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 22, 2016
“Hard to find four innocent people in New York”

American humorist Will Rogers (1879-1935) wrote in January 1923:

“Another innocent bystander was shot in New York yesterday. You just stand around this town long and be innocent and somebody’s going to shoot you.

“One day they shot four innocent bystanders. That’s the best shooting ever done in this town. Anytime you can find four innocent people in New York in one day you are going some, even if you don’t shoot ‘em.”


Rogers varied the language slightly for a Victor Records recording in February 1923:

“Never a day passes in New York without some innocent bystander being shot. You just stand around this town long enough and be innocent and somebody is going’ to shoot ya.

“One day there was four shot. That’s the best shootin’ ever down in this town. It’s hard to find four innocent people in New York, even if you don’t stop to shoot ‘em. That’s why a policeman never has to aim here. He just shoots up the street anywhere. No matter who he hits, it’s the right one.”



Wikipedia: Will Rogers
William Penn Adair “Will” Rogers (November 4, 1879 – August 15, 1935) was an American cowboy, vaudeville performer, humorist, newspaper columnist, social commentator, and stage and motion picture actor.

Old Fulton NY Post Cards
14 January 1923, The Morning Telegraph (New York, NY), “In and Out of Focus” by Louella O. Parsons, pg. 9, col. 5:
(Will Rogers to Selznick News.—ed.)
“Another innocent bystander was shot in New York yesterday. You just stand around this town long and be innocent and somebody’s going to shoot you.

“One day they shot four innocent bystanders. That’s the best shooting ever done in this town. Anytime you can find four innocent people in New York in one day you are going some, even if you don’t shoot ‘em.”

31 May 1925, San Diego (CA) Union, pg. 8, col. 1:
Some One Will Shoot You if You Stand Around and Be Innocent in New York
So Says Will Rogers in Reviewing Daily Crop of News He Reads in Papers.

By WILL ROGERS
(...)
Yesterday another New York catastrophe happened in one of the hourly shooting affrays which are held on the public streets. An innocent bystander was shot. You just stand around New York long enough and be innocent and someone will shoot you. That really was quite an event to shoot an innocent person in New York City. It takes better shooting than you think. You know policemen in New York are never taught to aim; they are instructed just to shoot up the street any way. No matter who they hit it will be someone that should have been hit before. They very seldom hit the originally intended, but they most always get a worse one.

Google Books
Sanity Is Where You Find It:
An affectionate history of the United States in the 20’s and 30’s by America’s best-loved comedian, Will Rogers

Selected and Edited by Donald Day
Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin
1955
Pg. 2:
Another innocent bystander was shot in New York yesterday. You just stand around this town long and be innocent and somebody is going to shoot you.

One day they shot four. That’s the best shooting ever done in this town. Any time you can find four innocent People in New York in one day you are going some even if you don’t shoot ‘em.
New York, January 13, 1923

24 July 1968, Aberdeen (SD) American-News, “Earl Wilson’s New York,” pg. 4, col. 5:
WILL ROGERS SAID it 50 years ago: “Never a day passes in New York without some innocent bystander being shot. You just stand around this town long enough, and somebody’s gonna shoot you.”

Google News Archive
31 October 1975, Nevada (MO) Daily Mail, pg. 1, col. 1:
Will Rogers
Never a day passes in New York without some innocent bystander being shot. You just stand around this town long enough, and somebody is going to shoot you.

One day there was four innocent people shot in New York. That’s the best shooting ever done in that town. Hard to find four innocent people in New York.
May 31, 1923.

Google News Archive
28 February 1982, Eugene (OR) Register-Guard, pg. 15A, col. 6:
Will Rogers Says:
“Never a day passes in New York without some innocent bystander being shot. You just stand around this town long enough, and somebody is going to shoot you.

“One day there was four innocent people shot in New York. That’s the best shooting ever done in that town. Hard to find four innocent people in New York.”
-- May 31, 1923

Google Books
The Papers of Will Rogers:
From the Broadway stage to the national stage, September 1915 - July 1928

Edited by Steven K. Gragert
Norman, OK: Univ. of Oklahoma Press
2005
Pg. 294:
Transcript of Recording for Victor Records: II
6 February 1923
[New York, N.Y.]

(...)
Never a day passes in New York without some innocent bystander being shot. You just stand around this town long enough and be innocent and somebody is going’ to shoot ya.

One day there was four shot. That’s the best shootin’ ever down in this town. It’s hard to find four innocent people in New York, even if you don’t stop to shoot ‘em. That’s why a policeman never has to aim here. He just shoots up the street anywhere. No matter who he hits, it’s the right one.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityNames/Phrases • Sunday, May 22, 2016 • Permalink