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 March 23, 2013
“Never forget that your weapon was made by the lowest bidder” (military saying)

"Never forget that your weapon was made by the lowest bidder”—that is, it’s probably of the cheapest quality—was part of a jocular “Murphy’s Laws of Combat” (from an unnamed army colonel) that was printed in newspapers in 1989. ‘Never forget that your equipment was made by the lowest bidder” is sometimes given as the form of the saying.

The joke had been used earlier by the space industry. In 1966, astronaut Wally Schirra (1923-2007) was supposedly asked about his pre-launch thoughts, and he was credited with saying, “Gee, I remembered everything was made by the lowest bidder.” Astronaut Gus Grissom (1926-1967) was credited with a similar line in newspaper articles published in 1969 and 1971.


7 July 1966, New Castle (PA) News, ‘Rockettown” by Thad Bukowski, pg. 12, col. 2:
The Cape people, with their problems and frustrations, have developed a great sense of humor. Harris reminded us that astronaut Walter Schirra was asked what thoughts he had when he sat in the tip of the rocket just before it was fired.

“Gee, I remembered everything was made by the lowest bidder,” was the answer.

11 April 1969, Big Spring (TX) Daily Herald, pg. 12, cols. 6-7:
“Does it ever get scary?” (Reporter—ed.)
“I’ll say.” (An astronaut—ed.)
“When?”
“Well, first of all we’re sitting up there on top of a rocket 17 stories high.”
‘Yes, I can see your point. What else?”
“Well, the rocket has 80,000 separate parts, and every one of them was made by the lowest bidder.”

29 January 1971, The Register-Republic (Rockford, IL), “Ailing industry faces new blow” by Bob Considine, pg. 16A, col. 3:
Few men have consciously or otherwise produced their own epitaphs. Grissom did. A reporter once asked him what went through his mind as he lay strapped to is contour couch and heard the last seconds of the countdown tolled.

Gus nonchalantly said, “Well, I look around the cabin and realize that everything I see was made by the lowest bidder.”
(Gus Grissom, one of the original NASA Project Mercury astronauts, was killed during a pre-launch test for the Apollo 1 mission in 1967—ed.)

20 March 1978, San Diego (CA) Union, “Women Pilots, At Home In Planes, Look To Space” by Ken Hudson, pg. D-1, col. 4:
When she was first selected as a mission specialist for the space shuttle-orbiter program, she was told to remember that everything in the shuttle was made by the lowest bidder—but that doesn’t bother her a bit.

Google Books
10 May 1989, Lewiston (ME) Journal, “New officers should inspect Murphy’s cribsheet” by David Evans, pg. 6A, col. 3:
7. Never forget your weapon was made by the lowest bidder.
(From an unnamed army colonel’s “Murphy’s Laws of Combat”—ed.)

Google Books
American Folklore:
An Encyclopedia

Edited by Jan Harold Brunvand
New York, NY: Garland Publishing
1996
Pg. 736:
Some examples: “Remember, your weapon was made by the lowest bidder”; ...

18 September 1997, Augusta (GA) Chronicle, Letters to the Editor, pg. 4A, col. 6:
In the military there is what is referred to as ‘Murphy’s Laws of Combat.” The sixth law states: Never forget that your weapon was made by the lowest bidder.
(Letter by William E. Johnson of Augusta—ed.)

Google Books
By Dawn’s Early Light
By David Hagberg
New York, NY: Forge
2003
Pg. 175:
Never forget that your equipment was made by the lowest bidder. 

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Politics/Military • Saturday, March 23, 2013 • Permalink