[Ads-l] Repartee: "He is his own worst enemy" "Not while I'm alive" (Request search in New York Herald Tribune)

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Wed Apr 22 05:11:17 UTC 2020

After extracting more text, examining more snippets, and performing
bibliographical searches I have gathered some tentative data. The
target quotation apparently appears within the following article:

Date: March 12, 1933 (Best guess)
Title of Book Review: Life Is Just a Game of Baseball
Author of Book Review: Franklin P. Adams
Book Under Review: Lose With a Smile by Ring Lardner
Quote Page Number 4
Periodical: Books – Book Review Journal of the Sunday New York Herald
Tribune (might be listed under: New York Herald Tribune Weekly Book
Verification with hardcopy, microfilm, or scans required

[Begin extracted text for target quotation]
. . . only the other night when I said I am my own worst enemy 4
fellows rushed in to say loyaly not while they was alive.
[End extracted text]

Can you help?
Garson O'Toole

On Tue, Apr 21, 2020 at 11:06 PM ADSGarson O'Toole
<adsgarsonotoole at gmail.com> wrote:
> The riposte in the subject line has been credited to Franklin P.
> Adams, Groucho Marx, "Old Cotton" Ed Smith, George S. Kaufman,  Alan
> Hale (The Fighting 69th) and others.
> There is an interesting match in Google Books (GB) for the same joke
> using a different phrasing. This is the earliest potential match I
> have currently identified. The match occurs within a volume for which
> GB has specified the unhelpful title of "Books" and the semi-accurate
> year of 1933.
> https://www.google.com/books/edition/Books/L7pCAQAAIAAJ?gbpv=1&bsq=%22worst%20enemy%22
> The target snippet does not show the text (a common problem with GB).
> But some other snippets show the following in the header:
> New York Herald Tribune Books, Sunday
> This message is a request to search the ProQuest "New York Herald
> Tribune" for the text given below. Admittedly, the match might be
> absent if the Sunday Books section is in a separate database.
> [Begin extracted text - raw OCR – spelling might be inaccurate]
> Reviewed by FRANKLIN P. ADAMS
> N. Y. Herald Tribune
> Dear Booksy — In reply to your request re requesting me to write what
> I think about Mr. Lardner's book would state am happy to comply with
> same as fellows', hopeing same will be . . .
> . . . much of a writer of anything exc. poetry and my friends unite in
> telling me I am a dreamer with my head in the clouds and only the
> other night when I said I am my own worst enemy 4 fellows rushed in to
> say loyaly not while they was alive.
> [End extracted text]
> The GB page number is roman numeral "VIII" which is probably inaccurate.
> The main target snippet does not point to the book review by F.P.
> Adams. It seems to point to another book review on the same page for
> Philips Gibbs's "The Way of Escape" which was published in 1933.
> Happily, this provides good evidence that the target year is 1933 or
> 1934. However, other snippets within the volume indicate that issues
> from 1933 up to at least 1938 are present. So the year remains
> uncertain.
> Please search any databases you have that contain material from the
> "New York Herald Tribune".
> Also, I found a solid match in newspapers.com for an unnamed U.S.
> Senator criticizing Franklin D. Roosevelt published on May 10, 1939.
> Earlier matches would be helpful:
> [Begin excerpt]
> "After all, the president's his own worst enemy." One of the elder
> senators pounded on the table. "Not while I'm alive!" he shouted.
> [End excerpt]
> Thanks for your help,
> Garson O'Toole

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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