Anti-Superstition Society Party

from – Jan. 6, 1941, issue

Breaking mirrors. Spilling salt. Walking under ladders. Lighting a third cigarette with one match. The list of arcane superstitions influencing the behavior and peace of mind of human beings around the world is, it seems, almost limitless. And for the superstitious, no day holds as much peril as Friday the 13th. The very thought of, say, a black cat crossing one’s path on such a day is enough to send ordinarily sane men and women into conniptions.

Baked cookies bearing the number 13 being served at an Anti-Superstition Party
Photo by William C. Shrout—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images©

But for a group of Chicago-based businessmen and inveterate debunkers in the middle part of the last century, each Friday the 13th was the perfect opportunity to point out how thoroughly preposterous — and, from an economic point of view, how counterproductive — such fears can be. In December 1941, LIFE magazine photographer William C. Shrout attended a dinner of the venerable Anti-Superstition Society of Chicago, and came away with incontrovertible proof that just because grown men don’t believe in fairy tales doesn’t mean they’re opposed to having a good time.

As LIFE explained to its readers in its Jan. 6, 1941, issue, in which some of the photos in this gallery first appeared:

At 6:13 p.m. on Friday, the 13th of December, 169 audacious and irreverent gentlemen sat down to dine at 13 tables in Room 13 of the Merchants & Manufacturers Club of Chicago. Each table seated 13. Upon each rested an open umbrella, a bottle of bourbon and 13 copies of a poem called The Harlot. The speaker’s table was strewn with horseshoes, old keys, old shoes, mirrors and cardboard black cats. Before it reposed an open coffin with 13 candles. The occasion was the 13th Anniversary Jinx-Jabbing Jamboree and Dinner of the Anti-Superstition Society of Chicago … [which] meets regularly on Friday the 13th. (There have been 13 Friday the 13th’s in the last eight years.) Behind the ribaldry of its recurrent dinners lies the very sound thesis that superstition annually costs this country an inexcusable sum of time and money. People postpone trips because of mirrors and cats. Businessmen defer decisions because of calendrical coincidences.

To combat these persistent bogies, the Society has assembled much counter-evidence. According to mathematical laws of probability, one of 13 guests of different ages at any dinner party may very well die within a year. But the ratio of probability will soar even higher if 14 guests attend. One corpse out of 18 is a 50-to-50 bet.

A black cat sits on a man's shoulder at an Anti-Superstition Party

“Panther, a three-year-old black cat, is delivered to General Lorenzen, Keeper of Black Cats, by its mistress, Mrs. Olive Morrison. The Society advertised in the paper for a ‘large, docile black cat’ to preside at meeting, got 159 offers.” — Photo by William C. Shrout—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images

Happy Friday the 13th, everyone. Go spill some salt on a black cat beneath a ladder, or something.


Don’t Look if You Have Paraskavedekatriaphobia! (Fear of Friday the 13th)

Count-Von-Count-with-Thirteen-Bats-Coloring-Page_0.jpgParaskevidekatriaphobia is what happens when a fear of Fridays meets a fear of the number Thirteen (Triskaidekaphobia).

It is also called Friggatriskaidekaphobia, when someone is afraid of Friday the 13th. Nearly 20 million Americans are affected by Friggatriskaidekaphobia /Paraskevidekatriaphobia.

The modern basis for the aura that surrounds Friday the 13th stems from Friday, October the 13th, 1307. On this date, the Pope of the church in Rome in Conjunction with the King of France, carried out a secret death warrant Against “the Knights Templar.” The Templars were terminated as heretics, never again to hold the power that they had held for so long. There Grand Master, Jacques DeMolay, was arrested and before he was killed, was tortured and crucified.

Superstitions swirling around Friday as being lucky or unlucky have existed since ancient times, beginning with the northern nations. Ancient Romans dedicated the sixth day of the week to their beautiful, but vain, goddess Venus, so, when the Norsemen adopted the Roman method of naming days, they naturally adopted Venus as their name for the sixth day of the week. Their closest translation for Venus, Frigg, or Freya, eventually evolved into Friday, a day they considered to be the luckiest day of the week.

From a religious standpoint, Muslims tout Friday as the day Allah created Adam, the story goes that Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit on a Friday, and later died on a Friday.  Christians consider Friday as the day on which Christ was crucified by the Romans.

The Scandinavian belief that the number 13 signified bad luck sprang from their mythological 12 demigods, who were joined by a 13th demigod, Loki, an evil cruel one, who brought upon humans great misfortune.

The number 13, in the Christian faith, is the number of parties at the Last Supper, with the 13th guest at the table being the traitor, Judas. When Christians combine this day and number, the combination can only hold special significance.


Part of the reason 13 got a bad rap is because it comes after 12, which is a number of “completeness.” For example: 12 months in a year, 12 hours in a clock, 12 God of Olympus, 12 Zodiac signs, 12 tribes of Israel, 12 days of Christmas, 12 labors of Hercules, 12 Apostles of Jesus and 12 eggs in a dozen.

Some may say that Friday the 13th just got a bum rap, there’s been more than a few unfortunate occurrences that happened on this infamous day.Happy Friday the 13th

According to, here are a few examples of the sordid history of Friday the 13th:

– July 1951: The Great Flood killed 24 people, destroyed more than 2 million acres of land in Kansas and caused $760 million in damage.
– March 1964: The “Good Friday” earthquake wasn’t actually so good. It remains the largest earthquake in North American history, killing 131 people near Prince William Sound.
– July 1987: An F4 tornado ripped through Edmonton, Alberta, killing 27 people and injuring at least 300.
– March 1992: An earthquake killed nearly 2,000 people and left 50,000 homeless in Turkey.


And that’s not all. Here a couple scary, yet scintillating facts about Friday the Thirteenth:

– In a traditional hangman’s noose there are 13 twists of the rope and 13 steps to the gallows.
– Many buildings don’t count their 13th floors. You’ll see on their elevators that the numbers skip from 12 to 14.
– There is no 13th Avenue in San Francisco, instead Funston Avenue is between 12th and 14th Avenues.
– In Formula 1 racing, there is no car with the number 13. The number has been removed after two drivers were killed in crashes, both driving cars numbered 13.
– Killers Charles Manson, Saddam Hussein, Jeffrey Dahmer, John Wayne Gacy, Theodore Bundy, and Jack The Ripper each have 13 letters in their names.


And lastly, these people weren’t so lucky on Friday the 13th:

Tupac Shakur

Tupac Amaru Shakur (June 16, 1971 – September 13, 1996)

– Tupac Shakur was shot and killed in Las Vegas on a Friday the 13th.
– Al Capone was sentenced to prison on a Friday the 13th.
– Benny Goodman, the King of Swing, died on a Friday the 13th.
– Hubert Humphrey, the 38th vice president of the United States, died on a Friday the 13th.

Whether or not a person considers Friday the 13th as unlucky, he or she must understand that this superstition, as well as others, merely stem from beliefs or practices man used, and continues to use, to explain, and to protect himself, from events beyond his control in his complicated world. He worked, and works only with the bag of knowledge he has on hand.

Only when factual, scientific bases for these beliefs are unearthed, and people do not dispel the beliefs, but instead cling to them, the beliefs become superstitions. Today’s beliefs may very well be tomorrows superstitions. Until then, however, don’t step on a crack!


Moon Trivia Quiz

wolf howling at the full moon

Enjoy the full moon this Friday the 13th… it won’t occur for another 25 years.

This Friday the 13th may be a bit more scary for some as there is also a full moon.

A full moon on Friday the 13th won’t happen again for another 35 years: Friday, August 13, 2049.

Take Moon Trivia Quiz:

1. What’s the moon thought to be made of?

a. Iron and rock with magnesium, silicon, oxygen and more
b. Cheese
c. Mostly gold, silver and bronze

2. Which side of the moon is the dark side?

a. the far side
b. no such thing
c. this side

3. How far is it from Earth to the Moon, roughly?

a. 23,885 miles
b. 238,855 miles
c. 2,388,550 miles



A Real man on the Moon

4. Which of these was discovered by Apollo astronauts on the moon?

a. Water ice
b. Moonquakes
c. the Soviet flag


5. What causes a lunar eclipse?

a. Earth blocks sunlight
b. The sun blocks out the moon
c. The moon blocks sunlight


6. The moon is moving in which of these ways?

a. Around the Earth every day
b. Away from Earth about 1.6 inches per year
c. Toward Earth about 1.6 inches per year


7. What’s thought to be the moon’s origin?

a. Earth captured it
b. Formed after a Mars-sized object hit Earth
c. Formed a cloud of gas and dust along with the Earth


8. What makes the moon rise?

a. Earth’s rotation
b. The alignment of the stars
c. The moon’s orbit around Earth


Man in the Moon from George Méliès' 1902 film "A Trip to the Moon."

In the pioneering cinematography of George Méliès’ (1861-1938) the creator of A trip to the Moon (1902), the man in the moon, far from being a remote or mysterious figure, is hit in the eye by a spaceship!

9. Why is the moon pockmarked with craters?

a. Unlike Earth, there’s little weathering to erode them
b. Cheese comes that way
c. The moon gets whacked a lot more often than Earth


10. Which of these phenomena is the moon responsible for?

a. Earth’s season
b. Werewolves
c. High tide on the opposite side of Earth

A Friday the 13th Ride in the New Mercedes

he £500,000 SLR Stirling Moss
The £500,000 SLR Stirling Moss (Photo by The Sun)

A man bought a new Mercedes to celebrate his wife leaving him and was out on the interstate for a nice evening drive. The top was down, the breeze was blowing through what was left of his hair and he decided to open her up. As the needle jumped up to 80 mph, he suddenly saw flashing red and blue lights behind him.

“There’s no way they can catch a Mercedes,” he thought to himself and opened her up further. The needle hit 90, 100…..Then the reality of the situation hit him. “What am I doing?” he thought and pulled over.police-opt

The cop came up to him, took his license without a word and examined it and the car. “It’s been a long hard day, this is the end of my shift and it’s Friday the 13th. I don’t feel like more paperwork, I don’t need the frustration or the overtime, so if you can give me a really good excuse for your driving that I haven’t heard before, you can go.”

The guy thinks about it for a second and says, “Last week my nagging wife ran off with a cop. I was afraid you were trying to give her back!”

“Have a nice weekend,” said the officer.