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The James T. Callow Folklore Archive

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DON'T STEP ON A CRACK,
OR YOU'LL BREAK YOUR MOTHER'S BACK.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT

Subject headings: Ballad Song Dance Game Music Verse -- Belief Belief
BELIEF -- Means of Causing or Avoiding Illness

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BAD LUCK

STEP ON A CRACK
BREAK YOUR MOTHER'S BACK.

Submitter comment: THIS WAS A POPULAR BELIEF WHEN MY MOTHER WAS
LITTLE IN ST. CLAIR SHORES.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT ; SAINT CLAIR SHORES

Subject headings: Ballad Song Dance Game Music Verse -- Belief Belief
BELIEF -- Means of Causing or Avoiding Illness

Date learned: 11-00-1967

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STEP ON A CRACK
AND YOU'LL BREAK YOUR MOTHER'S BACK.

Submitter comment: LEARNED FROM SCHOOL FRIENDS.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT

Subject headings: Ballad Song Dance Game Music Verse -- Belief Belief
BELIEF -- Means of Causing or Avoiding Illness

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DON'T WALK ON A CRACK
OR YOU'LL BREAK YOUR MOTHER'S BACK.

Submitter comment: LEARNED FROM HER MOTHER.

Where learned: HOME

Subject headings: Ballad Song Dance Game Music Verse -- Belief Belief
BELIEF -- Means of Causing or Avoiding Illness

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Belief: Children's Song

DON'T STEP ON A CRACK OR YOU'LL BREAK YOUR MOTHER'S BACK.

Submitter comment:

IS AN OLD CHILDHOOD SAYING THAT THIS INFORMANT REMINDED ME OF.

Data entry tech comment:

Updated on 12-01-2010 / Motifs and Keywords added by TRD

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT

Keyword(s): Back ; BELIEF ; CHILDHOOD ; CHILDREN ; Crack ; GAME ; MOTHER ; RHYME ; SONG ; Spine ; SUPERSTITION ; VERSE

James Callow Keyword(s): ADVICE: NEGATIVE

Subject headings: Ballad Song Dance Game Music Verse -- Lyrical Verse Lyrical Verse
Ballad Song Dance Game Music Verse -- Belief Belief
BELIEF -- Means of Causing or Avoiding Illness
SPEECH -- Game Pastime Sport S555.500

Date learned: 03-30-1968

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Belief: Children's Song

STEP ON A LINE,
BREAK YOUR FATHER'S SPINE.
STEP ON A CRACK,
BREAK YOUR MOTHER'S BACK.
STEP ON A HOLE,
BREAK YOUR MOTHER'S SUGAR BOWL.

Submitter comment:

CHILDREN SING THIS SONG WHILE WALKING TO SCHOOL.

Data entry tech comment:

Updated on 12-01-2010 / Motifs and Keywords added by TRD

Where learned: UNKNOWN

Keyword(s): Back ; BELIEF ; CHILDHOOD ; CHILDREN ; Crack ; Domestic ; GAME ; Hole ; Line ; MOTHER ; RHYME ; SONG ; Spine ; Sugar ; SUPERSTITION ; VERSE

Subject headings: Ballad Song Dance Game Music Verse -- Children
Ballad Song Dance Game Music Verse -- Belief Belief
BELIEF -- Means of Causing or Avoiding Illness

Date learned: 01-21-1968

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Belief: Children's Song

STEP ON A CRACK, BREAK THE DEVIL'S BACK.

Data entry tech comment:

Updated on 12-01-2010 / Motifs and Keywords added by TRD

Where learned: HOME

Keyword(s): AA ; Back ; BELIEF ; CHILDHOOD ; CHILDREN ; Crack ; DEVIL ; GAME ; MOTHER ; RELIGION ; RHYME ; SONG ; Spine ; SUPERSTITION ; VERSE

Subject headings: Ballad Song Dance Game Music Verse -- Lyrical Verse Lyrical Verse
Ballad Song Dance Game Music Verse -- Belief Belief
BELIEF -- Devil Demon

Date learned: 11-19-1969

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WHILE CHILDREN WALK TO SCHOOL, THEY PASS THE TIME BY WATCHING WHERE
THEY WALK. THEY ARE NOT ALLOWED TO WALK ON LINES OR CRACKS IN THE
SIDEWALK AND AS THEY DO THIS THEY HAVE SAYINGS SUCH AS,
"STEP ON A CRACK, BREAK YOUR MOTHER'S BACK" AND
"STEP ON A LINE, BREAK YOUR FATHER'S SPINE".

Submitter comment: THIS IS A PASTIME FOR CHILDREN AS THEY WALK TO SCHOOL THAT
MY SISTERS USED TO DO.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; HUNTINGTON WOODS

Subject headings: Ballad Song Dance Game Music Verse -- Game Verse
Ballad Song Dance Game Music Verse -- Belief Belief

Date learned: CA00001963

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SUPERSTITION OF SMALL CHILDREN

GOD KISS, THE DEVIL MISS.

Submitter comment: AN OLD SAYING, KISSING THE DIRTY CANDY THAT FELL ON THE GROUND UP TO
GOD. IT IS BELIEVE THAT THE GERMS ON THE CANDY WILL BE KILLED.
THIS SUPERSTITION CAME ABOUT IN THE 1960'S.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT

Subject headings: Ballad Song Dance Game Music Verse -- Belief Belief
Ballad Song Dance Game Music Verse -- Speech Speech
BELIEF -- Means of Causing or Avoiding Illness

Date learned: 09-11-1977

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STEP ON A CRACK, BREAK YOUR MOTHER'S BACK.

Submitter comment: INFORMANT SAYS THIS WHENEVER HE SEES A CRACK IN THE PAVEMENT.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; GROSSE POINTE

Subject headings: Ballad Song Dance Game Music Verse -- Custom Festival C840.533
Ballad Song Dance Game Music Verse -- Belief Belief

Date learned: 02-00-1975

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BEGGER'S SONG

CHRISTMAS IS COMMING
THE GOOSE IS GETTING FAT.
PLEASED TO PUT A PENNY.
IN A OLD MANS HAT
IF YOU NO PENNY.
A HA' PENNY WILL DO
IF YOU HAVE NO HA' PENNY.
THENGOD BLESS YOU.

Where learned: DETROIT

Subject headings: Ballad Song Dance Game Music Verse -- Belief Belief
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- December 25 Christmas Also see F642, below.

Date learned: 02-23-1979

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CAUSING ILLNESS

STEP ON A CRACK, BREAK YOUR MOTHER'S BACK.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT

Subject headings: Ballad Song Dance Game Music Verse -- Belief Belief

Date learned: 02-00-1979

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SUPERSTITION

WHEN RUNNING ON AND OFF THE FIELD, LIKE MANY OTHER BALL
PLAYERS, I WILL NOT STEP ON THE CHALKED LINES. THIS
STEMS FROM THE SAYING "STEP ON A CRACK AND YOU BREAK
YOUR MOTHER'S BACK".

Submitter comment: I SEE THIS AS BRINGING ME GOOD LUCK.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; OAK PARK

Subject headings: Ballad Song Dance Game Music Verse -- Belief Belief
BELIEF -- Entertainment Diversion
BELIEF -- Means of Causing or Avoiding Illness
BELIEF -- Good luck
SPEECH -- Gesture

Date learned: 00001970'S

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PROVERB

EARLY TO BED AND EARLY TO RISE MAKES A MAN HEALTHY, WEALTHY AND WISE

Submitter comment: SECOND GRADE TEACHER ALWAYS SAID THIS TO OUR CLASS.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DEARBORN HEIGHTS

Subject headings: Ballad Song Dance Game Music Verse -- Belief Belief
Ballad Song Dance Game Music Verse -- Belief Belief

Date learned: 01-00-1979

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GEORGIA SUPERSTITION

"WE WERE ALWAYS TOLD NEVER TO STEP ON THE CRACKS IN THE SIDEWALK
OR STREETS. MY DADDY WOULD TELL US 'IF YOU STEP ON A CRACK,
YOU'LL BREAK YOUR MOTHER'S BACK."

Where learned: OHIO ; FLORIDA ; ALLIANCE ; EUSTIS

Subject headings: Ballad Song Dance Game Music Verse -- Belief Belief

Date learned: 00001920S

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FLORIDA HALLOWEEN CUSTOM

"WE WERE ALWAYS RUNNING AROUND ON HALLOWEEN NIGHT. WE DIDN'T GO
TRICK OR TREATING LIKE THEY DO NOW, BUT WE'D GO LOOK FOR HOT-STEAMS
ON THE COUNTRY ROADS. THEY WERE LIKE GHOSTS THAT WOULD STRETCH
ACROSS THE ROAD AND BLOCK THE WAY. IF THEY CAUGHT YOU, THEY'D
SUCK YOUR BREATH, AND TO PREVENT IT, YOU WERE SUPPOSED TO SAY MM
"ANGEL BRIGHT, LIFE IN DEATH
GET OFF THE ROAD, DON'T SUCK MY BREATH'. MM
WE BELIEVED IN HOT-STEAMS, BUT WE NEVER DID SEE ONE".

Submitter comment: THE INFORMANT FIRST LEARNED OF "HOT-STEAMS" FROM CHILDHOOD FRIENDS
IN FLORIDA. SHE STATED THAT SHE HAD FORGOTTEN ABOUT HOT-STEAMS
UNTIL SHE READ HARPER LEE'S "TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD",
WHICH MENTIONED HOT-STEAMS WITH THE SAME RHYME.

Where learned: OHIO ; FLORIDA ; ALLIANCE ; EUSTIS

Subject headings: Favorites
Ballad Song Dance Game Music Verse -- Belief C860.422
Ballad Song Dance Game Music Verse -- Belief C860.429
Ballad Song Dance Game Music Verse -- Belief Belief
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- October 31 Halloween
BELIEF -- Ghost Spirit Phantom Specter

Date learned: 11-13-1980 ; 00001920S

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STEP ON A CRACK AND YOU'LL BREAK YOUR MOTHER'S BACK.

Submitter comment: I HEARD THIS SEVERAL YEARS AGO WHILE WALKING TO SCHOOL WITH
SEVERAL FRIENDS.

Where learned: DETROIT ; MICHIGAN, ASSUMED

Subject headings: Ballad Song Dance Game Music Verse -- Belief Belief

Date learned: NOT GIVEN

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THIS LITTLE RHYME: STEP ON A CRACK AND YOU BREAK YOUR
MOTHER'S BACK., IS OFTEN REPEATED OVER AND OVER BY
SCHOOLCHILDREN WALKING TO AND FROM SCHOOL.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT

Subject headings: Ballad Song Dance Game Music Verse -- Belief Belief

Date learned: 09-10-1969

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DON'T STEP ON A CRACK,
OR YOU'LL BREAK YOUR MOTHER'S BACK.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT

Subject headings: Ballad Song Dance Game Music Verse -- Belief Belief

Date learned: NOT GIVEN

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DON'T STEP ON THE GRASS,
OR YOU'LL BREAK YOUR MOTHER'S ASS. MM
DON'T STEP ON A CRACK OR YOU'LL BREAK YOUR MOTHER'S BACK.

Where learned: NOT GIVEN

Subject headings: Ballad Song Dance Game Music Verse -- Belief Belief

Date learned: NOT GIVEN

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