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 February 03, 2013
“If you’re drinking to forget, please pay in advance”

"If you’re drinking to forget, please pay in advance” is a jocular sign in many drinking establishments. “If You’re Drinking to Forget, Please Pay in Advance” has been cited in print since at least 1958.


24 December 1958, The Morning Herald (Uniontown, PA), “Dream Street” by Robert Sylvester, pg. 2, col. 4:
Sign over the bar at the Bird ‘n’ Glass: “If You’re Drinking to Forget, Please Pay in Advance.”

14 May 1960, Boston (MA) Daily Record, “Maverick Runnels Leading Stampede” by John Gillooly, pg. 26, col. 1:
“If You’re Drinking to Forget, Please Pay in Advance” urges a sign in a local saloon, according to a friend who loiters there,

8 September 1960, Chicago (IL) Tribune, pg. W16:
I suggest this sign for clubs and taverns: “If you re drinking to forget, please pay in advance.”

Google News Archive
30 September 1962, Sarasota (FL) Journal, Walter Winchell column, pg. 2, col. 4:
Poster over a 3rd Avenue Bar: “If You’re Drinking To Forget Kindly Pay In Advance.”

Google Books
Humor in Advertising, and How to Make it Pay
By Don Herold
New York, NY: McGraw-Hill
1963
Pg. 191:
And a poster over the mirror in a Third Avenue bar: “If You’re Drinking To Forget, Kindly Pay in Advance.”

New York (NY) Times
Everything’s Relative Around Here
By LEANNE SHEAR
Published: May 29, 2009
(...)
Sure, some South Buffalonians sit around, drowning their discomfort in vats of beer — and appropriately, a sign above the bar admonishes, “If you’re drinking to forget, pay in advance.”

Google Books
The Skeleton Box:
A Starvation Lake Mystery

By Bryan Gruley
New York, NY: Touchstone
2012
Pg. 67:
Beneath the TV hung a sign that said “If you’re drinking to forget, please pay in advance.”

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityRestaurants/Bars/Bakeries/Food Stores • Sunday, February 03, 2013 • Permalink