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, 2015
“You were born a cow, but now you are a fish” (joke)

A popular Catholic joke is told about a person who eats meat on Friday, converts to Catholicism, but then still eats meat on Friday. He justifies this by baptizing his food, saying, “You were born a cow, lived the life of a cow and now you are a fish.”

The joke (which usually involves either a Protestant or a Jew who cooks the meat on Friday) has been cited in print since at least 1982.


Google News Archive
8 October 1982, Milwaukee (WI) Sentinel, Alex Thien column, pt. 3, pg. 1, cols. 4-5:
TED NEDWEK was the emcee at a retirement party and brought up the story of his childhood in an Irish Catholic neighborhood. He said the boys were gathered at the corner Irish pub and one of them said,"Isthat beef being barbecued?”

They sniffed the air and agreed that it was. A few doors away they found Brian happily watching a round of beef on his barbecue spit.

“Brian, lad, you’re taking your very soul into your hands by eating meat on Friday,” he was told. “Come with us and our priest will set you straight.”

So Brian met with the neighborhood priest for several weeks. Finally, on a Sunday morning, he was ready for Baptism. The priest began to bless him, sprinkling a good amount of holy water on him, while saying, “Brian, you were born a Protestant, but now you are a Catholic. Welcome to the fold.”

All his friends rejoiced. On the following Friday,however, the lads were gathered again. “I smell beef cooking,” one said.

They went directly to Brian’s and, sure enough, there he was with an even larger round of beef. They demanded to know how he could do that, seeing as he was one of them now.

“Fear not,” Brian said. Picking up a container of barbecue sauce and sprinkling away, he said, “You were born a cow, lived the life of a cow and now you are a fish.”

Google Groups: rec.humor
Catholic Joke
Randall Morey
3/2/93
(BTW, I’m Catholic)
A Protestant once moved into a Catholic neighborhood. On one particular Friday during Lent, he decided to barbeque some steaks. The aroma of the steaks was too much for the Catholic neighbors, so one of them decided to get him to stop grilling steaks by converting him to a Catholic.

The Protestant agreed, and went to the church with the Catholic to be converted. The priest sprinkled holy water on the Protestant and proclaimed, “You were born a Protestant, you were raised a Protestant, but now you are a Catholic.” The priest also explained that Catholics weren’t allowed to eat meat on Fridays during Lent.

The next Friday, the ex-Protestant was grilling steaks and making the neighbors drool again. The neighbors looked over the fence and saw the ex-Protestant pouring ketchup on a steak proclaiming, “You were born a cow, you were raised a cow, but now you are a fish!”

Google Groups: be.jokes
[OL] Meatless Fridays
WebMaster
3/18/05
John Smith was the only Protestant to move into a large Catholic neighborhood. On the first Friday of Lent, John was outside grilling a big juicy steak on his grill.
Meanwhile, all of his neighbors were eating cold tuna fish for supper. This went on each Friday of Lent. On the last Friday of Lent, the neighborhood men got together and decided that something had to be done about John. He was tempting them to eat meat each Friday of Lent, and they couldn’t take it anymore.

They decided to try and convert John to Catholicism.

They went over and talked to him. John decided to join all of his neighbors and become a Catholic, which made them all very happy.

They took him to church, and the priest sprinkled some water over him, and said, “You were born a Baptist, you were raised a Baptist, and now you are a Catholic.”

The men were so relieved, now their biggest Lenten temptation was resolved.

The next year’s Lenten season rolled around. The first Friday of Lent came, and, just at supper time, when the neighborhood was settling down to their cold tuna fish dinner, the smell of steak cooking on a grill came wafting into their homes. The neighborhood men could not believe their noses! WHAT WAS GOING ON?

They called each other up and decided to meet over in John’s yard to see if he had forgotten it was the first Friday of Lent. The group arrived just in time to see John standing over his grill with a small pitcher of water. He was sprinkling some water over his steak on the grill, saying, “You were born a cow, you were raised a cow, and now you are a fish.”

Forward (Jewish Daily Forward)
3 Jewish Lessons on Rachel Dolezal and Caitlyn Jenner
Jane Eisner June 18, 2015
I’ll l start with an old joke. Mr. Rosenbaum enjoys cooking a steak on his outdoor barbecue grill every Friday afternoon, for his family’s Sabbath meal. But because he is the only Jew in a very Catholic neighborhood, the smell of the cooking meat drives his neighbors — who are forgoing meat on Fridays during Lent — a little crazy. They ask him to stop.

Instead, he converts to Catholicism. The priest sprinkles some water on him and says “You were a Jew. Now you are a Catholic.”

The next Friday, though, he is at it again, grilling a juicy steak, its meaty scent tantalizing the neighborhood.

A few of the residents stomp over to Mr. Rosenbaum’s backyard to complain that he is violating his new religious edict. And there he is, addressing the grill as he sprinkles it with water: “You were a cow. Now you are a fish.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityFood/Drink • Saturday, June 20, 2015 • Permalink