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 July 20, 2013
“If these walls could talk”

"If these walls could talk” is said of old buildings, or buildings where famous or infamous things happened. “The stately walls, which, if walls could speak, would unfold many a sad and piteous tale” was cited in print in 1820. “If these walls could speak, many a strange talc could they tell” was cited in 1834.

“Talk” appears to have followed “speak.” “I have no doubt if its old walls could talk that it would tell some horrid tales” was cited in print in 1847. “If those old walls could talk like folks, We’d split our sides at their cracking jokes” was cited in print in 1857.


Google Books
Popular Voyages and Travels Throughout the Continent & Islands of Europe
By Mrs. Jamieson (Frances Thurtle)
London: Printed for G. & W. B. Wittaker
1820
Pg. 347:
Here and there a moody Englishman, indeed, as his gayer neighbour often designates him, thoughtfully approached the stately walls, which, if walls could speak, would unfold many a sad and piteous tale. 

Google Books
The Cabinet of Friendship;
A tribute to the memory of John Aitken

Edited by W. C. Taylor
London: Whittaker & Co.
1834
Pg. 188:
“Ah !” said I, shaking my head, “if these walls could speak, many a strange talc could they tell.”

31 December 1847, Independent American and General Advertiser (Platteville, WI), pg. 1, col. 6:
I have no doubt if its old walls could talk that it would tell some horrid tales of monks and nuns, and inquisitions—dungeons—the rack and all the horrors of Roman Catholic bigotry, despotism and cruelty.
(Letter from an army officer in Mexico City—ed.)

Google Books
Address delivered on the celebration of the centennial anniversary of St John’s Lodge No. 2
By George M. Randall
Providence, RI: St. John;s Lodge, No. 2
1857
Pg. 56:
If those old walls could talk like folks,
We’d split our sides at their cracking jokes;
("Poem" by Charles Collins Van Zandt—ed.)

31 December 1874, Troy (NY) Weekly Times, “A Roman Mystery” by Prosper Merimer, pg. 4, col. 4:
“If these walls could talk, what horrors they would reveal!”

OCLC WorldCat record
The Benchley roundup;
Author: Robert Benchley; Nathaniel Benchley
Publisher: New York, Harper [1954]
Edition/Format: Book : English : [1st ed.]
Summary: These ninety-odd pieces were chosen from thirty years of Robert Benchley’s humorous pieces by his son.
Contents:
If these old walls could talk!

OCLC WorldCat record
Loving you ; If walls could talk
Author: Little Milton.; Gene Barge
Publisher: [S.l.] : Checker, [between 1967 and 1969]
Edition/Format: Music : 45 rpm : Popular music : English

OCLC WorldCat record
If walls could talk
Author: County Bank (Santa Cruz, Calif.)
Publisher: [Santa Cruz, Calif.] : The Bank, [1970]
Edition/Format: Book : English

Wikipedia: If These Walls Could Talk
If These Walls Could Talk is a 1996 made-for-cable film, broadcast on HBO. It follows the plights of three different women and their experiences with abortion. Each of the three stories takes place in the same house, 22 years apart: 1952, 1974, and 1996. All three segments were co-written by Nancy Savoca. Savoca directed the first and second segment while Cher directed the third. The women’s experiences in each vignette are designed to demonstrate the popular views of society on the issue in each of the given decades.

Debuting at the Toronto International Film Festival, If These Walls Could Talk became a surprise success and was the highest-rated movie in HBO history.[1]

OCLC WorldCat record
If these walls could talk : Victoria’s houses from the past
Author: Valerie Green; Lynn Gordon-Findlay
Publisher: Victoria, B.C. : TouchWood Editions, ©2001.
Edition/Format: eBook : Document : Biography : English : 1st edView

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityBuildings/Housing/Parks • Saturday, July 20, 2013 • Permalink