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 26, 2015
“My grandmother still doesn’t need glasses. Drinks straight from the bottle”

The word “glasses” can mean “eyeglasses” or “wine glasses.” A popular joke has a comedian state that his mother (or grandmother) “still doesn’t need glasses. She drinks right out of the bottle!”

A form of the joke has been cited in print since at leas 1949. American singer, actor and comedian Dean Martin (1917-1995) told the joke in 1963. Since at least 1986, the joke has been associated with comedian Henny Youngman (1906-1998), who was called the “king of the one-liners.”

New York-born comedian Joe E. Lewis (1902-1971) told the joke about his own drinking—not about his mother or his grandmother. “I don’t need glasses. I drink right out of the bottle,” Lewis was credited with in 1964.


4 October 1949, Oakland (CA) Tribune, pg. 40, col. 3:
AND MAKE A SPECTACLE
Cousin Ceedie bought himself some new glasses on his last trip to the city. For his birthday last week he invited his friend, Hawkeye Jones, over to try them out.

“But I don’t need glasses,” objected Hawkeye.

“Well come on over anyhow,” insisted Ceedie. “I’ll let you drink out of the bottle.”—Chicago Tribune.

28 February 1963, Galveston (TX) Daily News, “Today’s Laugh,” pg. 1, col. 2:
Down at the friendly neighborhood tavern, they were talking about Dean Martin’s hearty grandmother who is 97 and still doesn’t need glasses—drinks it straight out of the bottle like she always did.

13 March 1964, Aberdeen (SD) American-News, “Earl Wilson’s New York,” pg. 4, col. 4:
And we don’t think this is the time to recall Joe E. Lewis’ line ("I don’t need glasses. I drink right out of the bottle") so we won’t.

2 April 1964, Morning Advocate (Baton Rouge, LA), “Group Presents Unpublished Gershwin Music” by Erskine Johnson (NEA), pg. 18-A, col. 7:
There is time for Billy (Wilder—ed.) to film one of Dean’s (Dean Martin’s—ed.) night club jokes about his amazing 85-year-old mother.

“She doesn’t need glasses,” Dean marvels. “She drinks right out of the bottle.”

25 December 1971, Greensboro (NC) Record, “Dino Top 1971 Showman” by Earl Wilson, pg. A9, col. 1:
This is not to slight his (Dean Martin’s—ed.) mother-in-law stories..."She doesn’t need glasses. Drinks right out of the bottle.”

9 October 1986, Centre Daily TImes (State College, PA), “Dear Abby” by Abigail Van Buren, pg. B-4, col. 3:
“My grandmother is over 80 and still doesn’t need glasses. Drinks riht out of the bottle.” (Henny Youngman)

Google News Archive
15 January 1989, Victoria (TX) Advocate, “Glad You Asked That” by Marilyn and Hy Gardner, Magazine, pg. 2, col. 2:
A FUNNY FROM HENNY YOUNGMAN: “My grandmother is over 80 and still doesn’t need glasses. Drinks right out of the bottle!”

Twitter
jane canapini
ā€@GrownupTravels
‘My friends are in their 40s and 50s and they don’t need glasses...yup, they drink right from the bottle.’ #grownuphumour
8:02 AM - 20 Jun 2015

Twitter
Opie Dokey
ā€@OpieDokey
My grandmother is ninety three and still doesn’t need glasses.
She drinks straight from the bottle.
2:16 PM - 14 Dec 2015

Posted by Barry Popik
Saturday, December 26, 2015 • Permalink