A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from July 05, 2013
“Are we there yet?”

"Are we there yet?”: is a question that children, sitting in the back seat, ask to parents in the front seat during a family car trip. The question was popularized in an “Uncle Wiggily” story by Howard R. Garis in June 1924; a caterpillar took a ride with Uncle Wiggily and constantly asked, “Are we there yet?”

The question was further popularized on April 19, 1964, when comic poet Ogden Nash (1902-1971) wrote for This Week magazine, “Are We There Yet, Daddy?”


TV Tropes
Are We There Yet?
Stock Phrase in comedy, usually repeated ad nauseam, usually by children or childish characters, much to the annoyance of the other passengers. The stock response is a “We’ll get there when we get there!” in an annoyed voice, or “Don’t make me turn this car around!” when the driver is getting fed up.

Occasionally said when the character has fallen asleep and is being woken up. It still prompts exasperation because the character only needed to look about.

5 June 1924, Dallas (TX) Morning News, “Uncle Wiggily and the Caterpillar” by Howard R. Garis, sec. 2, pg. 13, col. 5:
“I just came out to ask if we were at my cousin’s house yet,” said the caterpillar. “I am so anxious to see her.”

“No, we aren’t there yet,” answered Uncle Wiggily. “Get back in my pocket.” So the caterpillar lady crawled back in his pocket. But pretty soon Uncle Wiggily felt something tickling his left ear.

“Are we there yet?” asked a soft voice, and there was Mrs. Fur, out again.

“No, we aren’t there yet,” said the bunny. “I’m hopping along as fast as I ca. Get back I my pocket.” So Mrs. Fur crawled back in his pocket. But pretty soon Uncle Wiggily felt something tickling his right ear. “Zippy!” he said with a shiver and shake.

“Are we there yet?” asked a soft voice, and there was Mrs. Fur, out again.

“Oh, will you please go back in my pocket and stay there,” cried Uncle Wiggily, as politely as he could.

27 June 1930, Coshocton (OH) Tribune, “Smiles,” pg. 4, col. 3:
Charlie was on his way with his father to visit Grant’s tomb for the first time. Every time the bus stopped, Charlie turned to his father and asked:

“Are we there yet, daddy?”

Finally, growing impatient, his father told him to keep quiet.

Charlie said nothing for some time after, but at last, unable to keep still any longer, he leaned over to his father and said:

“Say, daddy, don’t blame me if we go past our corner.”

Google Books
The Third Door:
The Autobiography of an American Negro Woman

By Ellen Tarry
London: Staples Press
1956, ©1955
Pg. 287:
Gadsden, Alabama, was our destination for the day and we crept through a narrow strip of Tennessee and Georgia with the children asking every time we reached a town, “Are we there yet?”

12 April 1964, The Times-Picayune (New Orleans, LA), “Remoulade: Magazine Theme Is to Be ‘Recreation’” by Howard Jacobs, sec. 3, pg. 13, col. 1:
INAUGURATION of a new “themed issue” editorial plan has been announced by This Week Magazine.
(...)
ANY PARENT who has ever traveled with small children will appreciate these amusing verses by one of America’s foremost humor poets. The feature is headed: ARE WE THERE YET, DADDY?

19 April 1964, New York (NY) Herald Tribune, This Week magazine, pages 6-7:
ARE WE THERE YET, DADDY?
By Ogden Nash
Drawn by Roy McKie

An ode and a lesson for those
of you who have traveled,
near or far, with little ones

SONG FOR THE FRONT SEAT…
(...)
...FOR THE BACK SEAT
(...)

OCLC WorldCat record
Are we there yet?
Author: Diane Vreuls
Publisher: New York : Simon and Schuster, [1975]
Edition/Format: Book : Fiction : English

29 November 1977, Boston (MA) Globe, “Hodge a working Nighthawk” by Steve Marantz, pg. 34:
The next day New Haven bused to Portland, Maine, and Hodge was heard to comment, tongue-in-cheek, “Are we there yet?” a few minutes after the 4-hour ride started.

OCLC WorldCat record
Unseen faces : including, Are we there yet? TV news, Nine years up the road, Splitting-CA style, and over fifty unseen faces
Author: Jeff Gough
Publisher: San Francisco : California Living Books, San Francisco Examiner Division of the Hearst Corp., ©1979.
Series: California living book. 
Edition/Format:Book : English : 1st ed

Google News Archive
8 May 1981, Miami (FL) News, “But Are We There Yet Daddy?,” pg. 3E, col. 1:
PROVIDENCE, RI — Vacationing by car with the kids can quickly turn a “dream vacation” into a nightmare if you cannot keep the youngsters entertained.

OCLC WorldCat record
Are we there yet?
Author: Robert Buckeye; Michael Tarachow
Publisher: Markesan, Wis. : [The Author], 1984
Edition/Format: Book : English

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityTransportation • Friday, July 05, 2013 • Permalink