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Where did that phrase come from - When life passes out lemons, make lemonade
Stan St. Clair

This proverbial saying encourages people who are facing adversity to be positive, take the misfortunes of life and find ways to improve through these experiences. The thought was coined by Elbert Hubbard, a Christian anarchist writer, in the 1915 obituary of Marshall P. Wilder, a dwarf actor, headed with the praise: “King of Jestors,” according to Select Writings of Elbert Hubbard, 1922, page 237:

“He was a walking refutation of that dogmatic statement, Mens sana in corpore sano. His was a sound mind in an unsound body. He proved the eternal paradox of things. He cashed in on his disabilities. He picked up the lemons that Fate had sent him and started a lemonade-stand.”

The September, 1916 issue of the Auburn Seminary Record was next to use the maxim:                                                                                                         “(Hugh K. Walker) described a pessimist as one who fletcherizes his bitter pill, the optimist as the man who made lemonade of the lemon handed him.”

It was then picked up by other writers, and was later popularized by Dale Carnegie in “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living,” 1948, page 138, where he credited Joseph Rosenwald for passing it along to him, “If You Have a Lemon, Make a Lemonade.”

During this time of sickness and sadness, many of us are confined to our homes, and millions are unable to work. It may seem that life has handed us all lemons. But some have put this proverb into action by doing good things which will benefit others, whether for money or not. 

A good number of ladies have put to work their skills of sewing and made protective masks. One of these is my own granddaughter, a young mother of two who was taking time off work. I wear the one she made especially for me when I need to go out to the post office or the grocery store. Remember, attitude is everything, and even random acts of kindness make us feel like our lemons can make pretty tasty lemonade!


If you would like to know the origin of a favorite expression, text 931-212-3303 or email stan@stclair.net.