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 13, 2013
“He’s got more guts than you can hang on a fence”

Someone who “has more guts than you could hang on a fence (post)” is someone who has a lot of guts (bravery). The expression has been included in many western novels, especially those set in Texas. “They had more guts than you could hang on a fence-post” was cited in print in 1946. “He’s got more guts than you could hang on a fence” was cited in print in 1953, in a Texas professor’s discussion about ranch talk.

The exact origin of the saying is unknown.


Google Books
Once in the Saddle (Later title: The One-shot Kid—ed.)
By Nelson C. Nye
New York, NY: Ace Books
1946
Pg. 158:
They had more guts than you could hang on a fence-post.

29 December 1953, Tucson (AZ) Daily Citizen, “Ranch Talk Is Preserved For All Time” by Clifton Abbott, pg. 12, col. 4:
He’s got more guts than you could hang on a fence.
(...)
THESE ARE SOME of the ranch country metaphors quoted by Dr. George D. Hendricks of North Texas State college which delighted members of the 65th annual meeting of the American Folklore Society currently in session at the University of Arizona.

20 August 1961, Los Angeles (CA) Times, “Parody of Westerns Filled With Laughs” by George Feinstein, pg. B7:
Enter Major Patten. a slight man of about frying size but “with more guts than you could hang on a fence.”

Google Books
Saint Patrick’s Battalion
By Carl Krueger
New York, NY: Popular Library
1962, ©1960
Pg. 150:
These people had — he smiled at the remark of a captured plainsman from Texas — “more guts than you can hang on a fence.”

Google Books
Will Penny
By Tom Gries
New York, NY: Ballantine Books
1968
Pg. 57:
“You got more guts than a man could hang on a fence.”

Google Books
More Texas sayings than you can shake a stick at
By Anne Dingus
Houston, TX: Gulf Publishing
1996
Pg. ?:
She’s got more guts than you could hang on a fence.

Google Books
The Facts on File Dictionary of American Regionalisms
By Robert Hendrickson
New York, NY: Facts on File
2000
Pg. 524:
more guts than you could hang on a fence Said by cowboys of someone with lots of courage. “He wasn’t a big man, but he had more guts than you could hang on a fence.”

Google Books
Rocky Road
By Rose Kent
New York, NY: Yearling
2010
Pg. 91:
“Driving cross-country like that, knowing nobody, and now going solo in business. I’d say your ma’s got true grit fitting a Texan,” Winnie said.
“Pop used to say Ma had more guts than you could hang on a fence.”

Baltimore (MD) Post-Examiner
Texas showed us how to make sure the government knows who it’s working for
By Nancy Murray · June 27, 2013
(...)
As they say in Texas, that woman has more guts than you can hang on a fence. 

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • Saturday, July 13, 2013 • Permalink