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 December 18, 2010
“Many people spend money they haven’t earned…to impress people they don’t like”

"Too many people spend money they haven’t earned for things they don’t need to impress people they don’t like” is a classic statement of how some people spend money in America. American journalist and humorist Robert Quillen (1887-1948) wrote in the syndicated newspaper column “Quillen’s Quip’s” on June 4, 1928:

“Americanism: Using money you haven’t earned to buy things you don’t need to impress people you don’t like.”

The syndicated newspaper column “Office Cat by Junius” (Edgar Allan Moss of Marion, IN) published the saying in January 1929: “How many people do you know who are spending money they have not yet earned for things they don’t need to impress people they don’t like?”

Newspaper columnist Walter Winchell (1897-1972) was quoted in The Reader’s Digest in 1935 applying the statement to Broadway: “Broadway is a place where people spend money they haven’t earned to buy things they don’t need to impress people they don’t like.” In 1937, Winchell referred to a 1935 use of his line, saying: “The quotation originally appeared here long before.”

The saying was used to describe Hollywood in 1935 and New York’s Fifth Avenue (rather than Broadway) by 1956. The American humorist Will Rogers (1879-1935) is frequently—and incorrectly—given credit for saying.

[This entry includes subsequent research by the Quote Investigator.]


Wikipedia: Robert Quillen
Verni Robert Quillen (March 25, 1887 – December 9, 1948) was an American journalist and humorist who for more than a quarter century was “one of the leading purveyors of village nostalgia” from his home in Fountain Inn, South Carolina.[1] In 2012, his office and library was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

4 June 1928, Asheville (TN) Citizen, “Quillen’s Quips” by Robert Quillen, pg. 4, col. 3:
Americanism: Using money you haven’t earned to buy things you don’t need to impress people you don’t like.

17 January 1929, Cambridge City (IN) Tribune, “Office Cat” by Junius (Edgar Allan Moss), pg. 6, col. 4:
How many people do you know who are spending money they have not yet earned for things they don’t need to impress people they don’t like?

24 July 1929, Lima (OH) News, “Flapper Fannie” comic, pg. 9, col. 2:
People often spend money on things they don’t need to impress people they don’t like.
("Flapper Fannie” is shown looking at a stylish hat—ed.)

6 October 1931, LeMars (IA) Semi-Weekly Sentinel, “Happy Thoughts,” pg. 8, col. 2:
What silly people they are who spend money they have not yet earned on things they don’t need to impress people they don’t like.

Google Books
The Reader’s Digest
Volume 27
1935
Pg. 100:
Broadway is a place where people spend money they haven’t earned to buy things they don’t need to impress people they don’t like.—Walter Winchell

14 April 1935, Seattle (WA) Daily Times, “Hollywood Pays Up and Settles Down” by Jeannette Meehan, Magazine Section, pg. 1, col. 1:
“HOLLYWOOD is a place,” someone once said, “where people spend money they haven’t got, to buy things they don’t need, to impress people they don’t like.”

Google Books
The People, Yes
By Carl Sandburg
New York, NY: Harcourt, Brace and Company
1936
Pg. 173:
“Broadway is a street,” typed the colyumist, “where people spend money they haven’t earned to buy things they don’t need to impress people they don’t like.”

Papers Past
11 April 1936, Wellington (New Zealand) Evening Post “Wit and Humour,” pg. 20, col. 7:
BELIEVE IT OR NOT.
One of the troubles in this modern age is that too many people are spending money they haven’t yet earned on things they don’t need to impress people they don’t like.

Google News Archive
19 February 1937, Palm Beach (FL) Daily News, “Walter Winchell on Broadway,” pg. 4, col. 2:
NOTES OF A NEW YORKER
The following is part of an editorial written by Arthur Brisbane on August 3rd, 1935...The quotation originally appeared here long before..."Walter Winchell,” said Mr. Brisbane, “who holds the Daily Mirror up to nature, remarks that: ‘Broadway is a street where people spend money they haven’t earned to buy things they don’t need to impress people they don’t like!’”...In the Satevepost of February 13th, 1937, J. P. McEvoy, a very clever writer, offers an article, “Father Meets Son”...Mr. McEvoy’s article concludes: “Don’t be like the social climber, who spends money he hasn’t got to buy things he doesn’t need to impress people he doesn’t like.”...We have no objection to Mr. McEvoy’s borrowing it. If he only wouldn’t spoil it!

14 September 1938, Christian Science Monitor, pg. 17:
One of the troubles of this modern age is that too many people spend what they have not earned, for things they do not need, to impress people they don’t like.

Google Books
December 1940, Rotarian, pg. 62, col. 3:
Fair Question
Why do people spend money they haven’t earned to buy things they don’t need to impress people they don’t like? — The Hub, St. Paul, Minnesota.

Google Books
Esar’s Comic Dictionary
By Evan Esar
New York, NY: Harvest House
1943
Pg. 35:
Broadway.
1. American’s hardened artery.
2. The double crossroad of the world.
3. Fraudway
4. If the straight and narrow path leads to virtue, Broadway is well named.
5. A place where people spend money they haven’t earned, to buy things they don’t need, to impress people they don’t like.

Google News Archive
7 November 1943, Milwaukee (WI) Journal, ‘Wisconsin Notes,” pt. 5, pg. 2, col. 7:
Why do people spend money they haven’t got to buy things they don’t need to impress people they don’t like?—Arcadia ANews-Leader.

Google Books
New York City Folklore:
Legends, tall tales, anecdotes, stories, sagas, heroes and characters, customs, traditions and sayings

By Benjamin Albert Botkin
Westport, CT: Greenwood Press
1976, ©1956
Pg. 3:
Fifth Avenue is a street where a lot of people spend money they haven’t earned buying things they don’t need to impress people they don’t like.

Google News Archive
22 April 1958, Milwaukee (WI) Sentinel, “By the Way With Charles House,” pt. 2, pg. 1, col. 1:
Broadway is a place where people spend money they haven’t earned to buy things they don’t want to impress people they don’t like.

Google Books
Winchell
By Bob Thomas
Garden City, NY: Doubleday
1971
Pg. 136:
Broadway is a street where people spend money they haven’t earned to buy things they don’t need to impress people they don’t like.

Google Books
Words of Wisdom:
Daily Affirmations of Faith

By Rev Run (Joseph Simmons)
New York, NY; Amistad
2006
Pg. 115:
Most Americans are busy buying things they don’t want with money they don’t have to impress people they don’t like!

Google Books
Thousands of Epigrams
By Edmund Fuller
Negley Press
2007
Pg. 213:
Broadway is a place where people spend money they haven’t earned to buy things they don’t need to impress people they don’t like. — Walter Winchell

Google Books
Treasury of Wisdom Quotes
By and from Heinz Duthel

By Heinz Duthel
Lulu.com
2008
Pg. 49:
“Too many people spend money they haven’t earned, to buy things they don’t want, to impress people they don’t like.”—Will Rogers

Google Books
The Speaker’s Quote Book:
Over 5,000 Illustrations and Quotations for All Occasions

By Roy B. Zuck
Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Academic & Professional
2009
Pg. 325:
Many people are buying things they don’t need with money they don’t have to impress people they don’t like.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityBanking/Finance/Insurance • Saturday, December 18, 2010 • Permalink