Bill Vaughan? Anonymous?
Dear Quote Investigator: I once read a humorous comment about New Year’s Eve that contrasted the experiences of the young and the middle aged. The young were joyful because they were “allowed to stay up late” while the older people held a different opinion. Are you familiar with this joke and its origin?
Quote Investigator: A long running syndicated newspaper column in the U.S. presented the remarks of a fictional politician named ‘Senator Soaper’. The author of the column changed during the decades it was published. The following quip appeared in 1958 and was written by Bill Vaughan whose full name was William Edward Vaughan: 1
Senator Soaper Says …
Youth is when you are allowed to stay up late on New Year’s Eve. Middle age is when you are forced to.
Senator Soaper’s remark was printed in multiple newspapers in 1958. In 1959 the same statement was printed in an Ohio newspaper together with miscellaneous comical items under the title “As We Were Saying”. However, no attribution was given. 2
Here is one additional selected citation.
In 1990 a collection of missives selected and edited by H. Jack Lang entitled “Dear Wit: Letters from the World’s Wits” was published. One undated letter was from John D. Yeck of the “Let’s Have Better Mottoes Association” which propagated satirical mottoes in a monthly newsletter. Yeck presented some comical sayings at the end of the year: 3
“People who live in stone houses shouldn’t throw glasses.”…
“Youth is when you’re allowed to stay up ’til midnight new year’s eve: middle age is when you’re forced to.”
In conclusion, QI believes that the joke originated with ‘Senator Soaper’ who in 1958 was the fictional alter ego of the journalist Bill Vaughan.
Image notes: Anniversary Balloons from OpenClips and Fireworks from DeltaWorks both at Pixabay.
(Thanks to Tom Fee who included this quip in a collection of quotations for the New Year. This saying is also listed in a collection at Quote Garden. QI formulated the question and answer.)
- 1958 December 31, Oregonian, “Senator Soaper Says …”, (Column of Bill Vaughan), Quote Page 10, Column 2, Portland, Oregon. (GenealogyBank) ↩
- 1959 January 10, Findlay Republican Courier, As We Were Saying, Quote Page 14, Column 1, Findlay, Ohio. (NewspaperArchive) ↩
- 1990, Dear Wit: Letters from the World’s Wits, Edited by H. Jack Lang, (Letter from John D. Yeck), Quote Page 211, Prentice Hall Press, New York. (Verified with scans) ↩