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. Now a Popeye's fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Entry from September 04, 2006
“Handy as hip pockets on a hog”

"Useless as hip pockets on a hog” is a phrase of unknown origin, but it’s cited from the 1930s. “Useless” is now replaced with “handy,” and sometimes it’s “side pockets” instead of “hip pockets.”

The phrase appears on many web pages of Texas Talk, where it’s listed as a compliment!

Handy as Hip Pockets on a Hog: the Colorful Language of the American Southwest (Paperback)
by Donald Chain Black
Paperback: 138 pages
Publisher: Taylor Publishing Company (1 Jan 1989)
Language English
ISBN: 0878336826
Explains the history and meaning of Southwestern expressions from “Twelve acres of pregnant red hogs” to “It’s time to put the chairs on the wagon”.

Google Books
Encyclopedia of the Great Plains
by David J. Wishart
Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press
pg. 299:
Another colorful term, “gully washer,” refers to an exceptional amount of rainfall, and in Texas a compliment might be paid to someone who was said to be as “handy as hip pockets on a hog.”

Texas Talkin’ Page
As handy as hip pockets on a hog (If a Texan says this, it’s a compliment, honest!)

15 September 1934, Chicago Daily Tribune, pg. 12:
“There’s no more use for the office of coroner than there is for hip pockets on a hog.”—State Representative Wallace Karraker of Jonesborough at the meeting in Chicago yesterday of the Illinois retrenchment commission.

24 January 1970, Panama City (FL) News, pg. 1:
WASHINGTON (AP)—While in Washington to file his school desegregation suit with the Supreme Court Friday, Gov. Claude Kirk took time out to comment on some of his colleagues in Florida.

Asked what he thought of the job being done by Education Commissioner Floyd Christian, Kirk replied: “He’s as useless as hip pockets on a hog.”

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (0) Comments • Monday, September 04, 2006 • Permalink