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 December 29, 2006
“Don’t pee on my leg and tell me it’s raining”

"Don’t pee on my leg and tell me it’s raining” was the title of a 1996 book by television’s “Judge Judy” (Judith Sheindlin). A older version is, “Don’t spit in my face and tell me it’s raining.” “You can’t spit in our faces and then tell us it’s raining” was cited in the New York (NY) Evening Post in 1903.

The saying is often associated with the the Old West. Clint Eastwood’s film The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976) contained: “There’s another old saying, Senator: Don’t piss down my back and tell me it’s raining.” Alabama Governor George Wallace’s aide used the phrase, and the phrase appears in a book on African-Americans in the rural South.

“Don’t put sugar on shit and tell me it’s a brownie” is a similar saying.


Old Fulton NY Post Cards
3 October 1903, The Evening Post (New York, NY), “Split in Sheehan Ranks,” pg. 3, col. 1:
“You can’t hand us over to Tammany,” said one of the bolting members. “I want to tell Sheehan and the rest of his friends that you can’t spit in our faces and then tell us it’s raining. We are on to your game.”

6 March 1957, Naugatuck (CT) Daily News, “What Our Readers Think: George McNamara Explains ‘Why I Am In This Race.’” pg. 8, col. 7:
These out of town politicians might know their (hogs) and their corn cobs and be able to fool the village yokels but no one is going to spit in my Face and tell me it’s raining. I know better.
Sincerely yours,
GEORGE E. MCNAMARA

4 May 1960, Jerusalem (Israel) Post, “Spittle into Rain,” pg. 4, col. 4:
Their concern for relations with Nasser has gone so far that they are prepared to have him “spit in their face and say it’s raining.”

Old Fulton NY Post Cards
10 March 1970, Schenectady (NY) Gazette, ‘Everybody’s Column,” pg. 16, col. 7:
To those who want to liberalize abortion laws I say this: spit in my eye if you want, but don’t try to tell me it’s raining.
B. J. ZUMPANO, M.D.
Resident Physician in Psychiatry,
Mercy State Hospital

21 November 1971, New York Times, Pg. SM33:
“No more you spit in a Jew’s face, he looks up to see if it’s raining,” reported a small, muscular 18-year-old.

Google Books
Alias Big Cherry:
The Confessions of a Master Criminal

By Robert H. Adleman
New York, NY: Dial Press
1973
Pg. 85:
“Are you trying to spit in my face and tell me it’s raining outside?”

Internet Movie Database
Memorable Quotes from
The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976)
Senator: The war’s over. Our side won the war. Now we must busy ourselves winning the peace. And Fletcher, there’s an old saying: To the victors belong the spoils.
Fletcher: There’s another old saying, Senator: Don’t piss down my back and tell me it’s raining.

17 October 1977, New York Times, pg. 48:
At the apartment house, one “colorful” neighbor is Mr. Feibleman (Larry Best), whose old saying, delivered in Yiddish accent, include: “Don’t spit in my face and tell me it’s raining.”

1 February 1985, Syracuse (NY) Herald-Journal, pg. A8:
As Gramps used to say, “Don’t spit on me and then tell me it’s raining.”

OCLC WorldCat record
Don’t pee on my leg and tell me it’s raining : America’s toughest family court judge speaks out
Author: Judy Sheindlin; Josh Getlin
Publisher: New York, NY : HarperCollins Publishers, ©1996.
Edition/Format: Print book : English
Database: WorldCat
Summary:
A family court judge shares her thoughts on juvenile crime, welfare abuse, and bureaucratic waste

Google Books
Call to Home: African Americans Reclaim the Rural South
by Carol B. Stack
New York: Basic Books
1996
My mother used to tell me: “Don’t piss in my face and tell me it’s raining.”

16 March 1997, New York Times, “In This People’s Court, Only One Opinion Counts” by Andy Meisler, pg. H36:
“Look up here,” the star, Judge Judith B. Sheindlin, said recently. “Do you see ‘stupid’ written on my forehead?”
(...)
Indeed, quite a few laid-back West Coast types—both in and out of the television industry—have had their preconceptions altered by the pronouncements of Judge Sheindlin, a recently retired supervising judge of Manhattan Family Court and the author of the improbably titled book “Don’t Pee on My Leg and Tell Me It’s Raining.”

Google Books
The Politics of Rage:
George Wallace, the Origins of the New Conservativism, and the Transformation of American Politics
by Dan T. Carter
Baton Rouge, LA: LSU Press
2000
Pg. 275:
“George,” I said, “don’t piss on my leg (and tell me it’s raining).”

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • Friday, December 29, 2006 • Permalink