Quotes Uncovered: Running a Railroad and Famous Misquotes
Each week, I’ve been inviting readers to submit quotations whose origins they want me to try to trace, using my book, The Yale Book of Quotations, and my more recent research. Here is the latest round.
Paul Robichaux asked:
That’s a h*** of a way to run a railroad.
One of my Senior Research Editors for The Yale Book of Quotations, Thomas Fuller, recently verified at the Library of Congress the cartoon that is said to have originated this saying, appearing in the humor magazine Ballyhoo:
On examining the June 1932 issue, I found the cartoon. It’s a full-page cartoon that shows a country scene (with a billboard in the background saying SMOKE ADMIRAL CIGARETS), railroad tracks, and two locomotives (with following cars) speeding directly towards each other on the same track, about 20 feet apart. There is a small two-story railroad tower beside them, with a railroad worker wearing a cap, smoking a pipe, and looking out of the second floor window with his arms crossed. He clearly is the speaker or thinker — there’s nobody else in the cartoon — and the caption reads “Tch, tch! What a way to run a railroad!”
The cartoon was by Ralph Fuller, no relation, as far as we know, to Thomas Fuller. Thanks, Tom!
What about famous misquotes? For instance, what is the first use of ‘Play it again, Sam’, which appears in popular memory but not in Casablanca?
The Yale Book of Quotations tracks the earliest known evidence for famous misquotations as well as famous quotations. According to the YBQ, “Nigel Rees notes in Cassell’s Movie Quotations that Jack Benny said ‘Sam, Sam, play that song for me again, will you?’ in an Oct. 17, 1943 radio parody of Casablanca. Woody Allen cemented the fame of the paraphrase by using Play It Again, Sam as the title of a 1969 play and 1972 motion picture.”
Who said “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”?
This very familiar quotation does not even appear in Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations. The Yale Book of Quotations sources it as follows:
“What does not destroy me, makes me stronger.
Friedrich Nietzsche, The Twilight of the Idols “Maxims and Arrows” sec. 8 (1888) (translation by Walter Kaufmann). Popularly rendered as ‘Whatever does not kill me makes me stronger.'”
Do any readers have any other quotations whose origins they would like me to attempt to trace?