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Folklore: Odd custom in 'Meet Me in St. Louis'

Cool Beans 17 Dec 07 - 10:38 AM
Sean Belt 17 Dec 07 - 02:18 PM
catspaw49 17 Dec 07 - 02:42 PM
SINSULL 17 Dec 07 - 02:55 PM
Lonesome EJ 17 Dec 07 - 03:02 PM
GUEST,Jim Dixon 17 Dec 07 - 03:08 PM
catspaw49 17 Dec 07 - 03:22 PM
Melissa 17 Dec 07 - 03:38 PM
SINSULL 17 Dec 07 - 03:47 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 17 Dec 07 - 03:58 PM
Azizi 17 Dec 07 - 04:17 PM
Azizi 17 Dec 07 - 04:21 PM
PoppaGator 17 Dec 07 - 04:38 PM
SINSULL 17 Dec 07 - 04:58 PM
frogprince 17 Dec 07 - 04:59 PM
SINSULL 17 Dec 07 - 05:00 PM
catspaw49 17 Dec 07 - 05:02 PM
DonD 17 Dec 07 - 05:08 PM
Cool Beans 17 Dec 07 - 05:15 PM
Melissa 17 Dec 07 - 05:23 PM
McGrath of Harlow 17 Dec 07 - 05:39 PM
Lonesome EJ 17 Dec 07 - 05:51 PM
PoppaGator 17 Dec 07 - 06:03 PM
catspaw49 17 Dec 07 - 06:12 PM
Jim Dixon 17 Dec 07 - 06:48 PM
Bill D 17 Dec 07 - 07:02 PM
Lonesome EJ 17 Dec 07 - 07:08 PM
bobad 17 Dec 07 - 07:29 PM
Uncle_DaveO 17 Dec 07 - 07:35 PM
Lonesome EJ 17 Dec 07 - 07:46 PM
catspaw49 17 Dec 07 - 08:20 PM
Joe_F 17 Dec 07 - 08:30 PM
Bob the Postman 17 Dec 07 - 08:51 PM
Bob the Postman 17 Dec 07 - 08:53 PM
Azizi 17 Dec 07 - 09:17 PM
Azizi 17 Dec 07 - 10:03 PM
Snuffy 18 Dec 07 - 09:19 AM
JJ 18 Dec 07 - 09:34 AM
Genie 18 Dec 07 - 06:21 PM
Cool Beans 18 Dec 07 - 07:34 PM
GUEST,.gargoyle 18 Dec 07 - 07:59 PM
GUEST,Bobby Bob, Ellan Vannin 19 Dec 07 - 06:53 AM
manitas_at_work 19 Dec 07 - 07:43 AM
Jim Dixon 19 Dec 07 - 08:05 AM
Jim Dixon 19 Dec 07 - 08:24 AM
manitas_at_work 19 Dec 07 - 09:47 AM
Jim Dixon 19 Dec 07 - 08:41 PM
GUEST,.gargoyle 19 Dec 07 - 09:55 PM
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Subject: Folklore: Odd custom in 'Meet Me in St. Louis'
From: Cool Beans
Date: 17 Dec 07 - 10:38 AM

In "Meet Me in St. Louis" (made in 1944, set in 1903) there's a Halloween scene where kids in costumes and masks go knocking on doors and, when folks answer,say "I hate you" and thorwo flous in their faces. And the folks who answer the doors just smile, as if it's expected.
    Was that a real custom? What's the story behind it?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Odd custom in 'Meet Me in St. Louis'
From: Sean Belt
Date: 17 Dec 07 - 02:18 PM

I've lived in St. Louis since 1955 and have never heard of this. Of course, I've also never seen the movie.

We do have a tradition that I understand is peculiar to St. Louis, though. When kids show up at the door on Halloween, we make them do a trick of some kind; sing a song, tell a joke, whatever to get their treat. I always thought that was pretty universal, but the last few years folks have told me that it only happens around here.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Odd custom in 'Meet Me in St. Louis'
From: catspaw49
Date: 17 Dec 07 - 02:42 PM

Folks are bullshittin' you. Although it was a custom all over back 50 years ago, it has gone the way of the Dodo and Joe Offer's sex life. However there are still places where the custom is observed as I happen to live in one in Ohio. But this is a real throwback little village. Its not trying to resurrect the past, it just is about still 50 years behind in many ways.{;<)) We only have about a dozen streets maybe 5 blocks long by 4 blocks wide but we get about 350 kids every Halloween.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Odd custom in 'Meet Me in St. Louis'
From: SINSULL
Date: 17 Dec 07 - 02:55 PM

I give up - what is "flous"?
In NYC on Halloween we threw eggs and shaving cream in place of knives.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Odd custom in 'Meet Me in St. Louis'
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 17 Dec 07 - 03:02 PM

I don't think anybody should use Halloween as an excuse to thorwos flous.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Odd custom in 'Meet Me in St. Louis'
From: GUEST,Jim Dixon
Date: 17 Dec 07 - 03:08 PM

I grew up in St. Louis, too, and have never encountered the flour/"I hate you" thing. I have seen parts of the film on TV but probably not the whole thing; I don't remember that scene. I did see a production of "Meet Me in St. Louis" at the Muny Opera many years ago, and I don't remember ANY Halloween scene.

The most annoying thing about the play/movie is that a lot of non-St. Louisans assume that the name of the city is normally pronounced "St. Louie" because of that song.

I do remember the custom of kids doing some kind of "trick" to get their "treat", but I think the custom was dying out because not everybody who gave out candy demanded a performance. Naturally, as kids, we didn't WANT to perform, if we could get the candy without it. And most adults would allow you to skip it and give you the candy anyway. Let's face it: would YOU want to spend an evening listening to 50 knock-knock jokes?

St. Louis does (or did) have its peculiarities. For instance, the word "cock" meant a woman's organ. And the word "fart" was pronounced "fort"--at least that's the way I learned it.

In those days, you never heard those words in movies, and adults never used those words around kids, so there was no way to know that your usage was different from the rest of the world's.

I wonder if that has changed, since I was a kid?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Odd custom in 'Meet Me in St. Louis'
From: catspaw49
Date: 17 Dec 07 - 03:22 PM

yeah....and y'all toasted ravioli. An interesting variant........

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Odd custom in 'Meet Me in St. Louis'
From: Melissa
Date: 17 Dec 07 - 03:38 PM

it has absolutely nothing to do with the topic at hand...but thinking of "cock" (how unladylike of me!) made me think about "squaw"

The word was originally used in reference to a male organ.
I could tie my comment to the thread by saying that the term was used by traders..who probably would have set out from St Louis..but sometimes random comments are better left alone to be quietly disregarded.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Odd custom in 'Meet Me in St. Louis'
From: SINSULL
Date: 17 Dec 07 - 03:47 PM

Squaw was used to refer to a male organ????

Every year I get some over 20 trick-or-treaters, burly and aggressive, who refuse to say trick-or-treat. I wouldn't dare aske for a trick or a joke - it would liely be on me.
Just give them their candy and send them away.

There is an Indian holiday when young Indian children throw colored powder on each other and anyone who happens to get in the way. I have seen it done in NYC.

Brazilian Soccar fans drive around Jackson Heights hanging out of cars or on top with 100# bags of flour which they dump all avover the street. Go figure.

it is a very slow day at work...


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Odd custom in 'Meet Me in St. Louis'
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 17 Dec 07 - 03:58 PM

Can't find 'squaw' used in reference to a penis in my slang references.
The word 'squaw' comes from ussqua, squa, the word for woman in the Narraganset (Massachuset) language. Reported in 1634, W. Wood, "New England's Prospects," and other 17th c. writings.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Odd custom in 'Meet Me in St. Louis'
From: Azizi
Date: 17 Dec 07 - 04:17 PM

Sinsull, when you wrote that Indian children throw colored powder, I'm wondering which "Indian" you meant, people from India or Native American? I believe that the color "red" has a very favorable meaning with both of these populations.

Re: "Brazilian Soccar fans drive around Jackson Heights hanging out of cars or on top with 100# bags of flour which they dump all avover the street"- processed flour is usually the color "white". I think this custom originates in the Akan [Ghana, The Ivory Coast, West Africa] and probably other West African nations' consideration of the color "white" as a symbol of spirituality [perhaps because of ashes purified by fire].


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Odd custom in 'Meet Me in St. Louis'
From: Azizi
Date: 17 Dec 07 - 04:21 PM

I should have noted in my previous post that I believe that Brazil has the largest population of people who descend from Africa than any other non-Africa nation in the world.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Odd custom in 'Meet Me in St. Louis'
From: PoppaGator
Date: 17 Dec 07 - 04:38 PM

In my own experience, the use of the word "cock" to refer to the female rather than the male reproductive organ is something I heard from African-American males in the Army at Fort Dix, NJ, aoround 1972-73. These were guys from various different areas, but all within the northeastern US.

As far as throwing flour is concerned:

I have read in several different sources that this was a feature of the earliest Mardi Gras parades in New Orleans (i.e., just after the Civil War). Before float riders began throwing beads and trinkets to the assembled crowds, they would throw flour. I believe this was a basically contemptuous gesture, but people literally stood still for it ~ I suppose their desire to see the parade, even to see it up close, was stronger than any desire not to be showered with flour.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Odd custom in 'Meet Me in St. Louis'
From: SINSULL
Date: 17 Dec 07 - 04:58 PM

India Indians, Azizi. When i have time I will look up the festival.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Odd custom in 'Meet Me in St. Louis'
From: frogprince
Date: 17 Dec 07 - 04:59 PM

Where's a French language expert? I first heard "cock" for the female thingy from white southern guys while in the Navy. Since then I've heard it live just once, from a French guy. I heard years ago that the play title "Oh Calcutta" was a pun on a French phrase that translates something like "What a nice ass you have", but I don't remember the actual French.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Odd custom in 'Meet Me in St. Louis'
From: SINSULL
Date: 17 Dec 07 - 05:00 PM

Here you go:
http://www.ur.umich.edu/9798/Apr15_98/holi.htm
The festival is "Holi", a Hindu tradition.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Odd custom in 'Meet Me in St. Louis'
From: catspaw49
Date: 17 Dec 07 - 05:02 PM

"In my own experience, the use of the word "cock" to refer to the female rather than the male reproductive organ is something I heard from African-American males in the Army at Fort Dix, NJ, aoround 1972-73. These were guys from various different areas, but all within the northeastern US."

Well, anyone at Fort Dix oughta' be an expert..................

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Odd custom in 'Meet Me in St. Louis'
From: DonD
Date: 17 Dec 07 - 05:08 PM

You just brought back the memory of my childood in The Bronx. Halloween was rarely an occasion to Trick or Treat for candy. I can't remember going door-to-door. What we did do was 'molest' each other in the streets after dark; bedtime was later than usual that night with a corresponding permission to be out roving the neighborhood into the evening.

The weapons of choice were sticks of sidewalk chalk to mark each other's clothes, and better than that, a sock filled with flour and knotted, to be used as a flail. When swung and smacked against a friend or rival's coat it left a gratifying large white mark and a cloud of dust. Rather than costumes or disguises, the apparel of choice was the oldest coat or sweater one had, with the expectation that it would end up the worse for wear that night.

We were about ten to twelve back in the late 30's. The Depression was still affecting our lives, and I suspect the half cup of flour we begged from our mothers was a meaningful sacrifice.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Odd custom in 'Meet Me in St. Louis'
From: Cool Beans
Date: 17 Dec 07 - 05:15 PM

In the movie the kids carried little paper bags of flour. Also, there's a scene where a little girl (Margaret O'Brien) is riding with the ice man (Chill Wills) in his horse-drawn wagon and they discuss the correct pronunciation of "St. Louis." One says Lewis, the other Louie, I forget which. Ironically, Chill Wills went on to play the voice of TV's talking horse, Mr. Ed.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Odd custom in 'Meet Me in St. Louis'
From: Melissa
Date: 17 Dec 07 - 05:23 PM

It was a term used by traders, Q.
It's in journals from the era.

Do you really think native american women would be offended by being called "women"??

I just thought it was an interesting thing to be able to chirp into the conversation, but naturally a reference book covering a broad topic would be more likely to be right than anything I could have learned from other sources in 30+ years of learning a specific era.

My mistake.
I won't let it happen again.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Odd custom in 'Meet Me in St. Louis'
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 17 Dec 07 - 05:39 PM

Throwing coloured powder or coloured water around is part of the Indian (real India) feast of Holi in the spring - I don't think it's seen as a trick, or as a way of bullying people into giving a treat, just as a fun thing to do. Here's more about it.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Odd custom in 'Meet Me in St. Louis'
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 17 Dec 07 - 05:51 PM

Local St Louisans (?) have a very specific pronunciation for the city, neither "Saint Looie" or "Saint Loois". It's more like "Saint Lus".
Other St Louis cuisine besides toasted raviolis, Spaw : Concretes (like Ice Cream but better, Ted Drew's is best), Ghetto Chop Suey, and thin crust Pizza (Imo's).


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Odd custom in 'Meet Me in St. Louis'
From: PoppaGator
Date: 17 Dec 07 - 06:03 PM

Leej ~ more details on those local delicacies, please. I need to know more about "concretes," for sure, and wouldn't mind a rundown on the ingtredients of Ghetto Chop Suey.

Thin Crusyt Pizza I can visualize on my own...


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Odd custom in 'Meet Me in St. Louis'
From: catspaw49
Date: 17 Dec 07 - 06:12 PM

Yeah...KAren's originally from St. Louis and most relatives were there when we got married so..............What was the fav Dago restaurant? Mama Campisi's.....Karen was nuts for it. I think its gone now. Great zoo and Shaw's Gardens.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Odd custom in 'Meet Me in St. Louis'
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 17 Dec 07 - 06:48 PM

Another peculiarity about St. Louis is that the word "suburbs" is never used. In St. Louis, you either live in "the city" or "the county" (or in Illinois). St. Louis County is a county that surrounds the city on 3 sides, more or less, but doesn't include it. (The 4th side being the Mississippi River, and across it, Illinois.) The city of St. Louis performs all the functions of a county, but it isn't called a county, and it isn't part of any county. It's written into the Missouri state constitution that way.

It's awkward when you have to fill out a form for the Feds or for another state—as I did when, I think, I applied for a marriage license in Minnesota—and they ask you what city, county, and state you were born in. Under "county" you have to write "none." Clerks usually don't believe you when you do that. So they treat you as some ignoramus who doesn't know what county you were born in. They're used to that, so they go and look it up, and then they say, "Son of a gun! You're right!"


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Odd custom in 'Meet Me in St. Louis'
From: Bill D
Date: 17 Dec 07 - 07:02 PM

They can't be a county because Los Angeles is BOTH. Uses up the term.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Odd custom in 'Meet Me in St. Louis'
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 17 Dec 07 - 07:08 PM

Here is some info on the famous St Louis Concrete, Ted Drewes' style.

I lived in St Louis in 2004 and 2005, and was curious to see the abundance of ramshackle Chop Suey shops in the black urban neighborhoods. These have names like Soong Lee's Chop Suey, or Kingshighway Chop Sooey, and are run as one or two-man operations by asian cooks who serve mainly black clientele. From what I understand, the Chop Suey dish they serve has very little in common with what others know as Chinese Food. The chop suey is a kind of fried cake composed of rice, egg, and bean sprouts, and is usually served on a bun like a burger. I have heard that the tradition began during St Louis' steamboat years, when asians made a living feeding this quick-cooked, filling meal to hungry river dock workers.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Odd custom in 'Meet Me in St. Louis'
From: bobad
Date: 17 Dec 07 - 07:29 PM

"I heard years ago that the play title "Oh Calcutta" was a pun on a French phrase that translates something like "What a nice ass you have", but I don't remember the actual French."

In French it would be something like: "Quelle queue que t'as"


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Odd custom in 'Meet Me in St. Louis'
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 17 Dec 07 - 07:35 PM

Jim Dixon said, in part:

I do remember the custom of kids doing some kind of "trick" to get their "treat", but I think the custom was dying out because not everybody who gave out candy demanded a performance.

Since my alleged childhood (the Hallowe'en-relevant part, sixty-five to seventy-years ago) I have never understood Hallowe'en goodies to be a reward or payment for a performance.

"Trick or treat" is (or was in my kidhood) a variety of extortion. "I'm going to do some vandalism if you don't buy me off with candy!"

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Odd custom in 'Meet Me in St. Louis'
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 17 Dec 07 - 07:46 PM

I'm with you, Uncle Dave. When I was a young Trickortreater dressed as Peter Pan or something equally cute, I said "trick or treat" as a matter of formality because that was customary. In my twilight trickortreating years, when I was 12 and 13 and dressed as a bum or Frankenstein, I relished the houses with their porch lights off as an opportunity to play a trick. I became a Jack O'Lantern smasher extraordinaire!
I remember returning late one Halloween, my hands reeking of smashed pumpkin, the fever of trickery still heavy upon me, only to find my Mom's jack o'lantern still shining on the front porch. Unable to control myself, I ran into the street in front of our house and dashed it on the asphalt. Oh, what remorse I felt the next day when my Mom, in a sweet injured voice, said "I gave out candy all night long, and somebody smashed my pumpkin."
I never told her the horrible truth.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Odd custom in 'Meet Me in St. Louis'
From: catspaw49
Date: 17 Dec 07 - 08:20 PM

Soaping windows was a time honored practice that seems to have gone the way of Joe Offer's sex life as well. We also made "Window Rattlers" out of thread spools and nails in Cub Scouts which sort of "legitimatized their use."

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Odd custom in 'Meet Me in St. Louis'
From: Joe_F
Date: 17 Dec 07 - 08:30 PM

Blackest man in de whole St. Louis.
Blacker de berry, sweeter is the juice. -- W. C. Handy


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Odd custom in 'Meet Me in St. Louis'
From: Bob the Postman
Date: 17 Dec 07 - 08:51 PM

Oh Calcutta = oh, quel cul t'as. I think. The pun does work with queue, but not as elegantly. cul = bum   queue = tail

In Portugal at the Carnaval (Mardi Gras) festivities, people throw eggs, flour, and coloured powder at one another. People who want to play (teen-agers, basically) signal their readiness by dressing appropriately, for example in cover-alls and head-scarf. Also, at this time of year, hooligans drive around hurling water-balloons at pedestrians, extra points for nailing a tourist.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Odd custom in 'Meet Me in St. Louis'
From: Bob the Postman
Date: 17 Dec 07 - 08:53 PM

Meant to say, this custom may have been imported from Brazil. There's a lot of Brazilian stuff in your Portugese Carnaval parade, like samba drum corps music and dance.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Odd custom in 'Meet Me in St. Louis'
From: Azizi
Date: 17 Dec 07 - 09:17 PM

It's interesting to learn where these customs are done, and also interesting to speculate about why they were first done. Nowadays throwing eggs, flour, water ballons, and/or red powder might be done just for fun or for mischevious purposes. But I'm inclined to think that all of these items had a spiritual {appeasing the gods, spirits, or ancestors? or good luck?} or fertility meaning.

Eggs,water, and the color red {blood} certainly are associated with life and fertility. With regard to flour, again, let me point to the white color of processed flour and suggest that flour is a substitute for ashes.

Here's an excerpt from an online article that provides information about the color symbolism of Akan kente cloth:

"RED is associated with blood, sacrificial rites and the shedding of blood. Red-eyed mood means a sense of seriousness, readiness for a serious spiritual or political encounter. Red is therefore used as a symbol of heightened spiritual and political mood, sacrifice and struggle

WHITE derives its symbolism from the white part of the egg and from white clay used in spiritual purification, healing, sanctification rites and festive occasions. In some situations it symbolizes contact with ancestral spirits, deities and other unknown spiritual entities such as ghosts. it is used in combination with black, green or yellow to express notion, spirituality, vitality and balance.

GREY derives its symbolism from ash. Ash is used for healing and spiritual cleansing rituals to re-create spiritual balance when spiritual blemish has occurred. It is also used in rituals for protection against malevolent spirits. Grey is therefore associated with spiritual blemish but also with spiritual cleansing."

http://www.ukblackout.com/culture/kente-cloth.html

-snip-

I'm not suggesting that every custom associated with throwing eggs or flour in the Americas can from the traditional African cultures. However, I do believe that it's reasonable to assume that some of these customs came from traditional African cultures.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Odd custom in 'Meet Me in St. Louis'
From: Azizi
Date: 17 Dec 07 - 10:03 PM

Correction:

I'm not suggesting that every custom associated with throwing eggs or flour in the Americas came from the traditional African cultures.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Odd custom in 'Meet Me in St. Louis'
From: Snuffy
Date: 18 Dec 07 - 09:19 AM

The use of "cock" as the female organ certainly wasn't a common term in northern England. As a kid in the 50s I only ever heard it in the rhyme, and was confused at the thought of a woman having a cock:

Put a penny in the slot
See what Betty Grable's got
Two big tits and a hairy cock
That's what Betty Grable's got

Presumably brought to Britain by US servicemen


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Odd custom in 'Meet Me in St. Louis'
From: JJ
Date: 18 Dec 07 - 09:34 AM

Chill Wills wasn't the voice of Mr. Ed. That was Allan "Rocky" Lane.

The blurb on the back of the published script of OH! CALCUTTA! mentions that the title of the revue is "taken from the title of a painting by the French Surrealist pinter Clovis Trouille, which contains a phonetic French pun."

They then give the title, but as "Oh! Quelle blank-blank-blank t'as!"

They freely translate this as, "Oh! What a lovely blank-blank-blank you have!"

Wow, they were bold in 1969!

Clovis himself wrote, "The ass of Oh! Calcutta forms a perfect circle designed to suggest the conquest of the moon."

Oh, now I get it!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Odd custom in 'Meet Me in St. Louis'
From: Genie
Date: 18 Dec 07 - 06:21 PM

Hmmmm,
Are you guys sure the original tradition wasn't supposed to be throwing FLOWERS -- but someone somewhere along the line just couldn't spell?
; )

G


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Odd custom in 'Meet Me in St. Louis'
From: Cool Beans
Date: 18 Dec 07 - 07:34 PM

You're right, JJ. Chill Wills was the voice of Francis the Talking Mule. Right idea, wrong equine.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Odd custom in 'Meet Me in St. Louis'
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 18 Dec 07 - 07:59 PM

Follow the story line of the charactors. The prank was a "rite of passage" for the little girl.

The Halloween Handbook
By Ed Morrow
Published 2001, Citadel Press p 28.
"Halloween In America"

The 1944 film Meet Me in St. Louis,...contains a fine depiction of Halloween as celebrated in America in 1903. In it, a timid little girl, anxious to prove she is big enough for Halloween high jinks, sets our to "kill" a noted old grump. She rings the doorbell of the grump and, when he answers the door, she tosses flour into his face, shouting "I hate you" then running away. The little girl is lauded by the other children as the "most horrible" of them all, and she triumphantly joins in the building of an enormous bonfire.

Oddly, trick-or-treating wasn't a significant part of Halloween until the mid-twentieth century. According to folklorist Tad Tuleja, the phrase "trick-or treating" didn't even appear in the files dictionary publisher Merrian-Webster until 1941. The old customs of soliciting tributes door to door had faded. In America, the great bulk of the populace resided outside cities in small towns or in rural isolation. Door-to-door begging would require hours of work to make much of a haul. Pranks, on the other hand, were a more immediate source of fun. You could play several on one house and a few more on another and rill your evening. You could even reuse pranks and perfect them. In urban areas, people were often too poor to pass out tributes; those better off didn't want the poor bothering them. Pranking didn't require money.

Sincerely,
Gargoyle

GOOD BOOK - In Europe - it was cabbages left by lazy farmers - a smell CatSpew could relate to.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Odd custom in 'Meet Me in St. Louis'
From: GUEST,Bobby Bob, Ellan Vannin
Date: 19 Dec 07 - 06:53 AM

Apropos of a French pun in Oh Calcutta, I wouldn't discount 'queue' in favour of 'cul'. Using 'cul' puts an extra -l- in it, so it would become Oh Calculta. Shome mishtake shurely? Whereas 'queue' preserves the same syllables.

In 1919 Marcel Duchamp famously produced a copy of the Mona Lisa with a moustache, and at the bottom of it he wrote the letters -

L H O O Q

Pronounced in French, the sounds are the same as the French slang -

Elle a chaud au queue

meaning she's got the hots in her tail.


Lhiats,

Bobby Bob


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Odd custom in 'Meet Me in St. Louis'
From: manitas_at_work
Date: 19 Dec 07 - 07:43 AM

In Carnival held in Europe sometimes odd things are thrown. In Binche, Belgium they threw oranges and had specially dressed orange hurlers. The (former) wildness of the celebration gave rise to the word 'binge'. I believe there is a similar festival in Spain and one in Italy where tomatoes are thrown (softer than oranges unless tinned).

Liz and I went to Binche some years ago. The buldings around the main square where the celebations occur are boarded up or shuttered (actually closed shutters are quite common in Belgian homes) and the orange hurling was much diminished and limited to set periods when people were advised to get out of the way. An odd (to us) feature was that people congregated in huddles and moved about the square like amoeba sometimes swallowing other groups and sometimes fissioning. Many groups surrounded small bands but the overall effect was a strange silence.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Odd custom in 'Meet Me in St. Louis'
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 19 Dec 07 - 08:05 AM

I went searching for "throwing flour" with Google Book Search.

From Punch, 1850:
    DERBY DONKEYS.
    WE observed a large number of asses in returning from the Derby last week. They went principally with the vans—not between the shaft, however, but inside, and being viciously inclined, and too stupid to bandy verbal jokes, they amused themselves by throwing flour over gentlemen's clothes. We regret not having had an opportunity to dust their jackets in return.
From Travels and Adventures in Mexico by William W. Carpenter, 1851:
    At this time occurred the great celebration of the Carnival. They go round at night, breaking egg-shells on the heads of persons. These are filled with flour, and scented with Cologne, or rose water, or some other rich odor....

    This diversion is practiced several nights in succession, varied occasionally by throwing flour in persons' faces.
From Scenes in the South: And Other Miscellaneous Pieces By James R. Creecy, 1860:
    MARDIGRAS.
    SHROVE Tuesday is a day to be remembered by strangers in New Orleans, for that is the day for fun, frolic, and comic masquerading. All the mischief of the city is "alive and wide awake," and in active operation. Men and boys, women and girls, bond and free, white and black, yellow and brown, exert themselves to invent and appear in grotesque, quizzical, diabolical, horrible, humorous, strange, masks and disguises. Human bodies are seen with heads of beasts and birds; beasts and birds with human heads; demi-beasts, demi-fishes; snakes' heads and bodies with arms of apes; man-bats from the moon; mermaids, satyrs, beggars, monks, and robbers, parade and march on foot, on horseback, in wagons, carts, coaches, cars, &c., in rich confusion, up and down the streets, wildly shouting, singing, laughing, drumming, fiddling, fifeing, and all throwing flour broadcast as they wend their reckless way, regardless of the recipients' comfort, and careless of their eyes or clothes; laughing loudly at threatened punishment, and adroitly escaping all attempts at redress. Thus they ride and run, and dash and flash, and fling their flour about, to the delight, amusement, and astonishment of the great mass of spectators, malgre the liberal donations of hands full of flour constantly applied, right and left, which in clouds fall upon those within reach; for all the fraternity carry their pockets full.
From The Bromley Record and Monthly Advertiser Aug. 1, 1865. From an article called "West Kent Election":
    This exhibition was too ridiculous to be noticed by either party, and is only noticed here as the stupidest of all stupid election doings, the practice of throwing flour over people excepted. Men who can abuse plenty by wasting flour to the extent we complain of, could not be much pitied if they came to want it. There is an old adage frequently verified, viz., "Wilful waste brings woeful want," and one is irresistibly led to expect some national calamity, when waste, such as throwing flour about, becomes a national pastime, even if it is only for one day in a year, such as on the Derby day.
From Ethnological Results of the Point Barrow Expedition By John Murdoch, 1892:
    Lupton, in 1660, describes a "powder of the flowers [pollen?] of elder, gathered on a midsummer day," which was taken to restore lost youth. Brand, it may be as well to say, traces back the custom of throwing flour into the faces of women and others on the streets at Shrovetide, in Minorca and elsewhere, to the time of the Romans.
From Pictorial History of America's New Possessions By Murat Halstead, 1899:
    A dispatch from Havana February 28th said: "This afternoon the Prado and park were crowded with merrymakers, it being the last carnival Sunday. People wearing masks and throwing flour were everywhere...."
From The Picayune's Guide to New Orleans 1903:
    Mardi Gras was also a great day with the boys, who, clothed in dominoes, old calico dresses or bagging, masked themselves, and, armed with a stout hickory stick and a bag of flour, promenaded the streets, seeking for victims upon whom to exercise their mischievous spirit. Their depredations, however, were limited to such as wore the Carnival uniform, and consisted principally in throwing flour and confetti. The flour, confetti and hickory sticks have disappeared, and the number of promiscuous street maskers is growing gradually less each year, but many of the ancient distinctive features of the day still remain....


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Odd custom in 'Meet Me in St. Louis'
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 19 Dec 07 - 08:24 AM

I meant to add:

The above is only a small sample of what I found. Also, to be more thorough, you should search for "throw flour" "threw flour" "thrown flour" etc.

I noticed a few connections: in many places, the practice was associated with Carnival, a.k.a. Mardi Gras or Shrovetide.

In England it was connected with Derby Day and with elections!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Odd custom in 'Meet Me in St. Louis'
From: manitas_at_work
Date: 19 Dec 07 - 09:47 AM

Given that people used up all their eggs and meat prior to Lent (hence Mardi gras) perhaps the flour could be disposed of as it wouldn't be needed for pancakes and pies?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Odd custom in 'Meet Me in St. Louis'
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 19 Dec 07 - 08:41 PM

A few more quotes:

From Travels through the Interior Provinces of Colombia, by John Potter Hamilton, 1827:
    The fete of St. Sebastian is a gay day here ; when the black and mulatto girls amuse themselves by throwing flour over the black heads of the negroes.
From The Dark City: Or, Customs of the Cockneys, by Leander P. Richardson, 1886; Chapter XIII. "DARBY DAY." — CROWDS OF ROUGHS AND SWELLS. — THE ENORMOUS CRUSH ON THE COURSE.— BRITISH IDEAS OF FUN.
    Some of the crowd had squirt-guns, and amused themselves with wetting everybody who drove by. One gang of roughs in an omnibus had a lot of articles of crockery, which delicacy forbids my naming, and they were extracting fun from the pastime of filling these with soda-water and emptying them upon passers-by. I am informed that the mob in former days was in the habit of throwing flour, red-ochre, and other stuff upon people who happened to wear clothes that were worth spoiling. But I didn't see anything quite so bad as that on this occasion.
From Elections, Electors and Elected; Stories of Elections Past and Present, by Robert Grant Webster, 1906:
    Some of the electors on the polling day amused themselves by throwing flour, coloured either blue or "yallar," at one another.
From Fun in a Doctor's Life ... , by Shobal Vail Clevenger, 1908:
    Madri Gras processions and tomfooleries always disgusted me, particularly as malicious people threw quicklime in the faces of bystanders, pretending to throw flour, which was customary.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Odd custom in 'Meet Me in St. Louis'
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 19 Dec 07 - 09:55 PM

Mr. Dixon

Thank you for the research - it is exemplary!!!

Perhaps, it will take a week to follow your leads....they are good....and full of meaty material

With folks like YOU returning and others over the New Year...maybe this might become an AMERICAN focus forum again.

Sincerely,
Gargoyle

Multiple visits to the Isles - I give eternal thanks that our fore-fathers had the gumption to cut "the tie that binds."


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