Young cads supposedly would play Halloween tricks by stretching a strong
rope across a street, then waiting for the rope to snag a trolley as the
unsuspecting conductor piloted the car down the street. If the hooligans
were successful, the trolley would jump the tracks and the youths would
have scored a successful Halloween prank.
An oral tradition is a statement, belief, legend, or custom that is
handed down from generation to generation by word of mouth. This type of
folklore that our forefathers used before there were thermometers,
barometers and the ever popular Doppler radar is very enjoyable.
Grandma Lester had the best weather forecasting instrument and it was
sure fire accurate. She called it her “weather horse” and it sat outside
the kitchen window. If the horse was:
Dry there was fair weather;
If Wet – it was raining;
If White, it was snowing;
and, if it was gone – there was a tornado.
The very best of the season to each of you.
e-la-di-e-das-di ha-wi nv-wa-do-hi-ya nv-wa-to-hi-ya-da.
(May you walk in peace and harmony)
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