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:
“To make me happy: Make me coffee, bring me coffee, be coffee….coffee” (3/24)
“Coffee! Coffee! It’s our drink! If we don’t get it, we can’t think!” (3/24)
“Coffee: because hating your job should be done with enthusiasm” (3/24)
“Want to hear a really dark joke?…Decaf” (3/24)
“I eat salad everyday. Bean salad…Coffee bean salad…Coffee. I drink coffee everyday” (3/24)
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Entry from April 21, 2012
“The dinner bell is always in tune”

"The dinner bell is always in tune (for a hungry man)” means that the announcement of dinner is always a welcome sound for the hungry. “De dinner-bell’s always in chune” has been cited in print since at least 1881; the dialect in this citation and other Southern citations appear to indicate that this saying was used on plantations.


Google Books
August 1881, Scribner’s Monthly, pg. 641:
Aphorisms from the Quarters.
(...)
De dinner-bell’s always in chune.

Google Books
Uncle Gabe Tucker: or, Reflections, song, and sentiment in the quarters
By John Alfred Macon
Philadelphia, PA: J.B. Lippincott & Co.
1883
Pg. 143:
De dinner-bell’s always in chune.

Google Books
The Frank C. Brown Collection of North Carolina Folklore; the folklore of North Carolina, collected by Dr. Frank C. Brown during the years 1912 to 1943, in collaboration with the North Carolina Folklore Society.
Edited by Newman Ivey White
Durham, NC: Duke University Press
1952
Pg. 337:
The dinner bell’s always in tune for a hungry man; ...

Google Books
24 February 1955, Bladen Journal (Elizabethtown, NC), “This ‘n’ That” by Norman B. McCulloch, pg. 2, col. 2:
“The dinner bell’s always in tune for a hungry man.”

11 November 1984, Los Angeles (CA) Times, “Book Notes” by Dick Lochte, pg. U14:
Included are such down-home homilies as: “If it ain’t chickens, it’s feathers,” which is a long way of saying, “That’s life,” and “the dinner bell is always in tune,”

Google Books
The Dictionary of Modern Proverbs
By Charles Clay Doyle, Wolfgang Mieder, Fred R. Shapiro
New Haven, CT: Yale University Press
2012
Pg. ?:
The dinner bell is always in tune (to the hungry man).
Champion (1938) 624 lists the saying as a “Negro “ proverb: ‘The dinner-bell’s always in tune.” Whiting (1952) 395 lists it as a North Carolina proverb: “The dinner bell’s always in tune to a hungry man.” Paul Green, Paul Green’s Wordbook (Boone, NC: Appalachian Consortium, 1990) I: 314 includes a version in a list of Appalachian sayings: “There never was a fieldhand that found the dinner bell out of tune.”

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityFood/Drink • (0) Comments • Saturday, April 21, 2012 • Permalink