A. A. Milne? Satchel Paige? William Gunning King? Lucy Maud Montgomery? Alice G. Young? Woodrow Wilson? Anonymous?
Dear Quote Investigator: I enjoy relaxing and daydreaming, so I’ve always been attracted to the following saying:
Sometimes I sits and thinks, and sometimes I just sits.
These words have been credited to the creator of Winnie the Pooh, A. A. Milne, and to the prominent baseball player, Satchel Paige. Yet, I am skeptical because I haven’t been able to find any solid citations. Would you please help?
Quote Investigator: The earliest match located by QI appeared in February 1905 within multiple newspapers such as “The Pittsburg Press” of Pennsylvania 1905 February 18, The Pittsburg Press, How He Spent His Time, Quote Page 2, Column 5, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Newspapers_com) and the “The Buffalo Sunday News” of New York. 1905 February 19, The Buffalo Sunday News, The Simple Life, Quote Page 15, Column 5, Buffalo, New York. (Newspapers_com) These papers acknowledged “The Boston Record” of Massachusetts. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI:
A bond salesman just back from Maine says he asked an old fisherman in a snow-bound hamlet what he did with himself evenings.
The reply was: “Oh, sometimes I sit and think, and then again I just sit.”
Thus, the first version employed the phrase “I sit” instead of “I sits”. The originator was described as an anonymous old fisherman, and the key propagator was an anonymous bond salesman.
Thanks to Barry Popik for his pioneering research on this topic. He found a March 1905 citation.
Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.