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.

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Entry from November 01, 2009
“Weaned on a pickle”

Alice Roosevelt Longworth (1884-1980), the eldest child of Theodore Roosevelt, commented in August 1924 the president Calvin Coolidge (1872-1933) was so sour-looking that “Coolidge was weaned on a pickle.” The expression “weaned on a pickle” caused an immediate sensation in the press.

Wikipedia: Alice Roosevelt Longworth
Alice Lee Roosevelt Longworth (February 12, 1884 – February 20, 1980) was the oldest child of Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th President of the United States. She was the only child of Roosevelt and his first wife, Alice Hathaway Lee.

Alice led an unconventional and controversial life. Despite her love for her legendary father, she proved to be almost nothing like him. Her marriage to Representative Nicholas Longworth (Republican-Ohio), a party leader, was shaky, and the couple’s only child was a result of her affair with Senator William Borah of Idaho. In the late 1960s, she considered becoming “an honorary homosexual”. She temporarily became a Democrat during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, and proudly boasted in a 60 Minutes interview with Eric Sevareid broadcast February 17, 1974, that she was a “hedonist”.

Wikipedia: Calvin Coolidge
John Calvin Coolidge, Jr. (July 4, 1872 – January 5, 1933) was the 30th President of the United States (1923–1929). A Republican lawyer from Vermont, Coolidge worked his way up the ladder of Massachusetts state politics, eventually becoming governor of that state. His actions during the Boston Police Strike of 1919 thrust him into the national spotlight. Soon after, he was elected as the 29th Vice President in 1920 and succeeded to the Presidency upon the death of Warren G. Harding. Elected in his own right in 1924, he gained a reputation as a small-government conservative.

Coolidge restored public confidence in the White House after the scandals of his predecessor’s administration, and left office with considerable popularity. As his biographer later put it, “he embodied the spirit and hopes of the middle class, could interpret their longings and express their opinions. That he did represent the genius of the average is the most convincing proof of his strength.” Many later criticized Coolidge as part of a general criticism of laissez-faire government. His reputation underwent a renaissance during the Ronald Reagan Administration, but the ultimate assessment of his presidency is still divided between those who approve of his reduction of the size of government and those who believe the federal government should be more involved in regulating and controlling the economy.

30 August 1924, Marshall (MI) Evening Chronicle, “Hunt’s Daily Letter” by Harry B. Hunt (NEA Service Writer), pg. 1, col. 5:
A NEW Coolidge story has bobbed in Washington. How it will affect the campaign, if at all, is not yet determined.

Apropos of the president’s rather sour visage, one of the younger and less everent members of the official family is said to have remarked: “Coolidge was weaned on a pickle.”

By those who have had occasion to test the rather acid quality of the president’s sarcasm, this phrase has been dubbed a stroke of genius.

8 September 1924, Robesonian (Lumberton, NC), pg. 5, col. 7:
Weaned on a Pickle
Mrs. Alice Longworth, nee Roosevelt, has inherited something of her distinguished father’s phrase-making ability. Her remark that President Coolidge must have been weaned on a pickle is the only really good thing that the present campaign has brought to light.—Greensboro Daily News.

Google Books
By Arthur Stringer
Toronto: McClelland and Stewart
Pg. 246:
“They don’t face the world as though they’d been weaned on a dill pickle!”

Time magazine
Education: Libel
Monday, Mar. 12, 1928
Political epithets, accustomed as they are to being taken with a counter-epithet or with a laugh, seldom provoke a libel suit. When a senator or a mayor calls a man a stool pigeon, a snooper, a boodler, a buffoon, a scoundrel, a scalawag or a person weaned on a pickle, he apparently considers himself safe from libel proceedings. And, in legislative chambers, he is. But in a mayor’s chair he is not.

Google Books
May 1933, The American Mercury, “The SIren” by Jack Conroy, pg. 77:
“You look like you been weaned on a sour pickle. Don’t git outdoors when it’s cold an’ let that face freeze on you. If you do, I want it next Spring t’ scare the crows outen my corn patch.”

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityFood/Drink • (0) Comments • Sunday, November 01, 2009 • Permalink