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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“Surely, not everybody was kung-fu fighting” (4/24)
“Sometimes it’s not about how good you are, but how bad you want it” (4/24)
“It’s not how good you are. It’s how bad you want it” (4/24)
“My personality is who I am, my attitude depends on who you are” (4/24)
“You’re going to shit yourself when I tell you the price” (joke) (4/24)
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Entry from February 17, 2018
“Don’t insult the alligator until after you cross the river”

"Don’t insult the alligator until after you cross the river”—that is, when the alligator can no longer harm you—is a saying that has been printed on many images.  “Until you have crossed the river, don’t insult the alligator’s mouth” was cited in a 1937 as an Ewe proverb (from Africa). “‘Until you have crossed the river don’t insult the alligator’s mouth.’ Proverb of the Ewe Negroes” was cited in a 1938 book.

“Motto worth remembering, submitted by a native of Haiti: ‘Never insult an alligator till after you crossed the river’” was print in a 1958 newspaper column. The proverb is usually listed as Haitian, but it appears to be from West Africa.


Wikipedia: Ewe people
The Ewe people (Ewe: Eʋeawó, lit. “Ewe people”; or Mono Kple Volta Tɔ́sisiwo Dome, lit. “Ewe nation”,"Eʋenyigba" Eweland) are an African ethnic group. They are the largest ethnic group in Togo (32%), the third largest ethnic group in Ghana (14%), and southern Benin (4%). They speak the Ewe language (Ewe: Eʋegbe) which belongs to the Niger-Congo family of languages. They are related to other speakers of Gbe languages, such as, the Fon, Gen, Phla Phera, and the Aja people of Togo and Benin.

Google Books
The Savage Hits Back, or The White Man Through Native Eyes
By Julius Ernst Lips
London, UK: Dickson
1937
Pg. 15:
Here we will select three only, all from the Ewe. The first sounds as though it were written for a modern emigrant: “Tso to vo hafi nayo le fenu adzu” — “Until you have crossed the river, don’t insult the alligator’s mouth.”

Google Books
Savage Symphony:
A Personal Record of the Third Reich

By Eva Lips
New York, NY: Random House
1938
Pg. 313:
“Until you have crossed the river don’t insult the alligator’s mouth.”
Proverb of the Ewe Negroes

31 March 1958, Aberdeen (SD) American-News, Bennett Cerf column, pg. 4, col. 4:
Motto worth remembering, submitted by a native of Haiti: “Never insult an alligator till after you crossed the river.”

31 May 1959, Los Angeles (CA) Times, “Bennett Cerf’s Cerfboard: You Can Say That Again!: Here’s a collection of prize quotations from our Cerfboard proprietor’s little black book,” This Week magazine, pg. 14, col. 3:
Cordell Hull: Never insult an alligator till after you have crossed the river.

Google Books
Only the Beginning
By Nelson L. Price
Nashville, TN: Broadman Press
1980
Pg. 60:
A Cajun proverb speaks to the wisdom of not upsetting relationships: “Never insult the alligator until you have crossed the bayou.”

Google Books
The ESL/ELL Teacher’s Book of Lists
By Jacqueline E. Kress
San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bass
2008
Pg. 266:
Don’t insult the alligator until you’ve crossed the river. (Haitian)

Twitter
Body Indigo‏
@bodyindigo
“Don’t insult the alligator until you’ve crossed the river.” - Haitian Proverb
10:00 PM - 8 Sep 2008

Twitter
Sam‏
@SamHarlett
Remember: Don’t Insult the Alligator till after you cross the river.
Anonymous #quote
12:02 PM - 12 Feb 2018

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityWork/Businesses • Saturday, February 17, 2018 • Permalink