14 October 2023

Utah Superstitions About Eclipses

Utah superstitions about eclipses, to enjoy on this annular solar eclipse day (Oct 14 2023)!
The Oct 14 2023 annular solar eclipse, as viewed from SLC.

These are all from the book Popular Beliefs and Superstitions from Utah (1984), compiled by Anthony S. Cannon.

The locations and dates in parenthesis are where/when the belief was cataloged.
  1. If a pregnant woman sees an eclipse, her baby will be born cross-eyed (SLC, 1963).
  2. If a person is born during an eclipse, they will suffer poverty and misfortune (SLC, 1938,); …they will be poor (Provo, 1947); … the mother will be stricken with poverty and misfortune (Helper, 1925).
  3. Looking at an eclipse of the sun will make you blind (Bountiful, 1962).
  4. If you and your lover look at an eclipse together you will be together forever (SLC, 1959).
  5. If an eclipse of the sun occurs on the 29th day of the month, there will be many deaths on the first day of the next month (Helper, 1959)
  6. An eclipse of the sun means destruction of the world (SLC, 1959)
  7. When there is an eclipse there is going to be a war (SLC, 1964)
  8. The world is going to end in 1972 because of the eclipse of the sun at that time (SLC, 1959)
Bonus beliefs, eclipses of the moon:
  1. If a pregnant woman touches her body during an eclipse, the baby will have a birthmark where she has touched (Bountiful, 1971)
  2. If a pregnant woman goes outdoors on the eclipse of the moon, her baby will have a harelip (Magna, 1961); …a cleft palate (Magna, 1949)
Reasons for eclipses:
  1. An eclipse is the pursuit of the sun and moon by two enormous wolves who now and then nearly succeed in devouring our chief sources of light (SLC, 1963).
  2. An eclipse is caused by an enormous bear that is trying to devour the sun and now and then nearly succeeds in doing it (SLC, 1950s).
  3. The solar eclipse is caused by a great dragon attempting to swallow the sun (Vernal, 1959).
You can peruse the book at Internet Archive (with a free account): https://archive.org/details/popularbeliefssu0000unse/

13 October 2023

Friday the 13th Folklore

 More Utah folklore, this time about Friday the 13th!

Lucky / Unlucky.
stock image from Adobe.

  1. It is an unlucky day so keep your fingers crossed (SLC 1963) … is a doubly unlucky day. If you do not have your fingers crossed, a person may say “Jinx on you” and you will then have to do any deed or favor they ask you to (SLC 1958).
  2. Children born will always have bad luck but a part of this evil may be avoided by falsifying the record; if such a child ever does have any good fortune, it will be after the death of the last person who knows the true date (SLC 1960).
  3. It’s unlucky to get married (Pleasant Grove 1910); …the couple will always have bad luck (SLC 1961).
  4. Never sit down at a table with 13 people or bad luck will soon come (SLC 1960).
  5. If you break a mirror you will have 7 years of bad luck (Provo 1964).
  6. Don’t walk under a ladder or you will have bad luck (SLC 1964).
  7. If black is worn then swallow one teaspoonful of salt; if white is worn, swallow one teaspoon of pepper (SLC 1964).
  8. Never take a trip or you will have bad luck on your journey (SLC 1964).
  9. Don’t wear black or you will soon wear it again in mourning (SLC 1964).
  10. If a funeral procession passes you then you are condemned to death (SLC 1964).
  11. Should be spent in bed, especially if it is your birthday (SLC 1930s).
  12. Get out of bed on the wrong side so it won’t be so unlucky (SLC, 1964).
  13. To prevent bad luck you should stay in your house (American Fork 1960).
  14. Anything undertaken on Friday the 13th is doomed to fail (SLC 1930) …is an unlucky day for all ventures (Tooele 1964); …everything will go wrong (Kanab, 1960).
  15. Don’t go swimming (SLC 1959).
  16. Knock on wood to prevent bad luck (SLC 1959).
  17. Don’t make a wish (Provo 1964).

These are all from the book Popular Beliefs and Superstitions from Utah (1984), compiled by Anthony S. Cannon.
Available here: https://archive.org/details/popularbeliefssu0000unse/

11 October 2023

I was featured on X96 Radio From Hell

Gina reads my #SpookySLC story!

Gina read my Spooky SLC story on this morning's Radio From Hell show!  It happened to be an event that took place where the X96 studio now stands (Broadway Media Building).  

It was my story about an alligator in the SLC sewers.  You can see the reel on my Instagram.

And here is the story: 

About 1900, a rumor emerged of an alligator living in the SLC sewers. 

The Salt Lake Hot Spring Sanitarium was a bathhouse, swimming pool, and spa that used hot spring water piped from Beck’s Hot Spring. It was at 52 W 300 South which is now Broadway Media.  (Read about the history of the Sanitarium building, and this interesting story about an early civil rights lawsuit).

In April 1902, a young man from the telephone company was sent to fix the phone lines in the basement of the Sanitarium. He was deep in the back of the dimly lit basement near a long tunnel that encased the water lines connecting the Sanitarium with Beck’s Hot Spring, about 2 miles away.

He suddenly heard a curious sound and caught a glimpse of a monstrous animal scurrying back into the tunnel. The man’s hair stood up in afright and he immediately scrambled out of the basement.

The animal turned out to be an alligator named Jim who had been living in the Sanitarium’s basement and water system for the past 2 years. Jim was originally part of an exhibition of 3 juvenile alligators in the front window of the Sanitarium in 1899.

Once the alligators became too large (and no longer cute) they were disposed of: one was killed, and another was sold to the UofU’s Biology Dept (this one died 4 months later; supposedly its brain and skin were preserved).

The story told to reporters was that Jim was found to be listless and supposedly dead, so he was thrown into the basement of the Sanitarium. The management denied any knowledge that Jim was alive and blamed its employees who left lunch scraps in the basement and who must have unknowingly kept the gator alive. (More likely "knowingly")

Regardless of how Jim became a resident of the basement and the water systems of the Sanitarium, it is unknown what happened to him after he was found out. Supposedly, the management of the Sanitarium organized a posse to search out the alligator and finally dispose of him.

From my archives. Originally posted Oct 2021.