Whitesburg KY

People believe and do some odd things

Did you ever notice the odd things people believe and do? Some people have had the belief for years that it is bad luck if a black cat crosses their path. A body could take a white cat and dye its fur black and it would have the same superstitious effect even though the black cat was a mere imitation. Many innocent cats have lost their lives due to this sort of belief because people will deliberately try to kill them with their automobile.

Another superstition is about mirrors. It seems that the belief is that if a body breaks a mirror they will surely have seven years of bad luck. A lot of people believe this to be a fact. If you deliberately break a mirror near one who has the belief, they will literally go into fits because this superstition is passed down from one generation to another. It is instilled in people so deeply there is no amount of persuasion which will remove it. If I had inherited seven years of bad luck for every mirror I have broken I would have to live 200 years at least to use up all of my bad luck years.

I remember as a young towhead hearing that if you had a milk cow it would give bloody milk if you deliberately killed a toad. I remember seeing my brother and another lad kill a toad with a pocketknife. We had a milk cow at the time and I surely dreaded to see milking time come that evening. The cow didn’t give any bloody milk after all my worries, so I discounted that belief at a very early age.

Another odd belief is that if a cat – no matter what color – gets near a child in his crib or bassinet, it will take that child’s breath away. I have seen cats sleep with youngsters and they appeared perfectly healthy to me.

Then there is the one about the black snake. The belief is that a black snake will coil around a human and kill him. For one thing, a black snake is a constrictor. It kills by suffocating its prey, but it intends to swallow whatever it kills. They are not stupid – ugly, yes, but not stupid. They know what they can swallow and what they can’t. They won’t waste their time and energy killing something they can’t even swallow.

Another superstition I heard quite a lot about as a youngster is about the lowly terrapin or box turtle. It seems if one bit you it wouldn’t turn loose till it thundered. A terrapin is a vegetarian to begin with, and a finger is definitely not a vegetable or other plant. I have tried to get them to bite my fingers many times and all they would do is pull their head back inside their shell. So much for that belief.

On the other hand, the ugly old snapping turtle is an entirely different story. They can and will take a finger off as neat as a razor blade if they can reach it.

I was taught all my life that a snake wouldn’t stay around oil and grease. My late brother discounted that belief one day. He had a vehicle in his garage he needed to work on. He slid under it on his back and when he rolled over on his side to work on it, there was a big copperhead coiled up and ready to strike him in the face. But it didn’t get the change. He said that he remodeled the whole exhaust system getting out from under that vehicle.

Now on a different note, my brother was on the front bumper of an old truck with his head under the hood. It started moving and he thought he was getting dizzy, so he held on for dear life. When it passed a tree, he knew he was in trouble. He bailed off just before it hit the corner of the house, scaring his wife half to death.

And did you ever notice how much more pressure you apply to the brakes when at a crossing waiting for a train to go by because you think your vehicle is moving also? Yes, people are odd and sometimes comical.

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