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 August 31, 2016
“Fill what’s empty. Empty what’s full. And scratch where it itches”

Alice Roosevelt Longworth (1884-1980), the only daughter of Theodore Roosevelt, said this in an interview with New York fashion newspaper Women’s Wear Daily published on May 7, 1970:

“Recently someone came to town to ask her about sex for a magazine article. ‘I told him I had nothing to say on that subject except to say, if one wishes to talk about bodily functions, fill what’s empty, empty what’s full and scratch where it itches. I don’t know...blow your nose. Lovely. Nothing better than clearing the head. Sinus. Things like that. Put that all down if you want.’”

“Fill what’s empty. Empty what’s full. And scratch where it itches” has been frequently cited as Longworth’s philosophy of life, but the context of the quotation is usually not given.


Wikiquote: Alice Roosevelt Longworth
Alice Roosevelt Longworth (12 February 1884 – 20 February 1980) was the only daughter of Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th President of the United States, and his first wife, Alice Hathaway Lee.

Quotes
I have a simple philosophy. Fill what’s empty. Empty what’s full. And scratch where it itches.
. As quoted in The Best (1974), edited by Peter Passell and Leonard Ross.

7 May 1970, Women’s Wear Daily, “Alice Roosevelt Longworth: A Conversation with Mrs. L.” by Kandy Stroud, pg. 5, col. 1:
Recently someone came to town to ask her about sex for a magazine article. “I told him I had nothing to say on that subject except to say, if one wishes to talk about bodily functions, fill what’s empty, empty what’s full and scratch where it itches. I don’t know...blow your nose. Lovely. Nothing better than clearing the head. Sinus. Things like that. Put that all down if you want.”

Google Books
Great American Anecdotes
By John Whitcomb and Claire Whitcomb
New York, NY: Morrow
1993
Pg. 175:
I have a simple philosophy. Fill what’s empty. Empty what’s full. And scratch where it itches. — Alice Roosevelt Longworth, daughter of Teddy Roosevelt and Washington social doyenne

Google Books
Alice:
Alice Roosevelt Longworth, from White House Princess to Washington Power Broker

By Stacy A. Cordery
New York, NY: Penguin Books
2008
Pg. ?:
At another time, when asked her opinion of the sexual revolution, she said she’d always lived by the adage “Fill what’s empty, empty what’s full, and scratch where it itches.”

Google Books
The Official Rules:
5,427 Laws, Principles, and Axioms to Help You Cope with Crises, Deadlines, Bad Luck, Rude Behavior, Red Tape, and Attacks by Inanimate Objects

By Paul Dickson
Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, Inc.
2013
Pg. 208:
Longworth’s Philosophy. Fill what’s empty. Empty what’s full. And scratch where it itches. (Alice Roosevelt Longworth.)

Twitter
Daily_One_Liner
‏@Daily_OneLiner
I have a simple philosophy: Fill what’s empty. Empty what’s full. Scratch where it itches - Alice Roosevelt Longworth.
12:28 PM - 30 Aug 2016

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Politics/Military • Wednesday, August 31, 2016 • Permalink