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:
“A BuzzFeed writer walks into a bar…” (bar joke) (10/15)
“Why did the cactus cross the road?"/"It was stuck to the chicken.” (10/15)
“Three conspiracy theorists walk into a bar…” (bar joke) (10/15)
Entry forthcoming—B.P. (10/15)
“I was trying to remember what it’s called when you mix coffee and ice cream, but affogato!” (10/15)
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Entry from August 18, 2012
“The secret of success is to start from scratch and keep on scratching”

"The secret of success is to start from scratch and keep on scratching” is a quotation about success that has been included in many quotation collections. “Our idea of the average citizen is one who has to start from scratch and keep on scratching” was cited in a 1933 newspaper. “Success Formula: Start from scratch—and keep on scratching” was cited in a 1948 newspaper.

NFL head coach Dennis Green (born in 1949) has been credited for the quotation since the 1990s, but the saying had been cited in print since at least a year before his birth.


6 January 1933, Dallas (TX) Morning News, “Snap Shots,” sec. 2, pg. 2, col. 4:
Our idea of the average citizen is one who has to start from scratch and keep on scratching.

9 March 1939, The Mountain Democrat (Placerville, CA), “Beard worth $350 cash,” pg. 3, col. 3:
“All the entrants have to do is start from scratch, and keep on scratching.”

13 June 1947, Portsmouth (OH) Times, “Minego’s Sport Gossip,” pg. 22:
When you start from scratch you have to keep on scratching.

12 January 1948, Sheboygan (WI) Press, “Our Office Cat,” pg. 18, col. 3:
Success Formula: Start from scratch—and keep on scratching.

Google Books
Typo Graphic
1948
Pg. 51:
A Success Formula: Start from scratch—and keep on scratching.

Google News Archive
14 February 1972, Middlesboro (KY) Daily News, Earl Wilson entertainment column, pg. 4, col. 6:
REMEMBERED QUOTE: “The secret of success is to start from scratch and keep scratching.”—Pip Larmour.

Google Books
14,000 Quips & Quotes:
For speakers, writers, editors, preachers, and teachers

By E. C. McKenzie
Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House
1990, ©1980
Pg. 483:
The secret of success is to start from scratch and keep on scratching.

Google Books
Daily Motivations for African-American Success
By Dennis Kimbro
New York, NY: Fawcett Columbine
1993
Pg. 3:
“The secret of success is to start from scratch and keep on scratching.” —DENNIS GREEN, NFL HEAD COACH

Google Books
Rich and Famous in Thirty Seconds:
Inside Secrets to Achieving Financial Success in Television and Radio Commercials

By Batt Johnson
Lincoln, NE: iUniverse.com, Inc.
2000
Pg. 21:
I once interviewed NFL head coach Dennis Green, who said to me, “You know, Batt, the secret to success is to start from scratch and keep on scratching.”

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityWork/Businesses • (0) Comments • Saturday, August 18, 2012 • Permalink