This has made my day. In one of the books I edited this summer, the author attributed this quote to Coach John Wooden, “Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out.” I searched for verification that Coach Wooden said it or came up with it himself, but could only find it widely attributed to him without citation. I found it attributed to Art Linkletter too, also without citation.
If I said known Wooden (1910-2010) was as old as Linkletter (1912-2010), I might have let it go, but I thought Linkletter was much older and consequently in a better position to have said something like this before the coach. So I kept looking, and finding nothing, asked The Quote Investigator to help. With his workload, I didn’t expect an answer right away, but in today’s email, I received word that he had posted his report:
(Great thanks to TygerBurning and Phil Wade whose inquiries led QI to formulate this question and perform this exploration. Wade pointed to the 1979 citation and noted that Linkletter credited Wooden.)
Your desire to explore the genuine provenance of quotations is admirable. I appreciate your visiting and asking about an interesting saying.
When I wrote to QI, I told him I had found the quote attributed to Wooden without citation in Yes, You Can by Linkletter, so that ruled out one name, but that’s as much as I could discover. Seeing the final QI report, I don’t believe I could have found the answer.
In May 1965 an instance of this aphorism using the word “folks” was published in a newspaper column in Ada, Oklahoma together with miscellaneous sayings. No attribution was provided:
Things turn out best for folks who make the best of the way things turn out.
… In the following years, close variants of the adage were published in numerous newspapers. No individual was credited with the remark, and QI believes the statement should be labeled anonymous.
So chalk this one up to folk wisdom, friends.