Most of us are familiar with wish-making. As children we pulled apart turkey “wishbones” or pinned our hopes upon a falling star.

Kids in the Ozarks used to do the same sort of stuff, but might have been even more creative with it.

Thanks to the late great folklorist Vance Randolph, those old wish-making ways haven’t been forgotten, even if nobody practices them anymore.

Here are a few:

• When you see a cardinal, “throw a kiss and make a wish.” If you can do that three times before the bird flies off, your wish will come true. But if you see the same bird again, it cancels it out.

• If you see a cardinal in a tree, make a wish and then throw a rock toward, but not AT, the bird. If the redbird flies upward, the wish will be granted. If it flies downward, you’re out of luck.

• If you see a snake trail in the dust, make a wish and spit in the track.

• When you hear the first turtledove in the spring, make a wish and spin three times on your left heel. Then take the shoe off and look for a hair inside it. If it’s the same color as your significant other’s hair, your wish will come true.

• When you see a buzzard up in the sky, make a wish. If it soars out of sight without flapping its wings, your wish will be realized.

• A simpler method is to make a wish and spit in your hand when you see a newborn colt. That’s all you have to do. The little colt doesn’t even have to do anything.

• Also, always make a wish when you see a spotted horse, but then don’t look at the horse again, and be sure and tell someone about the wish as soon as you can.

• When you see a star before dark, close your eyes, spit over your left shoulder, and make a wish.

• When you’re passing train tracks and there is a yellow boxcar halted upon the tracks, make a wish. If it’s moving it won’t work, though.

• If you make a wish at the bottom of a steep hill and don’t stop or look back until you walk to the top, your wish will come true.

• If you’re walking somewhere you have never been before, make a wish.

• When you see a woman wearing a man’s hat, make a wish.

• When a wife or sweetheart is sewing a button on a man’s shirt, she should make a wish about that man’s future and it will come true.

• If you drop a comb by accident, immediately put your foot on it and make a wish.

• Next time your shoelace comes untied, ask a friend to tie it for you and make a wish while they are doing it.

• If you find one of your eyelashes, put it on your thumb, make a wish, and blow it away.

• The first louse you ever find on a child’s head, pop it on the family Bible while making a wish about the child’s future. That’s what my mother did to me, except I think she must have mumbled. I’m just kidding about that.

You can find more wish-making hints in Randolph’s great compilation, “Ozark Magic and Folklore.”

He wrote many other books about the Ozarks he lived and died in, but that book is the best of his works, in my opinion.

(Wes Franklin can be reached at 417-658-8443 or