When our three children were young, my wife Peg and I picked up on one of their verbal responses to each other, “So, you say!” Meaning of course, “That’s just your opinion.” I knew they could come up with stronger worded comments, but you probably get the idea. More mature responses came later.
Words to live by, adages, witticisms, quotations, saying, maxims, axioms, proverbs, aphorisms, epigrams, and truisms communicate ideas that seem credible. They contain wisdom and act as shorthand, or a short cut in conveying information or a feeling.
I remember as a child seeing the film, Son of Pale Face (1952), starring Bob Hope, Jane Russell, and Roy Rogers at the Temple Theater in Tacoma. I returned home and the next day acted out the entire story line, including quotations, to my next door neighbors, David and Kathleen Biddison. “Where I hail from, we don’t cotton to folks what cotton to other folks gals that don’t cotton to folks that cotton to them. That’s cotton talk, see?” and “Why, I’m so mean, I hate myself.” were two Bob Hope movie quotations from the film I used. Not too pithy, perhaps, but indicative.
Bob Hope always made me laugh in his older films. The ones he made in the late 1950s and 1960s just lacked. I did love the film The Road to Bali (1952) starring Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, and Dorothy Lamour with a little cross promotion by Jane Russell from Son of Pale Face. I don’t recall seeing this film in the theater, but rather on TV a few years later.
Since 1952 I have appreciated quotes from movies, television, radio, books, and newspapers. Some stick and some don’t. In the mid-1990s I published a book of movie quotations, Reel Comments. I would give them to clients and donated two copies to the Rotary Club of Tacoma #8 for our annual auction fund raiser. One was autographed by Eddie Albert (Green Acres). He signed by his quotation from Oklahoma, “I wanted to marry her when I saw the moonlight shining on the barrel of her father’s shotgun.” Most people today only know Eddie Albert as an actor, but in World War II he was a hero. He commanded a landing craft during the battle for the island of Tarawa. Albert disobeyed orders to collect reusable supplies from the landing. Instead he saved over 40 trapped marines who never made it to shore. They were under heavy machine gun fire. He summed up his life nicely by saying, “I don’t really care how I am remembered as long as I bring happiness and joy to people.” Those are words to live by.
The second copy of the book was autographed by Bob Hope. Unlike Albert with one entry, Hope had ten quotations in Reel Comments. He chose #298 from The Cat and the Canary (1938) – Nydia Westman: “Do you believe people come back from the dead?” Bob Hope: “You mean like Republicans?”
When I became president of the Rotary Club of Tacoma #8 (1996/97) I presented a copy of the book to each weekly speaker along with the sheet music for the song, You Always Will Be My Friend. My friend Art Mineo wrote the music and I wrote the lyrics. It reminds me of the comment by Khalil Gibran, “Friendship is always a sweet responsibility, never an opportunity.”
While Peg and I wrote three published books by Self-Counsel Press of Vancouver & Toronto (video production, middle-aged entrepreneurs, and market research), we self-published the book Reel Comments. While writing this article I did a search on Google and came up with a used copy available on Amazon ($14.96 plus $3.95 shipping). Not bad for a printing-run of only 250 copies and dated 1996.
In our recent snow and cold spell, I was reminded of The Eve of St. Agnes by John Keats. I read it as a junior at Clover Park High School in 1963. “Ah, bitter chill it was! The owl, for all his feathers, was a-cold; The hare limp’d trembling through the frozen grass, And silent was the flock in woolly fold.” No owl here, but the crows were out in force. Our bunny left tracks in the snow, and our flock was a group of bucks.
Here are a few of my other favorite quotations:
Hannibal – “We must find a way, or make one.”
Seneca(?) – “Now is not the time for making plans, but for having them.”
John A. Shedd – “A ship in harbor is safe — but that is not what ships are built for.”
Charlie Chan – “Careless shepherd make excellent dinner for wolf.”
Charlie Chan – “When money speaks, even the deaf listen.”
Growing up I loved the movies about Charlie Chan. I liked the humor, Charlie’s comments, and the film noir feel. I hated that Charlie was played by white men, but I did like Sidney Tolier’s portrayal . . . god help me.
Abraham Lincoln – “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”
Donna Roberts – “A friend knows the song in my heart and sings it to me when my memory fails.”
A few days ago while waiting for Peg at the doctor’s office I leafed through her copy of The Book of Positive Quotations and found one I adore, but had never heard before: “We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow man.” by Herman Melville. Peg liked the quote but countered my quote with her find, “If your project doesn’t work, look for the part that you didn’t think was important.” We’ve both worked on countless community projects and know full well the wisdom of that saying. The comment was written by Arthur Bloch, the author of the Murphy’s Law books. I will finish this article with another quote by Bloch, “A conclusion is the place where you get tired of thinking.”