Folk wisdom: "Treat 'em Rough !"

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM
Fri Mar 16 18:00:20 UTC 2007

"Treat 'em Rough!" was the official slogan of the U.S.Army Tank Corps in World War I. It also provided the title of a 1918 book by Ring Lardner.


  1910 in Commission of Inquiry, the Interchurch World Movement _Report on the Steel Strike of 1919_ (N,.Y.: Harcourt Brace & Howe, 1920) 127: The Corporation's executives are trained anti-union men who...translate the 1901 resolution into orders such as the following, for handling labor: "Catch 'em young, treat 'em rough, tell 'em nothing."

  1920 in Franklin K. Lane _The Letters of Franklin K.Lane Personal and Political_ (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1922) 353: The plan here is to follow my boy's statement of the modern prescription for women, "Catch 'em young;  treat 'em rough; tell 'em nothing."

  1945 Palmer J. Kalsem & Norman M. Johnston  _Practical Supervision_ (N.Y.: McGraw-Hill) 114: "Get 'em young, treat 'em rough, and don't tell 'em anything." The boys down at the pool hall used to hand out this advice on women, and many an old-time boss used the same philosophy in handling his employees, as well.

  1951 Bob Colby & Steve Krantz "Catch 'em Young, Treat 'em Rough, Tell 'em Nothing" (pop song) (Decca 78: 27656, Side B).

  1952 Francis Parkinson Keyes _Steamboat Gothic_ 459: The rule for dealing with soldiers seems to be a lot like that for dealing with reporters: 'Catch 'em young, treat 'em rough, tell 'em nothing.

  1958 John O'Hara _From the Terrace_ (N.Y.: Random House) 306: "Frig 'em young, treat 'em rough, and tell 'em nothing." That's the old motto, isn't it?

  1970 George MacDonald Fraser _Royal Flash_ (Rpt. N.Y.: Plume, 1985) 156 : I don't mention this in a boastful way, or to suggest that with a chap like me it's just a matter of catch 'em young, treat 'em rough, roger 'em hard, and they eat out of my hand.

  1999 _Kids on Marriage_  [ ] (Apr. 23) : I say Pick em young  treat em rough and tell em nothing. just kidding gals.

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