return to square 1 (maybe 1923)

Stephen Goranson goranson at DUKE.EDU
Fri Nov 6 14:04:04 UTC 2009

Quoting Garson O'Toole <adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM>:

> Stephen Goranson said:
>> Garson, the citation is confirmed in a paper copy, except that the
>> title page
>> has 1924, though the verso has "Copyright 1923 ... Set up and printed.
>> Published October, 1923.". It's about a re-education movement test:
>> page 81:
>> "...for movement of a different type, I have used a series of
>> squares one inch
>> to the side arranged in a line as shown in figure 10. The patient
>> sitting at a
>> table is directed to point his finger at the first square and with
>> successive
>> backward and forward movements to point to each of the succeeding
>> squares [p.
>> 82] in the series of ten. After this has been accomplished, he is then to
>> return to square 1 and to do the series over again and again, and to
>> continue
>> until the signal to stop has been given."
>> Stephen
> Excellent! I greatly appreciate your taking the time to check this
> citation on paper Stephen.
> The theory that "back to square one" comes from a children's game like
> hopscotch seems to be supported by a different citation from the 1920s
> that I found. The author William Albin Stecher wrote several books
> about educational gymnastics, physical training, games, and dances for
> children.
> "Games and Dances" by William A. Stecher was published in different
> versions. The term "back to square 1" appears in the 1926 edition, but
> it does not appear in the 1912 edition according to the Google Books
> search engine. Unfortunately, the 1926 edition is blocked. It does not
> even display snippets. The reference is supposedly on page 132. Once
> again I am stuck, but I feel sheepish asking someone to verify this.
> Google Books has a 2007 edition that may be a copy of an older edition
> and it contains the phrase "back to square 1" twice. The phrase occurs
> in a discussion of hopscotch that includes diagrams. This is the full
> sentence:
> "After reaching the last square, a player, instead of winning the
> game, must work his way back to Square 1."
> Games and Dances by William A. Stecher,  READ BOOKS, 2007.
> Garson O'Toole

Apparently it's in the 1920 edition, page 112 at internetarchicve:

Stephen Goranson

The American Dialect Society -

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