Ozark Encyclopedia – B – Buttons

Used in wart buying ceremony – “Some specialists go through a kind of wart-buying ceremony, but no money actually changes hands. You show the man your wart, and he says: ‘Want to sell it?’ You answer ‘Yes, sir.’ Whereupon the wart taker produces a big safety pin with many buttons strung on it. He selects one of these and hands it to you saying: ‘Carry that there button in your pocket till the wart’s gone. Hit’s mine now, ‘cause I done bought an’ paid for it.’” ~Randolph OMF 127

Buttons kept for good luck – “A button received as a gift is always lucky, no matter what the color. Years ago, many an Ozark girl collected buttons from her friends and strung them together into a sort of necklace called a charm string. A charm string not only brought good fortune to the owner but also served as a sort of memory book for women who could not read one button recalled a beloved aunt, another a friend’s wedding, still another a dance or a quilting party or an apple-peelin’ or some other pleasant occasion.” ~Randolph OMF 61

White button for eye troubles – “When a foreign body gets into the eye, just press a big white button against the eyelid and wink repeatedly; the object which is causing the trouble will pass out through one of the holes in the button. Near Day, Missouri, a small boy got some sawdust in his eye. A friend cut a small pearl button off his shirt, washed it carefully, and somehow placed it under the boy’s eyelid. I was told that the poor chap walked about for several minutes, with the big bulge in his eyelid plainly visible. It must have been terribly painful, but he stuck with it until the tears washed the sawdust away.” ~Randolph OMF 139-140

“If you hold a big white button over your eye when something is in it, it will leave through one of the holes.” ~Parler FBA II 2167

In mouth for head pains – “A white bone button, held in the mouth, is recommended for any pain above the tongue, especially headaches and earaches.” ~Randolph OMF 145

Brass button in mouth for earache – “Some mountain folk cure the earache, it is said, by putting a brass button in the patient’s mouth and then unexpectedly discharging a gun behind his back.” ~Randolph OMF 145

“Some people believe you can cure an earache by putting a brass button in your mouth and shoot a gun unexpectedly behind your head.” ~Parler FBA II 2123


Parler, Mary Celestia Folk Beliefs from Arkansas (FBA)

Randolph, Vance Ozark Magic and Folklore (OMF)

Source: Ozark Encyclopedia – B – Buttons

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