Safety Songs for Kids from the 1940’s


Have you ever heard of Safety Songs?  If you grew up in New York in the 1940’s, like our correspondent Richard Stark, I bet you have.  In the New York City school system, teachers would teach them to kids.  Richard remembers growing up singing them.

The Safety Songs that Richard grew up with were written by Irving Caesar in 1937.  Caesar also wrote such hits as "Tea for Two" and "I’m just a Gigolo". 

Here’s what the Irving Caesar site stated about the songs:

…to teach children about the potential dangers of everything from crossing the street to playing with matches. Caesar claimed the idea had come to him as he gazed out the window of his office, watching children walk along the streets, blithely disregarding traffic and the warning shouts of their mothers…. New York City Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia [in office from 1934 to 1945] distributed the songs in New York City public school classrooms.

Richard Stark said, "I think people who didn’t live in NY City in the 1940s and go to the city schools missed an important part of childhood by not learning the Safety Songs!"

I was already aware of a Safety Song called "Remember Your Name and Address" because many people have written to me asking about it. Richard sent me the lyrics to a few more of the Safety Songs including, "Let the Ball Roll", "A Boy Stood on the Railroad Tracks" and "When You Look Out the Window".

Here’s "Let the Ball Roll" to give you a sample of one of these songs…

Let the Ball Roll

Play ball, play ball
Everyone likes to play ball
Sometimes you catch it
And sometimes you miss,
But when you miss, remember this:
Let the ball roll, let the ball roll
No matter where it may go
Let the ball roll, let the ball roll
It has to stop sometime you know.
Sometimes a truck flattens the ball
And makes it look like an egg
Though you can get many a ball
You never can get a new leg.

We’re lucky to have a recording of Richard singing this song.  This is authentic New York!

You can listen to more Safety Songs at Kiddie Records Weekly.

Many thanks to Richard Stark for singing Let the Ball Roll and for sharing this little part of musical history with us!

Mama Lisa

This article was posted on Monday, July 25th, 2011 at 4:56 pm and is filed under Children's Songs, Countries & Cultures, England, English, English Children's Songs, Irving Caesar, Languages, People, Recordings, Recordings of Songs, Safety Songs, Songs by Theme, USA. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

13 Responses to “Safety Songs for Kids from the 1940’s”


    […] safety songs for kids from the 1940s – Mama Lisa Description : Have you ever heard of Safety Songs? If you grew up in New York in the 1940′s, like our correspondent Richard Stark, I bet you have. In the New. .. […]

  2. Marilyn Stefano Says:

    I just remembered this song today when I saw a friend cross the street in traffic, & had to sing it to her – & none of the other women knew the song, so I said I guessed it was a New York thing. So you can imagine my delight when I discovered the song on your website, & indeed, it is a New York thing. Weren’t we lucky to have Irving Caesar write these safety songs?

  3. Patricia Frederick Says:

    Not just New York … we learned those songs when I was in kindergarten in Massachusetts, 1948-’49 school year. I can still sing “The Boy Stood on the Railroad Track”, “Let the Ball Roll”, and part of “Remember Your Name and Address”. I saw a copy of “Sing a Song of Safety” at an antiques shop here in Massachusetts a couple of years ago, but they wanted more money for it than I thought I could justify spending on it.

  4. tallulah Says:

    I can’t tell you how thrilled i was to find this website…been looking for info on this safety song album for decades. I grew up in LaCrosse, WI where i attended Roosevelt elementary school from 1948-55. Our teachers played this album for us over and over for years. The messages are so embedded in my head that i can hardly look at a pin cushion without hearing “needles and pin, needles and pins, that’s where real trouble begins’ replaying. And my favorite ‘Let the Ball Roll’ (thanks so much for reprinting those lyric) with it’s graphic description of the consequences of careless street crossing was my favorite and undoubtedly is responsible for me entering adulthood with both legs intact.
    If you google “tiny tim my space” you can listen to him reprise “I Know My Name and Address”. Again thank you so much for this website.

  5. Judith Jagoda Says:

    I remember this song from first grade, singing in the auditorium.. I sang it to my children and grandchildren and now I sing it to the children I care for…It’s as fresh in my mind as it was in 1944 at PS38 in Queens,NY Thanks

  6. One Page Poetry Circle | abigailburnhambloom Says:

    […] taught her safety rhymes and songs when she began to walk to school with a friend. Her favorite was Let the Ball Roll (1937), written by Irving Caesar, who wrote the lyrics for Tea for Two. The poem reminded children […]

  7. Martha Hayden Says:

    I was so thrilled to find this website! I went to New York City public schools in the 1960s when I learned the song Let the Ball Roll and other safety songs. The memory of the songs has stayed with me all these years…just not all the words. I loved listening to the recording of Richard Stark! Now I want to teach the songs to my grandkids. Thanks!

  8. Joe Paquette Says:

    Thank you so much for this. I remember learning this song when I was in kindergarten (1956) in Canada. Occasionally, when I reminisce about the bygone years, I still find myself humming this tune. I wonder how many children were saved from bad accidents by having been taught this wonderfully simple song in school.

    I was just wondering, is there any way to get a copy of this mp3?

  9. louise Chandler Says:

    We had these safety songs in Cullman, Alabama. My favorite was Pins and Needles.

  10. Lynne Starkey Says:

    PS 96, South Ozone Park, Queens, NY – mid 1940’s –
    still remember most of the words, great teaching tools
    so glad to find this site and hear the songs again.

  11. Werner Knurr Says:

    I spent three years at Hamner Hall Kindergarten, in Montgomery, AL, 1938 – 40 because I could not speak English. I was born in Germany in 1936, and came to this country in 1938, two weeks before Kristallnacht. In those days there was no pre-school. I always wondered about” Let the Ball Roll”. Just couldn’t get it out of my head. And now I know. It makes me happy and brings back a lot of wonderful memories. Thank you.

  12. Tara Temprano Rossi Says:

    I am the Safety Town Coordinator for Hawthorne, NJ and wanted a coy of this song. Is there any way I could order it?

  13. Joanne Says:

    These safety songs were my favorites in the late 1940s.

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