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D. Barbara McWhite grew up in York County, S.C., and lives in Orange Park, Fla., with her husband and cat. Her column is published here each Tuesday. Opinions expressed are solely her own.

Having just completed the construction of two large bookcases in my home office, I am now in the process of acquiring books to fill them. I need a lot of books, but I am taking my time. I want the books to be special -- books I will enjoy reading, really good books I can make available to visitors in my home.

One of the books I recently bought is a book of quotations. It is chock-full of quotes from presidents to actors to famous historical persons. Some of the quotes are funny, and some are wise. Other quotes are honest takes on subjects we often avoid talking frankly about, like sex, religion and politics.

There are celebrity quotes:

Actor and comedian Bill Cosby: “A word to the wise ain’t necessary -- it’s the stupid ones that need the advice.”

Actor and sex symbol Sofia Loren said, “A woman’s dress should be like a barbed-wire fence – serving its purpose without obstructing the view.”

Actor and comedian and sometimes bawdy Redd Fox: “A girl's legs are her best friends…but even the best of friends must part.”

Quotes from historical figures:

Harriet Tubman: “I freed a thousand slaves. I could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves.”

And from Booker T. Washington: “Success is to me measured not so much by the position one has reached but by the obstacles he has overcome.”

Quotes from musicians:

Michael Jackson: “I just wish I could understand my father.”

Barry White:” You look good to me in your baby blue panties.”

My husband Mike and I have, like most couples, a language all our own -- a language built over years of togetherness and with a shared memory of things we have heard and seen. So as we read through the book of quotes, our conversation began to stray away from the book to other quotes we remembered and enjoyed.

What self-respecting black person doesn’t quote “The Color Purple”: “Until you do right by me, everything you do is gonna fail.”

Or… “Shug Avery done set the population of Hartwell County a new high. You’re just one of the roosters, boy.”

From “Ann of A Thousand Days”: When Cardinal Woolsey (a clergyman) is confronted with the sinfulness of his scheming, evil ways he responds, “Every man to the devil his own way.”

From “A Lion in Winter”: When King Henry II dares Queen Eleanor to carry out her latest scheme by saying “When pigs fly,” she retorts: “There will be pork in the tree-tops come morning.”

From an old Susan Hayward movie, “Where Has the Love Gone”: “When you’re dying of thirst, you will drink from a mud hole.”

From “The Nutty Professor”, “Come on Cletus. Come on!”

Then there are the quotes we recall from family and friends:

Like the time our youngest boy, Daniel, was telling his sister that a little girl he liked didn’t like him anymore. Feeling sympathy for her jilted brother, our daughter replied, “Don’t worry, Daniel. There are plenty of fish in the sea.” To which Daniel responded, “Girl, I don’t want to marry no fish!”

The best advice my Dad ever gave me was this: “If you let Him, the Lord can take what the devil meant for a stumbling block and turn it into a stepping stone.”

Finally, there is the quote from Mike’s late great-aunt, Ople, a feisty old woman who always shared a wise and often irreverent word or story. Like the time she got into a verbal confrontation with a woman she worked with, and when the woman threatened to strike her, great-aunt Ople told the woman that if she laid a hand on her “there would be some (and please notice the rhyme) all night sittin’ up. Your family will be crying. There will be some graveyard digging and some casket buying.”

Now that is a quote for the ages.

Please share your favorite quote or best advice, whether wise or humorous, from celebrities, family members or the old man next door.



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October 26, 2014
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