An Actor Vs A Distinguished Gentleman

An Instapundiit item juxtaposes the faces of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and an actor.

Born in a Savannah “neighborhod” and raised in extreme poverty, Justice Thomas is one of the sharpest legal minds on the planet; if not the sharpest. If you are fortunate enough to meet Justice Thomas, a smile and a word will get you a return in kind. And he is an American, a friend the Constitution, and of the American people.

The actor? Hosato Takei was born in 1937. Interned in one of Roosevelt’s concentration (called internment) cams. In common with most interned families, Takata’s parents lost almost every thing they had to time and the tax collector.Takei earned a BA in theater from the University of California before paying his dues in the entertainment industry.

As the image at Instapundit notes, Judge Clarence Thomas votes for the political party that freed his people, and that has for 150 years done its best to uphold equal rights for all.

While Takei votes for a political party that has historically “Whites only,” and only some White’s at that.

While Judge Thomas Party was pushing through Constitutional amendments to insure equal rights for all, Takei’s party was bitterly opposed to Asian immigration. When Chinese workers were through blasting the UP railroad through California’s mountains, Takei’s party wanted to reward them with a one way ticket home.

While Judge Thomas Republicans mounted an enormous effort to make sure Black Americas were fitted for the industrial jobs they were sure would come, Democrats used every excuse to keep Black Americans in ignorance and poverty.

While Judge Thomas Party was trying to make members of Indian nations American citizens, Takei’s party spent time stirring up fears of an imminent attempt to recapture the land the Nations lost.

I could go on, but Thomas has a sterling record as a lawyer and judge. Judge Thomas is the real deal.

George Takei? is an actor, who pretends to be someone he is not.

In judging the relative worth of the two men to our society, I would judge one’s value to be fleeting at best. Who is he to criticize?

Stranger

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Medicine Men and Developing A Jury

Looking at the rain reminds me of the summer of 51 in in South Dakota.

I don’t care much for South Dakota. In fact, I was pleased when Rand McNally omitted the state from their road atlas. That comes from my youngest days, when every town and wide spot in the state had a vagrancy law. A law they strictly enforced whenever the town treasury needed a transfusion.

If you were caught breathing South Dakota’s precious air or standing on a square foot or two of their millions of acres without being able to prove local residence or a local employer – you were going to get your wallet emptied.

Because the fines for vagrancy were whatever you happened to have in your kick. If you didn’t care to fork out all you had, you guested in their flea and bedbug infested crossbar motel long enough to become a resident. And you paid your board bill with the sweat of your brow.

Harvest hands, carnival people, travelling salesmen, and almost everyone else on the road thought this practice amounted to legalized armed robbery. The Supreme Court eventually agreed with us, but back in the ’40’s roadies passed on a warning, friendly wise, to anyone planning a trip to or through that state.

“Better not stop in Gregory, they are pushing the vag racket hard.” Or Brookings, Yankton, Mobridge, or wherever else the traveling folk were “held up and robbed by the law.”

Human nature being what it is, every so often you would warn someone who thought he was too fly to fall foul of bandits with badges. I remember the time my dad tipped Greener, the cook house king, that the word was the Winner town marshal was cleaning out every roadie who stopped for eats or gas in that burg.

Greener gave my dad the horse laugh, said he’d been gassing up in Winner for years without trouble, and talked about how “Big Jim talks like a nervous old woman, he says he’s going to detour around Winner, haw haw haw” the rest of the fair.

But the first person we saw when we pulled in the next fair grounds was Greener. And the fat man’s first words were “Jim, could you loan me twenty to pay the bread man? They throwed a vag rap on us at Winner and took every cent we had.”

Which want usually happens to those who will not take notice of a friendly word of warning. But on the other hand, there were a lot of places where the people were at least civil, and some places the people were downright nice.

While I was on vacation a few years ago, I came back through Baraboo, Wisconsin. The last time I was in Baraboo old Doc Hale was peddling his brand of patent medicine. Doc was genuine MD till he got inoperable cancer. Doc sold his practice and took up the patent med pitch, which Doc said the stuff he sold would cure you if you weren’t too sick and you believed in it, and that was better than he was ever able to do as a regular croaker.

Doc was out at the fairgrounds, peddling his 100 proof elixir of alcohol, sugar, anise and caramel, when the local law hailed him. One of the town croakers wanted the Doc hauled in for practicing medicine without a license.

Doc’s wife saw them coming so she slips back to thier trailer, grabs Doc’s license to practice medicine in the State of Wisconsin off the wall, and slips it face down in front of the Doc.

After Doc wound up his spiel, the Baraboo law dog asks, polite, if the Doc has a license to practice medicine.

“Oh, yes Sir,” says the Doc, holding the framed certificate up for everyone to see. “Wisconsin was the first state I was licensed in when I graduated from medical school.”

The local law smiled and left, muttering about crazy doctors, and the crowd, the “tip,” was highly impressed.

Of course, Doc was a real Doc, ministered to the carneys, and knew his onions. He was just a bit burned out with treating folks he could not help.

Anyway, the summer of ’46 Doc was making the rounds with a new line of liquid dynamite. He had a real pretty wife that shilled for him – which if you don’t know a shill is someone who stands in the crowd and buys the product, so as to get the marks hands out of their pockets and get some money in circulation. Rita had kids in college but she looked maybe 30 or so. One of the kind the late Justin Wilson said looked so good you looked her up one side and right back up the same side. Quick with a comeback, too.

One time in Indiana, Doc really got wound up, and a guy who had seen Doc at three or four places recognized Rita as being “with it.” He asked Rita “Will that stuff really make you live longer?”

“I don’t really know,” Rita said, “I only met the Doctor in 1856.”

I believe the mark bought a couple cases of the stuff.

Yessir, Rita was pretty swift on the uptake and a real diplomat. Whenever anyone knocked on her trailer door she would put her hat on. That way if it was someone she didn’t want to talk to she could say she was just going out – and if it was somebody she wanted to see she could say she was so glad to see them, “Just let me take my hat off and put the teapot on and we will have a nice long visit.”

Back then penicillin was brand new – if the sawbones knew then what the croakers know now Doc might have been saved. Or maybe not, life bein’ chancy.

However, I don’t know that life was any more chancy then than now. But the insurance is sure higher. There is more truth than poetry in that old joke…

How many doctors does it take to change a light bulb?”

“That depends on how much insurance the bulb has.”

And nowadays we have more specialists, too. A specialist is someone who knows more and more about less and less. Either that or a croaker with a smaller practice and a bigger house.

I see that 175,000 people die every year from the croakers screwups and infections contracted while they were being treated. For true! Yep, every sawbones buries his mistakes. You still wanna know why I call ’em croakers?

I was talkin’ to a ham on 2 meters while I was pirootin’ around Omaha and he told me that there is a doctor in Iowa who makes house calls. Now don’t that beat all? I remember when the house call was the ordinary way you saw the doc.

Nowadays a lot of doctors are so high falutin’ they won’t make hospital calls. But this denizen of Zero Land told me that his doctor makes house calls but he won’t make farm calls. Not
unless the farmer gags the ducks.

Say, do you remember when Doc Johnson took a whole month off and went to Colorado on a big game hunt. When he got back his nurse asked him if he killed anything.

“Didn’t kill a thing. Didn’t even get a shot at killing anything,” he says, “I’d have been better off staying here.”

All joking aside, I do trust my doctor. If he treats you for dandruff that’s what you die of. Of course, doctors are a sight more useful than lawyers. Well, I better not get wound up on shysters, but I mind when Tag Taggert brought Lark Starr in for stealin’ cows.

Judge Ross asked Starr if he had anything to offer the court before he passed sentence on him.

Starr said “Sorry, Judge, I don’t have a smear. My lawyer took every last penny I had.”

Did you hear about the holdup man who held up a Jackson lawyers office a while back? The poor feller lost six hundred dollars.

Most lawyers practice because it gives them a grand and glorious feeling. Give ’em a grand and they feel glorious!

But you know, we should love all the lawyers. Who else would we get to get us out of all the trouble they get us into? And lawyers come in real handy whenever a felon needs a friend, too.

Say, I went to school once in Antlers, Oklahoma, one year. Miss Custis was the teacher there, and we had three grades in one room. You might say I was in the middle, I had the second grade on my right, and the fourth grade on my left.

Had a real pretty girl, her dad was a court clerk, in my class. That was another Sheila. Miss Custis asked Sheila to come up and explain to the fourth grade how the court system works.

Sheila stood up and said, “The lawyers make speeches and sit down. The judge makes a speech and sits down. Then the bailiff takes twelve of them into a dark room to be developed.”

Well, the rain has slacked up, so I suppose I had better gear up to do a little climbing.

Stranger

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From Divorce Court to Banking

You know, the Internet is a wonderful thing. I was looking at the internet version of the Oklahoman, scanning the obits and society pages for familiar names, and I came across a story about a modern divorce.

Reading between the lines, this gal was suin’ her well connected husband for mental cruelty. And the judge in the case was an old college buddy of the defendant.

“And besides giving her a clear title to the house and the cars, you will pay your wife a thousand dollars a week in alimony,” the Judge told his friend.

“But Judge,” pleaded the now ex-husband, “have a heart.”

Then he goes in this long speech about how he had pulled strings to help the Judge attain his seat on the bench. He reminded him how he had loaned him assignments in high school and helped him with his homework. And how paying out a thousand a week to his ex would make it impossible for him to live in the style he had accustomed himself.

“Well,” sez the Judge, “I guess we can lower it to five hundred a week.”

“And remember how I helped you with Latin and your pre-law course,” the ex-husband continued.

“Make it three fifty,” declared the Judge. But the ex-husband still wasn’t satisfied.

“And even after you graduated I was the one who fixed you up with a date for the homecoming dance, with the girl who became your wife.”

“So it was you,” roared the Judge, glaring at the man. “Case closed at fifteen hundred a week.”

Which goes to show you that there are times when you are better off keepin’ yer cake hole shut. Of course, that problem is far from unique. I knew a pretty enough gal one time, up in Decatur, who was a one subject conversationalist. Herself.

I was in a place in Newton one time and this gal came in looking for a job. After she talked to the boss a while he asked her when she could go to work. She told him two weeks, and he said he needed somebody sooner than that, but if the job was still open then he’d call her.

“Where can I get ahold of you?” the boss asked.

“I don’t know,” she says. “I’m awful ticklish.”

This gal was good looking enough to have a man, but she had been through about every eligible man in Newton County, and a few from Kemper and Scott, and they had all found an excuse to make it a one date romance. Or two at the most.

I was in Phillips Cafe one time and I heard her talking to
the gal who helped out at rush hour.

“Oh Barbara, I have met the most wonderful man” she gushes. “He’s coming tonight to pick me up and take me to dinner. And he’s absolutely perfect in every way.”

“Debbie,” sez Babs, “Let me give you some advice. Men don’t like to hear about you, they like to talk about themselves. If you talk about yourself all night he will be bored and you will never see him again.”

Well, the advice must have sunk in. Because the way the gossip went, the feller picked Debbie up all right. And she chattered about herself all the way there. And all through dinner.

As they were leaving the restaurant Deb was heard to say “And that’s enough about me. Let’s talk about you for a change. What do you think of this dress I’m wearing?”

And yes – that was another first, last, and only. Women do tend to be talkable. At the most inopportune times. A friend of mine goes to a lady dentist because it makes him so happy to hear a woman tell him to open his mouth instead of shut up.

Jimmy, Jimmy Burke’s his name, does have a talkable wife. Alma has one tone of voice. Accusatory! He got his income tax refund check in the mail yesterday and she has him convinced it’s all his fault.

Jimmy’s the one who wanted to know if a man said something out loud out in the middle of the woods where there was no woman to hear him if he was still wrong.

Jimmy had one of those embarrassing moments a cupple years ago. Jim’s ears were about to melt one day when his brother in law came by with a brand new Christmas boat. And suggested Jimmy go with him to try it out. And do a little fishing!

So Jimmy and Greg had been out on the lake for a cupple hours, and they look up in a little bay and there’s a half a dozen ducks bobbin’ around and one great big old Canada goose. So Greg turns the boat toward the bay and puts the trolling motor on slow, slow.

And there they are sneaking up on the waterfowl!

“Jimmy,” whispers Greg, “My sixteen gauge is in the locker. Get it out and get ready. When they see us they will jump, so let ’em have it just as they clear the water.”

“That goose would sure taste good between bowl games,” Jimmy whispers back.

“Yeah, man, he sure would,” sez Greg, speeding up just a skosh. “Stay down, man, stay hid, and he’s ours.”

They get about fifty yards from the ducks, and they don’t get noticed none at all. Greg slows down a little, but they are still sneaking up on ’em. A few minutes later they are only twenty yards away.

“Take ’em, Jimmy, take ’em,” hollers Greg, standing up and waving his arms.

Jimmy can’t stand it no more. Bam, bam, bam, he proceeds to ground sluice that goose. He emptied the shotgun at him! Before the bird can even spread his wings to take off. And not a feather stirs. Except the doggone goose spreads out flat on the water and sinks!

Dead geese are not supposed to sink. Jimmy and Greg are standing there with their mouths open, drawing flies, when a couple of guys jump up out of the brush lining the shore yelling “Don’t shoot our decoys, don’t shoot our decoys.”

Yep, Jimmy and Greg had bagged an inflated rubber goose. And took plenty of kidding about it, too. Alma had heard about all it before Jimmy came draggin’ in. All she wanted to know was whether he wanted his goose roasted or retreaded.

The guys down at the Cookhouse Cafe kidded Jimmy about it for a week or so, but Alma kept it going about six weeks straight and off and on ever since. One of these days that woman is going to run Jimmy plumb out of patience.

Considering Jimmy’s mama it’s a wonder Jimmy has as much patience as he has. His mama was one of my schoolteachers, and Miz Burke was the only one armed teacher I ever had. A tractor accident took her arm off at the elbow. But that didn’t slow her down none getting problems on the blackboard, now.

She kept an eraser under he crippled wing, and a spare piece of chalk behind her ear, and she was faster than most by a long shot. A good teacher but a little short tempered.

One of those ten year olds start acting up in her class and she would grab him, sometimes it was a her, prop up against a desk, park that kid bent over between her knees, and whale away. OUCH! I guarantee, Miz Burke kept her whole class in order, all the time.

But anyhoo, talking too much about too little seems to be a pretty common problem. ‘Course, folks make plenty of problems for themselves besides talkability. Or the lack of it.

One time I was in a Rexall up in North Dakota, reading Arthur Clarke’s Earthlight in Thrilling Wonder Stories and nursing a nickel coke, when a couple of pretty gals walk in. And one of the gals was showing off a ring and telling t’other all about her fiance.

“Oh, he’s the most wonderful man,” she gushed. “He’s so polite and so attentive, and he always gets me every little thing I want.”

“Maybe so,” sez her friend. “But when you are thirty he’ll be seventy.”

“That’s all right. I will always love Roger for what he is no matter how old he gets.”

“What is he, besides old?” asks the pal.

“I thought you knew! He’s the president of the First National Bank of Fargo.”

Actually, I have heard worse reasons than money for acrimony, alimony, matrimony, or whatever it turns out to be. The good reasons begin with affection and only end with money! And you would be surprised at the number of gals who have their eye on his bottom line.

A British poll found the number one ambition of single European women aged 18 to 26 is to be a young widow. The women polled said the best way to achieve that ambition is to marry an old man. Which reminds me of that famous firm of shysters in Topeka. You have heard of Plantem and Spend?

Of course, young girls have been told mature men have less desire and more money. The popular myth about mature men is like the old story of the salesman who had been to more than 70 conventions in three months. He gets to Atlantic City, eats dinner, and heads right to his room.

As soon as he gets upstairs he undresses and crawls slowly into bed. No sooner than he turns off the light than a key rattles in the door and in slinks a drop dead gorgeous model!

Puzzled, the weary salesman switches on the light and surveys the dazzling damsel.

“Oh, I’m so sorry,” says the girl, “It looks like I’m in the wrong room.”

“You are in the right room, Honey,” sez the salesman. “You are just 40 years too late.”

But many a cuddlesome lass has found that to be less than true. As witness that whiteheaded fellow that’s been so much in the news lately. If the news could be believed he’s one of those who believe they are cheaper by the dozens. Or maybe by the gross. But we all know the news can’t be trusted. Which is a good thing because I hate to think a conservative fellow Democrat would act like a Liberal. Until I have credible proof, anyhoo.

Looking at all the women baring all about Condit reminds me of the story of the three old guys sitting in the park discussing how they would like to be buried.

“I’d like to be buried with John McGraw. He was the best manager and the greatest strategist baseball ever had,” said the baseball fan.

“I’d like to be buried with Teddy Roosevelt. He was a great man, built the Panama Canal, made our Navy the best in the world, and carried a big stick,” said the old Navy man.

“I’d like to be buried with Gina Lollabrigida,” said the third.

“But Gina Lollabrigida ain’t dead yet,” protested the Navy man.

“Neither am I, Harry, neither am I.”

Obviously, neither is Condit. But money is not the most important thing in the world. It’s just mighty tough to be entirely without it. And it’s amazing what folks will do to get some.

Sort of like the piece in the Trib, back when I was using around Chicago, about a reporter overhearing a couple of youngish matrons complaining about how many hours their husbands worked and how little they made.

“If only I had married a millionaire,” moaned one.

“You mean, if you were only a millionaire’s widow,” corrected the other.

Speaking of Chicago, one time a story went around about a shirt maker who was in deep trouble. He’d run up big bills with two of his suppliers and he owed his bookie a ton. And all three of his creditors were out for blood. His!

Talking it over with his wife, they figure the only thing for him to do would be to die! So between them they get up a mock funeral, and invite all his creditors and kin to the funeral.

And a fine funeral it was, too, with flowers all over the place, dozens of mourners, and the whole nine yards. Naturally his two suppliers and his bookie are there, chatting about what a natural lookin’ corpse Goldberg is, when it became time to bid the departed his final goodbye. Everybody parades by the coffin, and the bookie brings up the rear.

When the oddsmaker gets to the coffin he whips out a 45 and screams “You dirty SOB, even though you are dead I’m going to get personal satisfaction. Nobody gets away with owing me money. I’m going to fill you full of holes, you dirty bastid!”

Goldberg sits up in the box, throws up his hands, and sez “Not so fast, Louie. You, I’ll pay.”

Joking aside, this really is a woman’s world. When a man is born the first thing they ask is “How’s the mother.” When a man marries they always say “She was a lovely bride.” And when he dies they always ask “How much did he leave her?”

Speaking of Goldberg, his buddy Ginsberg was in the womens panty business. He sold Montgomery Ward 500,000 pairs of panties on 90 day billing. So he was long on recievables and short on cash. He goes to a bank to ask for a loan.

The banker gives Ginsberg all kinds of papers to fill out, and finally one of the bank executives inverviewed him.

“How much money do you want to borrow?”

“I need $25,000 for ninety days.

“How much do you have in recievables and how much inventory do you have?”

“I have one hundred thousand dollars in recievables and one million pairs of panties.

“In that case, we can give you the loan.

A week later Ginsberg returns to the bank and hands the banker the money he had borrowed, along with the interest. “I sold all my panties for cash and made a big profit,” he says.

“That sounds wonderful,” enthused the banker. “Now that you have all that extra money, why don’t you deposit it here?”

“I’d like to,” says Ginsberg, “But first I have to ask you one question.”

“Well, yes, ask anything you like.”

“Tell me, how many panties you got in stock?”

Stranger

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Blowing Up The Outhouse; And Drunk To Boot Camp

Well, this is sure a pretty afternoon. If you wanted nice weather and today wouldn’t do, you would be in tough shape. But it’s been cold and clammy the last few days. The kind of weather that used to make folks cut trips to the outhouse short.

Things changed when you got a crowd of boys, or a crowd of girls, together and looking for some privacy. Most prairie houses were cracker-box affairs, with a kitchen, a parlor, and one bedroom on the ground floor and two bedrooms for the seven kids upstairs. The boys bunked in one room, the girls in t’other, you know.

Oh, sometimes there would be another room downstairs and a couple more bedrooms upstairs. But no matter how you sliced it the average family had mom and pop and seven kids on twenty by thirty feet of ground. Counting the porch! There was not much room and less privacy. So kids needing gossipin’ room would gather up in the outhouse and monopolize the place!

I remember one time some of the city gals the Cooters kept came early. Their school had burned or some such, and here were five gals and Lizzie; with nary place in sight to sit and gossip. Except the doniker.

So they would gather in there and play dolls and such. Which was a pain when somebody needed to see a man about a dog! And after three or four days the two hired boys decided to do something drastic!

The boys were twins, about fourteen at the time, name of Len and Jim Krawpullen. Never heard of such a name before or since, but Krawpullen was what they went by. They had gotten kicked out of school, and pretty much given a choice working in the country or going to reform school.

They chose to work it out, and the Cooters volunteered to work them. So here they were, making twenty five bux and found a month, doing a man’s work. If that sounds cheap, a farmhands wages were fifty a month and they had to fend for themselves. So I figgered Lane Senior and Junior were generous, because they got what the Farmers Almanac predicted.

“A boy will do half a man’s work, and two boys will still do half a man’s work.” Besides boyish high spirits, the boys had just about enough brains between them to furnish one of those little ants polite folks call pismires. Rude folks call ’em something else that begins P-I-S!

Anyhoo, one afternoon the boys felt bad in need and the johnny was occupied. And occupied. And occupied some more. The giggling and doll talk they could hear left no doubt of who – and that relief would come with supper call. The girls never missed a chance to eat!

One of the boys thought that a firecracker under the seat would make the girls move. T’other remembered there was dynamite and slow match squirreled away in the feed room. Not being either smart or familiar with blasting, they got a whole stick of Nobel’s best, attached a long fuse to it, and slip up to the back of the biffy.

Like a lot of country conveniences, the Cooter outhouse had a gap between the back skirting and the ground. The boys slipped their “firecracker” through the crack and eased her down real quiet. Then they lit the fuse and backed off to wait for developments. Which were not long coming.

According to Len, the outhouse lifted up a couple of inches when the blast went off, and before it could settle back in place four screaming girls were making a beeline for the house. And about ten seconds after that Mrs. Lane Junior Cooter had both of the boys by the ear.

Now – this was before the Cooters had running water. Those boys had to tote a number two washtub of water from the windmill for each of those girls. And heat it! And pour it out after each girl was clean.

After the girls were all cleaned up – they had to scrub the outhouse! Len said that scrubbing the walls and roof was the most sickening part of all, washing gal clothes after they had the Cooter Convenience clean was nothing compared to purifying that well splattered jakes.

Besides larnin two kids not to play with explosives, another good thing came of that. The Cooter womenfolks cut the menfolks biscuits and bacon off until Lane Junior put in running water and built a double bathroom annex on the house. One day without home cookin’ did the trick!

But speakin’ of the Krawpullens reminds me of the time the whole Cooter clan went to Dallas, seein’ the Twins off to boot camp. They boarded Len and Jim with Joe Wells. Now, Joe and his wife and boy lived at Babbs, a little community southeast of town.

The boy, Bob, was thirteen, and gun wise; where Len and Jim were fourteen and about as dumb as they come. The last day Len and Jim were to stay at the Wells’, Joe and his Mrs take off to town and leave the boys to their own devices.

The twins had noticed Joe kept a little .22 rifle over the mantle. Bob figured it would be OK to take the twins out with a box of .22 shorts and show them how to shoot. Natural, after a few minutes the twins knew all about guns, and Bob was froze out.

As Bob told it later, the twins were the worst shots he’d ever seen. They couldn’t hit a barn from the inside. They spent the next hour burning powder at anything that moved and a lot that didn’t, and didn’t hit a thing! By that time they had wandered across several sections of prairie and decided to take the short cut home. So the cut across Harry Otto’s place, past one of Otto’s grain bins.

There was a big brass padlock on the grain bin door and Jim decided to take a crack at it. And lo and behold he hit it! The only thing he’d hit all day – and the only thing of value he had shot at. Naturally, that lock flew all to pieces. So the boys took off running and didn’t stop until they were home.

The next morning the breakfast table was abuzz. “Did you hear about the robbery at the Otto’s? Somebody busted a lock and got away with 500 bushels of seed wheat! Ain’t no telling what this world is coming to, we get in a war and somebody starts stealing seed. Must’a been an Axis agent, maybe.”

Natural, Bob didn’t say a word. He was scared to death that his daddy would find out he’d been toying with forbidden fruit. So Bot tried to stay out of sight and take it all in. After a couple of days everything was quiet and Bob thought he was home free.

But at breakfast the third morning Bob’s daddy spoke up. “You know, I walked over to Otto’s grain bin and the lock was shot all to pieces. But the ground was soft and I couldn’t find a tire track anywhere. It didn’t look like there had been a bag of grain in the bin for years, and if there had of been they would have had to have a skyhook to carry it off without leaving tracks. But the insurance is going to pay Otto off for his loss. He says that will clear his note with Mullendore, so it looks like everything worked out for the best.”

Bob relaxes considerable, until his Dad goes on. “Funny thing, the only tracks I found around there were three sets of bootprints.” Then he looks Bob in the eye and winks!

Len and Jim worked for the Cooters until they got their draft notice. Now, like I said, between them they had about enough brains to come in out of the rain. So they get their “presidential greetings” and decide to celebrate. By getting drunk! Which, for non-drinkers, was not too doggone smart in itself.

And it was even dumber to sneak into French’s barn and draw two pint fruit jars of his “Lost Weekend” moonshine. They called that tipple that because because you take a couple of drinks and you lost the weekend. The twins took their loot to their room and proceed to hold their nose and drink down a pint apiece. On Friday night.

Mrs. Lane Cooter Junior missed them for Saturday breakfast, and noonin’, and supper. So Junior got Ol’ Harman out to help out. They busted down the door and found the boys – still out like Lotties eye. Ol’ Hardman always claimed a man ain’t drunk if he can lay on the floor without holding on – and those boys were wondrously drunk. The half sip left in the jars was proof enough of what had happened. Junior and Ol’ Hardman gathered them up and threw them in a stock tank to sober ’em up.

The shock woke them up – but they woke up to a very strange world. You talk about the jim jams, they had ’em. Sort of like that Kipling ditty that goes “In the full, fresh, fragrant morning/ I observed a camel crawl/ Laws of gravitation scorning/ On the ceiling and the wall./ Then I watched a fender walking,/ And I heard gray leeches sing,/ And a red hot monkey talking/ Did not seem a proper thing.”

It was all Ol’ and the Cooters could do to get the boys sobered up enough to report for induction the next Wednesday. When the Cooters drove the boys to Okie City the boys were about like that joke about how many drunks does it take to change a light bulb.

Two; one to hold the light bulb and the other to drink until the room spins. The boys got to the draft board on time, but they said they really didn’t sober up until their second day in boot camp.

Stranger

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From Politickin’ to a Displeased Dog

All the politicking going on reminds me of the hillbilly who threw the politician off the train. We sure got a gracious plenty of politicians and there are more would be politicians than incumbents. We don’t need to throw them off a train, though. We probably need to drop them all into the Grand Canyon. Or off the Empire State building, that would get the job done.

Most of the candidates we got running for office remind me of Old Lady Coffee and Jeff Wilks. Now, Jeff wasn’t quite all there. His daddy kept telling him to stay out from behind the mules, he was going to get kicked. Jeff forgot one time too many and wound up with a muleprint across his forehead. Naturally, the boy was in a coma for about a week and mighty fuddled for a good long while after that.

Now, Old Lady Coffee was the one you pointed at when you wanted to caution newcomers about the awful results of prying. Everybody avoided her because she did pry, at about the volume level of a circus calliope, and she’d egg that sorry-goodfornothing-never-hit-a-lick husband of hers on to pry for her.

Other than percussive maintenance, whacking heck out of the battery radio to get it to bring in the Grand Old Opry, the only thing Old Man George Coffee could do right was snore. And he snored every chance he got, too.

One time Brother Fox gave Old Man Coffee’s granddaughter a nickel a week to keep her grandpa awake during the sermon. That worked for about three weeks, and then the Old Man went to sleep during the sermon and like to have out-blasted the preacher. Brother Fox hemmed the gal up after church and asked why she didn’t earn her nickel today.

“‘Cause,” the little gal said, “Gampa gave me a dime to let him sleep.”

With all her prying and snooping Old Lady Coffee was pretty much a social pariah. And sometimes got a answer closer to home than she liked. Like the time she ran into Cecil Harvison’s wives coming out of the IGA.

Now, I don’t think Cecil set out to have two wives. He was courting sisters, and when Cora asked him why he didn’t pick one he said he couldn’t. And then he got shot up pretty bad in Korea, and the girls sent him a sugar letter every week and he sent one for every one he got – and the girls got up a plan.

When Cecil got off the plane in Dallas, the girls were right there to meet him. And when they got to Wichita Falls, Texas, right across the Red River from Alta Tejas, Cora pulls up at the court house ans sez now, I am going to be maid of honor at you and Corrine’s wedding. So the three of them go in the courthouse, and a woman and a married couple come out.

And they head north and get to Lawton, and they stop in front of the courthouse, and Cora says “Now, it’s my time to be a bride.” So that’s how come Cecil took up troika. And why he built a duplex on the Oklahoma and Texas border, so if the law came around he was cohabiting with whichever woman he was married to in that state.

But anyhow, Cora and Corrine were grocery shopping when they ran into that Coffee blight.

“How does it feel to share a husband?” the Coffee squaw demanded, loud, right there in front of half the town. The two Harvison women just looked at each other for a moment.

“We figure we’re a heap better off with half a good man each than we would be with a whole of a sorry man,” snapped the younger of the gals.

Which it was true, Cecil provided for both of his women very well, and the same for their kids. And they all seemed satisfied with arrangements. That made it none of my business or of anyone else’.

But anyhoo, one day Old Lady Coffee caught Jeff’s daddy on the street. She runs Mr. Wilks down and pokes him in the behind with her umbrella.

“Did Jeff ever get all right?” she screeches as Mr. Wilks turns to see who was assaulting him.

“No,” sez Mr. Wilks, “But he finally got back like he was.”

Our politicians are like Jeff. They never get all right, they just get back like they were. And in a way politicians are like Old Lady Coffee, too. No matter how sorry their own lives are they want to impose their belief system on everyone else. And to run everybody’s business but their own.

At least once each election year I think about the time the Kiowa County agent, Jack Cooter, went calling on a farmer out in the Sand Hills. From the time Jack set foot on the place he was flat wrapped up in flies. So he tells the farmer that he ought to put screens on his farmhouse, or at least lime his outhouse.

“Can’t afford screens,” sez the farmer. “But I got plenty of lime. I’ll pour some down the outhouse pit. That’ll take keer of it.”

A few weeks later Jack was passing by and noticed that every door and every window had a fine new screen. Not regular galvanized screen, either. This was that expensive copper screen, the pure quill last forever if you got the money screens. So Jack pulls in and takes up his gab with the farmer all over again.

“I see you took my advice and screened your doors and windows,” sez Jack.

“Yep, sure did,” sez the farmer. “When I seen them white fly tracks all over my grub I figgered it was time to do something.”

But speaking of Brother Fox, I just did speak of Brother Fox, one time during the Dust Bowl he went on visitation and came to a little hardscrabble homestead away back in the Sand Hills. What they used to call the Big Sandy Mountains, until the wind blew most of the sand away, you know. Brother Fox hails the homesteader and comes right to the point.

Where do you want to spend eternity?” Brother Fox demanded. “Which will it be, Heaven or Hell, brother, Heaven or Hell?”

“Well, I don’t rightly know,” sez the homesteader. “Either one would be a heap better than I’m used to.”

Well, I have Johnny Bond on the radio, singing that “Sick, Sober, and Sorry” song. Been there and done that – somewhat. In fact, one night I woke up so bent out of shape and bumfuzzled; I had some loose change and some aspirin on the nightstand and I took 40 cents. Didn’t do my hangover a darn bit of good, either.

I got that morning after up in Cicero. Cicero, Illinois, that is. There used to be a roadhouse out towards Riverside that catered to us working folks. The drinks were world famous for stout, the eats were cheap, the service was good – and the waitresses knew everyone by their first name. Good place! Particularly if you liked to dance or to watch the pretty girls who did.

The Polack who ran the joint lived on the second floor, over his boozer. One night, way after midnight, Frank heard the awfullest beatin’ and bangin’ on his front door. So he throws the window up and hollers down to find out what the deal is.

“Let me in,” says a voice from the darkness.

“You idiot,” says Frank, “It’s after midnight. I can’t serve booze this time of night. It’d cost me my license.”

“I don’t want anything else to drink,” comes the voice out the black. “When I left I forgot my crutches were standing in the corner.”

Speaking of Frank’s good service reminds me of a short order cook name of Charlie Munn I used to work with. Curly head blonde, tall, rawboned, and real good lookin’. Kept a little black notebook that had all the best telephone numbers in it, with room for a few more. Best hand to set around and nurse a beer I ever knew, too.

Charlie and I went into a West Memphis dive for a beer. Some dude was propositioning the waitress, and at her time of life she didn’t get many. So Charlie and I set and we set and we set.

Talk about slow service! It took a half hour to get waited on. And twice that long to get a warm bottle of Jax. Charlie and I were put out, more’n somewhat. If anything else had been open we would have went there, for sure.

Charlie took a long pull at his brew, made a face, looked around, and discovered about fifteen dirty glasses settin’ on a table. He snaffled one and poured the rest of his bottle into the glass, filling it to the brim. Then he drops two dimes into the glass. Charlie wets the brim with his finger, tears a page out of his little notebook and parks it on top of the glass. Rubs it down where you could see a damp ring through the paper.

I sure didn’t know what he was doing, and it kind of scared me when he flipped that glass over. I thought he was going to spill beer all over the place but he didn’t spill nary a drop.

No sir, Charlie lays that glass, mouth down, close to the edge of the counter without spilling a drop. Then he whips the paper out from under the mouth of the glass. And he still didn’t lose a drop.

When we left – the waitress was still getting promoted and that glass of beer was still upside down on the bar. With her tip shining up through the beer.

Needles to say, by’m by that barmaid had a leetle problem. Or maybe she didn’t, depending on how things picked up. Also needless to say, me and Charlie didn’t go back.

Now, Charlie was related to that bunch of Davises who were big in politics up in Arkansas. I was up in Helena one time, and somebody pointed out Charlie’s poker playin’ second cousin, Judge Joe Davis. Charlie told me that he was playing with “Cousin Joe” one time and all at once the Judge says “Now, play cards fair Charlie. I know what I dealt you.”

A story about Judge Davis was he was holding court one time and they started selecting a jury. The defense lawyer asked the elderly lady who was first if she knew the prosecuting attorney.

“I sure do,” sez the prospective juror. “And I know he’s a notorious womanizer.”

That gal was excused and the next juror was called. The first question the defense attorney asked the man was if he knew the prosecuting attorney.

“I have known that sorry bastid all my life,” the prospective juror allowed. “And I got a whole drawer full of bad checks he wrote me.”

Judge Davis excused the juror and called the defense attorney over to the bench. “You can ask any question you want about the prosecuting attorney,” sez the judge, “But just don’t ask no questions about the judge.”

Anyhoo, the Judge strolls by where I was parked – and a hard looking fellow steps out of the crowd and introduces himself.

“Jedge Davis,” the hardcase sez. “I don’t reckon you ‘member me but you let me off on probation when they had me up for stealing sugar. I was so grateful I named my first boy after you.”

Now – you could see the wheels turn in the Judge’s mind. And come up with a blank. But he put a good face on it.

“Well, I remember the case but your name gets away from me for the moment,” sez the Judge. “But how did your boy turn out, anyhow?”

“Wal, Jedge, the Feds sent me to Atlanta for bootleggin’ when he was a year old, and no sooner than I got out than that sorry Eph Landon came smelling around the old lady and I had to kill him, so they sent me to Cummings for ten years. The boy grew up without his father’s influence and to tell ye the truth he didn’t turn out so good.”

But I have been racking my brains trying to remember that farmer’s name Jack Cooter went calling on, and all can come up with is the name of the neighbor that didn’t know whether he’d prefer Heaven or Hell. That one was Jim Farmer! No darn wonder I couldn’t call it to mind at first.

That was the fellow I heard at the Stockyard complaining to Glenn Church about Sheriff Idom from over in Comanche county.

“That dum fool sheriff got lost plum and pulled up at my place. And when my old dog barked at him, that Idom feller pulled out his cutter and shot him. Right there in my yard, and him out of his county and all.”

“My goodness,” sez Glenn. “Did he hurt your dog bad?”

“Wal, my dog wan’t too dam pleased about it is all I can say.”

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The Queen Of Spain To Juries Being Developed

Well, I have an old “Singing Sergeants” record playing. It wouldn’t do to mention the name of the song that’s playing – except that “the queen of Spain was an amorous Jane” is enough to identify the tune for those who know and those who don’t – don’t need to. Like Martin Luther complained, “the Devil has all the best songs.”

I ‘spect more people would sing in the Church choir if we had some rollicking hymns. Of course, I think we would have more people in church if the preachers would quite talking about sitting on a cold, wet cloud, singing “hosanna on the highest” for all of eternity. Just the thought is enough to give a man a sore throat.

I don’t ordinarily listen to such, but that one reminds me of the old days when I laid up on a stack of square bales in Lane Cooter’s tack room and listened to the veterans sing all the songs they learned in the foxholes of Europe and the Pacific. Of course, most of those songs would peel the paint off the wall!

While I was on vacation a few years back I came back through Baraboo, Wisconsin. The last time I was in Baraboo old Doc Hale was peddling his brand of patent medicine.

Doc was genuine MD till he was diagnosed with inoperable cancer. Doc sold his practice and took up the patent med pitch, which Doc said the stuff he sold would cure you if you weren’t too sick and you believed in it, and that was better than he was ever able to do as a regular croaker.

Anyway, the summer of ’46 Doc was making the rounds with a new line of liquid dynamite. He had a real pretty wife that shilled for him – which if you don’t know a shill is someone who stands in the crowd and buys the product, so as to get the marks hands out of their pockets and get some money in circulation. Rita had kids in college but she looked maybe 30 or so at most. Quick with a comeback, too.

One time Doc really got wound up, and a guy who had seen Doc at three or four places recognized Rita as being “with it.” He asked Rita “Will that stuff really make you live longer?”

“I don’t really know,” Rita said, “I only met the Doctor in 1856.”

I believe the mark bought a couple cases of the stuff.

Yessir, Rita was pretty swift on the uptake and a real diplomat. Whenever anyone knocked on her trailer door she would put her hat on. That way if it was someone she didn’t want to talk to she could say she was just going out – and if it was somebody she wanted to see she could say she was so glad to see them, “Just let me take my hat off and put the teapot on and we will have a nice long visit.” Sort of make ’em feel wanted, you know?

Back then penicillin was brand new – if the sawbones knew then what the croakers know now Doc might have been saved. Or maybe not, life bein’ chancy.

However, I don’t know that life was any more chancy then than now. But the insurance is sure higher. There is more truth than poetry in that old joke…

“How many doctors does it take to change a light bulb?”

That depends on how much insurance the bulb has.”

And nowadays we have more specialists, too. A specialist is someone who knows more and more about less and less. Either that or a croaker with a smaller practice and a bigger house.

I see that 175,000 people die every year from the croaks screw-ups and infections contracted while they were being treated. For true! Yep, every sawbones buries his mistakes. You still wanna know why I call ’em croakers?

I was talkin’ to a man while I was pirootin’ around Omaha and he told me that there is a doctor in Iowa who makes house calls. Now don’t that beat all? I remember when the house call was the ordinary way you saw the doc.

Nowadays a lot of doctors are so high falutin’ they won’t make hospital calls. But this denizen of tall corn country told me that his doctor makes house calls but he won’t make farm calls. Not unless the farmer gags the ducks.

Say, I remember when Doc Johnson took a whole month off and went to Colorado on a big game hunt. When he got back his nurse asked him if he killed anything.

“Didn’t kill a thing. Didn’t even get a shot at killing anything,” he says, “I’d have been better off staying here.”

All joking aside, I do trust my doctor. If he treats you for dandruff that’s what you die of. Of course, doctors are a sight more useful than lawyers. Well, I better not get wound up on shysters, but I mind when Tag Taggert brought Lark Starr in for stealin’ cows.

Judge Ross asked Lark if he had anything to offer the court before he passed sentence on him.

Starr said “Sorry, Judge, I don’t have a smear. My lawyer took every last penny I had.”

Did you hear about the holdup man who held up a Jackson lawyers office a while back? The poor feller lost six hundred dollars.

Most lawyers practice because it gives them a grand and glorious feeling. Give ’em a grand and they feel glorious!

But you know, we should love all the lawyers. Who else would we get to get us out of all the trouble they get us into? And lawyers come in real handy whenever a felon needs a friend, too.

Say, I went to school once in Black Oak, Arkansas. Miss Curtis was the teacher there, and we had three grades in one room. You might say I was in the middle, I had the second grade on my right, and the fourth grade on my left.

Had a real pretty girl, her dad was a court clerk, in my class. That was another Sheila. Miss Curtis asked Sheila to come up and explain to the fourth grade how the court system works.

Sheila stood up and said, “The lawyers make speeches and sit down. The judge makes a speech and sits down. Then the bailiff takes twelve of them into a dark room to be developed.”

Well, that was intended to be a thousand words and I think I made it.

Stranger

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From Telling Denominations to Setting The Corners

According to some gossip on a Topeka radio station, during a non-denominational meeting somebody ran in hollering “The building is on fire.” At the shout of fire….

The Methodists immediately gathered in a corner and prayed.

The Baptists started a shout of “Everybody into the water.”

The Congregationalists shouted, “Every man for himself.”

The Adventists declaimed “It’s the vengeance of an angry God!”

The Lutherans posted a notice on the door, declaring the fire was evil because fire is the natural abode of the Devil.

The Christian Scientists huddled together and agreed among themselves that there was really not a fire at all.

The Presbyterians appointed a chairwoman, who was to appoint a committee to look into the fire and make a report at the next meeting.

The Episcopalians formed a procession and marched out in good order.

The Unitarians formed a committee, which concluded the fire had as much right to be there as anyone else.

And the Catholics passed a collection plate to cover the damages.

Speaking of committees, did you know there are no committees in Heaven? Nope, nary one. While God was creatin’ the animals a bunch of kibitzing angels told the Big Boss that what He was doing looked like fun. So the Boss told them that he would let them try their hand.

So a bunch of them gathered up and created an animal. The critter had fur like an otter, a tail like a beaver, feet like a frog, and a bill like a duck. God took one look at the platypus and told them he would finish the job himself. And ever since there hasn’t been a single committee in Heaven.

Now, since I have found a subject, I used to know a fellow name of Danny Grubbs. All Dan wanted to be was a preacher. His dad finally sold a quarter section and sent Danny to Southwestern Bible College.

Now, the Southwestern Bible College was big on what would have been called “circuit riding” back in the old days. When they thought a prospective preacher was ready they would send him to this little church or that little church to hold services.

Joe had gotten to that stage and was looking forward to his first preaching experience – when a fellow student wound up in the hospital. The boy had been sent to one of the little pipeline towns that would spring up and fade away over a summer – and the pipeliners didn’t take a shine to the boy’s style of preachment. So they shot him!

The next Sunday Joe got directions to that same church. Joe had sand enough to go, and to preach, all right. But looking out at about three dozen of the worst looking men he’d ever seen he couldn’t help shaking in his boots all the time he was stammering through his sermon. And a mighty short sermon it was, too.

After the preaching was over one of the roughest looking men in the church swaggers up to Joe. “Feller,” the pipeliner sez, “That was the sorriest sermon I ever heard. You ought to pay us admission to listen to a sorry sermon like that. Do you know what we do with sorry preachers around here? We shoots em!”

Of course, poor Joe was about to faint at that point.

“But,” sez the tough, “We ain’t going to shoot no skeeredy cat like you. We are going to shoot the sorry SOB who had guts enough to send kids like you out here.”

That reminds me of the time little Cooter Johnson stopped at the church door to tell Preacher Hollingsworth that when he grew up he was going to give him some money. The preacher knew Cooter because the school used to let the Preacher exhort the students once a week – and Cooter was easy to get to know.

“Well, thank you, Cooter. But why would you give me money?”

“Because my daddy says you are the poorest preacher we ever had.”

Speaking of sorry preachers, I saw a want ad in the Minneapolis Star last summer that began “TAKE OUR PASTOR, PLEASE.

Thriving congregation in rapidly developing suburban area desperately needs new, creative, clerical leadership. We would like to trade pastors with a congregation that needs a kindly but do-nothing pastor. We will pay the first year’s salary package plus a substantial bonus for speedy departure. Please respond ASAP box 275, the Star.”

Which reminds of the ad in a newspaper for a position in Lebanon. That ad supposedly ran, “Middle Eastern Diocese looking for candidates for Bishop. Must be athletic, agile, and have great endurance. Former track stars preferred. Salary and benefits negotiable. Package includes private bunker and armored personal carrier for traveling. Must be willing to relocate.” Considering the situation in that part of the world, the qualifications sound reasonable to me.

And thinking about Cooter Johnson reminds me that before the Johnson family moved to town so Cooter and his sister could go to school, they lived so far back in the woods they had to sweep the coon farts off the porch every morning. Cooter had been in school, oh, a couple of months I guess, when he comes home with a question.

“Mama,” sez Cooter, “Preacher Hollingsworth said Jesus was a Jew.”

“Well, that’s right son,” his mama told him. “Jesus was a Jew.”

“Well then,” sez Cooter, “If Jesus was a Jew what’s he doin’ with a Messican name?”

If memory serves me right, Cooter’s sister was Carol. She was a year older than Cooter, and more than a little outspoken. One time somebody invited the Johnson’s over to their church. And that church was a “holiness” church.

Carol was impressed no end by the old preacher, standing high above the congregation in an old fashioned box pulpit, shouting and waving the Bible like a man possessed. After a while she leaned way over to her Mama and whispered “What will we do if he gets loose?”

Now, speaking of Preacher Hollingsworth reminds me that I spent several hard days working in his plantation. Digging holes to plant folks in. Most of them for good folks who were missed by everyone who knew them. But every once in a while somebody would come along whose departure was a relief to all.

One of those was for Old Lady DuFresne. Now, you talk about a heller, Berta Dufresne had a bad case of naggin’ fever. She nagged husband Bill constantly about things he had nothing to do with and couldn’t do anything about. You know, that kind of naggin’ will upset a man as bad as a plague of flies will upset a horse. For about the same reason.

Not only that but she drove her kids half crazy trying to run their lives, gossiped about everybody within a hundred miles, and the family dog would hide under the porch whenever she set foot outside the house. Yessir, she was a real friend to nobody, a plague to be avoided at all costs.

And one day she cashed in, bought the farm, passed over, croaked. Died! Dead. So I got the job of opening and closing the grave. It was a hot day in Stillwater, and when the hearse got there I noticed a little cloud coming up in the west. Didn’t look like much, but those prairie thunderheads will fool you.

But bad weather didn’t stop a prairie funeral. Skin don’t leak, you know, and most folks were glad enough to get soaked as long as it rained. I thought Preacher Hollingsworth preached a mighty fine sermon considering the general dislike for the defunct, myself.

Although I noticed a couple of the DuFresne’s neighbors looked mighty doubtful when the Preacher dwelled a little on her points.

The preacher began a prayer to speed the dearly departed’s soul to its final rest as they lowered her casket down. Just as the ropes slacked there was a flash of lightning and a crash of thunder loud enough to might near deafen every one in the graveyard – and the smell of ozone permeated the land.

And somebody hollers out “Hallelujah, Preacher, she got there all right!”

It sounded a lot like Bill to me. But speaking of Berta DuFresne reminds me of how natural everybody said she looked. Everybody looked, you know. Because she was one of those folks who have a big funeral.

Everybody came to make sure she was dead.

The undertaker was an old man name of Dollarhide. Alexander Dollarhide. Al was a real artist at making the departed look like they were still breathin’. After Berta’s departure somebody put a limerick in the paper, contributed a verse that the editor put in the paper, about Dollerhide’s expertise.

“Alexander, the cheerful mortician
With makeup is a real magician.
For all sexes and races,
He paints smiles on their faces,
So they can grin as they go to perdition.”

Now, while I’m on the subject of funerals reminds me of a grave I dug over at the Odd Fellows plantin’ ground – and the deceased and all of his kin were so hard down mean all three of the local preachers refused to say a good word for him. So they called the Southwest Bible College for an emergency substitute.

I don’t know what they told him about the defunct’s people but that young preacher sure was nervous. He got so bumfuzzled he points at the box and sez, “What we have here is only the shell, the nut is already gone.”

Which didn’t please the survivors at all. But cooler heads prevailed and the young preacher got away with his still attached.

Thinking back to that part of the world reminds me of an old Ponca Indian the Jesuits converted to Catholicism. But the old feller never learned a word of English. His grandson had to translate everything anybody wanted to say to him. Somebody asked the boy how he could translate the priests Latin Mass for the old man.

“I don’t,” sez the boy. “That’s all Cherokee to me.”

The old man got deathly sick so the boy called Enid to get Father O’Brien in to give the old man the Last Rites. One of those rites is the “Apostolic Blessing,” what the Padres call “the Pope’s blessing.”

Father O’Brien carefully explained what he was about to do and the boy dutifully translated for his grandfather. After the translation the old man murmured something. Quite a bit of something!

“What did he say?” asked Father Pat.

“He says thank you, but he wants to know how the Holy Father knew he was sick,” sez the boy.

I ‘spect that was one of the few times Padre Pat was at a loss for words. One time he hit up an old reprobate about his missin’ mass real regular.

“Oh, I haven’t been to mass in years. Too many hypocrites in church for me, Padre,” sez the old codger.

“Oh, don’t let that keep you out of church,” smiles Father Pat. “There’s always room for one more.”

Anyhoo, Preacher Hollingsworth was a Methodist, and I don’t remember the name of the Holiness preacher, but I sure remember Horace Harris, the Episcopalian preacher. Double H was a second generation Scot and he sure enough lived up to the Scots rep for bein’ cheap.

One time some lady came out from Okie City canvassing for the March of Dimes. The lady had a card she was handing out with a picture of FDR, you know the March of Dimes was President Roosevelt’s favorite charity – him being a polio victim and all, FDR’s picture captioned “President Roosevelt asks you to give until it hurts.”

She marches up to Double H and after a round of mutual introductions she sez, “Reverend Harris, I represent the Oklahoma March of Dimes.”

Double H looks at the card, reads the caption, and hands the card back.

“Lady,” he says, “The very idea hurts.”

But I kid you not, tight as he was, Double H spent money fancying up his church. You talk about a gold plated church in a dirt poor town, that was it. I kid you not, if you weren’t an “old settler” with money you would not be accepted as a member. Period.

One time Phillips Petroleum hit oil on a place a few miles outside of town and pretty soon they were paying the old Sooner more money than he could figure out how to spend. Since he had come up in the world he starts getting the swellhead and figures he ought to quit the Holiness church and go to the swells church. One that fit his new lifestyle.

So he hits Double H Harris up to put his name on a pew in the swellest church around. Double H sez he ought to think on it some more and pray for guidance. And maybe put about six figures on a check by way of greasing’ the way into a pew.

The next day Double H is doing his grocery shopping’ at the IGA when that same farmer hails him.

“Preacher,” he says, “I got down on my knees last night and asked the Lord for guidance. And Jesus appeared to me! He asked me what church I wanted to join. I told him I wanted to get in your church and He just laughed. `Why, Jim,’ he says, `I been trying to get inside Double H’s church for the last thirty years, and I haven’t made it yet.'”

Which sort of reminds me of Charley Mitchell’s saying. Charley always claimed that if you wanted to give God a good belly laugh, just tell him your plans.

Well, lookin’ back I see I mentioned Enid’s Father O’Brien. That Padre was a fine man, one of the kind that would put his dignity aside and help a man push his A Model Ford out of the ditch if the occasion arose. Which it did frequently and often before they paved the roads. And he liked a drop of the Irish whisky and a good joke as well as the next fellow.

One time Father Pat came into the five and dime for some envelopes and old Mrs. Ippolito buttonholes him. And she’s some upset!

“Oh Father O’Brien,” she says, “I was just down to the Church and I went into the confessional and there was a strange face at the grill. `You aren’t our regular priest, I said, what are you doing here?'”

“`I’m not a priest at all,’ the man said. `I’m the furniture polisher.'”

“`Well, where’s Father O’Brien?’ I asked.”

“I’m sure I can’t tell you, lady, but if he’s been listening to the kind of stories I have all morning I’m sure he’s gone for the police.”

Speaking of Father O’Brien, one time they called the Padre to come to Breckinridge to administer the last rites to old man Jones. Eldridge Jones. After he had done everything he could for the man, he steps aside to make room for the family. The old man’s only granddaughter stood at the old man’s feet, the rest of his children and the grandsons gathered around the bed, and the waiting began.

After a while one of the children said “I don’t see him breathing. I think he’s passed on.”

“No,” says the granddaughter, “Papa’s feet are still warm. Nobody dies with warm feet, so he’s still alive.”

Just then the old man’s eyes blinked open and he looked around at the family gathered around him. He raised his head up and chuckled a little.

“Joan of Arc did,” the old man whispered. And then he died.

That Eldridge Jones had a grandson, Jerry, who was a general contractor in Stillwater. Every summer he would join a caravan called the Christian Carpenters to go fix up or build new churches in the more remote areas of the Dakotas, Montana, and places like that. I heard that one time Jerry and his crew pulls up to a place and the preacher was right there to meet them. After the introductions were over the preacher picks up four bricks.

“Brother Jones,” sez the preacher, “We want a church built on this lot. We want the southeast corner right here.” And the preacher drops a brick to mark the spot. Then the preacher steps off about fifty feet and drops another brick.

“We want the southwest corner right here.” Then the preacher takes of at a right angle and after stepping off 75 feet he drops another brick.

“We want the northwest corner right here.” The preacher takes off, stepping off fifty feet and dropping a brick.

“And we want the northeast corner right here. Is that clear?” sez the preacher.

And Jerry picks up a brick and throws it just as high in the air as he can.

“Preacher,” he says, “Is that how high you want your steeple built?”

Yep, people are just plumb stranger. Some actually do want an egg in their beer.

Stranger

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A Study In Media Malpractice And Facticide

For those interested in media lies, this is just an example of how the complicit media fabricates stories and ruins lives.

PJ Media’s Scott Ott reveals how a non-story gets headlines and bylines around the world. Briefly quoting the PJ Tatler report linked above:

ABC-57 reporter Alyssa Marino’s editor sends her on a half-hour drive southwest of their South Bend studio, to the small town of Walkerton (Pop. ~2,300). According to Alyssa’s own account on Twitter, she “just walked into their shop [Memories Pizza] and asked how they feel” about Indiana’s new Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Owner Crystal O’Connor says she’s in favor of it, noting that while anyone can eat in her family restaurant, if the business were asked to cater a gay wedding, they would not do it. It conflicts with their biblical beliefs. Alyssa’s tweet mentions that the O’Connors have “never been asked to cater a same-sex wedding.”

What we have here is — as we called in journalism school jargon — “no story.” Nothing happened. Nothing was about to happen.

And nothing should have happened. Editors like Ed Gaylord, Roy Reporters, and Bill White would have sent the “reporter” home clutching a final paycheck.

Reporters who want to become journalists report the who, what, when, where, and why of a story. They do not turn a “anyone can eat here, or order carryout,” into a major world wide accusation of bigotry; call down death threats on the young owners, and generally raise hell with the peach and tranquility of a community. But a WBND reporter did exactly that.

So now a small town pizza shop is closed, and will probably never reopen. A small town that overwhelmingly supports the shop owners position that it will serve all the public, but it will not go out of their way to accommodate those acting contrary to their religion. Thanks, WBND, I am sure you made a lot of new viewers in South Bend, Judsonia, Goshen, Valparaiso, and of course, Walkerton.

As a business model, that is a good recipe for Chapter 7. And no, I do not feel in the least sorry for WBND or for the “news director” who let this story get out. They owe a young couple in Walkerton more than they will ever be able to pay.

I feel sorry for the young couple sideswiped by the media, who will have to try to find a job when all they know is making pizza. I feel sorry for the cake maker who will have to sell 35,000 wedding cakes to pay off a couple who got all but hurt because they refuse to make them a cake. When agnostic cake makers are a dime a dozen.

And yes, I feel sorry for the preachers who are inevitably beng forced to choose between the ministry and performing what they consider an abomination.

We shall endure what we must but it will be an awfully poor world if it is run by our facticdal and recklessly irresponsible media.

Stranger

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Candidates and Editors, The descendents of Ananias

Well, lets see here. Somebody on the Telly is reading the same old depressing news. Turning on the TV these days is sort of the way Minnie Hoffbraur described getting ready to attend a Tom Dewey rally. Dewey was the guy who beat Truman in 1948, you know.

But anyhoo, Minnie came flouncing in and announced “I’m absolutely not prejudiced at all. I’m going to Saint Paul with a perfectly open and unbiased mind to listen to what I’m convinced is pure rubbish.”

Yessir, the guys who write the TV news claim to value the truth, timely told, very highly. But if that’s true, what we see and hear should be both new and truthful. But it’s not. News. Or the truth.

They are sort of like politicians. I remember when Joe Kiker went up to Washington one year to play tourist. Joe had been a House Page one summer and knew his way around – and he was showing his kids how things were done.

“Daddy,” asked his oldest daughter, pointing to a man standing on the dias of the House of Representatives. “Who is that man?”

“That is the chaplain of the House,” sez Joe.

“Does he pray for the members?” asked his son.

“No son, when he goes in the House and looks around and sees the Representatives sitting there, he prays for the country.”

Speaking of politicians, you know the guy who invented the Internet is running for prez again. That’s right, Saint Al Gore is making campaign noises. He was at a farming town in New Hampshire and he was working the crowd something fierce.

“Back home in Tennessee I was a practical farmer,” he bragged. “I plowed, harvested, milked the cows, and I did every thing around the farm. In fact, I’d like for someone to tell me one thing about a farm that I have not done.”

There was a dead silence for a moment, and then a voice from the back of the crowd sez “Have you ever laid uh egg?”

Shucks, I thought he laid an egg when he claimed to have invented the internet, but the media still loves him. But that Gore feller is like the old ward heeler I used to know, back in the Prendergast days.

Denny O’Conner was the name, and he was out voting the graveyards and canvassing the neighborhood. He was talking to Wally Dabbs one day, tryin’ to get his vote, and he invoked party loyalty.

“I ain’t no party man, Dennis,” sez Wally. “I allus vote for the best man.”

“And sure, how can ye be tellin’ who’s the best man till the votes be counted?” sez Denny.

You know, Gore can be windy when he wants to be. He was making a speech up in Chicago and he sez he’s speaking for posterity.

He had no more than said it when somebody in the crowd hollers “Yes and if you don’t be quick about it they will be here to hear you.”

Which reminds me of the time I was setting at a lunch counter up in Jackson, eating a piece of pie and listening to the late Clarion Ledger editor Purser Hewitt expound on something or another. One of his reporters came in and Purser wanted to know what Big Jim, Senator Eastland, had said.

“Nuttin'” sez the hapless reporter.

“Well, keep it down to a column,” sez Hewitt, going back to his conversation.

Speakin’ of editors, one time I was in the Jackpot, minding my own business, when the editor of the Kiowa weekly came in and set down by me. He had just started his blue plate when a candidate for legislature came in and tapped him on the shoulder.

“See here, you been printin’ lies about me and I can prove it. Now whadda ya goin’ to do about it?” sez the candidate.

“You have no reason to complain,” sez the editor, just as cool as a cucumber. “You would be in a mess if I printed the truth about you.”

Yessir, politicians sure are a lot like preachers.

Stranger

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From Song To Dance

Well, you never know what you will hear on what passes for commercial radio these days. I never thought I would turn on my radio and hear that Tex Ritter singing that Lorena song on the radio.

“The years creep slowly by, Lorena;”
“The snow is on the grass again,”
“The sun’s low down the sky, Lorena,”
“The frost gleams where the flowers have been.”

Lane Cooter Junior used to sing that in between the Zebra Dun and the real cowboy version of “The Strawberry Roan.” You don’t know those tunes.

Strawberry was not the bowdlerized version that Marty Robbins put out. Nosir, Lane Junior sang Curley Wheeler’s original version and belted out the tune on his squeeze box in his tack room concerts. I can’t quote the whole thing, fifty or sixty verses would take up too much room, and tit would disturb the hosting company!

But one of the cleanest verses goes like this –

I takes my riata and builds me a loop;
Strawberry is ready, he lets out a poop.
I walks right up to him, he offers no sass,
But reaches right down, takes a hunk off’a my a__!!.

Now I kid you not. Lane Cooter Junior could sing as well as anybody I ever heard. Had one of those voices that was real smooth when he was croonin’ “Leonora” or “The Curtains of Night,” but when he sang that Strawberry Roan tune he could put a rasp in is voice that sounded just like an old broken down ranny tellin’ it like it used to be, fer sure.

Like a lot of folks that can sure enough sing and play, he didn’t want to pay his dues and make himself a rep as a singer. He’d rather ranch days, sing hymns in church Sundays, entertain the women folks on occasions, and lend a tune to the tack room concert when Lizzie or the twins had a play party.

Of course, women were strictly excluded from the tack room concerts! Not that by today’s standards the music was bad – but “There’s Blood on the Saddle, Blood on the Ground” wasn’t considered fit for the ladies ears. And something like Curley Fletcher’s “Open Ledger” song:

“But each range breeds its own brand of bastard
And boozefighter, bugger, and bum;
Every half ass vaquero who wears a sombrero
Is marked by the range he is from.
Some come from the Canadian Rockies,
Some drift in from the Southwestern plains.
It surely beats hell, but it’s easy to tell
Where each learned to tighten his reins.”

– was considered unfit for any but the most hardened ears. Even if Curly wrote nothing but Gospel.

But I sure wish I had a tape of Junior singing that “Wild Wild Cowboy” song. There was nothing poisonous in either version, nothing that would give you any bad ideas or make you want to do anything the Good Lord didn’t intend for you to do, and times have gotten liberal enough that you could put out a CD with the “clean” version and sell it on TV. You still couldn’t play it on TV, except on the pay-to-view, though. Even though the “family hours” are loaded with stuff that makes cyanide seem harmless. Oh well.

But anyhoo, Tex singing “Bury Me Not on the Lone Praireee,” that kind of music brings back memories. Leonora was a favorite amongst the Cooter women, and it ‘minds me of the time a traveling book and bible salesman sold Mrs Leonora Cooter, Mrs. Lane Cooter Senior, Lane Junior’s mama, an expensive “Encyclopedia of Home Remedies.” She was afraid to tell Lane Senior how much it cost so she left it layin’ around hoping Senior would find something he could use in it.

So one day she sees the old man drop a piece of paper in the book. Filled with hope, she waits until Senior left and then searches out the paper. Just as she thought, he’d written a note and left it in the book. The note said “There ain’t no recipe for curin’ suckers in this damn thing.”

Not much got by Senior, and he knew how much it cost!

Yessir, old Lane was a cutter. He’d put plenty of wrinkles in his horns during nearly a century of life, for sure. And he sure enough had a rep for bein’ a sharp businessman and a first class cowman. Which usually means the same thing because an ordinarily talented business man would go broke in the cow business in about ten minutes.

I ‘member when a city feller name of Shay came calling unexpected, looking for the old man’s advice. He caught up with him out in the tack room.

“Mr. Lane, I sold so many beef futures that I can’t sleep at night. If the price of beef goes up more’n two cents a pound I’m a ruined man. You been in the cattle business a long time and I was wondering what you would advise me to do?” sez Shay.

“Wal, Mr. Shay, if I wuz you I ‘spec I’d sell them futures down to the sleepin’ point,” sez Old Lane. Good business advice at any time, particular if you can sell at a profit. Even a small profit. Yessir, you could pick up a fairly decent education, out in the tack room.

And hear more than a few funny stories. Like the one Rafter A Roberts, his book name was Robert Robbins Roberts, which was confusing, told about him and a buddy getting drunk and rowdy and getting thrown off a train, out in Colorado.

They knew they didn’t have a chance of flagging another train, and he’d always heard that if you are lost follow running water because a stream runs into a creek, creeks flow into rivers, and people build towns on rivers. Sooner or later you will come to a settlement. Usually later!

So for three cold, hungry, and utterly footsore days Roberts and his buddy hoofed it; following a rill to a stream to a creek to where it flowed into the Arkansas river. And his buddy never said a word, just slogged along a few feet behind Roberts all the way. But just as they got to the river his buddy calls his name.

“Roberts,” sez Silent Sam.

“Yeah, that’s what they calls me,” sez Rafter A.

“Roberts,” sez his bunkie, “I wish’t I could hear it thunder.”

“Thunder,” sez Roberts, thunderstruck. “Whatten’ell do you want to hear thunder for?”

“Wal, I allus heard thunder is the voice of God;” sez Silent Sam, pointing up at cliffs “twenty feet apart and a mile high,” and if I could hear it thunder I’d know I’m still on God’s earth. Down here in this canyon with nothing but rocks and these scrubby pine trees I’m damn fino where I’m at.”

Now I can sympathize with that. I been so turned around I didn’t know whether I was on God’s green earth or Satan’s Chaos. And in the parts of Texas I was turned around in nobody else could tell either.

But that Roberts feller was an old batch who was lady shy, plumb. And Rafter A didn’t want to live in single blessedness in the worst way.

One time I heard him tell Jack Cooter, who was about the most henpecked husband that ever walked the earth that a bachelor had nobody to share his troubles with.

“Why in hell would a bachelor have troubles in the first place?” wondered Jack.

They said Roberts took a pretty little Cherokee gal to a dance on on the way there he said just three words. “Do you like rabbit?” To which his Cherokee maiden answered “Yes.”

When they got to the dance, Roberts was so shy him and his maiden spent the evening on wallflower row. And on the way home he spoke exactly five words. To wit, “And ain’t rabbit gravy nice?” That gal said she wasn’t much on talking herself but that was way too little gab to suit her.

Finally Roberts got so hard up he called up an old maid schoolteacher name of Minerva Simpson and got right to the point.

“Miss Simpson, will you marry me?” he sez.

And he got a quick answer, too.

“Yes,” sez Miss Minnie. “Who is speaking?”

Which was how Rafter A Roberts took the fatal step – and became almost as henpecked as Jack Cooter. But that’s a story for another time because I see it’s time to tend to some knittin’.

Stranger

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