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 Popeyes fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Entry from September 18, 2007
Oklahoma Guarantee

An “Oklahoma gurantee” isn’t much of a guarantee. The term probably began with Oklahoma used car dealers offering shady “guarantees” for their used cars. An “Oklahoma gurantee” might mean that “if the product breaks in two, you get to keep both pieces!” An “Oklahoma guarantee” also might mean that “this product works, or you can call me a son of a bitch!”

The term “Oklahoma guarantee” has been popular in Texas and Oklahoma, but has some limited nationwide currency.

Google Books
Cassell’s Dictionary of Slang
by Jonathon Green
Sterling Publishing
Pg. 1032:
Oklahoma guarantee n [1960s] (US) no guarantee.

19 July 1926, Dallas (TX) Morning News, part 2, pg. 10, col. 3 classified ad:
Studebaker touring sport, disk wheels, new paint and entirely new tires. This car has been overhauled and I will give an Oklahoma guarantee on this car. You might be able to trade in your Ford.

25 May 1934, Dallas (TX) Morning News, section II, pg. 5:
Samuel, who has been around the ring racket more than a score of years and has seen most of the good and bad fighters come and go, rise and fall, offered to make some sort of an Oklahoma guarantee that Primo Carnera, presently recognized as world heavyweight champion, could not whip either Wilson Dunn or Clyde Chastain, light-heavyweights who have been showing in these parts.

26 November 1944, Dallas (TX) Morning News, “TCU, Oklahoma A&M Cotton Bowl Rivals,” section IV, pg. 3:
“And that’s not a mere Oklahoma guarantee,” chirped Ralph Foster, star tackle from Stillwater and captain for the day.

14 April 1950, El Paso (TX) Herald-Post, pg. 21, col. 5 used car ad:
Oklahoma Guarantee
“I’ll be derned if she ain’t just like I told you.”

May 1953, American Speech, “Carnie Talk from the West Coast” by William L. Alderson, Pg. 117:
OKLAHOMA GUARANTEE, n. “I’ll give you an Oklahoma guarantee.” I.e., if you don’t believe what I say I can always take it back. 

1 November 1959, Dallas (TX) Morning News, section 3, pg. 10, col. 2 classified ad:
If you are not satisfied with your purchase, return the unused portion and we will refund the unused portion of your money.

Still More Ethnic and Place Names as Derisive Adjectives
Kenneth Porter
Western Folklore, Vol. 25, No. 1 (Jan., 1966), pp. 37-40
Oklahoma guarantee. “Means they will take it all away from you if they can.” No guarantee at all. Houston, Texas, 1948-51.

16 March 1967, Dallas (TX) Morning News, section AA, pg. 1:
Most of his opinions, as a justice of the 10th Court of Civil Appeals, ar emodels of judicial language. One of his latest contained an intriguing footnote—in commenting on the legal complexity of a “guaranty,” Judge Wilson mentioned, “As in the case...of the familiar, uncouth and emphatic ‘Oklahoma guarantee.’”

Asked to explain what an “uncouth Oklahoma guarantee” is, the judge was a little nonplussed. It isn’t easy for a Baptist to do, he implied.

An"Oklahoma guarantee,” it seems, is when a fellow tells you, “I’ll pay you back that $5 next Saturday, or I’ll be an S.O.B.”

Inside the Third House:
A Veteran Lobbyist Takes a 50-Year Frolic Through Texas Politics
by H. C. Pittman
Austin, TX: Eakin Press
Pg. 245 (Lingo):
Oklahoma Guarantee: If it breaks in two, you get both parts!

New York Times Book Review (book excerpt)
Good Spirits:
The Making of a Businessman
G. P. Putnam’s Sons

One of the things he taught me was the meaning of an “Oklahoma guarantee.” He’d say, “I’ll be a son of a bitch if there isn’t oil here.” When you asked him what that meant, he’d say, “If there isn’t any oil, why, you can call me a son of a bitch!”

Jenny Casey
So what are you waiting for? ORDER A COPY OF HER NEW CD and get ready for a real country music experience! Besides, Jenny’s CD comes with an Oklahoma Guarantee. If it breaks in two, you get to keep both halves!

KNOTSMITH Frequently Asked Questions
In most cases “catalog lanyard” equals third world, mass-produced, and overpriced.  Unfortunately, high catalog price does not offer you any choice and does not equal high quality.  I produce a quality product to your specifications and I guarantee my work.  Catalogs, on the other hand, generally offer what we refer to as an “Oklahoma Guarantee:” If it breaks you get both pieces.

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • Tuesday, September 18, 2007 • Permalink