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 26, 2013
“You cannot shake hands with a clenched fist”

"You cannot shake hands with a clenched fist” was said by Indira Gandhi (1917-1984), the Prime Minister of India, on October 19, 1971, addressing peace prospects with Pakistan. However, the saying had been used before this and was popular in the 1950s and 1960s.

“You Can’t Shake Hands with a closed fist” appeared in an American newspaper advertisement in June 1953.  “One cannot shake hands with a clenched fist” was printed in the Los Angeles (CA) Times in August 1956. “Men with clenched fists cannot shake hands” was printed in an October 1960 newspaper and “REMEMBERED QUOTE: ‘A man with a clinched fist cannot shake hands’” was printed in Earl Wilson’s syndicated entertainment column in September 1966.


Wikiquote: Indira Gandhi
Indira Priyadarshini Gandhi (November 19, 1917 – October 31, 1984), daughter of Jawaharlal Nehru, became the first woman Prime Minister of India in 1966. She died while Prime Minister, assassinated by her security guards at her residence.

Sourced
India wants to avoid a war at all costs but it is not a one-sided affair, you cannot shake hands with a clenched fist.
. Press conference, New Delhi (October 19, 1971), quoted in “Indian and Pakistani Armies Confront Each Other Along Borders” by Sydney H. Schanberg, The New York Times (October 20, 1971), page 6C

Google Books
The Far Eastern Magazine
Volume 1
1937
Pg. 109:
Secondly, out of the proverbial Chinese courtesy, we might still condescend to shake hands with our neighbors, but we utterly refuse to shake a mailed fist.

4 June 1953, Evening World-Herald (Omaha, NE), pg. 44, col. 8 classified ad:
You Can’t Shake Hands
With a closed fist, or shop very intelligently with a closed mind.
WILSON’S
Douglas at Saddle Creek Road

11 July 1956, Boston (MA) Traveler, “Kwik Kli[p” by Cameron Dewar, pg. 36A, col. 2:
It’s no accident, probably, that in many countries the symbol of totalitarianism is the one you can’t shake hands with: a clenched fist.

To be a sower of seeds, a man must open his hand.
(...)
Arthur Gordon in THIS WEEK MAGAZINE

27 August 1956, Los Angeles (CA) Times, “Various Possibilities in Hands, Pastor Says; Dr. Hjerpe Tells Presbyterians Despair, Blessing, Belligerance Are Shown by Them,” pg. B3:
He pointed out that the open hand is a friendly gesture, because one cannot shake hands with a clenched fist.

“We are doing everything possible to avoid a conflict. But this is not a one-sided situation. You cannot shake hands with a clenched fist.”

10 March 1959, The Register-News (Mt. Vernon, IL), “Society,” pg. 7, col. 4:
Two basic attitudes toward life are synbolized by an open hand and a closed fist. The open hand represents friendship, No weapon is concealed and the hand may be grapsed by another. But, you cannot shake hands with a fist.
(A lesson by Mrs. Rosemary Whisenhunt—ed.)

22 March 1960, Altoona (PA) Mirror, “Mirrorgrams,” pg. 12, col. 2:
Folks who go around with clenched fists certainly cannot shake hands, so beware of them.

24 October 1960, Holland (MI) Evening Sentinel, pg. 4, col. 2:
Men with clenched fists cannot shake hands.

Google Books
The Maker of Modern India
By C. M. Srinivasan
Madras: Aiyar
1962
Pg. 102:
As Annie Besant once said “it is only a mailed fist that can shake hands with another mailed fist, but a soft one is sure to be crushed or injured if it attempts to shake hands with a mailed fist,” the Sardar was no believer in abstract ethics.

31 October 1962, San Diego (CA) Union, “Walter Winchell’s America,” pg. A10, col. 2:
You can’t shake hands with a Clenched Fist.

24 September 1966, Reno (NV) Evening Gazette, “It Happened Lasst Night” by Earl Wilson, pg. 12, col. 4:
REMEMBERED QUOTE: “A man with a clinched fist cannot shake hands.”

23 May 1969, Wichita (KS) Eagle, pg. 13A ad:
Men with clenched fists cannot shake hands.
Claude DeVorss
DeVORSS-ROTZ Mortuary

Google News Archive
20 October 1971, Wilmington (NC) Morning Star, “Situation is grave syas Mrs. Gandhi” by United Press International, pg. 2, col. 1:
Mrs. Gandhi said she is “prepared to meet anybody if thereby something is solved.”

Google News Archive
3 November 1971, The Age (Melbourne, Australia), pg. 7, col. 2:
Mrs. Gandhi said she was willing to shake hands with the Pakistani leader—“but you cannot shake hands with a clenched fist.”

Google News Archive
19 November 1990, Prescott (AZ) Courier, pg. 6B, col. 6:
TODAY’S QUOTE: “You cannot shake hands with a clenched fist.”—Indira Gandhi

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Politics/Military • Sunday, May 26, 2013 • Permalink