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Cape Central High Photos

Ken Steinhoff, Cape Girardeau Central High School Class of 1965, was a photographer for The Tiger and The Girardot, and was on the staff of The Capaha Arrow and The Sagamore at Southeast Missouri State University. He worked as a photographer / reporter (among other things) at The Jackson Pioneer and The Southeast Missourian.

Come here to see photos and read stories (mostly true) about coming of age in Southeast Missouri in the 1960s.

Please comment on the articles when you see I have left out a bit of history, forgotten a name or when your memory of a circumstance conflicts with mine. (My mother says her stories have improved now that more and more of the folks who could contradict her have died off.) Your information helps to make this a wonderful archive and may end up in book form.

Horseshoe Up or Horseshoe Down?

Dutchtown building with horseshoe 10-18-2015I was in Dutchtown the other day and decided to drive down the lane that separates our property from the neighbor to the south. It contains about half a dozen pecan trees that Mother and I used to like to visit at this time of year. Most of the nuts she was cracking here in 2012 came from those trees.

In the dozens of times I’ve gotten to this old building and turned around, I had never noticed the horseshoe above the door. (Click on the picture to make it larger.)

Why is a horseshoe lucky?

Wikipedia theorizes: Horseshoes have long been considered lucky. They were originally made of iron, a material which was believed to ward off evil spirits, and traditionally were held in place with seven nails, seven being the luckiest number.

The superstition acquired a further Christian twist due to a legend surrounding the 10th century saint Dunstan, who worked as a blacksmith before becoming Archbishop of Canterbury. The legend recounts that, one day, the Devil walked into Dunstan’s shop and asked him to shoe his horse. Dunstan pretended not to recognize him, and agreed to the request; but rather than nailing the shoe to the horse’s hoof, he nailed it to the Devil’s own foot, causing him great pain. Dunstan eventually agreed to remove the shoe, but only after extracting a promise that the Devil would never enter a household with a horseshoe nailed to the door.

Which way should it point?

The LuckyMojo website says it depends on where you’re from: In most of Europe, the Middle-East, and Spanish-colonial Latin America protective horseshoes are placed in a downward facing or vulval position, but in some parts of Ireland and Britain people believe that the shoes must be turned upward or “the luck will run out.” Americans of English and Irish descent prefer to display horseshoes upward; those of German, Austrian, Italian, Spanish, and Balkan descent generally hang them downward.

In regions where the horseshoe is placed facing upward, folks believe the horseshoe must point up “or the luck runs out.” In places where it is hung facing downward they say exactly the opposite — “it must point down so the luck can pour onto you.” However, in its function as an amulet for┬ámagical protection, especially over the doorways of barns and stables, the horseshoe usually points downward and it is said that “no witch will pass under it.”

What does the difference in directionality mean? I think that in most of the world it is the horseshoe ITSELF that is lucky and protective — whereas in England and Ireland the horseshoe is seen as a mere “collector” of luck from above. There are other regional and cultural differences in horseshoe beliefs, too:

In Italy, for instance, when a horseshoe is nailed by the side of the door (not above it), directionality is not considered important, but what IS important is that the horseshoe was actually used — worn and discarded by a horse — that it was found in the road or in a field, not purchased, and that the person who enters the door can touch it.

3 comments to Horseshoe Up or Horseshoe Down?

  • I’m with the point it up or the luck will run out crowd…I had one in my Naperville house and it worked pretty good.

  • Virginia Kerr West

    I learn something new every day! Think I would go with the horseshoe in an upward position. Wouldn’t want my luck to run out either! Ha ! That is the way I have always seen them over doorways!

  • Keith Robinson

    My wife has a cousin that supposedly hung a horseshoe above his door but in the open-end-down position as opposed to how he was told to by my mother-in-law. The next time he went out the door, the horseshoe fell and hit him in the head.

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