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 June 10, 2015
“To thrive in life you need three bones: a wishbone, a backbone and a funny bone”

"To thrive in life you need three bones… A wishbone, a backbone, and a funny bone “ is a saying that has been printed on many posters and frequently credited to American country music singer and actress Reba McEntire. McEntire included the saying in her book, Comfort from a Country Quilt (2000), but she did not claim to have originated it.

“Dr. Kavanagh spoke on ‘Moral Anatomy,’ and talked of three bones—the wish bone, the funny bone, and the back bone” was cited in the New Rochelle (NY) Pioneer in 1908.


Old Fulton NY Post Cards
12 December 1908, New Rochelle (NY) Pioneer, “Club’s Annual Banquet, pg. 5, col. 4:
Dr. Kavanagh spoke on “Moral Anatomy,” and talked of three bones—the wish bone, the funny bone, and the back bone. His address was unique and highly entertaining.

Chronicling America
8 November 1916, St. Johnsbury (VT) Caledonian, “Greensboro,” pg. 6, col. 2:
The speaker of the evening was then introduced, Rev. Mr. Baker of Morrisville, who gave his interesting lecture entitled “The Three Bones—The Wish Bone, The Funny Bone and The Back Bone,” and was given the closest attention by all present.

Chronicling America
20 September 1917, Norwich (CT) Bulletin, “First Baptist Men Held Social Evening,” pg. 5, col. 4:
Rev.Mr. Newland spoke of the Ideal Man, whom he says is made up of three bones: the backbone, the wishbone and the funny bone. The backbone synonymous of determination—to make good; the wish bone inspiration—to rise, and the funny bone laughter—to be cheerful.

Old Fulton NY Post Cards
18 December 1927, Rochester(NY) Democrat and Chronicle, “Founder’s Day Marks Nineteenth Year of William Smith College,” pg. 5, col. 2:
It is also thought that in her talk she further had the founder of the college in mind, for she declared that three bones are essential to success in life: a wish-bone, to fix a goal in life; a funny-bone, to provide savor and a sense of humor to the art of living, and a back-bone to provide the courage to live to attain the goal.

Google News Archive
2 November 1932, Lewiston (ME) Daily Sun, “Prof. Mitchell Gives Address on ‘Bones’ at Rotary Ladies Night,” pg. 6, col. 5:
The guest speaker was Prof. Wilmot Mitchell, head of the English department of Bowdoin College. The subject of his address was"Bones." He spoke of three bones that each person needed to live a well rounded life, the first was a wish-bone, so that a person might wish for more and better things than they had already had; the second was a back-bone and he stated that New England people and especially those in Maine, were noted for having back bones of quality. He cited examples of famous Maine men who had been noted for this characteristic. The last and very much needed bone was the funny bone without which no person could live a well rounded life. Prof. Mitchell’s address was very much enjoyed and received much applause.

Google Books
Dramas in Twenty Volumes
Volume 1

Edited by Lincoln Hulley
De Land, FL: E. O. Painter Printing Company
1934
Pg. 46:
SUNNY JIM: Well, Rough Neck says we only need three bones, A square jaw-bone, a stiff back-bone, and one Good funny-bone; so, why have more than that, When three are all you need?

Google Books
The Listener
British Broadcasting Corporation
Volume 22
1939
Pg. 219:
One can support life in decency on an amazingly small amount of money in Africa away from the towns, so making a fresh start becomes great fun if you are blessed with the three bones essential to a settler. They are a wish-bone, a backbone, and a funny bone — to enable you to see some humour even in hard knocks.

Google Books
A Parson takes a Gander:
A Compilation of My Favorite Humorous and Inspirational Yarns

By William Dern
Newport, KY: Beeks
1949
Pg. 9:
... referred to three bones — the backbone, the breast bone and the funny bone, and reminded us how important it was to keep all three in perfect adjustment.

Google Books
Modern Track and Field
By J. Kenneth Doherty
Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall
1963
Pg. 298:
Principle 28
Sound field event coaching should have three bones: a wishbone on which to fix goals and ideals; a backbone with which to maintain persistence; and a funny bone with which all the work can be made toseem worth while.

Google Books
Parish Beat
By Marie Thérèse Rétout
Port of Spain, Trinidad: Inprint Caribbean
1976
Pg. 137:
He possessed undoubtedly the three bones he jokingly mentioned in one of his parish letters: Wishbone, Backbone and Funny- bone.

Google Books
Full Esteem Ahead:
100 Ways to Teach Values and Build Self-Esteem for All Ages

By Diana Loomans with Julia Loomans
Tiburon, CA: H.J. Kramer
1994
Pg. 136:
It will help you to use the three bones of life more often— the backbone, the wishbone, and, especially, the funny bone.

Google Books
Comfort from a Country Quilt
By Reba McEntire
New York, NY: Bantam
2000
Pg. 51:
If you want to succeed in life, the saying goes, you must pick three bones to carry with you at all times: a wishbone, a backbone, and a funny bone. Those are three “bones” I always carry with me.

Google Books
Middle Age Beauty:
Soulful Secrets from a Former Face Model Living Botox Free in her Forties

By Machel Shull
A;resford, Hants: Ayni Books
2013
Pg. ?:
Country music star Reba McEntire said these three bones are essential:

To succeed in life you need three things: a wishbone, a backbone and a funny bone.

Twitter
Emily King
‏@emilylynne2012
“To thrive in life you need three bones… A wishbone, a backbone, and a funny bone “- Reba McEntire
9:44 PM - 19 Mar 2013

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityWork/Businesses • Wednesday, June 10, 2015 • Permalink