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.

Recent entries:
“When I said ‘nuke the Chinese,’ I meant put the takeout in the microwave” (4/22)
“Why is ground beef so popular?"/"Because the flying cows are really hard to catch.” (4/22)
“A mother is a person who, seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people…” (4/22)
“If you wait long enough to make dinner, everyone will just eat cereal.  It’s science” (4/22)
“Men make counterfeit money; in many more cases, money makes counterfeit men” (4/22)
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Entry from July 14, 2013
“I never drink water; that is the stuff that rusts pipes”

The comic actor W. C. Fields (1880-1946) was known for drinking alcohol. He allegedly said that he didn’t drink water because “that’s the stuff that rusts pipes.” Fields was credited with this line from about 1968, but William P. Draper, of Sea Cliff, NY, had articles written about this in the early 1930s. In January 1930, the 91-year-old Draper said that he hadn’t drunk water for 40 years because it rusts pipes.

A similar saying—also usually credited to W. C. Fields—is “I don’t drink water because fish fuck in it.”


Old Fulton NY Post Cards
2 January 1930, Geneva (NY) Daily Times, pg. 9, col. 3:
Sea Cliff, N. Y.—William P. Draper, who began his 91st year of life with 1930, says he has drunk no water for 40 years, because it rusts pipes. He uses tea, coffee and other beverages.

Old Fulton NY Post Cards
2 January 1932, The Evening Leader (Corning, NY), pg. 4, col. 3:
SEA CLIFF—“Uncle Bill” Draper, celebrating his 93rd birthday, declares he has not drink water for 40 years. “If it rusts pipe, think what it will do to you system,” he says.
(Grammar errors in original—ed.)

Google Books
Movies of the Thirties
By Ann Lloyd and David Robinson
London: Orbis
1983
Pg. 90:
Among his other pet hates were children, dogs, old ladies, Hollywood producers, water ("it rusts pipes") and Philadelphia (his birthplace).

Google Books
20,000 Quips & Quotes
By Evan Esar
New York, NY: Barnes & Noble Books
1995, ©1968
Pg. 855:
I never drink water — that’s the stuff that rusts pipes. -W. C. Fields

Google Books
The Quotable Drunkard:
Words of Wit, Wisdom, and Philosophy From the Bottom of the Glass

By Steven Kates
Avon, MA: Adams Media
2011
Pg. 224:
“I never drink water; that is the stuff that rusts pipes.” —W. C. Fields

Google Books
Quotes, Jokes & Anecdotes
By Gerard O’Boyle
Leicestershire: Matador
2012
Pg. 12:
I don’t drink water. Have you seen the way it rusts pipes?
W. C. Fields

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityFood/Drink • Sunday, July 14, 2013 • Permalink