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Step On A Crack

January 13, 2012 by staff 

Step On A Crack, There are various superstitions about where to step while walking on the sidewalk.

“Step on a crack, break your mother’s back” dates to at least 1905.

“Step on a nail, put your father in jail” dates to at least 1925.

“Step in a hole, you’ll break your mother’s sugar bowl” dates to around 1933.

“Step on a line, you break your mother’s spine” dates to at least 1936. Poor mom!

“Step in a ditch, your mother’s nose will itch” dates to at least 1962.

Google Books
Lonely O’Malley:
A Story of Boy Life
By Arthur Stringer
Boston, MA: Houghton, Mifflin and Company
1905
Pg. 39:
Recovering herself, she continued in her journey erratically down the sidewalk, her otherwise strange hesitations and gyrations being due to a supreme effort to avoid each and every crevice, for, she artlessly sang to herself as she went:

Step on a crack –
Break your mother’s back!

Google Books
Superstition and Education
By Fletcher Bascom Dresslar
Berkeley, CA: The University Press
University of California Publications
Educations
Vol.5, No. 1
July 15, 1907
Pg. 94:
Step on a crack
You’ll break your mother’s back.

24 August 1925, Chicago (IL) Daily Tribune, “In the Wake of the News: Do you remember way back when,” pg. 22:
“Step on a nail, put your father in jail; step on a crack, break your mother’s back,”

Google Books
The West Virginia Review
By Philip M. Conley
Published by Zurich Pub. Co.
1926
Pg. 176:
Step on a nail, You put your father in jail.

Google Books
Studies in Language, Literature and Criticism
By University of Nebraska (Lincoln campus)
Published by , 1933
Item notes: no.13-18 1933-40
Pg. 48:
If you step on a crack,
You’ll break your mother’s back.
Step in a hole,
You’ll break your mother’s sugar bowl.
Step on a nail,
You’ll break your mother’s pail. Or, You’ll put your father in jail.

Google Books
Folk-lore from Adams County, Illinois
By Harry Middleton Hyatt
Published by Alma Egan Hyatt Foundation
1935
Pg. 652:
Step in a hole,
Break your mother’s sugar bowl.
Step on a nail,
Get your father in jail.

Google Books
Child Study
By New York (State). Dept. of Public Instruction, Charles Rufus Skinner, Dept. of Public Instruction, New York (State)
Published by , 1936
Pg. 96:
If you step on a crack, you break your mother’s back; If you step on a line, you break your mother’s spine.

Google Books
The child’s book of folklore
By Marion Vallat Emrich and George Gershon Korson
New York, NY: Dial Press
1947
Pg. 103:
Step on a crack,
Break your mother’s back.
Step on a line,
Break your mother’s spine.
Step on a hole,
Break your mother’s sugar bowl.

Google Books
America Remembers;
Our Best-loved Customs and Traditions: our best-loved customs and traditions
By Samuel Berder Rapport, Patricia Schartle
Published by Hanover House, 1956
Pg. 507:
The children play on the sidewalks in the city: “Step on a crack, break your mother’s back; step on a line, break your mother’s spine.”

Google Books
The Annotated Mother Goose:
Nursery Rhymes Old and New
By William Stuart Baring-Gould, Ceil Baring-Gould
Published by C. N. Potter
1962
Pg. 214:
Step in a hole,
You’ll break your mother’s sugar bowl.
Step on a crack,
You’ll break your mother’s back.
Step in a ditch,
Your mother’s nose will itch.
Step in the dirt,
You’ll tear your father’s shirt.

FOLK-LORE FROM ADAMS COUNTY ILLINOIS (1965), pg. 637:
If you step on a crack,
You’ll break your mother’s back.
or
Step on a crack,
Break your mother’s back.

If you step in a hole,
You’ll break your mother’s sugar bowl.
or
Step in a hole,
Break your mother’s sugar bowl.

If you step in a line,
You’ll find a dime.

If you step on a nail,
You’ll send your father to jail
or
Step on a nail,
Get your father to jail.

Google Books
Western Folklore
By California Folklore Society, JSTOR (Organization)
Published by California Folklore Society, 1965
Item notes: v.24-25 1965-1966
Pg. 14:
If you step on a line, you’ll break your mother’s spine.

4 March 1976, Northern Polk County News (Johnston, Iowa), “Superstitions” by John Liker, pg. 6, col. 4:
Some superstitions are rather ludicrous, but children, as well as adults, are constantly exposed to them. A couple of the childrens’ favorites are” “Dont’ step on a crack or you’ll break your mother’s back” and “Don’t step in a hole or you’ll break your mother’s sugar bowl” (notice how both of these have to do with mothers).

Google Books
Miss Mary Mack:
And Other Children’s Street Rhymes
By Joanna Cole and Stephanie Calmenson
Illustrated by Alan Tiegreen
New York, NY: HarperCollins
1990
Pg. 48:
POOR MOM!
Step on a crack.
Break your mother’s back.
Step on a line.
Break you mother’s spine.
Step in a hole.
Break your mother’s sugar bowl.
Step in a ditch.
Your mother’s nose will itch.

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