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 November 22, 2004
The Bronx? No Thonx!
The Bronx?
No thonx!

This - one of the shortest poems ever - is the product of Ogden Nash (1902-1971). It was called a "Geographical Reflection" in his book Hard-Lines (1931). In 1964, Nash apologized.

25 May 1964, New York Times, pg. 13:
Contrite Poet Gives
A Cheer for Bronx
On Golden Jubilee

Give the Bronx their due,
Say the poet, with rue.

That was more or less the posture assumed yesterday by Ogden Nash.

Back in 1931, Mr. Nash recalled, a "line popped into my head for no reason." It was bought by The New Yorker, which penetrates to New York's northernmost borough, where some residents were consternated by the couplet:

The Bronx?
No Thonx.

The lines lingered on the fringes of Bronx lore for many years. Dr. Abraham Tauber, dean of the faculty at the Bronx Community College, remembered it recently.

Dean Tauber is a Bronx booster. He wants the borough's golden jubilee, currently being celebrated, to be a success. The Community College, a unit of the City University of New York, will even offer a course next fall in the history of the Bronx.

The dean wrote Mr, Nash, recalling the couplet, and asked if the poet would not "consider writing a little piece in your inimitable style, not to make amends but to help us smile over our own foibles and yet to walk, with head held high and quickened step, the streets in the place in which so many fine people live and work and play."

Back came this reply from Mr. Nash:

Dear Dean Tauber,
I can't seem to escape the
sins of my smart-alec youth;
Here are my amends.

I wrote those lines, "The Bronx?
No thonx";
I shudder to confess them.

Now I'm an older, wiser man
I cry, "The Bronx? God bless

Contritely yours,
Ogden Nash.

Posted by Barry Popik
Names/Phrases • Monday, November 22, 2004 • Permalink

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