I suppose we all have stored in our memories a few favorite quotes and sayings of famous people and persons we have known. There are words that encourage us, words that instruct us, and words of warning. It seems to me, as time goes by, fewer and fewer words of warning are being heeded.
To those in business, here’s an age-old warning: “If your outgo exceeds your income, your upkeep will be your downfall.”
Statesman, inventor, and diplomat, Benjamin Franklin offered a few warnings in the form of admonishments. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” “A penny saved is a penny earned.” “A stitch is time saves nine.”
I’m not sure who gets credit for this one: “For want of a nail a shoe was lost. For want of a shoe a horse was lost. For want of a horse a rider was lost. For want of a rider the message was lost. For want of a message the battle was lost. For want of a battle the kingdom was lost. And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.” Did someone else say, “The devil is in the details?”
Here’s one I’ve heard for most of my life: “If it’s worth doing over, it’s worth doing right the first time.” Speaking of doing over, friend Steve Wilmore’s late mother use to say, “You’re going to have to lick that calf again.”
I was reminded as the Holiday season approaches of something my late mother use to say when she saw a larger family gathering marked by a driveway and front yard filled with cars. “They’re having the big pot in the lit’lun!” she would declare. The thought of her saying it always makes me smile.
My father had a few favorites he used when a job was almost done. “Boys, we’re getting in the short rows!” he would say; or “Boys, we’ve just about got this little ball of yarn wound up!” Friend, the late Buck Woodard, told me his father used to say, “Boys, the water is at the end of the row!”
Here are a few others that readily come to mind: “An idle mind is the devil’s workshop.” “Measure twice, and cut once.” “It’s better to be safe than sorry.” “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.
Here’s one from my childhood days: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never harm me!” I have lived to realize that is not true. Sometimes words can do much more damage that sticks or stones. With that thought in mind, here’s a great quote from long ago: “The swiftest horse can n’er overtake a word once spoken.” Sometimes, “I take it back!” just isn’t good enough.
My mother used to quote this little poem:
“As you travel through this life, make sure your words are sweet.
Because you never, never know which ones you’ll have to eat.”
Some sayings are so spot on you just can’t miss their meaning. Like “slicker than snot on a doorknob” or “slicker than a peeled onion” or “sharp as a briar” or “ugly as sin” or “meaner than a junkyard dog.”
I have an old friend who, with dismay, was once describing how he thought a young woman was dancing too close to her partner in a public setting. “Why, she was laid up against him like a sick kitten to a hot rock!” he declared. Now, that is just too close! But you get the picture.
Sometimes a line worth remembering can come from a great song or a classic movie. Here are a few of my favorites. “His horse was as fast as polished steel.” “I guess every form of refuge has its price.” “There is iron in your words.” “Of all the trails in life, there is one that matters most. It is the trail of a true, human being. I think you are on this trail. And it is good to see.”
“Why, he’s poor as a snake,” or “He’s poor as a church mouse, or better yet, He’s as poor as Job’s turkey!” I’ve heard people say. Or, of someone else, “He’s got enough money to burn a wet mule!” Quite frankly, I’ve sometimes wondered how much money it would take to burn a wet mule. I would think you would have to have a pretty good blaze going. That would take a lot of money!
As we look forward to the New Year, “I’ll see you in the funny paper!”
Jack McCall is a motivational humorist, southern storyteller and author. A native Middle Tennessean, he is recognized on the national stage as a “Certified Speaking Professional.” Copyright 2019 by Jack McCall.