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Tuesday, April 19, 2011



You might have been too if you stop and think about things your grandparents or parents said to you when you were a kid: I know I was for I remember so many sayings and was clueless what they meant. But I could tell by the tone of their voices that it wasn’t good! And sometimes other kids would say these things to me or other kids and I would follow their lead and not do it.

My grandmother was an immaculate housekeeper but she’s say, “If we don’t get this cleaned up, the health inspector will get us.” I was terrified and pictured some old man dressed all in white nabbing us and taking us away somewhere. And just the thought of him scared the wits out of me.

If we were out shopping, she’d say, “We’re going to the poor farm!” Had no idea what that was much less what one looked like. The only thing I could picture in my mind was that painting, “The Gleaners” and I definitely didn’t want to be out picking wheat nor did I want to be confined to a working farm. I thought she was sincere.

I’m sure you’ve all heard this: “If you step on a crack, you’ll break your mother’s back.” I avoided sidewalk cracks forever as a kid because of that fear that went along with that saying.

And the horrible one was that if you looked cross-eyed you were told that your eyes would stay that way. I tried it a couple of times but that fear lingered that I would wind up cross-eyed forever.

“Eat all the food on your plate because people all over the world are starving.” Heard that all of my kid life and lo and behold, the first time I watched the movie, “The Christmas Story,” there was Ralphie’s mom saying that to him. Must have been some universal saying made up by moms to get their kids to eat everything on their plates.

If you were outside with a bunch of kids and one of you played dead, you were told that you would die! Now that would scare anyone. Did I do it? Once and that was all for fear of dying right there on the spot.

I was told that girls didn’t whistle because of the saying, “A whistling girl and a crowing hen will someday come to some bad end.” Later on as a teenager, I learned out to whistle and even used a blade of grass too. I used to be able to put my two fingers in my mouth and whistle like a guy—not now but I did then.

If you were cracking your knuckles, you were told that your fingers would become deformed and stay that way. I did it and mine didn’t but wonder how many of you heard that too and got afraid?

If there were a saying for anything that was done, I heard it and kept it in my head—you know the ones like “Don’t walk under a ladder” and all those that dealt with superstitions. To this day, I am superstitious: How can I not be when it was drilled into me?

Dream about death and someone will have a baby. Dream about a baby and someone will die. I heard that all of my life and yes, I’ve had those dreams so many times but I don’t want to know the outcome of either of those sayings.

If you picked up something like a penny when you were running the sweeper, you were told you were going to be electrocuted! I did pick up pennies a bunch of times and just knew I was going to meet my end. But I didn’t.

“Don’t run all the hot water out of the water tank” was one of those fear sayings when you ran the hot water into the bathtub. What was going to happen? I never knew but I pictured something awful.

Grandparents, parents and relatives loved to use fear sayings on kids for I was the recipient of an overload of them. Maybe you were too. And guess what? I carried over some of those sayings to my sons but never the one about the health inspector or the poor farm: Those were just too ghastly to even say much less think about!

Sherry Hill


  1. How about this one: If you swallow a watermelon seed, a watermelon will grow in your stomach. I believed that for the longest time! You should have seen me spitting those seeds out. :)

  2. I'd forgotten about that one! No wonder you spit those seeds out!!!! What fear?