The Lopez Old Wive’s Tales


San Francisco circa 1985, cousin Diana’s wedding


Deuteronomy 1:11 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

11 May the Lord, the God of your ancestors, increase you a thousand times over, and bless you as he promised!


We have all grown up hearing old wive’s tales. I am part of the Lopez clan, and my mother and her 5 sisters passed on some wonderful ones to us. I loved sitting around my mother and aunts because they were so full of life and laughter. My mother also had 3 brothers, who along with her sisters produced a total of 50 first cousins.

As a child I truly took these old wive’s tales to heart. When my nose was itchy, I knew we were going to have company. I’ve had allergies most of my life, and I can never remember when my nose was not itchy, but that did not matter. This old wive’s tale always came true.  Another one:  when your left hand was itchy,  you were going to get money. I called my sister Norma to ask if she remembered any old wive’s tales. I reminded her of the left hand one and she said, “Oh, that’s not one: it’s really true, every time my left hand itches, I get unexpected money.” I was left speechless and about ready to call her out, when the Holy Spirit quickened my mind to whenever my left hand is itchy, I purchase a lottery ticket.

I shared with my cousin Nellie that I suffered from leg cramps, and she told me an old wive’s tale. Nellie’s advice: “Didn’t your mother tell you that you need to put your shoes under your bed, but they must be facing down?” She added  “You will never suffer a cramp if you do this.” Our home was built in the early 70’s; it was obviously designed by a man because we have small closets. I store my seasonal shoes in a plastic container under my bed. The other night I suffered a massive leg cramp. It started with my foot and quickly traveled to the upper muscle of my lower leg (tibialis anterior). I struggled to get up, because  my foot was curled under. I wanted to scream but Mike was on a business trip, so it was useless. I finally forced my foot with my hand and planted it on the floor when the cramp moved to my upper thigh (rectus femoris muscle). It was 2:30 a.m. when I looked at the clock. I hobbled back and forth, asking Jesus to remove the pain, but to no avail. I crawled back into bed only to experience another round of torture. Then I remembered the shoes under my bed. I prayed out loud, “Dear God, please let at least one pair of shoes be upside down!” When Mike is home, and I wake up screaming from a leg cramp, he usually gets up to rub my leg, while asking me if I had eaten a banana that day. My reply is always the same, “Really, I’m dying here, and you want to know if I ate a banana?” Take it from me, this old wive’s tale is not foolproof. This walking nightmare lasted over 5 minutes.

I talked to my other cousin Elvia, who is Nellie’s older sister, and she shared with me that her mother, my Tia Margarita, made her attach a safety pin to her underwear while she was pregnant during an eclipse. The safety pin was to keep the child from having any birth defects.

My cousin Delia, daughter of my Tio Leandro, said that our grandmother would cover all the mirrors in the house when her children had the chicken pox. Covering the mirrors would keep the pox from spreading.

The spilled salt dilemma

One of my favorite old wive’s tales: when you accidentally spill salt, meant that something bad was going to happen to you. This old wive’s tale required immediate action:  you had to take a pinch of salt and toss it over each shoulder to avert the bad luck. Every time I spill salt this comes to mind, and sometimes I secretly stick to the ritual. I’m just covering all my bases.

I believe we were all told about the broken mirror and seven years of bad luck. When I was younger I accidentally broke my mother’s compact. It was a horrible day because I thought I was doomed to bad luck. I remember counting the years when this would be lifted from me. No one took the time to explain that this was not true. All I heard was, “To bad for you, seven years of bad luck!”

My cousin Connie, daughter of my Tia Consuelo, reminded me of another Lopez old wive’s tale. This one also required action:  if you did not cover your feet at night, the Devil would lick them. My sister Norma and I grew up yelling, “My feet! My feet!” and running to cover our feet whenever we were scared about something. I honestly believe Norma still covers her feet when she gets frightened. As much as I hate to admit this, in all fairness, my feet are always covered.

Nowadays I cover myself with the Blood of Jesus; that is the only thing that keeps me from fear of the unknown. These old wive’s tales become habits that we carry  from one generation to another. I shared some of them with my grandchildren, and they just laughed. They are not as gullible as we were as children.

1 Timothy 4:7 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Avoid profane and silly myths. Train yourself for devotion,

Many of my cousins are still my dear friends. The Lopez family has strong roots that are too deep to sever. All the cousins I keep in contact with are also serving the Lord. Some have taken the Protestant path, but  in the end we will meet at the banqueting table of the Lord in Heaven. I praise God for them, and am grateful for the love we share. God has blessed us in keeping our faith intact, despite passing on the tales of our ancestors.

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