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 January 23, 2013
Fender Bender (minor automobile accident)

A “fender bender” is a minor traffic accident (such as small damage to a fender). “Fender Bender” has been cited in print since at least 1922, when it referred to an auto mechanic. In 1928, “fender bender” referred to the type of driver who causes such minor accidents. The 1945 newspaper headline “Fender Bender Investigations Occupy Police” used the term “fender bender” to describe the minor accidents.
Another term for a “fender bender” is a “bumper thumper.”
Merriam-Webster Dictionary
fender bender noun
Definition of FENDER BENDER
: a minor automobile accident
First Known Use of FENDER BENDER
circa 1962
29 July 1922, Muskegon (MI) Chronicle, “Gassaway Miles by Stan” comic strip, pg. 4, col. 6:
(“Fender Bender” here appears to refer to an auto mechanic—ed.)
19 February 1928, The Sunday Repository (Canton, OH), “Safety” by Capt. Geo. Muehleisen, pg. 1, col. 2:
But one of the most dangerous types (or drivers—ed.), to our way of thinking, is the dashing, crashing, fender-bender out to give the populace a thrill.
31 March 1938, Canton (OH) Repository, pg. 5, col. 3:
MR. FENDER BENDER is a traffic pest who needs something besides space to park safely.
21 December 1945, Lima (OH) News, pg. 1, col. 4:
Fender Bender
Occupy Police

Several minor accidents and one fire run featured the unusually quiet activities of Lima’s police and fire department in a 24-hour period Thursday and Friday.
27 June 1946, Malvern (IA) Leader, pg. 8, col. 1 ad:
Are You a…
If you are, we have the
Remedy in our
Body and Paint Shop
(Salyers Auto Co.—ed.)
13 January 1949, Marietta (GA) Daily Journal, “Week-end Safest In Several Months,” pg. 1, col. 5:
“We didn’t have even a ‘fender bender’ either Saturday or Sunday,” reported County Police Chief John Lee.
Google News Archive
26 January 1953, Spokane (WA) Daily Chronicle, pg. 6, col. 3:
Army Reckless Drivers Go
to “Fender Bender” Class

WASHINGTON, Jan. 26. (UP)—The army has a new sort of discipline for GIs who are careless drivers.
Google News Archive
10 January 1957, Milwaukee (WI) Sentinel, “Snow Covers City, Perils Traffic,” pg. 1, col. 3:
Only one “fender-bender” accident involving a Transport Co. bus was reported.
Google News Archive
15 August 1957, Toledo (OH) Blade, pg. 1, col. 2:
Truman Involved
In Fender-Bender
Traffic Mishap

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityTransportation • Wednesday, January 23, 2013 • Permalink

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