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 May 23, 2020
“Tact is the ability to step on a man’s toes without letting him feel your boot”

"Tact is the ability to step on a man’s toes without messing up the shine on his shoes” (or “Tact is the ability to step on a man’s toes without scuffing the shine on his shoes” is a saying that has been printed on many images. The “messing up” version is usually credited to United States president Harry S. Truman (1884-1972). The “scuffing” version is usually credited to Canadian-American chemist and author Orlando Aloysius Battista (1917-1995).

“Tact is the ability to step on a man’s toes without letting him feel your boot” was printed in the Arlington Heights (IL) Herald on September 7, 1961, credited to “Quotoons” (by Orlando Aloysius Battista). “Tact is the ability to step on a man’s toes without letting him feel your boot” was printed in the book Quotoons: A Speaker’s Dictionary (1977) by O. A. Battista.

“Tact is the ability to step on a fellow’s shoes without ruining his shine” was printed in the St. Petersburg (FL) Times on November 27, 1977, credited to businessman James E. Davis. “Tact: n.: the ability to step on someone’s toes without bruising their ego” was printed in the book Robert’s Rules of Ordure: A Guidebook to the Social and Political Language of Our Time (2000) by J. L. McClellan.

“‘Tact is the ability to step on a man’s toes without messing up the shine on his shoes.’ Harry Truman” was posted on Twitter by Harry S Truman NPS on September 1, 2012. There is no evidence that Truman ever said it.

“Tact: the ability to step on someone’s toes without scuffing their shoes. (source unknown)” was posted on Twitter by Leslie Charles on December 16, 2014. “Tact is the ability to step on a man’s toes without scuffing the shine on his shoes - O. A. Battista” was posted on Twitter by Lisa McFarland on June 4, 2017. It is uncertain if Battista ever said this version.


Newspapers.com
7 September 1961, Arlington Heights (IL) Herald, “Quotoons,” p. 47?. col. 6:
Tact is the ability to step on a man’s toes without letting him feel your boot.

Google Books
Quotoons:
A Speaker’s Dictionary

By O. A. Battista
New York, NY: Putnam
1977
Pg. 391:
4058. Tact is the ability to light a fire under a person — without having to apply a torch.
4059. Tact is the ability to step on a man’s toes without letting him feel your boot.

Newspapers.com
27 November 1977, St. Petersburg (FL) Times, “James E Davis,” pg. 6B, cols. 4-5:
When he ventures forth these days, it is usually to collect an award for some philanthropic gesture or offer is homespun homilies ("tact is the ability to step on a fellow’s shoes without ruining his shine") to a graduating class.

Newspapers.com
24 May 1980, Minneapolis (MN) Tribune, “Jacksonville: One millionaire, many concerned physicians” by Lewis Cope, pg. 6A, col. 4:
And he (J. E. Davis—ed.) adds a dash of homespun homilies ("Tact is the ability to step on a fellow’s shoes without ruining his shine").

Google Books
Robert’s Rules of Ordure:
A Guidebook to the Social and Political Language of Our Time

By J. L. McClellan
Lincoln, NE: Writer’s Showcase
2000
Pg. 282:
Tact: n.: the ability to step on someone’s toes without bruising their ego.

Twitter
Harry S Truman NPS
@HarrySTrumanNPS
“Tact is the ability to step on a man’s toes without messing up the shine on his shoes.” Harry Truman
2:49 PM · Sep 1, 2012·Facebook

Twitter
Leslie Charles
@CrankyBuster
Tact: the ability to step on someone’s toes without scuffing their shoes.
(source unknown)
5:53 AM · Dec 16, 2014·Twitter Web Client

Twitter
maggie chicoine
@ideasculptor
#LeaderChat: “Tact is the ability to step on someone’s toes without scuffing the polish.” - anon
7:37 AM · Sep 19, 2016·Facebook

Twitter
Terry Whalin
@terrywhalin
“Tact is the ability to step on a man’s toes without messing up the shine on his shoes.” –Harry Truman
8:05 AM · Dec 12, 2016·Hootsuite

Twitter
Lisa McFarland
@LisaMcFarland
Tact is the ability to step on a man’s toes without scuffing the shine on his shoes - O. A. Battista
6:58 PM · Jun 4, 2017·Twitter Web Client

Twitter
PJ
@daisey1016
Tact is the ability to step on a man’s toes without messing up the shine on his shoes.
Harry S. Truman
5:23 PM · May 16, 2020·Twitter for iPhone

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Politics/Military • Saturday, May 23, 2020 • Permalink