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 October 02, 2011
“I’d rather be the man who bought the Brooklyn Bridge than the one who sold it”

"Call me a rube and a hick, but I’d a lot rather be the man who bought the Brooklyn Bridge than the man who sold it” is a line attributed to the humorist Will Rogers (1879-1935). The source of the quotation is not known, but Rogers’ son, Will Rogers, Jr., said in 1968 and 1975 that this was his favorite saying from his father.

The saying means that Will Rogers would rather be called a rube and a hick (one who falls for the Brooklyn Bridge scam) than someone who is dishonest.


Wikipedia: Will Rogers
William “Will” Penn Adair Rogers (November 4, 1879 – August 15, 1935) was an American cowboy, comedian, humorist, social commentator, vaudeville performer, actor, and one of the best-known celebrities in the 1920s and 1930s.

Known as Oklahoma’s favorite son, Rogers was born to a prominent Cherokee Nation family in Indian Territory (now part of Oklahoma). He traveled around the world three times, made 71 movies (50 silent films and 21 “talkies"), wrote more than 4,000 nationally-syndicated newspaper columns, and became a world-famous figure. By the mid-1930s, Rogers was adored by the American people. He was the leading political wit of the Progressive Era, and was the top-paid Hollywood movie star at the time. Rogers died in 1935 with aviator Wiley Post, when their small airplane crashed near Barrow, Alaska.

Will Rogers Today
Will Rogers on Business
“They may call me a rube and a hick, but I’d a lot rather be the man who bought the Brooklyn Bridge than the man who sold it.” (no verified date)

Will Rogers Memorial Museums (Claremore/Oologah, OK)
Quotes of Will Rogers
Call me a “rube” and a “hick,” but I’d lot rather be the man who bought the Brooklyn Bridge than the man who sold it.

Buying the Brooklyn Bridge
(...)
Will Rogers, however, had a very different thought. He said, “I would rather be the person who bought the Brooklyn Bridge than the one who sold it.”

When I first read this statement, I wondered what Rogers really meant. It is a criminal offense to sell something that isn’t yours, though I doubt that is what he meant. Rather, I think he was saying something about how he governed his personal life. Rogers wanted to be sure that he conducted his dealings with others in a manner that was fair and honest. He did not want to take advantage of another person by doing something like selling that person the Brooklyn Bridge.

21 April 1968, Helena (MT) Independent Record, “Will Rogers Jr. Tells Teachers Needs of Indians,” pg. 26, col. 2:
And the son’s favorite though perhaps not so well known quotation: “People call me a rube, a hick. I’d rather be the man who bought the Brooklyn Bridge—than the man who sold it.”

17 January 1975, Pontiac (IL) Daily Leader, “Will Rogers, Jr., reminisces abou this fathers’ world,” pg.1, col. 4:
Rogers’ favorite saying of his father is “Well they call me a rube and a hick, but I’d rather be the man who bought the Brooklyn bridge, than the man who sold it.”

Google News Archive
26 December 1979, Lakeland (FL) Ledger, “Big Oil squeeze play,” pg. 10A, col.1:
On the subject of living with himself. humorist Will Rogers said he would prefer being the fellow who bought the Brooklyn Bridge rather than the one who sold it.

Google Books
Zig Ziglar’s Secrets of Closing the Sale
By Zig Ziglar
New York, NY: Berkley Books
1984
Pg. 166:
He buys the statement of Will Rogers, who said, “I would rather be the man who bought the Brooklyn Bridge than the one who sold it.” The implication is clear that he will bend over backwards to protect his integrity and to keep from taking advantage of anyone else.

New York (NY) Times
Urban Tactics
For You, Half Price

By GABRIEL COHEN
Published: November 27, 2005
(...)
When it comes to victims and victimizers, perhaps the humorist Will Rogers deserves the last word. “They may call me a ‘rube’ and a ‘hick,’ “ he said. “But I’d a lot rather be the man who bought the Brooklyn Bridge than the man who sold it.”

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityNames/Phrases • (0) Comments • Sunday, October 02, 2011 • Permalink