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. Now a Popeyes fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Entry from June 16, 2012
“Oregonians don’t tan, they rust”

“Oregonians don’t tan, they rust” is a classic joke about Oregon’s rainy weather. Ron Abell, president of the James G. Blaine Society, told jokes about Oregon’s weather to discourage tourists from moving to Oregon. “People in Oregon, they don’t tan—they rust” has been cited in print since at least December 1971.
James Cloutier made “Oregon Ungreeting Cards,” along with T-shirts and bumper stickers. Cloutier was credited in July 1973 with the printed saying, “People In Oregon don’t tan in the summer, they rust.”
Wikipedia: James G. Blaine Society
The James G. Blaine Society is an unofficial organization dedicated to protecting the U.S. state of Oregon from overpopulation. It was founded in the early 1960s by writer Stewart Holbrook. The goal of the society is to discourage people from immigrating to Oregon. The society is named after James G. Blaine, a United States senator from Maine, because he never visited Oregon. The society has no organization, leaders, membership roster, meetings, or dues. However, the society was often mentioned in media articles about population growth in Oregon during the 1970s and 1980s.
In the early 1970s, a freelance writer from Portland named Ron Abell made an attempt to officially organize the James G. Blaine Society. Abell incorporated the society and issued membership cards. However, only a small number of people actually paid to join. As the society’s unofficial president and self-appointed spokesman, Abell received regular media coverage throughout the state. In his speeches, Abell often highlighted the rain in western Oregon and the dry desert heat of eastern Oregon with comments like: “We had a good summer last year. It came on a Sunday so lots of people got to enjoy it.” As the subject of numerous articles in local and national publications, Abell eventually got more publicity than he wanted and he tried to disconnect himself from media coverage of the society.
Society slogans
. Come visit Oregon, but don’t stay
. Don’t Californicate Oregon
. See Oregon and then go home
. Keep Oregon green, clean, and lean
. Oregon for Oregonians
. When it’s summer in Oregon the rain gets warmer
. You don’t tan in Oregon, you rust
5 December 1971, Register-Star (Rockford, IL), “Californians, stay home—Oregon for the Oregonians” (Gannett News Service Special), pg. A9, col. 2:
The Blaine Society’s principal tactic is to publicize Oregon’s 9-month-a-year rainy season. Some typical lines: “People in Oregon, they don’t tan—they rust”; “What do you do in Oregon during the summer? If it’s a Sunday, we go on a picnic”; and “Our rivers are so polluted, even atheists can walk on them.”
Google News Archive
6 May 1972, The Bulletin (Bend, OR), “Funny Ron Abell can be dead serious” by Julie Tripp, pg. 1, col. 3:
“You don’t tan in Oregon, you rust.”
(Ron Abell, president of the James G. Blaine Society—ed.)
7 September 1972, Evening Times (Trenton, NJ), “The Welcome Mat Is Thin: Even When It Rains, It Pours Tourists In Swamped Oregon” by Bob Rose (Chicago Daily News Service), pg. 16, col. 1:
In Oregon, you know, you don’t tan, you rust.
(Ron Abell, president of the James G. Blaine Society—ed.)
29 October 1972, Chicago (IL) Tribune, “Oregon: Okay to Visit But Don’t Stay” by Bruce Hamby, pg G5:
You don’t tan in Oregon—you rust.
14 July 1973, Boston (MA) Globe, “If you plan a moveto Oregon, you’ll love Pahrniap, Nev.” by James Worsham, pg. 1:
The response to the Oregon Ungreeting Cards, Cloutier says, has been “amazing,” and their creators also have developed tee-shirts and bumper stickers with one-liners like “People In Oregon don’t tan in the summer, they rust.”
Google Books
June 1983, Boys’ Life, “Horsemen of the Cascades” by Robert Gray, pg. 28:
“Do you know what people say about Oregonians? We don’t tan; we rust.”
Nobody thought the joke was funny. It was so old, it practically had moss hanging on it.
5 July 1985, Los Angeles (CA) Times, “$200-Million-a Year Sportswear Leader” by Charles Hillinger, pg. C16:
One popular T-shirt here shows a duck swimming in the rain and the words: “Oregonians Don’t Tan. Thev Rust.”
Google Books
Oregon Trivia
By Ted Magnuson
Nashville, TN: Rutledge Hill Press
Pg. ?:
Q. Who coined such tongue-in-cheek phrases as “People in Oregon don’t tan in the summertime, they rust”?
A. James Cloutier, who screenprinted the quips on T-shirts around 1980.

Posted by Barry Popik
Oregon (Beaver State Dictionary) • Saturday, June 16, 2012 • Permalink

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