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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“No one looks back on their life and remembers the nights they got plenty of sleep” (7/23)
“Roses are red. Violets are blue. Vodka costs less than dinner for two” (7/23)
“If you don’t like the way I drive, stay off the sidewalk!” (7/23)
“I am free of all prejudice. I hate everyone equally” (7/23)
Entry forthcoming—B.P. (7/23)
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Entry from August 18, 2011
“So dry the Baptists are sprinkling, the Methodists are spitting…” (Texas heat joke)

The extremely hot Texas weather has been the subject of many jokes, such as this one (from 1953):

“It is so dry that the Baptists are sprinkling and the Methodists are using just a damp cloth.”

The joke has changed somewhat through the years, with a new ending such as “the Methodists are spitting, and the Catholics are giving rain checks.”


7 October 1953, Chillicothe (MO) Constitution-Tribune, pg. 5, col. 6:
“SO DRY COWS GIVING POWDERED MILK”
COLUMBIA, Mo.—The good humor of Missourians is unsurpassed and the disasterous drought has been responsible for several wisecracks that are going the rounds.

Down in Texas county, for example, where the people seem to have a lot in common with the residents of that great state by the name, theboys are saying, “It is so dry in Texas county that the cows are giving powdered milk.”

Around Springfield they are saying, “It is so dry that the Baptists are sprinkling and the Methodists are using just a damp cloth.”

20 October 1953, Ada (OK) Evening News, pg. 1 (above the masthead):
The drought down in Texas mustbegetting really serious. B. M. Musselman in the Shawnee News-Star reports that down in the Lone Star state it is so dry the Baptists aresprinkling, the Methodists usinga damp cloth.

2 November 1953, Council Bluffs (IA) Nonpareil, “Here and There with Clayton Rand,” pg. 4, col. 7:
The ladies who served this food apologized for the shortages caused by the long drought. It hasn’t rained there since July. It was so dry there the Baptists were sprinkling and the Methodists were baptizing with a damp cloth.

20 December 1953, Springfield (MA) Sunday Republican, pg. 11C, col. 5:
Drought Affects Baptisms
Charleston, S. C. (AP)—Another Texas drought story popped up at the South Carolina Baptist Convention. “The recent drought was so bad,” a Texas minister reported, “that even baptisms were affected.” “Before the drought ended,” he declared, “Baptists were sprinkling, Methodists were using a damp wash cloth, and Presbyterians were giving rain checks.”

Google Books
Midland Schools
Volume 69
Iowa State Education Department
1954
Pg. 52:
DROUGHT..."You think the drought is bad here,” the merchant observed, “but down south o’ here a ways they haven’t had any rain for so long that the Baptists are sprinkling, the Methodists are using a damp cloth, and the Presbyterians are issuing rain checks.”

Google Books
Bennett Cerf’s The Life of the Party:
A new collection of stories and anecdotes

By Bennett Cerf
Garden City, NY: Doubleday
1956
Pg. 131:
The Baptists of Oklahoma, insists Dr. Alexander, are now using the sprinkling system. Methodists and Presbyterians use a damp cloth. And the Episcopalians and Congregationalists are just passing out rain checks.

Google News Archive
21 November 1978, Spartanburg (SC) Herald, “THe Stroller” by Seymour Rosenberg, pg. 1, col. 1:
Two local residents of a drought-stricken area were discussingtheir plight. “It could be a lot worse, though,” one finally admitted. “I hear that out West they ain’t had rain for so long that the Baptists are sprinkling, the Methodists are using a damp cloth, and the Presbyterians are issuing rain checks.”

26 March 1989, Dallas (TX) Morning News, “When talking Texan, this dog’ll hunt” by Kent Bittle:
Drought So dry the Baptists are sprinkling and the Methodists are using washcloths.

13 August 1994, San Antonio (TX) , “Collection is evidence of dry wit” by Leslie Barker:
t’s so dry the joke goes that during baptisms, the Baptists are sprinkling, the Methodists are using damp cloths and the Presbyterians are giving promissory notes.

More Colorful Texas Sayings Than You Can Shake a Stick At
Texans have unique ways of expressing their feelings. Common as cornbread, old as dirt, funny as all get-out&endash;homespun expressions link modern Texans to our rural and agricultural past, conveying the resolute spirit and plainspoken humor of our heroes and pioneers. Some sayings are instantly familiar because our parents and grandparents quoted them; others parallel the wisdom of biblical proverbs or Poor Richards Almanac.
-- Anne Dingus, Texas Monthly, December 1994
Here is a collection of the most geographically relevant expressions by category.
(...)
Dry
So dry the birds are building their nests out of barbed wire.
So dry the Baptists are sprinkling, the Methodists are spitting, and the Catholics are giving rain checks.
So dry the catfish are carrying canteens.
So dry the trees are bribing the dogs.
So dry my duck don’t know how to swim.
It’s been dry so long we only got a quarter inch of rain during Noah’s Flood.
So dry I’m spitting cotton.
Dry as a powder house.
Dry as the heart of a haystack.

Google Groups: bit.listserv.blues-l
Newsgroups: bit.listserv.blues-l
From: Dave Witt
Date: 1996/10/28
Subject: Re: Dick’s Hatband

Dry
So dry the Baptists are sprinkling, the Methodists are spitting, and the Catholics are giving rain checks.
So dry the trees are bribing the dogs.
Drier than a popcorn fart. 

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (0) Comments • Thursday, August 18, 2011 • Permalink