Dorothy Sneddon recalls superstitions from her childhood in the 1950s

Dorothy Sneddon interviewed by Kirtsty Robertson, Newton Stewart, June 2013

Dorothy recalls how, in 1950s Newton Stewart, she was expected to deal with everyday occurrences such as spilling salt or encountering an ambulance carrying a patient.

  • Interviewed: 28 June 2013.
  • Ref: DG10/15/1/2.
  • © European Ethnological Research Centre.


DS: My mother was Welsh, and the Welsh people have got an awful lot of superstitions. Ye dinnae cut your nails on a Sunday, that was bad luck. The, there wis, eh, if ye split salt – even if you were shakin it on yer dinner and some o it went on tae the table and missed yer plate – ye had to throw it over your left shoulder. And then there wis, ye couldnae go under a ladder. And eh …

KR: What was the one you told me about the Black Maria?

DS: Aye, the Black Maria. When it wis, years ago, it wisnae just, the police vans didnae, em, take prisoners, ah don’t know what they did. Ah don’t even think there was a police van. It was, eh they were on bikes mostly. And it was a big Black Maria that went to court, and eh, frae the prisoners. And I’ve seen this great-big waggon comin doon, ye always knew it wis the prison because it had the bars an a on it. And you turned roond so as they didnae see you in case they were lookin at ye.

KR: Wis that here?

DS: Oh yes, here. The Black Maria. And then there wis the one, if ye’d seen a ambulance comin you held on to your, the collar o your jacket, or blouse or whatever and counted till he went away oot o sight.