Anti-Superstition Society Party

from Life.Time.com – 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.

Purple People Eater Punch

Purple People Eater Punch/Taste of Home.com
Photo by Taste of Home

This Taste of Home Test Kitchen punch recipe was inspired by the hit novelty hit song “Purple People Eater,” as recorded by Sheb Wooley.

Singer and acter Sheb Wooley appearing  in July 1958 issue of LIFE magazine.

Singer and acter Sheb Wooley appearing in July 1958 issue of LIFE magazine. Shown here with a Purple People Eater.

Yield: 5 quarts/approximately 26 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 quarts red grape juice, chilled
  • 4 drops neon purple food coloring
  • 2 liters club soda, chilled
  • 2 quarts vanilla ice cream, softened

 

 

Directions:

Pour grape juice into a 6-quart punch bowl; add food coloring.  Slowly pour in club soda.  Gently spoon ice cream into the punch and whisk to swirl.  Serve immediately.

 

Originally published as Purple People Eater Punch in Taste of Home Halloween Food & Fun 2008, p47

 

 

 

President’s Dogs

In honor of the American Humane Association’s Adopt-A-Dog Month, below are some famous dog owners and their pets.

James Buchanan, the only bachelor President, was accompanied at all times by Lara, his 170-pound Newfoundland, notable for a huge tail, an incredible attachment to his master, and the habit of lying motionless for hours with one eye open and one eye closed.

Lara, President Buchanan's dog

An illustrated picture of Lara, a male Newfoundland, was published in Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Weekly. The dog became a big celebrity.

Abraham Lincoln‘s first dog was Honey, an injured brown and white hound dog he found in a Kentucky cave and nursed back to health.  Five years before being elected, Lincoln’s constant companion was Fido, a floppy-eared, yellow mutt.  His wife did not want Fido tracking mud onto White House carpets and jumping on formal furniture, so Lincoln sadly agreed to leave Fido with friends in Springfield, IL with strict instructions to indulge him.  At the President’s funeral, Fido met with the grieving public, who felt like they touched the President himself by petting his dog.

Theodore Roosevelt was an avid outdoorsman, and his home was filled with many dogs. Skip, a mixed breed adopted on a hunting trip, was his favorite. Skip’s short legs made it hard to keep up with his master on horseback, so the President would scoop him up to ride on the saddle.  Eventually, Skip would jump on the back of Algonquin, the pony belonging to Roosevelt’s 7-year-old son, Archie. It was quite a sight to see a small dog riding a small horse around the White House grounds all by himself!  Although Skip was buried behind the White House, Edith Roosevelt had his casket exhumed and moved to their estate at Sagamore Hill in Oyster Bay, Long Island, explaining, “Teddy couldn’t bear to leave him there beneath the eyes of Presidents who might care nothing for a little mutt dog.”

Richard Nixon used his daughter Tricia’s black-and-white cocker spaniel named Checkers to improve his public image When it looked like he might be dropped as Eisenhower’s Vice Presidential nominee due to questionable funds and gifts to aid his political career, he responded to these charges in an emotional speech and said the family would NOT return the gift of Checkers: “The kids love the dog, and regardless of what they say about it, we’re gonna keep it!”

Lyndon Johnson loved his dogs: the white collie, Blanco, the terrier, Yuki, and two beagles. Him and Her (who made the cover of Life magazine). President LBJ's beagles, Him and Her, on the cover of Life magazine Lady Bird nixed his plan to bring the dogs to daughter Luci’s White House wedding, but he managed to sneak them in for official family pictures. Pawprints adorned the Johnson Christmas cards right next to LBJ’s signature. However, he damaged his reputation while trying to get the beagles to do tricks for photographers.  LBJ picked up Him by his big, floppy ears and pictures of the yelping dog hanging by its ears appeared in every major newspaper before the day’s end.  Johnson was severely criticized by animal experts and the public, but this didn’t discourage him from letting TV cameras film him and Yuki “singing” in the Oval Office.

Eyebrow raising photo of LBJ picked up his beagle, Him, by the ears

U.S. President Lyndon Johnson received much criticism when reporters photographed him picking up his beagle, Him, by the ears.

Gerald Ford was actually locked out of the White House one night when he took Liberty, his golden retriever, out for a late walk on the south lawn and forgot to alert the Secret Service agents. Picture the President in his nightclothes, standing next to Liberty, pounding on the second-floor door inside the hallway, and having searchlights trained on him and agents pointing guns at him!

Click the following to find out more Presidential Dogs:  Dog Lover Store website