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 March 03, 2010
“Ticker tape ain’t spaghetti”

"Ticker tape ain’t spaghetti,” said Fiorello La Guardia (1882-1947), the director general of the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration, in March 1946. La Guardia meant that it was nice for bureaucrats to meet and talk about world hunger, and to issue resolutions and studies and piles of paper, but that doesn’t necessarily put food on the world’s table.

La Guardia, while mayor of New York City in August 1945, said the same phrase—perhaps less memorably—before the U.S. Senate Banking Committee: “You can’t feed surveys to children and ticker tape ain’t spaghetti.”

Wikiquote: Fiorello La Guardia
Fiorello Henry La Guardia (pronounced /fiəˈrɛloʊ ləˈɡwɑrdiə/; born Fiorello Enrico La Guardia; December 11, 1882 – September 20, 1947) was Mayor of New York for three terms from 1934 to 1945. He was popularly known as “the Little Flower”, the translation of his Italian first name, Fiorello, and, most likely, a reference to his short stature. A Republican, he was a popular mayor and a strong supporter of the New Deal. La Guardia led New York’s recovery during the Great Depression and became a national figure, serving as President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s director of civilian defense during the run-up to the United States joining the Second World War.
La Guardia was the director general for the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) in 1946.

Google News Archive
31 August 1945, Daytona Beach (FL) Morning Journal, pg. 1, col. 1:
LaGuardia Warns
Senators Agains

WASHINGTON, Aug. 40—(AP)—The mayors of the nation’s two largest cities told Congress today that the federal government has a definite responsibility to prevent the American people from going hungry.

Looking to the immediate post-war years, Mayor Fiorello La Guardia of New York cautioned a Senate Banking Subcommittee “we are in for a spree and then the damnedest hangover we’ve ever had.”
The New York mayor said a “gigantic public works program of five or six years” is necessary as a backlog against unemployment.

The U.S. people, he said, “have learned that you can’t feed surveys to children and ticker tape ain’t spaghetti.”

Google News Archive
29 March 1946, Spokane (WA) Daily Chronicle, pg. 6, col. 1:
“Ticker Tape Ain’t Spaghetti” Cries LaGuardia as He Spurs UNRRA to Task of Food Finding
World Wants Bread,
Not Advice, Word
to Delegates.

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J., March 29. (AP)—Fiorello LaGuardia, new director general of UNRRA, told delegates from 48 nations today that he would seek food for world relief wherever he could find it—including the Argentine.

“Ticker tape ain’t spaghetti,” cried out the squat, fast-talking former mayor of New York in his inauguration address after bluntly declaring that the people of the world “want bread, not advice.”

With almost a touch of scorn, he waived a batch of resolutions which have been passed during the two-week council meeting here, and asserted beliigerently:

“I want plows, not typewriters...I want fast moving ships, not slow reading resolutions.”

Time magazine
FOOD: Against Starvation
Monday, Apr. 08, 1946
For two weeks, amidst the plenty and the plush of Atlantic City’s Traymore Hotel, worried UNRRA delegates from 48 nations dealt with gloom. The world food crisis was worse; famine threatened one-fourth of the earth’s population—some 500,000,000 people. The U.S. had fallen behind on its promised food deliveries. Thirty of the 120 days in which the immediate emergency was to be met had slipped by, and the problem had deepened daily.

Then, at their closing session, UNRRA delegates got a shot of hope & vigor from their new Director General—bumptious, bell-bottomed Fiorello H. LaGuardia.

“No Diplomat.” Waving his arms, “Butch” LaGuardia warned the foreign delegates of something they might not know: that he is “no diplomat.” Cried he: “Protocol is off. ... I want plows, not typewriters. . . . Ticker tape ain’t spaghetti. ... I want fast-moving ships.”

Google News Archive
8 April 1986, Pittsburgh (PA) Post-Gazette, “Updating famous sayings” by William Safire, pg. 7, cols. 1-2:
I have updated his quotation because stock tickers no longer produce the tape once used to throw out of windows at national heroes on parade. Although you can still buy spaghetti, it has been absorbed into the all-embracing vogue term, pasta.

The long strings of ticker tape were especially evocative of the strands of spaghetti, but that poetic image is lost on anyone under 40. But La Guardia’s wisdom about the transient nature of fame, or the inability to translate celebrity into the bread and butter of votes, should not be lost, hence, the substitution of relevant terms is required.

Seattle (WA) Post-Intelligencer
Last updated May 1, 2008 4:31 p.m. PT
Ticker tape still ain’t spaghetti
There was a global food crisis in 1946. Then, as now, the U.N. convened a working group to deal with it. At its meeting, the head of the U.N. Relief and Rehabilitation Administration, former New York City Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia, said, “Ticker tape ain’t spaghetti.” In other words, the stock market doesn’t feed the hungry. His words are true today.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Military/Religion /Health • (0) Comments • Wednesday, March 03, 2010 • Permalink