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 20, 2009
“Yesterday is a canceled check; tomorrow is a promissory note”

Art Rust., Jr. signed off his WABC (New York City) sports talk radio show with: “Yesterday is a canceled check. Tomorrow is just a promissory note. Today is the only time we have so spend it wisely.  Goodnight, Edna baby.” (Rust’s wife, Edna, died in 1986, after which he began this signoff.)

“‘Tomorrow’ is a promissory note without a date” is cited in print by at least 1916, written by Henry Kaufman. A more complete version was printed in 1922: “To-day is all you have. To-morrow is a promissory note and Yesterday is a cancelled check. Act To-day!” The author of the full phrase is unknown, but it’s been credited to George Bernard Shaw, Hubert Tinley and Kay Lyons. A phrase variation replaces the words “yesterday” and “tomorrow”: “The past is a canceled check; the future is a promissory note.”

A similar phrase is: “Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift—that’s why it’s called the present.”


WikiAnswers.com
Q: Art Rust Jr would sign off his sports talk radio show on wabc in addition to saying good night to his dear wife edna referencing yesterday today and tomorrow what were those words?
A: Yesterday is a canceled check, tomorrow is just a promissory note, today is the only time we have so spend it wisely…
Goodnight Edna baby

16 April, 1916, Charlotte (NC) Observer, pg. 19 ad:
Study the Prompt-Book
By HERBERT KAUFMAN
“Some day” isn’t on the calendar.
“Next week” is the 32nd of the month.
“Tomorrow” is a promissory note without a date. Opportunity won’t accept it.
Do when you’re due.

Google Books
The Silent Partner
v. 18 - 1922
Pg. 210:
To-day is all you have. To-morrow is a promissory note and Yesterday is a cancelled check. Act To-day!

13 May 1925, Mansfield (OH) News, pg. 16, col. 4 ad:
TODAY IS ALL YOU HAVE. TOMORROW IS A PROMISSORY NOTE AND YESTERDAY IS A CANCELLED CHECK.
(The G. W. Bahl Realty Co.—ed.)

1 August 1929, Port Arthur (TX) News, pg. 8, col. 1 ad:
CYCOLOGY SEZ:
“Today is all you have. Tomorrow is a promissory note and yesterday is a cancelled check. ACT TODAY!”
(Builders Lumber Company, Inc.—ed.)

Google Books
30 September 1965, Jet magazine, pg. 30:
Rev. N. H. Smith, Birmingham pastor, on why Negroes should act now: “Yesterday is a canceled check. Tomorrow is a promissory note. Only today is ready cash.”

1 March 1971, Dallas (TX) Morning News, “It Happened Last Night” by Earl Wilson, section A, pg. 21:
REMEMBERED QUOTE: “Yesterday is a canceled check; tomorrow is a promissory note; today is ready cash—spend it wisely.

6 November 1971, Dallas (TX) Morning News, “It Happened Last Night” by Earl Wilson, section A, pg. 19:
REMEMBERED QUOTE: “Yesterday is a cancelled check. Tomorrow is a promissory note. Today is ready cash; spend it wisely.—George Bernard Shaw.

Google News Archive
11 November 1983, Boca Raton (FL) News, “Reflections” by Dr. Louis L. Sacks, pg. 4C, col. 4:
We are reminded that the past is a cancelled check. The future is a promissory note. The present is valid currency. Only today is ours, and if we procrastinate, we lose, and what we lose is forever.

Google Books
The Wit and Wisdom of Wall Street
By Bill Adler
Homewood, IL: Dow Jones-Irwin
1985
Pg. 92:
Yesterday is a canceled check, tomorrow is a promissory note, today is ready cash.
Hubert Tinley

Google Books
The Complete Book of Zingers
By Croft M. Pentz
Published by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.
1990
Pg. 229:
Yesterday is a canceled check; tomorrow is a promissory note; today is the only cash you have — spend it wisely.

Google Books
The Complete Book of Practical Proverbs and Wacky Wit
By Vernon McLellan
Published by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc..
1996
Pg. 228:
Yesterday is a canceled check; tomorrow is a promissory note; today is the only cash you have—so spend it wisely. Kay Lyons

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityBanking/Finance/Insurance • (0) Comments • Saturday, June 20, 2009 • Permalink