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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Dead Meat (to be a loser or in serious trouble) (7/21)
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Entry from January 18, 2013
“Service is the rent we pay to live on this earth”

“Service is the rent we pay for a room on earth” was cited in print in 1917 (when it was an inscription over the doorway of a hospital in India) and is of unknown authorship. The saying is frequently used by nonprofit service organizations, often with “volunteerism” or “activism” replacing the word “service.” The various endings include “in this world” and “on this earth” and “on this planet.”


Google Books
November 1917, The American Journal of Nursing, pg. 167:
Emma Vernon, the president, extended a greeting to the visiting nurses, basing her remarks on the term “service,” as defined in an inscription over the doorway of a hospital in India, “Service is the rent we pay for a room on earth,” with the hope that all would pay a big rent in terms of loyalty.

29 January 1920, Racine (WI) Journal-News, “Mrs. James G. Chandler Reviews the Work of the Red Cross,” pg. 5, col. 2:
“Some one has said that ‘Service is the rent we pay for the space we occupy in this world.’”

9 March 1920, Wyoming State Tribune (Cheyenne, WY), “Lack of Dresses May Be France’s Real Difficulty,” pg. 3, col. 6:
“Service is the rent we pay for living on earth.”
(A. H. Foncen of the national headquarters of the Near East Relief—ed.)

1 September 1922, Aberdeen (SD) Journal, pg. 8, col. 7:
“Community service is the rent a person pays for the space he occupies on this earth,” says Walter Burr in “The Community Program.” Is there anyone in your community that pays a bigger rent than your editor?

OCLC WorldCat record
Guide to new-comers on the junior staff of the Public Library of Newark, N.J.
Author: Newark Public Library.
Publisher: [Newark (N.J.) : The Library, 1927?]
Edition/Format: Book : English
Notes:
Title from cover.
From cover: “Service is the rent we pay for the space we occupy in life.”

Google News Archive
17 October 1928, The Citizen (Ottawa, Ontario), pg. 9, col. 8:
Rent One Pays For
His Room on Earth

It’s Service, Says Major the
Rev. C. G. Hepburn

(...)
Mr. Hepburn gave one of his characteristic addresses, in which he urged upon the Lions that “service is the rent one pays for his room on earth.”
(Channel G. Hepburn—ed.)

Google Books
July 1942, The Rotarian, pg. 50, col. 3:
The Ottawa, Ill., Rotary Club Broadcaster reminds us that “Service is the rent we pay for the space we occupy.”

Google Books
February 1947, The Rotarian, pg. 72, col. 3:
He quotes Lord Halifax, wartime British Ambassador to the United States, as having said: “Service is the rent we pay for our room on earth.”

OCLC WorldCat record
A manual of the Association of Universalist Women.
Author: Association of Universalist Women.
Publisher: Boston, Mass. : Home Office, [1948?]
Edition/Format: Book : English
Notes:
“An active, progressive organization of liberal women, in whose fellowship and service we invite YOU to share.”
“Service is the rent we pay for the place on earth which we occupy"--Cover.

OCLC WorldCat record
Sevice [i.e., service] is the rent we pay for living : inspiring the volunteer spirit
Author: Andrew Carroll; Council for Advancement and Support of Education.
Publisher: Chicago, IL : Teach’em, inc., 1992.
Edition/Format: Audiobook on Cassette : Cassette recording : English
Summary:
Andrew Carroll, author of “Volunteer USA” discusses the roles that idealism and realism play in motivating volunteers. He stresses the needs to involve youth in volunteer activities.

Google Books
Helping Adolescents Toward a Positive Identity:
An Inspirational Self Help Book

By Megan Elisabeth Shull
Thesis (M.S.)—Cornell University
August, 1994
Pg. 126:
As the saying goes, service is the rent we pay to live on earth.

27 April 1994, The Sun (Baltimore, MD), “Baltimore’s Mitchells: the next generation” by Victoria White, pg. 1C: ‎
“My grandmother used to tell me that public service is the rent we pay to live on this earth,” Mr. Mitchell says.

24 July 1994, Hartford (CT) Courant, “ECSU can make all the difference” by Sherman Tarr, pg. H1:
“Volunteerism is the rent we pay to live here,” says ECSU Vice President Arthur Lubetkin, dean for student affairs.

Google Books
Launching Our Black Children for Success:
A Guide for Parents of Kids from Three to Eighteen

By Joyce A. Ladner and Theresa Foy DiGeronimo
San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass
2003
Pg. 72:
We all need to remember something that I have heard Marian Wright Edelman of the Children’s Defense Fund say in her speeches: “Giving back is the rent we pay to live on this earth.”

ME=AIDs
4/14/2010
MY ACTIVIST JOURNEY…
(...)
“Activism is the rent we pay to live on the planet.” When I read that in a classroom, where I was teaching children here in Canada, I realized I had been paying my rent to live on the planet from around age five years old if not earlier. With activism, what matters is that you are in it. Sure the number of years one is involved counts, yet in my opinion, what counts is that you are an activist at all.

Rise Innovations
OCTOBER 11, 2010 · 6:48 PM
“Service is the rent we pay to live on this Earth”
I grew up with a Dad whose mantra is “service is the rent we pay to live on this Earth”, so volunteering and non-for-profits have always been important to me.

Conservative Crusader
GLOBALISM REVISITED: EVANGELISTS EXTRAORDINAIRE
Part 4 Of 6
by: debra rae | published: 11 02, 2010
(...)
Hard-core direct action propelled by “a spirit of resistance” frequently involves civil disobedience, boycotts, and occupation. Says the late Redwood Forest tree-sitting anarchist, the late Anita Roddick, this is “the rent we pay to live on the planet.”

Google Books
This Ain’t No Practice Life:
Live your Dream So It’s All You’ll Ever Need

By Micheal Burt
Brentwood, TN: Franklin Green Publishing
2011
Pg. 67:
Stephen Covey said, “Service is the rent we pay to live on this earth,” and the key to the many is through the one.

Google Books
Inspiration from the Top:
A Collection of My Favorite Quotes

By Zig Ziglar
Nashville, TN: THomas Nelson
2012
Pg. 137:
The service we render others is the rent we pay for our room on earth.
Wilfred Grenfell

Twitter
ChildrensDefenseFund
‏@ChildDefender
“Service is the rent we pay for living.” - Marian Wright Edelman. How will you serve on National Day of Service Jan 19? pic.twitter.com/1bdC25Ic
8:27 AM - 10 Jan 13

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Politics/Military • Friday, January 18, 2013 • Permalink