Return to West Virginia Memories or West Virginia Talk

Collected by Eva Smith-Carroll
Updated June 22, 2022
Better not look down. Better not look down/ if you want to keep on flying/ Put the hammer down/ keep it full speed ahead/ Better not look back/ or you might just wind up crying/ You can keep it moving/ if you don't look down…Better Not Look Down, a song written by Will Jennings and Joe Sample, sung by B.B. King. Video.

Never eat at a place called Mom’s. Never play cards with a man named Doc. And never lie down with a woman who’s got more troubles than you.  Words of wisdom from a convict in A Walk on The Wild Side (1956) by Nelson Algren. "Quote Verifier" by Ralph Keyes (2006, St. Martin's Griffin, N.Y., Page 153-154) said Algren probably got the quote from friend Dave Peltz. Peltz said there were so many restaurants named Mom's and few were any good, the caution about playing with Doc was an old gambler saying and the third part of the quote was Peltz's own invention. More about the origins of this quotation:  This Day in Quotes (May 18, 2011)

See also Commencement Words of Wisdom.

Age and aging
A card catalog of valuable information. “Looking old, she said, should be a boast about experiences accrued and insights acquired, a triumphant signal ‘that you are someone who, beneath that white hair, has a card catalog of valuable information.’ ”Actress Frances McDormand, “A Star Who Has No Time for Vanity” by Frank Bruni, 19 Oct 2014, Arts & Leisure, Page 1, 19, The New York Times.

Best age for a woman: 35. “You know what I think is the best age for a woman? Thirty-five, a woman’s old enough to know the score, but still young enough to be in the game. Only I didn’t know it when I was thirty-five.” Bette Davis quoted in The Girl Who Walked Home Alone, Bette Davis: A Personal Biography by Charlotte Chandler, Simon & Schuster, New York, N.Y., 2006, Page 18-19.

I am so old they’ve canceled my blood type. “(Bob) Hope was said to have taken the (100th birthday) festivities in his typical self-effacing manner. ‘I'm so old, they've canceled my blood type,’ the entertainer is said to have remarked to his family.” ABC News online, 28 July 2003. Bob Hope Dies: Legendary Entertainer’s Career Started in Vaudeville, Moved on to Stage, Radio, Movies and TV.

I can get my payback now. I’m alive and thriving and, well, you S.O.B.’s are all belowFrederica Sagor Maas, on the joys of being the last one standing, 1999 interview with Salon. She died 05 Jan 2012 in California at 111. Frederica Sagor Maas, Silent-Era Scriptwriter, Dies at 111, New York Times, by Douglas Martin, published online, 14 Jan 2012. Accessed 16 Jan 2012.

I’m so old that when God made the world, I painted the fence. Frank Bielec, a designer on Trading Spaces, a U.S. television program.

Old age is always fifteen years older than I am. Bernard Mannes Baruch (1870–1965), American financier. Baruch’s Rule for Determining Old Age, The Official Rules by Paul Dickson, Delacorte Press, N.Y., 1978, Page 10.

She’ll outlive the last cockroach. The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd, 2014, Penguin Group, New York, N.Y., Page 353.

So old, he could have been a waiter at the Last Supper. Country Talk: The Complete Book of Localisms, Bright Regional Remarks and Baldfaced Insults by Dick Syatt, Secaucus, N.J.: Citaldel Press, 1980, Page 20.

There’s no one left who calls me by my first name. “The saddest thing my much-loved grandmother, who lived into her late 90’s, ever said to me is ‘There’s no one left who calls me by my first name.’”  Mark Tillman, online comment about a New York Times article, Words for Seniors Facing Loss by Paula Span, 10 Feb 2010.

I love Jesus but I drink a little…I don’t drink a lot, just a little to thin my blood. Gladys Hardy of Austin, Texas, in a phone conversation on the Ellen DeGeneres Show. 

I have never thought, What's wrong with me? I always think, What's wrong with you? Stand-up comic Amy Schumer on the key to having confidence. "Cosmopolitan" interview, circa 2013. 

Bad behavior
Cut you for a nickel and shoot you for a dime. I Used to be Bad, as sung by Canned Heat. YouTube.

I didn’t mean to kill nobody. I just meant to shoot the son of a b*tch in the head. Him dying was between him and the Lord. Rhapsody music service biography of Robert Lee (R.L.) Burnside, bluesman.

So crooked he’d steal the eyeballs out of your head and swear he paid $500 for them. Oddball Sayings, Witty Expressions & Down Home Folklore: A Collection of Clever Sayings by Miriam C. Larsen, San Jose, Ca.: CR&E Publishers, 1995, Page 15.

So crooked they would sell their children for ten dollars and a rubber tire. “You and that g*ddamned crook you’re married to would sell your children for ten dollars and a rubber tire.” A local bookseller confronts the mayor who may have taken a bribe to allow a big box store to move into town. Shock Wave by John Sandford (G.P. Putnam, New York, 2011), Page 109 

Not as close to God as our mothers might wish. Phrase used by a scoundrel in The Hanged Man’s Song by John Sandford (2003, G. P. Putnam’s Sons, New York), Page 263.

We all have to decide how much sin we can live with. Fictional character Nucky Thompson, a politician, Boardwalk Empire, 2010, HBO series.

Bad luck
I was just born for hard luck, man…If I leave home in the morning, going up town, walking fast, I run over something…If I go up there walking slow, something will run over me. R.L. Burnside tells some tales. Mad Enough to Eat Fried Chicken. You Tube.

Brain power or lack of
Any brighter and I'd glow in the dark. Seth Knott's response when his sister Deborah tells him, "You're brilliant!" The Bootlegger's Daughter, a murder mystery set in North Carolina, by Margaret Maron, Mysterious Press edition, New York, 1992, Page 153.

Cult of ignorance. There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.’” From A Cult of Ignorance by Isaac Asimov, Newsweek, Jan. 21, 1980, Page 19.

I’ve got plenty of sense I ain’t even used yet. Albert Lambreaux, Big Chief of the Guardians of the Flame, to his son Delmond. From Treme, the HBO series set in New Orleans after Katrina, episode No. 14: Santa Claus, Do You Ever Get the Blues?

Triumph of Stupidity, The. The fundamental cause of the trouble is that in the modern world the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt. The Triumph of Stupidity, essay by Bertrand Russell. (10 May 1933).

We’ve been attacked by the intelligent, educated segment of our culture. Statement by Ray Mummert, a pastor, regarding scientists and others who accept the fact that organisms have changed, or evolved, over time. In other words, evolution. “Idiot America: How Stupidity Became a Virtue in the Land of the Free” by Charles P. Pierce, 2009, Doubleday, Page 7. Mr. Pierce defines “Idiot America” as “essentially a war on expertise…the breakdown of the consensus that the pursuit of knowledge is good.” It also represents the notion that people should not trust the experts – scientists, historians and others who actually know what they are talking about. Page 8.

Children were like NASA rockets. You poured money and time into them, but there was no guarantee they wouldn’t veer off course seconds after blastoff.  Loyalty by Ingrid Thoft, 2013, Berkley Group, a Penguin Random House Co., N.Y., Page 14.

I raised three children and they’ve all got good sense.  A parent of grown children, quoted in The Wolfpen Notebooks: A Record of Appalachian Life by James Still, University Press of Kentucky, Lexington, Ky., 1991, Page 54. Mr. Still, a Kentucky author, collected the sayings, expressions and superstitions of his neighbors for 40 years. 

Christmas Words and Phrases
Link to pdf in Drop Box: Christmas Words and Phrases.

Code of the Hills
“I suppose they (big-city reporters) got the notion of a Code of the Hills out of a book, maybe Mr. Fox’s from 1908 (Trail of the Lonesome Pine), although if it is in there, then he made it up, because there is no such thing. We don’t have curfews for girls, or rules against using makeup or going without a bonnet, as if I’ve ever seen anyone under sixty wearing such a thing in the first place…And yet, for all that, maybe those newspapermen were right in a way about a code of the Hills, only it wasn’t anything like the one they invented themselves. If there is such a thing, it is just a collection of things that everybody in these parts knows without ever having to be told, the unwritten laws of the land that come as natural to us as breathing.
You don’t take charity. You don’t meddle in your neighbors’ business. You take care of your own. And you don’t betray the family to outsiders. Ever." From The Devil Amongst the Lawyers, a Ballad novel by Sharyn McCrumb, 2010, Thomas Dunne Books, St. Martin’s Press, New York, N.Y., Page 306-309. The book is about coverage of a murder trial in 1935 in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.

Commencement words of wisdom
You will find your place. “I based my talk on a common French expression that’s optimistic, but not grandiose: Vous allez trouver votre place. You will find your place. I’ve always liked this idea that, somewhere in the world, there’s a gap shaped just like you. Once you find it, you’ll slide right in.” Commencement speech advice from Pamela Druckerman. Also: “Always carry a pen, a paper notebook and something good to readWhen you get out of a taxi or bus, look back to make sure you haven’t forgotten anything…” From How Creative People Can Find Their Place,” The New York Times, May 31, 2015, Sunday Review, Page 4.

Not being around a**holes should be the goal of every graduate. “…We need some rich people: Who else is going to back our movies or buy our art? I’m rich! I don’t mean money-wise. I mean that I have figured out how to never be around a**holes at any time in my personal and professional life. That’s rich. And not being around a**holes should be the goal of every graduate here today.” John Waters, commencement speech, Rhode Island School of Design, 2015. TranscriptVideo.

Death and the Hereafter
Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven (But Nobody Wants to Die). Performed by Loretta Lynn: You Tube. I am still chasing down the originator of this phrase. One site says that Mrs. Lynn wrote the song. A new phrase book (The Dictionary of Modern Proverbs by Charles Clay Doyle, Wolfgang Mieder and Fred R. Shapiro (2012, Yale University Press, Page 119.) says the phrase either originated with or gained popularity from a song performed by Tommy Dorsey. Mr. Dorsey seemed an unlikely author so I searched online.  quote/counterquote names Tom (Thomas Henry) Delaney (1889-1963), African-American blues and jazz composer, as the author. However there is a link to a book (African-American Proverbs in Context
by Sw. Anand Prahlad, 1996, University Press of Mississippi, Page 118.) that says it had an earlier life as an African-American saying.  

Heaven for climate, hell for company. Each final destination has an advantage. "Notebook," Mark Twain. 

Heaven is  a house with porch lights. "Switch on the Night," Ray Bradbury, 1955. From What the Dormouse Said -- Lessons for Grown-ups from Children's Books, quotations collected by Amy Gash, Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2004, Page 34.

I’m going to die last.  Kathie Moffat (Jane Greer): I don't want to die. Jeff Bailey (Robert Mitchum): Neither do I, Baby, but if I have to, I'm going to die last. Out of the Past (1947 movie)..

It is better to be late at the Golden Gate than to arrive in hell on time. Sign on the desk of J.W. Davis Sr. Mr. Davis “built much of Chevy Chase (in Lexington, Ky.), was never in a hurry to die and lived to be 91.” From “The Best of Don Edwards: Life is Like a Horse Race” by Don Edwards, The Lexington Herald-Leader Co., Lexington, Ky., 1999.

I’ve got a home in heaven, but I’m not homesick.  "Sayings from Old Smoky, Some Traditional Phrases, Expressions, and Sentences Heard In the Great Smoky Mountains and Nearby Areas," by Joseph S. Hall,  Ashville, N.C.: Cataloochee Press, 1972, Page 80.

I wish I was in Heaven sitting down. Line from a song. Version of Wish I was in Heaven Sitting Down sung by Rev. Robert Wilkins at the 1968 Memphis Country Blues Festival: You Tube

Let us endeavor so to live that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry"Pudd'nhead Wilson," Chapter 6, (1894) by Mark Twain. Pudd'nhead Wilson Homepage.

Poorly lived/ And poorly died/ Poorly buried/ And no one cried. Epitaph in an English cemetery. From “Epitaphs” a Nameless Detective Mystery by Bill Pronzini, Delecorte Press, 1992, Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing, New York. 

She died a cautionary tale. "Whitney Houston died a cautionary tale, but all cautionary tales were heroes once." An Appraisal: A Voice of Triumph, the Queen of Pain by Jon Caramanica, 12 Feb 2012, New York Times online.

Death of a child
In Ramah was there a voice heard, lamentation and weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and would not be comforted, because they are no more. (Matthew 2:18. 21st Century King James Version)

The Devil knows more for being old than for being the Devil. “Skies of Ash” by Rachel Howell Hall, ebook version, Page 144. It is a Spanish proverb: “Más sabe el diablo por viejo que por diablo.” Gabriel Onate, Dartmouth Folklore Archive online, 

A family where cruelty was passed down like an heirloom rocking chair from generation to generation. Opinion by Karen Tumulty, "The Trump father-son psychodrama," The Washington Post, July 7, 2020.

I don't like half the folks I love. Paul Thorn singing about family reunions. See Mr. Thorn on You Tube

Sam may be blood, but he's not family. Fictional character Melinda Mickens (True Blood, HBO series), who surrendered her son Sam Merlotte for adoption, is questioning Sam's loyalty to his shifty birth family. 

Family History
In the past few years, genealogical research has become increasingly popular. Perhaps one of the reasons for this is that we are trying, in a world of increasing complexity, to create a simpler and more understandable place for ourselves. No longer do we grow up in large families. We feel increasingly estranged, replaceable, and ephemeral. Genealogy gives us a feeling of immortality. The individual dies; the family lives on. The Hangman’s Daughter, “A Kind of Postscript,” Page 434, by Oliver Pötzsch, First Mariner Books edition, 2011, first published in Germany in 2008. The book is a work of fiction -- a good read -- about the Kuisl family in the 1600s. Pötzsch is a Kuisl descendant.    

When an old man dies, a library burns to the ground. Bill Ferris, quoted in "The Quotable South," compiled by Al Dixon, Hill Street Press, Athens, Ga., 2003, Page 166. NOTE: A visitor to this page cited an earlier use of the phrase in this form: “In Africa, when an old man dies, it's a library burning.” Amadou Hampâté Bâ, Malian writer and ethnologist, 1960. References to the quotation can be found at the following sites: Journey with CARE to Mali  and Amadou Hampâté Bâ – Wikipedia. (Thank you, Mr. Hinson.)

This packrat has learned that what the next generation will value most is not what we owned, but the evidence of who we were and the tales of how we loved. In the end, it's the family stories that are worth the storage. “What Matters,” columnist Ellen Goodman, Boston Globe, 07 Apr 2002.

Nowadays people are running all over the place trying to trace their ancestors. They come here in my store asking me questions. Did I know the name of their grandpaw's first wife? Which side did their folks fight on during the Silver War? They call it searching for their roots. Me -- I'm going to let my ancestors rest in peace. From a collection of quotes contained in "The Wolfpen Notebooks: A Record of Appalachian Life" by James Still, University of Kentucky Press, Lexington, Ky., 1991, Page 61. 

Remember the days of old, consider the years of many generations: ask thy father, and he will shew thee; thy elders, and they will tell thee. Deuteronomy 32:7 (King James Version) 

When a day passes, it is no longer there. What remains of it? Nothing more than a story. If stories weren’t told or books weren’t written, a man would live like the beasts, only for the day. Naftali the Storyteller and His Horse, Sus by Isaac Bashevis Singer, 1973. From What the Dormouse Said -- Lessons for Grown-ups from Children's Books, quotations collected by Amy Gash, Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2004, Page 98.

Grief is the price we pay for love."But nothing that can be said can begin to take away the anguish and the pain of these moments. Grief is the price we pay for love." Message from the Queen, read by the British ambassador to Washington, Sir Christopher Meyer, St Thomas's Episcopal Church on Fifth Avenue. 22 September 2001. A page online attributed the sentiment to Dr. Colin Murray Parkes: “The pain of grief is just as much part of life as the joy of love: it is perhaps the price we pay for love, the cost of commitment. To ignore this fact, or to pretend that it is not so, is to put on emotional blinkers which leave us unprepared for the losses that will inevitably occur in our own lives and unprepared to help others cope with losses in theirs.” From Bereavement: Studies of Grief in Adult Life. Dr. Parkes, a psychiatrist, was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire by the Queen Elizabeth II in 1996 for his services to bereaved people. Wikipedia biography

Home remedies
“The only three universal home remedies in the South are Epsom salts, Vicks VapoRub and whiskey.” The Hollow Places by T. Kingfisher, Saga Press, paperback, 2020, Page 182.

Right to work. The man who coined the phrase “right to work” in 1941 was William Ruggles, an associate editor of The Dallas Morning News. He used the phrase in an editorial that was written on Aug. 30, 1941, and published on Labor Day, Sept. 1, 1941. 125th Anniversary: DMN writer coined term 'right to work,' opposed forced union membership by Cheryl Hall, The Dallas Morning News,  published July 12, 2010, updated April 4, 2011. Later union members coined the phrases right to scab and right to work for less

Lies, half truths and errors
Go to a new page -- Quotes about Lies, half truths and truth.

Reasons to Stay Alive. “You will one day experience joy that matches this pain. You will cry euphoric tears at the Beach Boys, you will stare down at a baby’s face as she lies asleep in your lap, you will make great friends, you will eat delicious foods you haven’t tried yet, you will be able to look at a view from a high place and not assess the likelihood of dying from falling. There are books you haven’t read yet that will enrich you, films you will watch while eating extra-large buckets of popcorn, and you will dance and laugh and have sex and go for runs by the river and have late-night conversations and laugh until it hurts. Life is waiting for you. You might be stuck here for a while, but the world isn’t going anywhere. Hang on in there if you can. Life is always worth it.” From a book by Matt Haig. GoodreadsAmazon.


And before I’d cause you pain, I’d stand out in the rain. I'd lay naked in the snow. Just to let you know. Get down on my knees and crawl all the way to Mars. And I’d run through HELL in gasoline drawers. "Gasoline Drawers." Sung by the Holmes Brothers. You Tube.

The only thing any one of us really each other. Looking at Earth from space “…it occurred to [Bill] Anders, in this last week of 1968, this terrible year for America and the world, that once you didn’t see the boundaries, you started to see something different. You saw how small the planet is, how close all of us are to one another, how the only thing any one of us really has, in an otherwise empty universe, is each other.” “Rocket Men: The Daring Odyssey of Apollo 8 and the Astronauts Who Made Man's First Journey to the Moon,” 2018, by Robert Kurson, ebook, Page 301.

Miss Frizzle and the Magic School Bus
If you keep asking questions, you'll keep getting answers. Best quotes - Book Riot/Melissa Baron/July 24, 2020.

I've got enough money to do me as long as I live if I die when I ort to. "Shubie John" Sutton, Bluffton, 1956. “Sayings from Old Smoky: Some Traditional Phrases, Express, and Sentences Heard In The Great Smoky Mountains and Nearby Areas” collected and edited by Joseph S. Hall, The Cataloochee Press, Ashville, N.C., 1972. Page 101.  

Human beans is different. “Human beans is diddly and different. Some is scrumdiddlyumptious and some is uckyslush…As I am saying, all human beans is having different flavours.” The Big Friendly Giant speaks, "The BFG" by Roald Dahl, Puffin Books, N.Y., 1982, Page 26.

Some humans ain't human. Some people ain't kind. "Some Humans Ain't Human," song by John Prine. You Tube.

Quotes about quotes
Churchillian Drift. “The term was coined by the quotations expert (or gnomologist) Nigel Rees, who maintains the ‘Quote ... Unquote’ newsletter and who broadcasts a quiz show of the same name on BBC Radio 4 in Britain. Essentially, Churchillian Drift is the process by which any particularly apt quotation is mistakenly attributed to a more famous person in the same field." “The Wise Words of Maya Angelou. Or Someone, Anyway,” by Erin McKean, op-ed contributor, April 9, 2015. New York Times, The Opinion Pages.

Gnomologist. A person who practices gnomology; a collector or researcher of quotations. Coined from the Greek gnome (thought, judgment, saying, or maxim) and the Latin suffix -ologist. Fritinancy
Names, brands, writing, and the language of commerce. Word of the Week. April 13, 2015.

Three-Step Quote Acquisition. “An axiom among public speakers is this: the first time you use a quote, introduce it by saying, ‘As Joe Doakes once said…’ The second time say, It’s been said that…’ The third time, ‘As I’ve often said…’” From “Nice Guys Finish Seventh: False Phrases, Spurious Sayings, and Familiar Misquotations” by Ralph Keyes (HarperPerennial, 1993). Page 5.

But here‘s the thing about rights—they‘re not actually supposed to be voted on.  That‘s why they‘re called rights. Rachel Maddow, host of “The Rachel Maddow Show,” MSNBC, 10 Aug 2010. She earned a bachelor’s degree in public policy from Stanford University and a doctorate in political science at Oxford University. Transcript with quote in context.

We have a Constitution and Bill of Rights precisely because we want protections from majority rule. "We have a Constitution and Bill of Rights precisely because we want protections from majority rule. When the majority in a legislature or a popular vote take away rights of individuals that are protected by the Bill of Rights, then we have an independent judiciary to rectify that situation. It's happened again, and again, and again throughout this country's history. We have an independent judiciary to protect the rights of individuals like gay and lesbian citizens who only want respect, decency, and equality along with the rest of us." Ted Olson, quoted on Media Matters for America: from the Oct. 12, 2014, edition of Fox News Sunday. Olson served as United States Solicitor General from June 2001 to July 2004 under President George W. Bush. 

Role models
Jesus, FDR and John L. We hung three pictures above the old sofa/It was Jesus, FDR, and John L./ So we knew how to pray and we knew how to vote/ And we knew how to really give ‘em hell. "Ghosts of the Good Old Days," words and music by John McCutcheon and Si Kahn. 

The Lord always calls on you. Lurlene:  "Imagine your own daddy cutting you out of a will because the Lord called you to the ministry." Orville:  "Lurlene, how is it that the Lord always calls on you to do something?  'Cause He ain't never said sh*t to me." From “Daddy's Dyin'...Who's Got The Will?” (1990) From Freethought Related Movie & TV quotes.  Accessed January 7, 2004.

Convicts got nothin’ comin’. The prison mantra voiced several times in Jimmy A. Lerner’s account of his time in prison. And if they do have something coming, “it ain’t nothing nice.” From "You Got Nothing Coming: Notes From a Prison Fish” by Jimmy A Lerner, 2002, Broadway Books, Random House Inc., N.Y. Pages 151, 231.

Hair in the biscuits. “That puts some hair in the biscuits, don’t it, Rog?” Fictional character Emdee Perry, an LAPD detective from South Carolina, addressing his partner. “Cold Hit” by Stephen Cannell, St. Martin’s Paperbacks, 2006, Page 122. 

I stomp on my own snakes. “Both of you just stay out of the way when trouble starts. I stomp on my own snakes.” Prelude to a barfight. Blood on the Divide by William W. Johnstone, Preacher series, ebook, Page 314.

T*ts-up in a ditch. In trouble. “…God**** cow got herself t*ts-up in a ditch couple days ago. Dead, time I found her.”  From “Tits-up in a Ditch,” New Yorker story by Annie Prouix, 09 June 2008, Page 80-84.

Wake up with the shoo buddies. Stand-up comedian Ron White tells about waking up – hung over and with a dislocated shoulder. “I wake up the next morning with the shoo buddies. All I could do is lay there in bed and go, ‘Shoo buddy. I can’t move my shoulder, shoo buddy.’” (Ron White: A Little Unprofessional. DVD, 2013.) “Shoo,” “shew” or “shee-ee-ew” is an expression of “distain or disgust.” (Dictionary of American Regional English,” (DARE) Volume IV, P-Sk, by Joan Houston Hall, 2002, Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass., and London, England, Page 902-903.) “Shoo!” or “Shew!” is an expression similar to “Whew!” or “Phew!”  

What The Hell Is Going On. “Murder and shooting, raping and killing, bloody murder, molesting, running airplanes into buildings…Every time I turn around something else is going on….Somebody tell me, what the hell is going on…Scared to read my paper, can’t look at TV…The world is getting crazy, crazy for me every time you turn around another poor child is gone…” According to an interview with SongFacts, Elvin Bishop wrote this song after the murder of his daughter in 2000. Elvin Bishop: You Tube.  

When a friend is in trouble, don't annoy him by asking if there is anything you can do. Think up something appropriate and do it. Edgar Watson Howe (1853-1937), American author and editor.

Trouble (Avoiding)
Don't hit a hornets' nest with a short stick. From “Butter My Butt and Call Me a Biscuit and Other Country Sayings, So-Sos, Hoots and Hollers” by Allan Zullo and Gene Cheek, The Wordsellers Inc., Andrew McMeel Publishing, Kansas City, Mo., 2009, Page 6.   

Don't let your mouth write a check that your ass can't cash. One reference says the phrase has been used since the 1980s in South-central Los Angeles. "Juba to Jive: A Dictionary of African-American Slang," edited by Clarence Major, Penguin Books,  New York, 1974, Page 144. But a language site edited by Barry Popkin says the expression was "...used in black English since at least the 1960s." 

Don't trouble trouble until trouble troubles you. Traditional. From "My Soul Looks Back, 'Less I Forget: A Collection of Quotations by People of Color," Dorothy Winbush Riley, editor, HarperPerennial, HarperCollins Publishers, New York, 1995, Page 414.

I ran like I stole something. “WNEP-TV meteorologist Kurt Aaron was on the (outdoor weather) set, ready to deliver his news station's 11 p.m. weather forecast when he spotted an uninvited guest on the set: A large black bear. ‘I hear this sound and I turn around and the bear is literally 10 feet in front of me.,’ Aaron said live on air after the bears were spotted. ‘And I ran like I stole something. I'm not going to lie.’” Mama Bear had  three cubs with her. A news story from Scranton, Pa. Accessed 25 April 2012.

Never dig up more snakes than you can kill. “There’s a life lesson here. It ain’t never smart to dig up more snakes than you can kill.” Fictional character Emdee Perry, an LAPD detective from South Carolina. “Cold Hit” by Stephen Cannell, St. Martin’s Paperbacks, 2006, Page 172. 

...when I see a snake poking its head out of a hole, I go just as far around as I can and say, "That hole belongs to that snake." Eli C. "Rimfire" Hamrick, speech made in 1923 before the Clarksburg Branch of the Wild Life League of West Virginia. From "Best of 'Hillbilly," the writing of Jim Comstock in the West Virginia Hillbilly, compiled and edited by Otto Whittaker, Droke House, Publishers, Inc., Anderson, S.C., 1968, Page 42. 

Trouble (Dealing with)
Go on up ahead to meet it. “When I see trouble coming, I go on up ahead to meet it.” Bernice Johnson Reagon, singer, educator and social activist. From “Language Is a Place of Struggle: Great Quotes by People of Color,” edited by Tram Nguyen, 2009, Beacon Press, Boston, Page 101.

When a friend is in trouble, don't annoy him by asking if there is anything you can do. Think up something appropriate and do it. Edgar Watson Howe (1853-1937), American author and editor.

Look for the helpers. "When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.' To this day, especially in times of 'disaster,' I remember my mother's words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world." Fred Rogers

The way of the world
Stop looking for the next secret door. “…If you will, for just one second, look at your life and see how perfect it is. Stop looking for the next secret door that is going to lead you to your real life. Stop waiting. This is it: there’s nothing else. It’s here, and you’d better decide to enjoy it or you’re going to be miserable wherever you go for the rest of your life, forever.” Alice to Quentin, “The Magicians” by Lev Grossman, A Plume Book, published by Penguin Group, New York, N.Y. May 2010, Page 333.

Bubble gum phrases:
*The world don’t owe you nothing but hard times and bubble gumAnd it's fresh out of bubble gum.  “You know what my moms used to say?” Lorenzo knuckled down a yawn. “‘The world don’t owe you nothing but hard times and bubble gum...'" ‘And it’s fresh out of bubble gum,’” Army said, finishing it up for him.”  From “Freedomland” by Richard Price, 1998, Island Books, Dell Publishing, N.Y., N.Y., Page 237.
​*I have come here to chew bubble gum and kick ass, and I'm all out of bubble gum. – “Even if you’ve never seen [the movie] They Live, you’ve probably heard someone at some point in your life say: ‘I have come here to chew bubble gum and kick ass, and I’m all out of bubble gum.’ Ever since [John] Nada delivered that line in the film, it’s maintained a life even beyond They Live, becoming one of the most popular and frequently quoted lines in all of pop culture. According to [John] Carpenter, the line came straight from [wrestler] Roddy Piper, who kept a notebook full of quips like that to use in his wrestling promos. Traveling all around the country wrestling different people, those guys come up with a lot of stuff to hype matches in interviews. They have to come up with one-liners. Roddy had a book full of them that he carried with him,” Carpenter explained. “He’d sit on a plane and come up with these things. He gave me the book when I was writing the script and that was the best one in there. I think he was wrestling Playboy Buddy Rose and he may have said the line then.” 10 Killer Facts About They Live by Matthew Jackson, Aug. 29, 2019, 

There's no such thing as a free lunch. "...Nobel economics laureate Milton Friedman published articles, a book and lectures using the title, ‘There is no such thing as a free lunch.’ ...Reached by letter, Dr. Friedman replied that he had no idea where his much-quoted phrase comes from…Slanguist Stuart Berg Flexner offered the author this help: ‘Free lunch dates from the 1840s and was supposed to have moved from the West to the East, getting fancier as it approached eastern bars and hotels, so sometime after the late 1840s I can just see some bartender slapping the hands of a customer and asking him to buy that 5 cent beer before shoveling in the victuals…’”  “Safire’s New Political Dictionary” by William Safire, Random House, New York, 1993, Page 267.

…whatever is on the outside can be taken away at any time. Only what is inside you is safe. Thoughts after her mother burned her books. "Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?" by Jeanette Winterson. From "Only Six Books: Excerpt From Jeanette Winterson’s New Memoir," The Daily Beast, 06 March 2012. 

You must pay for everything in this world one way and another. There is nothing free except the Grace of God. You cannot earn that or deserve it. "True Grit" by Charles Portis. The Overlook Press, New York, 2010, Page 40. Originally published in 1968.