Food for thought a staple at Oscar's in Westport
Published 5:33 pm, Thursday, December 23, 2010
On a napkin holder at Oscar's Delicatessen, 6-year-old Charlie, a first-grader at Riverfield School in Fairfield and the grandson of proprietor Lee Papageorge, laboriously printed, "When boys rule, girls will howl."
The food for thought offerings, or words of wisdom, on the napkin holders are a popular activity of diners at the downtown Westport haunt.
Papageorge has great respect for the wisdom in printed words. A while back, he set up a word study niche next to the old-fashioned barber chair inside the deli. "We have two dictionaries and a Roget's Thesaurus contributed by Lou Weinstein, who's been coming here forever," Papageorge said.
"I put the books on an antique reading stand that's shoulder-high. On a lower shelf, I put a swirling globe of planet Earth so folks could look up unfamiliar places referred to in the news or in the sayings."
Weinstein, 90, who is the "humorist" of Westport's Sunrise Rotary Club, contributed several of the more than 100 sayings. Weinstein, who made his living in finance, said, "I've got the genes of the Jewish people that make me a humorist. We think we get so much trouble that it's like we think that trouble's what life's all about."
He added, "But there's a Chinese saying that `the funnier life is, the sadder it is' and `the sadder it is, the funnier it is.' "
Another youthful contributor, Nikka, 6, wrote, "If you want to learn to love better, you should start with a friend you hate."
Some of the sayings start out benign but end with a twist, such as:
"Row, row your boat gently down the stream
"Until you reach the waterfall -- then you'll scream!"
There's another taken from Sitting Bull, "The white man knows how to make things ... but he does not know how to distribute them."
Among sayings drawn from poets is this one by Emily Dickinson: "True love is all there is, is all we know of love."
On one napkin holder is wisdom for soldiers, quoted from pistol-packing Gen. George Patton: "It is not the duty of the soldier to die for his country; it is his duty to make sure the enemy gives up his life."
Other offerings include:
"Cows are brown but give white milk."
"It is strange how everybody wants to live long but nobody wants to be old."
"Wash your hands before eating."
"I disapprove of what you say -- but I will defend your right to say it."
"A lucky person is someone who plants pebbles and harvests potatoes."
"A mad bull is not to be tied up with thread."
"I was street smart but, unfortunately, the street was Rodeo Drive."
"Eat and drink with your relatives; do business with strangers."
"Money used to be very popular before invention of credit cards."
"It is better to be silent and be thought a fool than open one's mouth and remove all doubt."
"You'll know you're over the hill when happy time means naptime."