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 May 28, 2010
“Always borrow money from a pessimist—he doesn’t expect to be paid back”

"Always borrow money from a pessimist—he doesn’t expect to be paid back” is a saying that has been printed (with slight wording variations) on T-shirts and bumper stickers. The joke doesn’t quite make sense—if the pessimist doesn’t expect to be paid back, why is he lending money?

The “borrow money from a pessimist” saying has been cited in print from at least 1909.


RedBubble
Always borrow money from a pessimist—he doesn’t expect to be paid back
T-Shirt

Zazzle.com
Borrow money from a pessimist.
They don’t expect it back.

Bumper Sticker
Product id: 128575425695013828
Made on 5/1/2009 1:25 PM

7 November 1909, Grand Forks (ND) Herald, “By Sunlit Paths...Where Sometimes Shadows Fall” by J. F. Haskett, pg. 4:
Borrow money from a pessimist—if you can—he won’t expect to get it back.

18 July 1910, Oakland (CA) Tribune, pg. 6, col. 5:
“Always borrow money from a pessimist.”
“Why?”
“He never expects to be paid back.”
-- Buffalo Express.

9 September 1911, Indianapolis (IN) Star, “Casual Thoughts,” pg. 6, col. 5:
If you are going to borrow, borrow from a pessimist. He never expects to get it back.

Google Books
October 1921, Stanford Illustrated Review, pg. 41, col. 1:
What’s His Address?
Mr. King—You don’t seem to worry about your debts.
Mr. Jack—No, I always borrow from a pessimist who don’t expect to get it back.

18 July 1924, Wall Street Journal, “Pepper and Salt”:
If you are going to borrow money, borrow from a pessimist. Why a pessimist? He never expects to get it back.
-- Life.

21 September 1939, Chicago (IL) Daily Tribune, pg. 13 ad:
Why it’s best to borrow money from a pessimist?

Google Books
The American Legion Magazine
v. 27-28 - 1939
Pg. 25:
... your money from a pessimist for he won’t expect it back.

Google Books
Senior Citizen
v. 5 - 1959
Pg. 41:
Borrow your money from a pessimist — he won’t expect it back.

Google Books
Farmer’s Digest
v. 40, nos. 1-5 - 1976
Pg. 22:
“Always borrow money from a pessimist — he never expects to be paid back.”

Google Books
The Treasury of Clean Jokes
By Tal D. Bonham
Nashville, TN: Broadman Press
1981
Pg. 55:
Always borrow money from a pessimist. He never expects to be repaid.

Google Books
The Generation-X Files: Dare to Be Average
By Hugh Wynn
Lincoln, NE: Writers Club Press
2002
Pg. 112:
Borrow money from a pessimist. He doesn’t expect to be repaid.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityBanking/Finance/Insurance • (0) Comments • Friday, May 28, 2010 • Permalink