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 Popeye's fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Entry from February 04, 2009
“Our credit manager is Helen Waite. If you want credit, go to Helen Waite.”

Many businesses are cash-only and a few display this sign: “Our credit manager is Helen Waite. If you want credit, go to Helen Waite.” Hell-and-wait, get it?

The business sign dates to at least 1961 and the joke has been printed on many images.

The “Helen Wait(e)” joke—without the popular “credit manager” version—is much older. “Go to Helen Waite” was printed in the Jackson (MI) Weekly Citizen on January 29, 1876. “Go to Helen Wait for it” was printed in the Detroit (MI) Free Press on February 3, 1897.

Our Credit Manager
is Helen Waite.
If you want credit
Go to
Helen Waite.

Helen Waite is now in
charge of all RUSH orders.
If you are in a
hurry, just go
to Helen Waite.

29 January 1876, Jackson (MI) Weekly Citizen, “Michigan in Brief,” pg. 6, col. 2:
A female compositor up in Ingham county is called Helen Waite, and often when the intrusive imp bores the editor for copy, he tells him to go to Helen Waite.

1 February 1897, Detroit (MI) Free Press, pg. 4, col. 4:
A variety team of “sidewalk” wags have invented this play on words:

“Did you hear about the change that has been made at the postoffice?”

“No. What is it?”

“Why, I went down there this morning, and instead of a man in the general delivery window, there was a woman. Her name is Helen Wait.”

“How do you know her name is Helen Wait?”

“Why, I went to the postmaster and asked him for my mail, and he told me to go to Helen Wait for it.”

Chronicling America
8 November 1920, Alaska Daily Empire (Juneau, AK), “Bits of BY-Play” by Luke McLuke (Cincinnati Enquirer), pg. 4, col. 3:
If you are in no hurry to meet a nice girl, who is attending the Elmira, N. Y. College, you can go to Helen Wait.

13 June 1961, Box Elder News (Brigham, UT), “Pow Wow” by Bruce, pg. 2, col. 3:
New appointment at the News & Journal:

Helen Waite is our new credit manager. If you want credit, go to Helen Waite.

10 September 1961, The Enquirer (Cincinnati, OH), “Innocent Bystander” by Ollie M. James, pg. 1-H, col. 7:

2 February 1962, Pasadena (CA) Independent, pg. 15, col. 5:
Sign in a Department Store: “Our credit manager is Helen Waite. If you want credit go to Helen Waite.”

22 July 1962, Montana Standard-Post (Butte, MT), “Queries and Replies” by Lewis T. Poole, pg. 4, col. 3:
Q. What is the most amusing sign you ever saw on a tavern wall?—REDNOSE RONALD.
A. That is a loaded question and one could conceivably get loaded trying to gather the necessary information wherewith to formulate an opinion. A likely candidate for the distinction is one in the barroom of a local fraternal organization. It reads: “Helen Waite is our credit manager. If you want credit, go to Helen Waite.”

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityBanking/Finance/Insurance • Wednesday, February 04, 2009 • Permalink

I may have seen this in San Antonio, around 1959 in Hipp’s Bubble Room.

It had other slogans like…

“A wet bird never flies at night.”

I have no idea what that means..

Posted by ted samsel  on  02/09  at  08:39 AM

I just bought a copy of an old sign like this in a defunct gas station. The style of clothing portrayed on “Helen Waite” was from the 40s or so. She was black and holding a pen and looking very frazzled as if her job was really getting to be too much. the part “just go to Hell ‘en Wait” was spelled out lest you miss the pun intended. The old people who had owned the gas station said they had had it at least 30 years. I thought it was hilarious and a collector’s item, so I sent it to a brother who has a bar in St. Louis.I would like to know more about the history of this sign. If you wish, I could scan a copy and send it.

Posted by Virginia Castro  on  08/03  at  10:53 AM

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