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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Hollywood on the Hudson (proposed Hudson River pier) (11/21)
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Easy Pass (school program) (11/21)
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Entry from November 27, 2012
“About the time we think we can make both ends meet, somebody moves the ends”

"About the time we think we can make both ends meet, somebody moves the ends” has been credited to politician Herbert Hoover (1874-1964) and to writer Pansy Penner (1905-2000) in the 1940s, when both used variations of this one-line saying (but did not coin it). To “make ends meet” means to cover expenses; “somebody moves the ends” means that there are unexpected expenses that ruin a budget.

“Just about the time we think we are about to make both ends meet somebody moves the ends” has been cited in print since at least 1919 and is of unknown authorship.


Wiktionary: make ends meet
Verb
make ends meet

1. (idiomatic) to have enough money to cover expenses; to get by financially; to get through the pay period (sufficient to meet the next payday).

HathiTrust Digital Library
August 1919, The American Blacksmith Auto and Tractor Shop, pg. 272, col. 3:
Just about the time we think we are about to make both ends meet somebody moves the ends.

4 February 1920, Reno (NV) Evening Gazette, pg. 4, col. 2:
ELASTIC EXTREMES
(From the Delavan (Wis.) Republican)
Just when we have things worked around so we can make both ends meet, somebody moves the ends.

18 November 1920, Coshocton (OH) Tribune, ‘The Jollier,” pg. 3, col. 5:
Just when we think we can make both ends meet somebody moves the ends.

11 April 1921, Sandusky (OH), Star-Journal, pg. 4, col. 7 ad:
Uncle Bob Says:—About the time you think you make both ends meet, somebody moves the ends.
G. J. Schillig, CHIROPRACTOR

21 June 1921, San Diego (CA) Union, pg. 4, col. 6:
Just as things have worked out so that both ends meet, somebody moves the ends.

Google News Archive
13 February 1923, Prescott (AZ) Evening Courier, “Hassayampa Yamps” by the Old Cattleman and his Grapevine Friends, pg. 4, col. 2:
ABOUT THE TIME MEN GET so they can make both ends meet somebody moves the ends.

Google Books
Coming, sir!
The Autobiography of a Waiter

By Dave Marlowe
London: G.G. Harrap
1937
Pg. 135:
“Just as you get both ends to meet, my boy, somebody moves the ends,” he told me.

Google Books
April 1947, The Rotarian, pg. 63, col. 1:
You Can’t Win
Just about the time you think you can make both ends meet, somebody moves the ends. — Rotary News, Gadsen, Alabama

Google Books
Fun Fare;
A treasury of Reader’s Digest wit and humor

Pleasantville, NY: Reader’s Digest Association
1949
Pg. 213:
Just about the time you think you can make both ends meet, somebody moves the ends (Pansy Penner).

19 December 1949, Christian Science Monitor, “Political Encore: Big Issue of 1900 Still Bigger in ‘50‎” by Richard L. Strout, pg. 1:
As Mr. Hoover. observed here last week, “as soon as you make the two ends meet, somebody moves the ends.”

Google News Archive
17 August 1964, Miami (FL) News, “From Rooney To Pepper To ‘Freeloaders’” by Herb Rau, pg. 5B, col. 1:
TODAY’S HEARTBURN
It was Herbert Hoover who once said. “About the lime we think can make ends meet, somebody moves the ends.”

Google Books
Friars Club Encyclopedia of Jokes:
Over 2000 One-Liners, Straight Lines, Stories, Gags, Roast, RIbs & Put-downs

Compiled by Barry Dougherty and H. Aaron Cohl
New York, NY: Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers, Inc.
1997
Pg. 191:
Just about the time you think you can make both ends meet, somebody moves the ends.
—PANSY PENNER (1905-2000—ed.)

Google Books
Quotes, Quirks and Quips:
And Some Other Stuff Too!!

By Betty Owen Whitehouse
Bloomington, IN: Trafford Pub.
2011
Pg. 27:
Just when I think I can make both ends meet, somebody moves the ends! - Betty Fisher Williams

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityBanking/Finance/Insurance • Tuesday, November 27, 2012 • Permalink