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 October 04, 2012
“Alcohol is a good preservative for everything but brains”

"ALCOHOL A liquid good for preserving almost everything except secrets” is a definition in the book The Foolish Dictionary... (1904), written by “Gideon Wurdz” (Charles Wayland Towne). “One bootlegger says that alcohol is a good preservative. He ought to know; he s been pickled for twenty years” is a joke from 1922.

“Alcohol is a good preservative for everything but brains” has been credited to Mary Pettibone Poole’s book, A Glass Eye at a Keyhole (1938). Google Books does not allow a preview of this book.

Another saying about things preserved in alcohol is “Dignity is one thing that can’t be preserved in alcohol.”


Google Books
The Dictionary of Modern Proverbs
Edited by Charles Clay Doyle, Wolfgang Mieder and Fred .R Shapiro
New Haven, CT: Yale University Press
2012
Pg. 4:
Alcohol will preserve anything but a secret.
1904 Charles Wayland Towne (pseudonym “Gideon Wurdz") A Foolish Dictionary (Boston: John W. Luce) [fol. 6v.] [unpaginated, in an alphabetical list of words followed by jocular definitions]: “ALCOHOL[:] A liquid good for preserving almost everything except secrets.”

Google Books
The Foolish Dictionary ...
By Gideon Wurdz
Boston, MA: Luce
1904
Pg. ?:
ALCOHOL A liquid good for preserving almost everything except secrets.

8 May 1922, The Evening Repository (Canton, OH),"Sunshine Pellets” by Dr. W. F. Thomson, pg. 4, col. 3:
One bootlegger says that alcohol is a good preservative. He ought to know; he s been pickled for twenty years.

OCLC WorldCat record
A glass eye at a keyhole,
Author: Mary Pettibone Poole
Publisher: Philadelphia, Dorrance and company [©1938]
Edition/Format: Book : English

Google News Archive
5 October 1959, Milwaukee (WI) Sentinel, “Man About Milwaukee” by Buck Herzog, pt. 1, pg. 11, col. 1:
Latest from Joe E. Lewis: “Alcohol is a great preservative—for everything but secrets.”

Google Books
20,000 Quips & Quotes
By Evan Esar
New York, NY: Barnes & Noble Books
1995, ©1968
Pg. 25:
Alcohol is a good preservative for almost everything but secrets.

13 November 1995, Cedar Rapids (IA) Gazette, “Crypto-Quote,” pg. 7D, col. 7:
Saturday’s Answer: “Alcohol is a good preservative for everything but brains.”—Mary Pettibone Poole

18 April 1999, Chicago (IL) Tribune, “Fast Track Replays”:
“Alcohol is a good preservative for everything but brains.”—Mary Pettibone Poole

Google Books
Food and Drink:
A Book of Quotations

Edited by Susan L. Rattiner
Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, Inc.
2002
Pg. 14:
Alcohol is a good preservative for everything but brains.
MARY PETTIBONE POOLE

Google Books
The Quotable Drunkard:
Words of Wit, Wisdom, and Philosophy From the Bottom of the Glass

By Steven Kates
Avon, MA: Adams Media
2011
Pg. 168:
“Alcohol is a good preservative for everything but brains.” —Mary Pettibone Poole

Google Books
The 2,548 Wittiest Things Anybody Ever Said
By Robert Byrne
New York, NY: Touchstone
2012
1,109
Alcohol is a good preservative for everything but brains.
-- Mary Pettibone Poole in A Glass Eye at a Keyhole (1938)

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityFood/Drink • Thursday, October 04, 2012 • Permalink