The patron.


Alan took advantage of some fine weather and a 40-percent-off sale at the nursery, and replaced some browning shrubs in front of the house Sunday. Years ago, while preparing the bed for what became our vegetable patch in Fort Wayne, he turned up a Model T wrench, part of a horseshoe and an Indian-head penny. On Sunday, he found the statue pictured above. My saint knowledge is pretty spotty, but even I know that’s St. Joseph; the carpentry tool at his feet gives him away. However, only in the last couple of years did I learn why he’s the saint most likely to be buried in the front yard of a recently sold house.

We turn again to Snopes. Ahem: Those trying to sell a home often feel in need of a miracle when a quick sale fails to materialize. Folklore purports to have the remedy: Bury a plastic statue of St. Joseph in the yard, and a successful closing won’t be long in the offing. Realtors across the nation swear by this.

I don’t know who buried it, or how many changes of ownership back it dates from, but I’d be willing to bet it’s from the most recent sale, the one to us. No, I don’t know if it came from a kit, available for $9.95, including the statue, the prayer, “instructional materials” and a free real-estate listing.

Nothing is more boring than another person’s religious views and I’ll spare you mine, but I think I turned another corner in my journey away from the church of my upbringing when Kate asked what the deal was with this ritual. I thought for a moment and said it was a superstition. God is a vast mystery, but if there’s one thing I think I know about whatever God is, it’s this: God doesn’t give a fat rat’s ass about the real-estate market.

Nor baseball games, although for all the signs of the cross and eyes raised to heaven on Saturday, it was still nice to win. I watched most of the game and found the waiting was getting on my nerves — c’mon, win already — so I took the dog for a walk in the ninth inning. As we came home up our block, I heard shrieking from half a dozen houses within earshot. By the time I got home, I was able to watch the game-winning homer from several different angles. According to the superstitions of many baseball fans, I actually brought on that homer by taking the dog for a walk.

Spriggy and I will be doing our best for the Tigers in the series. Anything to keep our real-estate values stable.

Posted at 1:09 am in Current events, Popculch |

8 responses to “The patron.”

  1. Dorothy said on October 16, 2006 at 8:03 am

    I first heard of the St. Joseph superstition (I agree that’s what it is) in 1992 when we were trying to sell our house. It had been on the market for 2 months with no offers, so we thought we’d try it. I no sooner walked away from the spot where I planted him when I heard the phone ring, an agent booking a showing. Turns out the couple who came that day bought the house, about 2 weeks later. Coincidence? Divine intervention? Just dumb luck? Well, no matter what, it made us believers!

    On the other hand a manager I know from my office has had St. Joe buried since February or March. He has already relocated to Austin, TX and his house in Greer is still for sale. For a half mil. Maybe St. Joseph works better for poorer folk like me.

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  2. Dwight the Troubled Teen said on October 16, 2006 at 10:06 am

    Locally, the meme includes the direction that the statue must be buried upside down.

    Read into that what you will.

    Go Tigers.

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  3. ashley said on October 16, 2006 at 12:00 pm

    Yes, face first, head down, facing the street.

    And God may not care about baseball, but he is a Saints fan.

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  4. Cynthia said on October 16, 2006 at 5:36 pm

    This is off topic but I wanted to thank you for pointing me to the cook books by Betty Rosbottom. I never heard of her before so after I read your entry I looked her up on Amazon and bought two of her books. I bought a used copy of American Favorites for $1.59, plus s&h for a grand total of $5.08. It’s in perfect condition and the first page I opened to had a fabulous sounding seafood popover recipe that I’m going to try. I can’t wait to receive the appetizer recipe book. Thanks! This is what I love about your site. You have many interesting observations and things to say.

    By the way, I almost always buy used books on Amazon. They are really cheap and always in good condition.

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  5. nancy said on October 16, 2006 at 5:46 pm

    I have a friend, a food writer, who says, “I would eat fried gravel if Betty Rosbottom had a recipe for it.” She’s really underrated as a good, all-around cookbook author, probably because she doesn’t aim at haute cuisine but is many notches above the cooking-with-canned-soup crowd. Also, her earlier books tend to use butter and cream with, ah, a bit of a heavy hand. But “American Favorites” lightened it up quite a bit, and even the cardiac-hazard dishes were delicious. You know, use moderation.

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  6. Connie said on October 16, 2006 at 6:21 pm

    Detroit real estate made NPR/Day to Day today. Had to do with black families leaving Detroit to find decent schools for their kids. As they move in to the closer suburbs, white residents are moving north and west.

    Oh my tigers. Wonder what ever happened to my poster of Denny McLaine?

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  7. Jennifer said on October 17, 2006 at 2:08 pm

    I’ve known people who have also used St. Joseph’s aspirin, but the bottle, as with the statue, had to be buried upside down

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  8. John Desmond said on November 3, 2006 at 12:12 pm

    Salutations, gentlefolk,

    I was born and raised a Catholic (father’s ancestors came from
    Ireland, mother’s from Poland), grew up in suburban Philadelphia
    with a father who was a real estate broker and appraiser. Held a
    Pa real estate salesman’s license myself (back in the early 70’s –
    only needed to pass the test to get one then).

    Father retired in 1979, moved to warmer climate.

    Don’t remember when I first heard of ‘burying a statue of St.
    Joseph’, but ’twas definitely not until after Father retired.
    Certainly Mother kept enough religious objects around to supply
    one in case of need – but the subject never came up (and I would
    probably have been called upon to do the shoveling if it had 😉 )

    Yours, John Desmond

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