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 April 13, 2016
“Don’t let yesterday take up too much of today”

"Don’t/Never let yesterday take/use up too much of today” is a saying that has been printed on many images. “Don’t let yesterday use up too much of today” was included in the pamphlet Brake Shoe Yardsticks (1949) by William Barnes Given, Jr. (1886-1968), the president of the American Brake Shoe Company. The “yardsticks” were pithy statements about business and life.

The saying has been credited to American actor and humorist Will Rogers (1879-1935) since at least 1960, but there’s no evidence that he said it. American basketball coach John Wooden (1910-2010) is often credited with the saying, but he did not originate it.


OCLC WorldCat record
Brake shoe yardsticks.
Author: William Barns Given; American Brake Shoe Company.
Publisher: [New York], [American Brake Shoe Co.], [1949-1953]
Edition/Format: Print book : English

OCLC WorldCat record
More brake shoe yardsticks. Vol. 2
Author: William Barns Given; American Brake Shoe Company.
Publisher: [New York] : [American Brake Shoe Co.], [1953]
Edition/Format: Print book : English

1 July 1949, Railway Signaling and Communications, “Yardsticks” by William B. Given, Jr., (President, American Brake Shoe Company), pg. 445, col. 2:
Don’t let yesterday use up too much of today.

15 August 1949, Altoona (PA) Mirror, “Mirrorgrams,” pg. 10, col. 2:
Don’t let yesterday use up too much of today; and don’t let tomorrow interfere with your plans for today.

Google Books
Metropolitan
Volume 45
1949
Pg. 54:
Don’t let yesterday use up too much of today.

11 July 1951, Trenton (NJ) Evening Times, “Quotable Quotes,” pg. 20, col. 5:
“Don’t let yesterday use up too much of today.”—Brake Shoe Yardsticks.

19 October 1959, Press-Telegram (Long Beach, CA), “Avoid This Man, Honey!” by Molly Mayfield, pg. B5, col. 5:
I’m thankful my husband loves me enough to want to share pleasant memories with me. We’ve both learned, also in discussing the past, not to let yesterday take up too much of today.—A HAPPY SECOND WIFE.

3 January 1960, Los Angeles (CA) Times, “Cheerful earfuls” by Bennett Cerf, This Week magazine, pg. 15, col. 1:
WILL ROGERS: Don’t let yesterday use up too much of today!

Google Books
June 1967, Supervisory Management, pg. 20, col. 1:
DON’T let yesterday take up too much of today.— WILL ROGERS

21 November 1974, The Hudson County Courier (Crockett, TX), “See What I Mean?” by Ray Swindell, pg. 4A, col. 6:
There is a sign in the Crockett Real Estate office which reads. “Do not let yesterday take up too much of today”, or something to that effect.

13 January 1977, Augusta (GA) Chronicle, “Schramm now admits AFC tough,” pg. 6C, col. 1:
DALLAS (AP)—Tex Schramm has a Christmas gift from his wife that might make good billboard material in Minnesota and apply to the entire National Football Conference,

It’s a granite paperweight that reads “Never Let Yesterday Take Up Too Much of Today.”

Google Books
The Greatest Speakers I Ever Heard and What You Can Learn from Them!
By Dottie Walters
Waco, TX: WRS Pub.
1994
Pg. XIII:
That man was Will Rogers. Will often said, “Don’t let yesterday take up too much of today. The world is full of cactus, but that doesn’t mean we have to sit on it.”

Google Books
The Leader’s Pocket Guide:
101 Indispensable Tools, Tips, and Techniques for Any Situation

By John Baldoni
New York, NY: AMACOM
2013
Pg. 28:
“Don’t let yesterday take up too much of today,” said legendary basketball coach John Wooden. Keep moving forward.

Google Books
3000 Astounding Quotes
By James Egan
Lulu Publishing (Lulu.com)
2015
Pg. 88:
Don’t let yesterday take up too much of today. - Will Rogers

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityWork/Businesses • Wednesday, April 13, 2016 • Permalink