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.

Recent entries:
Apple Store (2000s) (9/30)
“Fail fast, fail often” (business adage) (9/29)
“What did the college football player get on his SATs? Drool” (9/29)
“Cereal belongs in a bowl” (football joke) (9/29)
“It takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan” (9/28)
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Entry from November 19, 2006
“If you see a turtle on a fence, he had help getting there”

"If you see a turtle sitting on a fencepost, he had help getting there” is one of Bill Clinton’s favorite phrases. The phrase is popular in both Arkansas and Texas to indicate the help that one receives in life.


Rice University
“While a great deal has been accomplished in Finance and Administration while I have been at Rice, I have actually done almost none of it,” Currie said.  “I have been able to assemble an extraordinary team and have had outstanding leadership in the academic administration and the Board of Trustees. There is an old East Texas saying, ‘If you find a turtle on a fence post, you know that it had some help getting there.’ “

(Google News Archives)
Dallas Morning News - NewsBank - Jul 2, 1989 He’s often “busier than a tied-up dog’ and, when explaining his success, he’s given to say that “if you’ve ever seen a turtle on a fencepost, ...

(Library of Congress record)
Type of Material: Book (Print, Microform, Electronic, etc.)
Personal Name: Emery, Allan C.
Main Title: A turtle on a fencepost : little lessons of large importance / Allan C. Emery ; introd. by Billy Graham.
Published/Created: Waco, Tex. : Word Books, c1979.
Description: 117 p. : ill. ; 21 cm.
ISBN: 0849928699 :

24 October 1985, Chicago Tribune, pg. D10H:
When the author of the blockbuster book and TV mini-series “Roots” (Alex Haley—ed.) looks at the quirky photo, he’s reminded of a lesson in humility: “Any time you see a turtle on top of a fence, you know he had some help.”

2 August 1992, New York Times, “On Language” by Jack Rosenthal, pg. SM11:
To Governor Clinton, child of Hope, Ark., farm idiom comes naturally and frequently, Gwen Ifill of The Times recalls that Clinton was asked during the New Hampshire campaign if he thought somebody was deliberately planting questions about his relationship with Gennifer Flowers. “When you come across a turtle sitting on a fence post, it didn’t get there by itself,” he responded. “Someone had to put it there.”

6 November 1994, New York Times, pg. 28:
And by today, he was reviving homespun aphorisms to complain that he had not been given sufficient credit for all he had achieved. “As they say back in Arkansas, where I come from,” he (Bill Clinton—ed.) said, “if you find a turtle on a fence post, chances are it didn’t get there by accident.”

14 January 2001, New York Times, pg. WK4:
There were other Clinton-isms, too, that would come out of his mouth regularly, confounding his speechwriting staff. “This dog won’t hunt.” “Like a turtle on a fence post.” “As tight as a tick.”

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (0) Comments • Sunday, November 19, 2006 • Permalink