Of Cats And Critters; Farmers and Friends

Well, I have finally backed out of the cable cabinet, so I am done p.laying cable monkey for a while. 240 cables, all the same color, without a tag on any of them.

Obviously, the fellow who ran those cables initially had never had to go trace down a cable to find out why something did not work.

Anyhow, I see Kali is getting some rain. Of course, Kali usually gets some rain, but they have been a bit dry lately.

As I remember, our last dry summer was in ’67. It was so dry down around Buzzard Roost that the Baptists were sprinkling and the Methodists were using a damp cloth. That’s pretty dry, for this part of the world.

Of course, where I came from they really have dry summers. The whole earth dries up and cracks. ‘Ol Hardman was telling one time that he was out trying to stack some tumbleweeds for his cow. He put down a stake and chain to hold the stacker, and the chain fell into one of the cracks in the ground.

Hardman said he could hear the chain rattling around down there, even though it was out of sight, so he got under the seat of his truck and got his flashlight. He shined it down the hole, just in time to see a yellow hand pull his chain out of the other end of the hole hole.

Obviously, that crack was sort of anti-gogglin, since straight down from Kiowa County is out west of Australia a few thousand miles.

Anyhow, that was the summer the Tulsa and Oklahoma City fireplugs were chasing dogs. Jack Ried had a good well, though. That well never did go dry, even though the windmill that pumped the water didn’t have enough breeze to turn. He had to hire folks to pump the handle in relays to get enough water to water his stock.

That was the year the Oklahoman reported that there were places in the Panhandle where it took 25 acres of land to support one cow and one calf. They had to graze at 20 miles an hour just to keep from starving to death.

That winter was so dry and the dust storms were so bad Jack finally drove his tractor up on a dust cloud and put a belt on the power takeoff to drive the pump. Pumped enough water to water his stock, and supply his neighbors, but the dust finally settled and left his tractor hanging by the PTO belt from the windmill tower. Took about a month for another dust cloud to come up so Jack could unhook and drive his tractor down.

Jack was so tickled to get his tractor back and a little breeze blowing to turn the mill that him and his hired man rented themselves two dust clouds. Plowed them in Oklahoma, seeded them in Kansas, cultivated them in Colorado and Texas, and harvested them in Missouri! Planted them in corn. Got 35 bushels to the acre! If they had any rain they would have gotten a hundred bushel to the acre, for sure.

Yep – that was the year Ettie Ten-Eyck swore the hogs got so poor you had to grease the skillet to fry bacon. She claimed it was so dry the cows gave powdered milk. Ettie said her son milked their cows with a vacuum cleaner!

Way back when, I used to read Oklahoma Farm and Ranch. It had a “Liars Corner” column every month, where any liar could make five bucks with a good whopper. One time this farmer turned politician sent in a real good story for that column. They printed the story, but they didn’t send him the five bucks. They said the “Liars Corner” was for amateur liars only. Pros and politicians were lucky to see print for nothing.

That’s where I heard about the fellow who was such a liar he had to get his neighbor to call his hogs. And the winter that was so cold that folks went to church just to hear about Hell.

Speaking of Hell, I heard that the funeral homes in Washington, D.C., have started charging triple to bury politicians and government appointees. They raised the price because it takes so much time to screw them in the ground. That sounds reasonable to me – considering what the politicians and political appointees have spent their lives doing to us.

But, to get this back on track, I remember when the chatter at the Jackpot was about rain gauges. They would take those glass tubes that tooth brushes used to come in and pour a little rosin in them. Then they would heat the tube in hot water until the rosin melted to make a level at the bottom of the tube. then they melted a little more rosin to stick the tube to the 1 inch end of a ruler – and nailed the ruler to the top of a convenient fence post – voila! They had a calibrated rain gauge.

One guy, don’t remember who, said he was sick and tired of announcing how much rain he got. Every time he’d say how much rain he got somebody would raise him a couple of hundredths. ‘Ol Hardman told him he ought to do what he did – stick a funnel in the top of his gauge so he could brag about having as much rain as anybody else.

It was dry, for sure. Jack Cooter, the county agent, said one rancher up above Sentinel raked hay all week and only dumped the rake on Tuesday and Thursday. Jack said this fellow’s hay crop was so bad he had to buy a bale of hay to prime the rake.

This same fellow took his team of horses and a wagon to a dry creekbed to get himself a load of sand. Bright moonlight night, he started about two in the morning. Got to the place about four, and had just finished loading the wagon when dawn broke.

Of course, he starts for home, figuring he could get the wagon unloaded before it got too hot, you know. He noticed the horses are making light work of pulling the load, going faster and faster. He looks around at his load and discovers the last of the load of sand fleas he’s shoveled up by moonlight are abandoning the wagon. He had to turn around and go back and get himself a load of sure enough sunlit sand.

That fellows name was Johnson, and he was some kin to Beatrice at the Stockyard Cafe’s late husband. He was the unluckiest fellow around. He drilled himself a real nice new deep well one time but he was really disappointed with it.

It tested out with a 41 percent moisture content. Had a lot of sand in it. He claimed he did it on purpose, though. Said he didn’t have to brush his teeth as often, that way.

One time this Johnson fellow came in the Stockyards Cafe by himself. Beatrice asked him if his wife had come to town with him, or was she sick?

“Naw,” he drawls, “She ain’t sick, none. We lost the lid to our stove, and she’s to home settin’ on it to keep the smoke out of the house.” That lie got a warm reception, for sure.

But there was almost always somebody playing “can you top this.” Like the time the wind blew between 50 and 70 miles an hour for a week. Nettie, she was still Nettie Rollo then, swore that it blew so hard it blew the sunshine off her tomatoes.

Or the time some salesman was talking to Lane Cooter, Junior. He tells Lane, Junior that he hears Western Oklahoma got over 24 inches of rain last year. “Yep,” says Lane, Junior. “And I was at home that night, too!”

I wasn’t at home, but I remember that night. We had at least eight inches of standing water. Standing on the clothes line.

You know, I was a judge in a corn picking contest once. Not that it was much work. All I had to do was make sure the wagons were empty when they went in the field, and nobody threw a few clods in the wagon or some such. After the loaded wagons were weighed and the empty wagons reweighed, the heaviest load won.

Now, professional corn pickin’ is done a little different. The picker carries a peg with him. He jams the peg between the ear and the stalk, reaches his hand around the top of the cob and the stalk, and squeezes. The ear will pop off clean every time.

While we were standing around tallying weights the stories started. One fellow said he was picking as hard as he could, when he dropped an ear. He didn’t want to lose any weight for lack of that ear, so he picked two ears while he leaned down and picked up the corn and threw it in the wagon. Only trouble was he threw his peg in the wagon, too. He jumped in the wagon and got his peg, only to be hit in the head by those two ears of corn he picked.

‘Nother feller said that was nothing. He dropped an ear of corn, too. And he didn’t want to lose that ear and maybe the contest, so he reached back for the ear he’d dropped. In the confusion, he got aholt of his foot and threw himself in the wagon.

The contest winner, though, both in the corn pickin’ contest and the liars contest that went with it, was an old feller that wore his peg on a string around his neck. He said he was picking corn so fast that he had to throw it in the wagon with both hands. Otherwise, it would have piled up in front of him.

After the judging was over we all retired to the Jackpot for more palaver. Somehow the subject got around to threshing stories. Now, maybe you have seen those old steam powered traction engines. Those behemoths powered the original threshing machines.

Those things were about the size of a railroad engine, and about as much fun to move. There used to be a custom of sneaking out at night and filling the boiler with soap, so the first time they blew the whistle for more shocks they would fill the air with soap bubbles.

The threshing crews would break in a new hand right, though. They would send him down to the chaff exhaust to grab a handful of chaff, so they could see that the threshing was clean and no grain was going out the chaff chute. When the greenhorn got ready to grab, the boys would pour about a bushel of rotten eggs into the thresher. That smell would knock out a nose for days!

You know something? Farmers know more jokes and stories than I do. They have to. Farming is too hard and dangerous not to have a good laugh several times a day. Have you heard the latest joke going around about farmers?

“This farmer was arrested for child abuse. He tried to give his farm to his children.”

Do you know what a farmers money clip is? An aluminum pull tab bent around a penny!

How about the two hired men who were lifting a few and talking about their bosses. One had just got through bragging about his boss and the other one said, “That’s nothing. My boss is doing so well I think he’s writing a book.”

“Oh, how do you know?” asked the first hand.
“Well, I heard him talking on the telephone and he said he’s thinking about Chapter 7.”

How about that bumper sticker I saw on a Kansas farmers truck? “If Dolly Parton were a farmer, she’d be flat busted too.”

Or the bumper sticker on a haywire and rust pickup down in Gulfport. “It’s hard to believe I’m feeding the world!”

The Department of Agriculture makes it even harder on farmers. Bill Foster had one of those government men come around not long ago. Bill didn’t much want that fellow on his place, but the gummitup man showed him a card and told Bill that card let him go anywhere, any time he wanted to go.

The fellow started for Bill’s equipment shed. Bill told him not to go in there, he had some equipment up on blocks and it wasn’t safe, but the government man just waved his card at Bill.

The next thing Bill knows the government man is heading toward the barn. “Stay out of there, I don’t want you disturbing my cows,” says Bill.

“Well, they will just have to be disturbed, because I have this card that lets me go anywhere,” says the government man as he opens the barn door.

About one second flat the man comes flying out of the barn just ahead of Bill’s prize bull. The man and the bull make about six laps of the yard, while Bill sets on the fence grinning like a possum eating bumble bees.

“For Gawd’s sake, aren’t you going to do anything?” the man yells.

“Show him your card, show him your card,” Bill yells back.

Well, that’s about all the funny stuff I can think of right now, but if I knew any I sure would tell some stories appropriate to the weather. Like the one about the “hard water fishing.” Ice fishing.

This fellow decides he’s going to take a day off and go ice fishing. Ice fishing is where you load the outhouse on your truck, take it out to the middle of Lake Minnehaha and set the doniker up in solitary glory. Then you knock a hole in the ice and fish through the hole. But this dude, he’s from Texas or somewhere.

So he loads up his sixteen foot John boat, puts the chains on his pickup, and heads for the lake. When he gets to the lake, he measures his boat real careful. Then he gets his ax out and he chops and he chops all day long, and he still can’t get his boat in the water. Because the water freezes as quick as he chops somewhere else, you see.

But all I can remember is hot stuff, like the time out in Learned, Kansas, when Independence Day came and went and it hadn’t rained a drop all year. So the red line in the thermometer said 126 and it felt it, too. Everybody spent most of their time running to the well to drink and soak their clothes, and as soon as the water dried they would make another trip to the well.

One old cowboy had unloaded the last of his stock and was sitting on the corral fence waiting for the sale to get over, when a little black cloud showed up on the horizon. That cloud kept getting bigger and blacker, and pretty soon you could see rain falling out of it.

Folks started running for cover. All except this old boy out there on the corral fence. He just sat there, eyeing the cloud, rolling and smoking one cigo after another.

Jakey Burg went by at a fast trot hollered “Hey Bud, you’re aabout to git wet!”

The Cowboy just looked at Jakey and said “I ain’t seen no rain since last year. And if it rain today I’m a settin’ right here on this fence until she’s over.”

He did, too. And when it was over he came in the cook house for a dry sack of Bull Durham and a cuppa joe. Smiling all the way.

There were a lot of sqvare heads, Swedes living around Kansas. They had a little street fair and celebration one day. Had a nice polka band and all, when Shorty Davis saw a BIIIIG girl he liked the cut of’s jib.

Now, in that part of the world, they mostly called things by opposites and Shorty was six six if he was an inch. He would have been a tall scofer but he wore size 18 boots. With that much turned under he missed being really tall.

Anyhow, he turns to Soapy Smith and me and sez “You see t
hat girl over there?”

“Lot’a girls over there,” Soapy said.

“The big girl, the one with the red blonde hair.”

“Wut about her?” Soapy asked.

“I’m gunna ask her to dance,” sez Shorty.

“Well, ask her then.”

“I’m going to ask her,” sez Shorty.

“I dare you,” said Soapy.

“I will, in a minute.”

“Shorty, I dare you to ask her,” Soapy broke out. “You ain’t got a hair on your butt if you don’t ask her.
After three or for more go arounds Shorty got nerve enough up to cross the street and walk up to the girl. And being Shorty he addressed the situation directly.

“Pardon me, Miss,” Shorty said. “May I have this dance?”

“Hunhh?” was the startled rejoinder from the girl.

“Would you grant me the favor of a waltz?” Shorty asked again.

“Vell,” the girl said, “I’ll tell you. Vhen I dance so, I sveat so; when I sveat so, I stink so; so I don’t t’ink so.”

Speaking of girls, I remember when I went to school over in east Texas. We had a teacher name of Miss Nanny. Pretty thing, she sure was a peach. The only thing was that she had a temper and just flat hated being called “Miss Goat.” That got her goat.

That would get you parked in the corner with your nose in the crack. But one day we found something else that riled Miss Nanny, real good.

This was just after WWII, Hitlers War, and the hem lengths had just gone above the knee for the first time. Most knees you saw were very much in the open, because nylons were still as scarce as hen’s teeth.

Miss Nanny’s boy friend took her to Waco, and she bought one of those new short skirts. A couple of the girls had seen her down at Woolsworth’s and the Rexall, and talked up seeing Miss Nanny dressed in style.

About a week later Miss Nanny wore her new skirt to school, and several of the boys were cocked and ready to pull her string.

First assignment Miss Nanny stepped up to the blackboard and stretched to write, when one of the boys at the front gave a gasp.

“Lewis,” asked Teacher, “What’s wrong with you?”

“OOOOOH, Miss Nanny, I saw your GAAAAARTER,” said Lewis.

Miss Nanny turned bright pink. “Lewis, you take your books and go home for two days. Two days, do you hear?”

Then she turned back to the blackboard and started writing again. And then another boy sounded off.

“James, what’s the matter with you?” Miss Nanny snapped.

“OOOOOH, Miss Nanny, I saw both of your GAAARTERS!”

Teacher turned flaming red. “James, you get your books and go home and don’t come back for two weeks.”

She turned back to the blackboard and dropped her chalk. So she bent over to pick it up, with her back to the class. And suddenly another boy jumped up and started dragging his books out of his desk.

“Lloyd, what’s wrong with you?”

Lloyd didn’t say a word. He just snatched up his stuff and headed for the door. Miss Nanny had to run to catch up with him and grab him by the ear.

“Boy, you tell me this minute what’s wrong with you. Now!”

Lloyd squirmed for a few seconds but Teachers grasp on his
ear was relentless. “Teacher, what I seed I can tell my schooldays are OVER!”

Now, I had best change the names and location, because Windy Ward’s children are still around. And from the listing on the internet pretty substantial folks, too.

Windy had a hardscrabble farm until they built a big dam downstream. When the water finished backing up, Windy’s farm was waterfront property. So he moved his wife to town, leased most of the farm to a resort outfit, and lives off the rent. But then he gets lonesome.

So he built a bunkhouse size building on a part nobody wanted to rent. And that shack didn’t have the first window in it. He claimed him and his buddies fished out of it, and didn’t want any windows so they could go to bed without the settin’ sun bothering them. Actually they played poker in it all night, and didn’t want daylight keeping them awake during the day.

But anyhow, Windy had a buddy named Fritz. One day Fritz was walking up Main Street and here comes Windy comes out of Fred Tillman’s beer joint.

“Hey Windy, where you going?” Fritz hailed him.”

“Oh, hey, Fritz. I’m going up to the drugstore. Muh wife ain’t looking too good, lately.”

“I think I’ll go with you, Windy,” Fritz says. “I don’t like the looks of the one I got at home, neither.”

Which reminds me of the story that went around about the night Windy’s wife, Jane, woke him up.

“Windy, wake up,” she said, shaking him. “Get your gun, quick. There’s a burglar in the house. He’s settin’ in the kitchen eating the rest of that pie had for supper.”

Windy rolled back over. “At’s OK, leave him be and I’ll bury him in the morning.”

Folks used to talk bad about Mrs. Jane’s cooking. I heard that before Jane married Windy her daddy came home and found her bawling her eyes out.

“What’s the matter, Janie?”

“Oh, Daddy, it’s so awful,” she sobbed. “I baked a loaf of saffron bread and the cat ate it.”

“That’s all right, girl. I’ll get you another cat.”

Posted in Humor | Leave a comment

Getting to be November

Well, here ’tis almost November again. November is another of those months left over from the Roman Kingdom, before the Romans kicked the Tarquins out and Rome became a Republic.

The people kicked them out because King Superbus Tarquinus’s son Sixtus Tarquinus decided he wanted a one night stand with a beautiful girl name of Lucretia who didn’t want to be a prince’s one night stand, if you take my drift.

Things sure have changed in the last couple of thousand years. Back then, kings and other politicians made one wrong move and they got rid of the whole kit and kaboodle of them.

They started by kicking them out of the country, but that wasn’t permanent enough. After Superbus tried to retake the throne a few times the Romans shortened him and his supporters a head and planted them. Put a big rock on top of the hole. And you never heard any complaints from Superbus and the other ex-officeholders after that. Not none.

These days, the violent act that got the Tarquins kicked out of Rome is what you see on the tube every night. And nowadays the media looks the other way when some big shot gets caught doing something like that, and they cheer when a big-wig’s kids do things that would make even Sextus Tarquinus blush.

Shoot, I wouldn’t be surprised to discover that an explicit version of The Rape of Lucretia is going to be the next spectator event, live from the streets of Washington. D.C.\

And the newspapers will publish reviews and ads for it, as they do for the topless bottomless dancers, the “swingers hotline,” the “hot to trot mature ladies,” the “gay and bi boys and girls,” and the other feelthy ads they run next to the big one that says “The Clarion Ledger – what you want, when you want it.”

But the Romans threw the Tarquins out before the politicians discovered they could use tax money to buy their way to power, and the Caesars started fooling around with the months. You reckon there’s some connection?

Now, speaking of the Romans, I mentioned a while back that the tuba is descended from the old Roman war horn – the one they tuned to give the enemy a blast. Subsonic sound will still loosen an unwary or unprepared fellow’s tripes about as well as a dose of laxative – and it works instantly. But the subaudible noise from the Roman warhorns, the tubas, wasn’t the only trick in the Roman’s bag. No sir, the Romans were pretty sharp operators.

‘Cording to the Old Man, the Romans would march from one battle to the next with all their armor in a leather sack, along with a bunch of rocks and sand. The Roman footslogger had to march along carrying his rations, and TWIRLING that bag

Now, if you have ever had anything to do with sand, you know sand will polish metal like nobody’s business. And the way the boys from Italy did it, their armor was sure to shine like a mirror when they were ready to fight. And the Romans liked to attack in the morning, when the sun was about an hour high.

So when the XVIII legion was about to surprise the enemy, they put their shiny armor on while the enemy loaded up on a big breakfast. Then they would scout out a good way to attack from the west of the enemy, where the early morning sun bouncing off all that shiny metalwork would make the Romans look bigger, more numerous, and a whole lot meaner than they actually were.

Of course, the Romans had a sip of water for breakfast, a pebble under the tongue for thirst, and nothing else, so they had nothing to lose – while the Jews, Dacians, Teutons, Gauls, or whoever the Romans were conquering this week had eaten well and drunk deep.

So when the fat and happy enemy advanced to meet this legion of giants, the Roman tuba men would serenade them with a blast that would loosen them up, so to speak. It was hard to concentrate on sticking a Roman when their guts were griping! So somehow, the word got around that the Romans didn’t fight fair!

But anyhoo, November is the Ninth Month, and the run up to the tenth month, December. That’s one of the reasons November is a month of weddings -and has been since the Etruscans ruled Rome. But that’s not all November is!

It is the end of hurricane season. Which is a good thing, especially if you live where the big winds come every 40 years or so and tear down everything that has been built up since the last hurricane left for the north.

Anyhow, I see Hattiesburg is mulling over a curfew. ‘Minds me of the teen ager, about fifteen, called her mama at four AyeEmm. Mama was walking the floor, owl eyed, full of coffee, and she was a tad short with the gal.

“Don’t get upset, Mom. I’m perfectly safe. I’m in jail.”

“Oh,” says Mom, followed by a short silence. “Enjoy yourself, Dear,” sez Mama, and hangs up.

I notice that all the teens the press asked about the curfew were against it – but none of them went to the Council meeting to oppose it. “Silence grants consent,” as the Italians say.

Speaking of teenagers, one of my friends in the teachin’ profession told me that one of his students was late. He came in spang in the middle of class.

“Coach,” the boy says, “I had to make my own breakfast this morning, so that’s why I’m late.”

“I don’t believe it, and we’ll talk about it later,” says the teacher. “Right now I want to know where the Mexican Border is.”

“That’s the problem, Coach,” the boy says. “I sure wish I knew! My maw ran off with him last night and that’s why I had to make my own breakfast.”

Well, Labor day is past, and all the amateur chefs can go get ready for Thanksgiving. You know, Adam was bound to have been the unhappiest husband who ever lived. He couldn’t throw up what a wonderful cook his mother was to Eve.

‘Course, Eve couldn’t throw up what a wonderful man her first husband was to Adam, either. That did help even things out.

And you know why Solomon was the wisest man in the world?
Solomon was the wisest man in the world because he had so many wives giving him advice!

Anyhoo, about half the politicians are running for president this year. Even though the elections are two years away. Me, I sort of agree with the Old Buzzard who was asked about his politics. The OB said, “I only vote for a man who runs for re-election. When a man runs for re-election, it means he hasn’t been able to lay his hands on it the first time.”

I remember when I was drinking a Coke in the Jackpot and one of the reporters came in and braced her editor. “I have a perfect news story! You’re going to love it!”

“What is this wonderful story, a man bit a dog?”

“Oh, no! This is a lot better than that. A bull threw a Congressman.”

Yep, we turn a goodly portion of the bull throwers out every election, but we haven’t treated them like they do losers down in Mexico. I used to play with a Mexican boy name of Miguel Huerta. Mike’s uncle was into politics, below the border. Mike was really sad about the deal his uncle got.

“Mi tio, my uncle, he run for alcalde, mayor, de Cuidad Victoria, and he was elected. He run for Juge de Estado, State Judge, and he made it. He run for Gobornador de Tamaulipas, and he made it. He run for El Presidente de Mejico, and he don’t make it. So he make a run for the border. He don’t make that neither.”

No sir, we turned a goodly portion of the rascals out, but we haven’t shot any losers yet. Durn it, I sometimes think we ought to at least hang them!!

A lot of politicians are as shallow as their Shakespearean
campaign speeches. You have heard them, full of sound and fury and signifying nothing. They all use the same “reform” speech, “I want housing reform… welfare reform… educational reform… I want agricultural subsidy reform… I want…”

And most of the audience would like to give them chloroform! Giving these vote buyers a lariat necktie and a short drop would be poetic justice.

You know why smart Congresspersons have an aide follow them around with three sharp pencils and a legal pad. That’s so they can remember to forget all the promises they made once they are safely elected.

I been hearing folks up and down the line say that neither the President nor her husband have gotten the message. Well, I ‘spect those folks that say if the prez and her consort don’t get the wax out of their ears the voters will hand out another spanking come November ’16 are perfectly correct.

I was talking to a frisky Young Lady of 83 years, up in Minnesota – and she told me why Michelle didn’t run for President herself. It’s the requirements of the job! A President must be 40 and a good leader – and everybody knows men quit following women when they turn forty!

Reading the news mags, the losers still don’t get it. It’s simple – the politicians didn’t agree with the voters. The voters felt the pols have a sort of bridge character – their honor is weak and they are simple. The reasons for all the defeats weren’t hard to figure out. Like the little boy said…

“My uncle’s a politician.”

“What’s your uncle running for?”

“They looked up his record and he’s running for a plane!”

Now, I’m a liberal, at least I was a liberal until the money men became the predominate influence in liberalism. I guess we must have come full circle, because nowadays “conservatives” talk like Jefferson/Roosevelt liberals, while the “liberals” sound like a cross between Marie Antoinette and Karl Marx.

Listen carefully and you will hear the Nuliberal slogan, “Take everything from those that have anything and give the cake to the poor. Put my address on the rest, but don’t tell anyone.”

In a way, politicians remind me of an old story about the two morons in an school for the mentally shortchanged. This particular school had a lake in front of it. One of the goofs couldn’t swim a lick, t’ other could swim like a fish. The one that couldn’t swim tried to swim across the lake. Naturally, he got just over head deep and sunk, plumb out of sight.

The guy who could swim jumped in, found the other fellow, pulled him back to shore, and hauled him up on the dry. Then he singlehandedly carried him into the school and put him in his dorm room.

The psychiatrist running the place questioned the shortwit, who told him why he rescued the non-swimmer: “The guy is nuts trying to swim across that lake, when he can’t swim a stroke. I can swim and I saved him. He’s a brother human being, that’s wh
y.”

The doc says, “You are a hero and obviously you don’t belong in this school for the mentally handicapped. I’d like to talk more about it to you, tomorrow.”

The swimmer was summoned back to the psychiatrist’s office the next day, and questioned about the rescue. He told the same story, almost word for word.

“Well, I have some sad news,” the doc said. “Your heroism was all in vain. Do you know, after your brought him back in out of the water, he hanged himself?”

“Yeah, Doc, I did it. I hung him up so he could dry!”

Yep, our pol’s do as much bad as they do good. They don’t pay attention to the probable results of the laws they pass. When something causes more trouble than it cures, their remedy is more of the same. Even when they do something right they use a sledgehammer to drive tacks. As Will Rogers said, “Congress is the funniest thing in the world. Every time they make a joke, it’s a law.”

Of course, politicians do have a problem. Sometimes people remind me of the fellow that came to a screeching halt behind Mullendore the banker, while Ten Eyck and Shorty Breck were trying to teach Mullendore to play Sheepshead. The Germans call that game Schatskopf, and you don’t learn it overnight.

This pest kibitzer kept telling Mullendore to play this card or that card. “Play the seven instead of the nine.” The advice worked! Next hand it was “Not the King, play the Jack.” Again the advice worked!

The next hand put Mullendore completely at sea. He couldn’t make head nor tail of his hand. So he turns to the pest and says “Should I play the deuce or the ten?”

“I’m glad you asked me that. I been meaning to ask you something, too. What game are you playing?”

Much of the time, the people don’t know what game the politicians are playing. We let too many politicians get by with talking right and voting wrong. And, like they say, power is habit forming. So is spending money.

Congress has left this country as broke as a pickpocket in a Nudist camp.

Not that you could get a pol to admit that! Sometimes Congress reminds me of that old story about the guy whose sight and hearing were failing him.

Doc looks him over and asks if he drinks. “Not much, just a fifth every day or two,” says the patient.

“Well,” the croaker gasps. “That’s why your eyesight and hearing are failing you. You have to give up alcohol in any form whatsoever.”

A month later the sawbones was at a party and here’s his going blind and deaf patient – stewed to the gills! The croaker came down on the lush like a ton of bricks.

“Didn’t I tell you to give up drinking? Don’t you know that you will become totally blind and utterly deaf if you don’t give up drinking. Why in the world would you give up your eyesight and your hearing just to get drunk?”

“Doc, itsh lige thish,” slurs the drunk. “Whad I been drinkin’ is sho mush bedder dan wat I been sheein’ an ‘earin’ a’ I deshided to shtay drunk.”

Yep, a lot of Congresspersons are so drunk on the power of the office they forget to pay sober attention to the good folks who granted them that power.

I heard that a couple of soon-to-be-unemployed Senators came to Washington in ’70. Their wives had become good friends but every time these two met they quarrelled. Finally, these two lame ducks met in Chicago, in O’Hare airport. Naturally, a row started – and their wives intervened!

“Boys,” the wives said, “this has to stop. You are both in the same party, you are in the same boat, you will both be out of office in January, and you will both be looking for a job. Let’s go to the bar, have a drink, and make peace.”

So they went to the bar, and everybody got a drink. The wives turned to their husbands and said “Now, make a toast to each other.”

One of the lame ducks raised his glass and said, “Here’s wishing for you what you’re wishing for me.”

“Oh, oh, oh, now you’re starting all over again,” yelled the other.

I used to know a long tall drink of water, name of Willie. Willie and I used to put on boxing gloves and have at it. Willie became headwaiter in a fancy Tulsa cafe. Willie told me that they had a big banquet one night for a presidential candidate. Boy, was this loser putting on the dog!

“Waiter,” he says to Willie, “Make sure the caviar is imported, because I can’t tell the difference.”

A lot of pol’s were kicked out because they couldn’t tell the difference. They knew where the power and the money was, though.

Willie got to be headwaiter because he tickled his boss. A Congressman from Tulsa came in at the height of a big rush. All Willie’s tables were full, so the pol was seated at another waiters table. After Willie toted three, four orders past him, the Congressman hollered, “Do you know who I am?” at Willie.

“No, Sir, but I’ll ask around and if I find out I’ll come back and tell you,” says Willie, straight face. Tickled his boss, plumb, but it didn’t strike the little pistol with the big bang as being funny, for some reason.

Yep, a lot of folks voted Republican. Looks like some of them thought their dog would leave home if they voted for a Democrat.

You know, a lot of the defeated politicians are in the same boat as Wyatt Cochran was. Wyatt worked in Joe Nichols’ sawmill for 25 years. Joe got tired of seeing Wyatt out behind the stacks taking a smoke, or Wyatt on top of the stacks taking a nap, or Wyatt out in the parking lot working on his car, and Joe was really tired of keeping his legs crossed at the backhouse waiting for Wyatt to come out, so Joe fired him! Wyatt took it pretty calmly, at that.

“Mr. Nichols” he says, “I been here twenty six years next month, and if you are going to fire me at least give me a good letter of recommendation.”
“I guess I do owe you that much, Cochran,” says Nichols. ”
Charlotte, write Wyatt a letter of recommendation. Put it: `To Whom it May Concern: Wyatt Cochran worked for me for 25 years. When he left I was perfectly satisfied.’

You can bet the voters will be perfectly satisfied when the losers leave office. They just aren’t leaving until January! They are draggin’ their feet!! Hadn’t thought of Sawmill Joe in years. Joe was a widower. His first wife was struck by lightning in ’29, and his second wife died just after Pearl Harbor. Everybody had Joe pegged for Salisaw’s perpetual most eligible bachelor.

It surprised everyone when he started dating a girl name of Eunice from Fort Smith. Jack Sharpe said he was sitting in the Rexall in Muldrow and Joe and the Fort Smith gal were in a booth, behind him, where he could hear every word.

“I seem to be very popular with the men, Joe. Tell me, is it my eyes or my figure?”

“No, neither one of those, Eunice.” says Joe.

“Is it my hair, or my complexion?

“Neither of those either, Eunice.”

“Then it’s my personality?”

“No, it’s not your personality either.”

“Well, I give up!” says Eunice.

“That’s the reason!” Joe says.

Like they say, “A dame is as strong as her weakest wink.” Joe dated Eunice for about a month. Before anybody knew Joe and Eunice weren’t a regular thing, Joe put the word out the mill would be closed for a week. “Soft market, lack of demand” he said. “Going to buy some machinery,” he said.

Then Joe and his secretary, Charlotte Curtis, went on a buying trip to Memphis. When they came back she was Charlotte Nichols. “Nothing like a little competition to make a woman decide,” he said. I always figured the thought of having to find a new secretary was even more decisive!

Anyhow, Joe was a sentimental bloke, when it didn’t get in the way of business. When Joe married his second wife he brought her home and told her: “You can change this house anyway you please. Throw everything out, paint it, and take the truck to Tulsa or the Fort and buy all new, if you want to. But my first wife’s hat is on the closet shelf. Whatever you do, please don’t disturb it.”

When he brought Charlotte home he made the same speech. “Do anything to the house you want to do, but my first two wives favorite hats are on the closet shelf. Whatever you do to the house, please don’t disturb them.”

“I won’t touch them, Joe, but I will tell you one thing. The next hat that goes up there will be a John B. Stetson with Joe Nichols written on the band.”

Anyhow, Joe Nichols was one of six brothers. And one sister. It works out that way sometimes. A woman decides she is not going to have a girl, and bingo, last time is a charm.

Joe’s mama was full blood Osage – but six of the kids looked more Scots than anything. ‘Fact, only two of the Nichols kids were anything but tall, rawboned, with sandy red hair and blue eyes. Sister was shorter and rounder. ‘Fact, Sister was built like a brick biffy. Dolly Parton type! Anyhoo…

Talking about this-n-that reminds me that the odd one of Joe Nichols’ brothers was a pretty tough kid. He had dark hair, black eyes, and a real swarthy complexion, so of course they called him “Blondy.” Blondy had the rep of being a real cool character, never got excited in a pinch, always ready to help a fellow in trouble, but maybeso a tad short up top.

Blondie was a genuine Nuliberal Democrat about property rights, too. Blondy figured what was yours might as well be his, and he didn’t bother to ask you if that was agreeable with you before he took it! One time Blondy tracked down Pretty Boy Floyd. He wanted to join the gang, you know.

Pretty Boy knew of Blondy, but he wasn’t quite sure whether Blondy was working for the cops or not. Pretty Boy gave Blondy nothing but a stall while he checked Blondy out. After the inquirys came back clean Pretty Boy began to question Blondy about what he had done.

“Well, you know the First National in McAlester was robbed. I done that job,” says Blondy. “And you know the Garvin County Bank, in Pauls Valley. I got two thousand out of that bank.”

“Well, that sounds all right. I’ll tell you what. There’s a fat bank up at Stilwell, and we’re planning a withdrawal. You got any reason why you wouldn’t hold up a bank that close to home?” asks Pretty Boy.

“Oh, no, we couldn’t rob the Cattlemens Bank,” gasps Blondy. “That’s where I keep my money!”

Blondy was under suspicion, and the law just missed catching him several times. After Pretty Boy went out of circulation he slipped off to Tulsa and caught a boxcar going to San Diego. They say Blondy joined the Army there.

I know he was captured when Corregidor fell. Blondy was tough, the Japs and dysentary were tougher. I did hear a story that Blondy was helping another prisoner and the Japs killed him for his trouble. Bataan death march.

You know, I heard Joe Nichols tell a joke one time. He said his cousin was a good housekeeper and a fine Christian woman, but she was terribly, terribly ugly. Besides being beat with a double ugly stick, she was plump. Had a couple of double chins. What you might call ripples in the ocean. Every time she talked she broadcast over short waves!

Her father had an awful time getting her married off. She was 21 before she married, getting well into spinsterhood, you know. Anyhow, a neighbor heard that the gal had finally gotten married, so he goes by the place to congratulate t’ father of the bride.

“I hear your homely daughter finally got married. Who’d she marry, anyway?”

“Sister married a doctor,” said Mr. Nichols.

“A doctor! Why most women would give everything they have to marry a doctor! How lucky you are that your terribly homely daughter married a doctor!”

“Well, he ain’t exactly a doctor, he’s a bank cashier” said Mr. Nichols, “but, oh, did he ever take away a pain in my neck!”

Speaking of bankers, you hear the one about the shoe shine boy that offered to shine a bank president’s shoes.

“Shine your shoes, mister?” says the boy.

“No!” says the banker.

“Shine ‘em so you can see your face in ‘em, mister.”

“No”

“Coward!” sez the boy.

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Ev en When A Greek Said It, It Was Parkaykarkis!

Well, here ’tis two months from Christmas. Ocotober, which comes from the Latin for eight, you know. It’s named for a feast of purification. A few months laying in stuff for a winter months spent sheltering in huts with open wood fires for cooking and heating, and the Romans needed purification! Before and after. And de-fleaing, de-lousing, and to lose a whole bunch of crud buildup accumulated over the summer.

October has a bunch of linguistic relatives, like “octopus.”

The crud that passes for ‘flu has been getting around some early this year. A lot of folks are in the same shape as the old boy that told his doctor “My head feels like a pipe and my chest feels like lead.”

“You don’t need a doctor,” cracks the croaker. “You need a plumber.”

Considering the serious congestion most folks with “it” have suffered, it would make more sense to call the Roto-Rooter man to clear sinuses and ream bronchi.

All the quacks seem to want to do is tell you that you have it, so go to bed – while you are desperate for action! And results! But, speaking of croakers, did you hear the one about the young doc talking to the old doc.

“I sure made a mistake on that death certificate,” the young doc said.

“What did you do wrong?” inquired his elder.

“I signed my name in the space for the cause of death!”

I understand “doctor error” and catching something fatal in the hospital shuffles more than 300,000 of us off this mortal coil every year, so that’s probably a common mistake. That’s why there are so many consulting physicians, you know.

A consulting physician is the croaker they call in at the last minute to certify the attending croaker has done all that can be done to save the defunct. Share the blame, so to speak. But there’s been plenty misery going around, plumb plenty. But the miseries aren’t all of our troubles. Not by no means, whatsoever.

It’s an election year, too. And boy howdy, do we ever have the same old pols piling up the same old !!, higher and deeper. They remind me of the time Sue Johnson ran down her editor as he was taking on a fresh load of ballast at the Jackpot. Thick sliced baked ham with pineapple and sweet horseradish sauce, yum, yum! Anyhoo..

“I have a perfect story, Mr. Poulson,” Sue says, laughing.

“What is it, Sue? Some man bit a dog?”

“Better than that, Mr. Poulson. A bull threw a politician!”

Yep, these candidates sure know how to throw the bull. I see that cat Gore lives in a five million buck mansion. A twenty six thousand square foot palace with a basketball court and indoor swimming, no less. But he loves to talk about how his home in a little company house and how tough it is to have to live from payday to payday.

Which is the reason he’s in favor of shipping more jobs out of the country. To help the poor. In other countries. But Gore is going to help our poor too. He’s going to raise wages. I don’t know about you but big salaries never did me much good when I couldn’t find a job.
But listening to list of candidates makes me think of old Sean O’Flaherty. Most folks called him O’Flattery, an Ulsterman, and one of “Boss” Pendergast’s most reliable ward heelers. One time old Sean was seated next to the dias, and the Boss’s hand picked candidate went on and on and on until O’Flattery’s head bobbed a few times and his chin hit his chest. Asleep! Out like Lottie’s eye!

Having a supporter going to sleep during his speech upset the candidate, so the chairman picked up the gavel and whopped O’Flattery up the side of the head with it. The O’Flattery blinked, sat up, and then closed one eye.

“Hit me again wance more, misther. Oi can hear the blitherer yit,” sez the O’Flaherty.

Blitherer is a good word for those politicians. And every time I turn the boob toob on I hear those doggone blitherers and their sycophants. Nincompoops would be a better word for the hangers on.

Particularly for the one who used to be from Arkansas. I saw that one giving a speech the other night. It was on the Comedy Channel, which was certainly appropriate.

She reminds me of Birdie Birdeyes feist dog. Birdie’s husband was in Korea and “Baby Dog” was all the company Birdie had. But that dog could bark more for less reason than any dog I ever saw.

The butterflies showed up and that dog had an all day barking fit. It didn’t seem to bother the butterflies and Mrs Birdie lived far enough from her neighbors that there were few complaints.

But one of her aunts came visiting, swapping yarn and yarns if you know what I mean, and told Miss Birdie “She sure is a shrill little bitch.”

Which was a pretty fair description of the case, at that. But the hobo’s description of a flea is fine description of most political hangers on A hobo is a railroad bum who will work to keep from starving, by the way. A bum won’t work, but he will put up a good front. If that don’t work he will steal. Just like most politicians.

Anyhoo, these two ‘bos had finished a job, and got a good meal and a promise of a good breakfast. They even got enough cash money for a bottle of Dr. Tichenor’s 190 proof antiseptic apiece, so they were feeling no pain as they lay by their camp fire, chattering like a couple of jaybirds.

” ‘Ey, Ezra, wot’s the difference between a snake and a flea?” sez one.

“Aw, Joe, ‘at’s simple! Ever’body knows ‘at! A snake crawls on its own belly and a flea ain’t that p’ticular!” The crowd around the candidates ain’t that particular either.

I see the snake oil salesmen are blaming all the chills of the world on “global warming.” That crowd has so much clout right now that most scientists are afraid to question the proposition.

I saw several “educators” nobody ever heard of earning their Screen Actors Guild minimum promoting the idea that Saskatoon is going to take Miami’s place as a winter resort. I don’t think so, because the days are too short and the snow’s too deep in Saskatchewan. We don’t need educators like that, we need teachers!

Speaking of excess snow, I heard that one New York commuter had been whiling away the lonely snowbound hours in a bar. He was ecstatic when a cab driver walked in. The commuter immediately tried to get a ride home.

“Chee, man, the roads are closed, man,” says the cabbie. “My hack’s snowed in, man, I can’t move. I can’t go nowheres, man. And I sure can’t go all the way to Mineola! Why don’t you take the train home?”

“‘S no ushe,” says the well lubricated commuter. “No ushe ‘t aw. My wife would never let me keep it in the housh.”

But speaking of the O’Flattery, I was speaking of O’Flattery, wasn’t I? Any how, O’Flattery was in Parkayakarkis’ Greek Diner one night, eating one of those wiener, mustard, and sauerkraut on a bun concoctions Apollo called a New York Coney.

“Hey, Apollo, there’s a pace of wood in this darg!” O’Flattery bawls.

“A piece of wood? How that can be? That is a Armour hot dog. The best dog you can buy. I buy the best dogs, the best kraut, the best olives, the best bread, the best of everything. Nothing is second rate at Parkayakarkis’ Greek Diner.”

“Well, you nade to call that schpalpeen Armour up on the tellyphone and tell him not to put enny more wood in his hawt dargs. I don’t mind ating his dargs, but I’ll be dommed if I feel like ating the kennel!”

That Parkaykarkis, now, they made a radio show out of stuff from his place. But that’s another story.

Stranger

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The Old Boy And the Trooper And other Amusements

Well, I had some good music on and I got a complaint. A daughter in law said she couldn’t hear the TV. I don’t know why not, I could hear it! Besides, GOOD music is made to be played so loud you can hear it last month.

But I was tired. Mowing the grass. You see, we have this 48 inch Toro and my front yard is just wide enough to park two small cars end to end. But mowing makes me tired.

Been that way since I used to help Al Nelson, Al the Gravedigger in the Trib, mow the Lutheran Cemetery and get it ready for Memorial Day. That was a rite of spring when I was a kid.

I must say, that was the thickest grass I have ever had the dis-pleasure of mowing. Thick, and tough, and full of damfinos. You know what damfinos are. Those scraggly things that grow in the lawn that you can’t put a name to. The ones your neighbor asks about and you say “Damfino, the things just popped up there.”

But for some reason I was reminded of Siloam Springs, up in the Wonder State. Oklahoma was a dry state so it was natural that there were all sorts of watering holes between the Springs and the state line. Back when I used around there the local Constable was Ulysses Henderson. Which, everybody called him Useless behind his back.

Because Useless was just about that, except he was tough on drunks. Being an insomniac he’d get out about midnight, just in time to ketch the one ayem closing time blowoff from the bars.

He’d lurk in the shadows and watch who came stumbling out of the bar and as soon as they hit the road he was on ‘em like white on rice. Some of the boys got fed up with getting caught every week or two so they did something about it.

Useless’ first whiff of what was going on was the night Kenny Wayne Heflin came stumbling out of the Stateline and sat down hard on the ground. He manages to crawl to a pickup and hand over hand himself up the bars in the grille to get back on his pins. Then he fumbles around in his pocket for ten minutes, digging for keys.

After he gets the keys out he proceeds to try every car in the lot until he finally finds his own truck. Just about twenty feet from where Useless was lurking. After he gets the door open he sets there with the dome light on, fumbling for the ignition switch! While every other fly in the bar makes his exit and drives away.

Useless see him take ten minutes searching for the keyhole – and put the wrong key in the lock. Finally, Kenny Wayne gets his pickup cranked and heads out of the lot headed for the state road. Useless sprints back to his patrol car and redlights Kenny Wayne just as he turns on the state highway.

Kenny Wayne stops like he’d been expecting to be stopped.
And howdy’s Useless just like it was the most natural thing in the world to get stopped by a county mounty at one thirty in the morning.

Useless shines his light in the Kenny Wayne’s face – and he looks as sober as a judge. Useless smells of Kenny’s breath – which smells like cinnamon gum and onions.

Useless gets Kenny Wayne to close his eyes and touch his nose; stand on one foot; walk a straight line; recite the alphabet forward and backward, recite the Gettysburg address, and the conclusion was as plain as Harry Reid’s nose. The boy was stone cold sober!

“But I seen you fall down when you come out of the bar; and I seen you fumble for a half hour with your keys. Yet you are sober! How can this be?” Useless demands.

“Easy,” sez Kenny Wayne. “I’m the designated decoy tonight.”

Talking about driving while sober, that reminds me of an old boy from Mobile, in Alabama, who bought a brand new Corvette! A red convertible Corvette!!

This Old Boy pulls out of the dealers lot, heads up I 65 and pushes it up to 80 miles an hour. After an hour or so he makes a U turn at Evergreen and heads back to Mobile. Still doing 80 miles an hour or more.

But two hours of the wind air condition his bald spoIt did not quench his desire for adventure so he takes a right at the end of 65 and heads down I 10. He passes the Mississippi line and decides he’s going to put the hammer down and see what she’d do.

He crossed the Pascagoula river doing a flat 100. But just as he passes the rest area at the west end of the bridge a State Trooper pulls in behind him, blue lights flashing.

“Heck” sez the Old Boy to himself, “I can run away and hide from that guy.” So he kicks it up to 140 and Trooper starts getting smaller and smaller in his rear view mirror.

“Oh heck,” sez the Old Boy to himself. “I’m too old to play hide and seek with the law.” So he pulls over and waits on the Trooper.

When the Officer walks up to the drivers side window he says “Mister, it’s Friday and four minutes to the end of my shift. I’m supposed to take you in, but if you give me a reason to drive that fast that I have never heard before I will let you go.”

“Officer,” sez the Old Boy, “Twenty years ago today my wife ran off with a Mississippi State Trooper and I thought you were trying to run me down to give her back.”

“Have a nice day, mister,” sez the grinning Trooper.

Speaking of convertibles, ‘minds me of the Texas State Aggie football player. One of the Alumni gave the boy a brand new Caddy convertible, and an unlimited road service policy. No matter where he was or what the problem was the nearest Caddy dealer was supposed to send somebody to fix the problem.

The Aggie had the ragtop about a week when he called the dealer in a panic. Not just the dealer, the big boss, the owner!

“I gotta have somebody out here to the practice field right now,” sez the panic stricken Aggie. “It’s fixing to rain, I locked my keys in the car, and the top’s down.”

That was about the same time Walter Winchell told about “the famous Hollywood producer” who had a hot date with an aspiring starlet. The next morning one of his writers asked him how the date went.

“Oh, fine, fine,” said the Producer. “The only hitch was when she said she wanted to make love under the stars and it took me thirty minutes to get the top down.”

“But sir,” said the startled Writer, “You don’t have a convertable.”

“I do now,” said the Producer.

Which reminds me of another convertible, about a ’50 model Plymouth. Brand new. Had black leather upholstery, what you could see of it under all the pretty gals in bathing suits that boy had loaded up.

That was just after the Bikini came out – back when “Dear Abby” said girls shouldn’t wear bikinis because there was nothing uglier than an exposed navel – and there were four Bikini’s and one “old maid’s coverall.” That was what the Bikini Babes called a maillot. That boy’s harem was showing more meat than the Safeway and IGA combined.

But anyhow this boy and a half dozen of Dacorah Iowa’s prettiest pulls up outside the Rexall and they all go in for a soda. Leaving the car out in the broiling hot sun.

After a half hour or so the harem followed the driver out of the drug store, laughing and scratching. One of the most athletic of the Babes vaulted into the passengers seat; hit that black leather upholstery; screamed; and vaulted back out! That was the fastest I ever saw a woman get out of a car.

But the funniest was the time Cecil Farrior had a Buick ragtop on his lot for almost a full year. I don’t know what the deal was, I saw people test driving it but it would be back on the lot when I’d go by.

I had to go to walk down Main one time and a semi hauling a cattle trailer passed me. Followed closely by a Ford Falcon and that Buick ragtop! Now, the cattle truck was downright rank; and there was a young couple in the Buick cuddled up like it was about a week to their wedding.

The truck stopped at the Bushman Street light and both the Falcon and the Buick hit the right turn lane. Of course, the Buick was stopped next to the cattle trailer.

I was past Eagle Music when I saw a cow stick its tail out from between the slats – and flood the front seat of the Buick. The boy did what you would expect – he tried to jump over the girl and get away from the deluge. The girl didn’t appreciate getting trampled as well as flooded and screamed bloody murder.

And when I came out that ragtop was still setting where the kids had abandoned it. I always wondered if Cecil ever got the smell out of it. And whether the girl forgave the boy or called it off. Whatever, it didn’t stay at Farriors long after that.

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Ben Colder Playin’ Sheb Wooley

I first heard this tune headed through Arkansas on my way from one job to the next; and so close to Little Rock that was the only station I could pick up.

I don’t know whether Sheb is playing at being his alter ego Ben Colder or not, but it is off the beaten track.

Way off, and in the weeds. Enjoy.

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Fly Fisherman to Colorado Cannibals

There’s Sheb Wooley and the Calumet Indians on the radio. Sheb, sometimes known as Ben Colder, made a hit with Purple People Eater, That’s My Pa, and a bunch of other tunes during the ’50’s and 60’s.

When he first started his radio sponsor was Calumet Baking Powder. Hence the Calumet Indians – and at least two of the band were Indians! I hadn’t thought of Sheb’s original band in years. ‘Fact, the last time I saw that outfit was in Stillwater, the home of the Okie State Cowboys. Yah-hoo!

Which reminds me of various and sundry aggressive actions by State students against visiting OU types. But the worst row I ever saw, though, was opening day on a Pennsylvania trout stream. The were about five fishermen for every six feet of bank and things got a bit crowded. I don’t know who jostled who, but before it was over everybody got jostled! Right into the drink – and came out fighting mad.

I used to go fishing quite a bit, but I don’t go much any more. I like to fish when fish are biting – and I like to read when they aren’t – but I seem to have too much to do to take time off to go fishing. The last time I went fishing regular was back in the sixties. I used to go with my the wife’s brother-in-law, Charles Henderson, and Clarence Gorden every chance I got.

Clarence had a boy in ’42 before he got drafted. Well, his wife had it! Clarence got a furlough in ’43. They had another boy in ’44. He got back from Europe in ’47. They had another boy in ’48. Recalled for Korea in ’49, got a furlough in ’51. Yep, they had another baby in ’52! I always wondered if absence made the heart grow fonder or something.

Yep, the Gordons had four boys, all in band. Just not at the same time! They must have took after their mother, because Clarence couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket. And besides that he was the worst fisherman the Good Lord ever made.

Clarence could get hung up quicker and harder than anybody I ever saw. Once his hook got hung, he tried everything he had heard about or he could think of. But it was never any use. Once Clarence was hung up he was stuck. He might as well cut the line and go on.

Yep, he’d buy a bucket of minnows, a roll of line, and a box of hooks, and come in when they were all gone. Did he catch fish?

Let me tell you, Clarence bought a fishing outfit when he came back from Korea in ’53, and he wore his reel and his motor out but his stringer was still in cellophane!

Somebody asked Clarence why he went fishing so much and never brought home any fish. “That’s easy to answer,” says Clarence. “My boys all play the trumpet.”

Now, Clarence read about “inner tubing” in some magazine and he figures that would be his fishing salvation. He got a big ol’ tractor tube, built himself a little wire rack to carry his minnow bucket and tackle box – and one morning he goes down to Flint Creek. This was when they first opened Flint Creek.

Clarence’s wife told him that he had to be in by six or six thirty at the latest because she had someplace to go and had to have the car. Clarence had real good intentions, because his wife talked so much he got hoarse listening to her. Clarence sure didn’t want to give her something else to talk about.

Clarence always reminded me of Ab Parsons. Ab died, and they threw a big funeral for him. Ab wasn’t well liked so everyone in the county had to look in the box and make sure Ab was dead; so they would have an excuse to celebrate. They said it was the biggest doin’s since the land rush.

Thy put up a big marble stand for him and all. They got to talking about the wonderful funeral Ab had, and somebody asked if Ab had said anything before he died. “Naw, Ab didn’t say a word. His wife was with him to the end.”

And come to think of it, Clarence’s squaw and Ab Parsons’ were a lot alike in more ways than one. They were both a lot bigger than their husbands. They said Ab carried his wife over the threshold and had to make two trips.

That was before she got fat. When I knew her the whole Hattiesburg Fire Department couldn’t have carried that woman over a low curb – much less a threshold.

After they were married Clarence’s wife could have carried him. And probably not have noticed the extra load. But she was a talker. She had a tongue hinged in the middle and it wagged on both ends, it did.

Clarence is the one told me about the time Thomas Edison was asked to say a few words to a Philadelphia civic group. When Edison showed up a guy with a Prince Albert and top hat gave a forty five minute introduction.

This speech must have been by that famous speaker, On Too Long. It began with Edison’s humble birth and concluded with “And here is the man who invented the talking machine.”

“I didn’t invent the talking machine,” Edison said. “I only invented one you can turn off.” Then he sat down. And got a standing ovation!

Clarence couldn’t turn his squaw off, so he usually tried to avoid giving her anything to talk about. He said talking with his wife was like trying to read a map in a hurricane, and he didn’t want any part of it.

The only time I can remember he changed that policy was the time his squaw started complaining that when they were courting Clarence would bring her candy and sweet rolls and candy and cakes and candy. After they were married all Clarence brought her was his paycheck and she bought her own candy!

“Hon, I’m sorry about that,” Clarence says, “But you got to remember that a man would be a durn fool to keep feeding worms to a fish after he’s caught it.”

Well, anyway, Clarence went fishing with orders to show up early. So he does. At exactly five after ten. P.M.!

“Where have you been?” screams his missus. “I promised to take Sister to church at seven, and your supper has been ready since five. Where have you been?”

“In the lake,” says Clarence.

“What were you doing in the lake?” says his better half. At some length!

“Waiting for it to get dark,” sez Clarence.

“Why were you doing a stupid thing like that?” she asks, and takes ten minutes to do it.

“I lost my pants,” say Clarence.

And for once Clarence’ missus was struck speechless! Plumb! He did lose his pants. Just being Clarence, he snagged them old seat covers of his on a snag, plumb solid, and he couldn’t get them loose.

He did manage to clean his pockets out. Good thing, he’d have had to walk home like that barefoot boy with cheeks of tan if he hadn’t rescued his keys. Except the cheeks weren’t quite the ones Edgar Guest was thinking about.

It wasn’t long after that the Gordons became a two car family. But you know, there are a lot of talkable people like Clarence’s wife. The old saying goes that most folks know how to stop talking but not when.

Ones like Clarence’s XYL wouldn’t stop if you paid them. And there’s lots of folks like that. I don’t know but that there are as many talkable men as women. There’s even a few men that want to get their arm around you and yap at you nose to nose.

And most of them have a serious case of dragon killing breath. I never had a woman get close up and personal and then curdle my lunch.

Back when the Constitution was a newspaper instead of a propaganda mill they said an Atlanta marriage counsellor told a woman that “The best way to cure your husband of his constant nagging is to show him affection, understanding, abiding care – and stuff a couple of old socks in his mouth.”

That’s a thought. You know, noise doesn’t prove a doggone thing. Many a hen who lays an egg cackles like she just laid a boulder. And many a cackling hen proves a liar instead of a layer.

At least, Clarence wasn’t like a fellow sold me a new car one time. Call him Mack Muldoon because that wasn’t his name. “Mack” and two buddies had a cabin down at Gautier, at the old Poticaw Bayou camp. These three vendors of dubious transportation went fishing every weekend that rolled.

One night Muldoon’s wife gets to rumbling around in closets and there’s Mack’s fishing tackle. She gets alarmed and calls his buddies’s wives. The other two wives get to looking and they find their husbands fishing tackle, too.

So here they go, after midnight, Saturday morning, l
ighting out for Poticaw with their husband’s fishing equipment. Now, the roads were a lot worse in those days, and they didn’t get there until just after 4:00 AM. The old man had just opened the bait shop when the three women rolled into the yard. All three of the wives jump out and brace him at the same time.

“Is Mack Muldoon here? And his two buddies?” Mrs Muldoon asks.

“Yeah, they’re here all right. But you three broads might a
s well go home. They brought their wives with them this week.”

That little incident caused what you might call a rearrangement of sorts. All three of the women and two of the men are still living in Hattiesburg, but not with each other. Mack found employment up at Parchman Farms and I haven’t seen him since.

I don’t know about the men but the women seem right well satisfied. Those gals had no use at all for that shyster that advertises “Divorces, satisfaction guaranteed – or your honey back.”

Like they say, “A woman’s heart and her tongue are not related.” That’s been near fifty years, and I heard a guy deponing on the subject of happy marriages a while back. “My marriage has always been happy because I can make my Jill do ANY LITTLE THING she wants to do.”

That’s a philosophical way to look at it! At least, Jack wasn’t in the same fix as the old boy who proposed holy hemlock to a gal and she turned him down. Being optimistic, he figures he will give her a chance to change her mind or rag her a little. Tactful, in either case. So he pays a kid to take her a note.

“Darling Elizabeth,” he writes, “I proposed to you last night and I cannot remember whether you accepted or not. Please advise.”

“Dear Joseph,” her reply read. “I am so glad to get your note. I knew I refused someone last night, but for the life of me I could not recall who.”

Now, Socrates was the old Greek whose wife had been nagging and nagging and nagging him and she finally got so wound up she dumped a chamber pot on his noggin. “It never thunders but it rains,” says Soc as he combed the lumps out of his beard.

Socrates told a young friend “By all means marry. If you marry and get a good wife you will become content. If you do not, you will become a philosopher.”

That makes perfect sense. Like the old saw says, “It doesn’t matter who you marry. They will be someone else in the morning.” Yep, you might as well “Marry in haste and repent at leisure.”

After all, “There’s none so happy as one who marries a stranger.”

Now, a lot of folks these days don’t understand that last one. One of the biggest problems in marriage is many kids expect more out of matrimony than Aladdin’s Genie could deliver. They want everything that mama and daddy worked forty years to get, next week. And they don’t get it. That turns wedlock to hemlock, plumb pronto!

Yep, when things don’t pan out at a keg of beer and a case of skittles per day per expectation they feel betrayed and call in the lawyers. If you marry a stranger you should have realistic hopes, but not impossible expectations. That gives you better chance of being happy with your other half.

Of course, these days and times the idea of marrying a stranger is strange to most folks. They have had romance drilled into them, and the historic notion of marrying to join and extend families and for mutual aid and comfort has been thrown out.

Whether that’s good or bad is arguable. What isn’t really debatable is the fact that romance is fine if both parties are hardheaded realists.

“Love makes the world go ’round,” they say. “They” lie like dogs, too. Love does not make the world go ’round. That quaint notion is untenable. It’s the sound of the dinner call and chicken fried steak smothered in egg gravy that really makes the world spin on her axle.

Of course, some idjits make the mistake of marrying for money. That’s a bad call. As Themostocles remarked while arranging marriages for his daughters “Better a man without money than money without a man.” A woman without money is a heap better than money without a woman, too.

Which another old saw says, “There’s more to marriage than four bare legs in a bed.” That is pure gospel, but “Many a man has fallen in love in light so dim he wouldn’t choose the day’s apparel by it.”

The usual result of “Love hath cats eyes” is the same sort of shock one gets from a punch in the nose! A marriage needs more than a couple of sheets – as every empty pockets who ever tried to start a new household can attest!

Those who forget that better keep a third truism in mind. “T’is a great evil to be on with a new love before you are off with the old.” That last mistake provides the undertakers and the grave diggers with work!

“Love is blind” is still popular – if inaccurate. Love is like some political wonks, selectively blind, as Bill Shakespeare noted when he wrote “I have no other but a woman’s reasons; I think him so because I think him so.” That peculiarity of human nature is called “womens reasons,” but “Because is a woman’s reason” is as common among men as women.

Hoolio Caesar commented that “Men freely believe what they wish to believe.” That very human idiocy is responsible for most of the tragedies of this world. And it leads most of us to disappointment if not to outright misfortune. Especially if one’s beliefs concern a prospective wife, a business partner, an investment, or anything else that concerns ones future happiness or money.

Those old saws ought to be taught in school. Along with how much sleep a colicky baby will make you lose, how horrible you will feel the next morning, how hard it is to live with somebody you don’t like, and other important points.

Such as “It ain’t kosher to use your spouse as a punching bag.” Nothing looks worse in this world than a husband with a black eye. Unless it’s a husband with two black eyes or a wife with one.

You know, we lose a lot of wisdom when people don’t hand down the old saws. Of course, a few of the old sayings remind us of things best forgotten. For instance, “A penny saved is a penny earned.” These days a penny earned and saved ain’t worth fooling with!

Say, speaking of money, have you heard that germs get passed from person to person on money? That can’t be true. There’s absolutely nothing that could live on a dollar. Still, no matter how low the value of the dollar falls, it cannot fall as low as some people will stoop to get a few.

Which, speaking of twisters and trailer parks reminds me of a story a Cajun friend who lives over in Grosse Tete, Louisiana, “tole me.” Grosse Tete, that’s just this side of the 17 mile bridge on I-10, between Baton Rouge and Lafayette.

I am interested in odd town names, like Swords, Bowlegs, Boozer Mountain, Clinker, and such. Grosse Tete ranks high on the list. Grosse is French for “big” or “fat,” and I can’t say here what sort of female chest adornments that other word means in Franch. Plural! Makes you wonder why the burg was named that!

Anyhoo, a twister blew through there and tore up my friends trailer. This friend is name of Augustin -and he coaches a high school baseball team. One time his team was playing Slaughter, in Slaughter, and the regular right fielder was indisposed. So Augustin starts a replacement, name of Geautreaux.

The first Slaughter batter pops a high fly ball to right field, and Geautreaux drops it. Man on base. The next batter pops a high fly ball to right, and Geautreaux drops it. Two on, first and third. The third batter pops one to right and Geautreaux drops it. Run scores. So Augustin pulls him and puts Arcenaux in.

Score is one to nairn, two on, and the next batter bloops one straight at Arcenaux. Who drops it. Two to zip, two on! The next batter hits one a mile! Straight up! A little breeze carries it to right field. Arcenaux drops it!

Three to zip, two on! The next batter tears the cover off the ball, a screaming liner to the right fielder. Arcenaux drops it.

Four to none, two on. Augustin changes pitchers, puts in Hebert, his ace. If you ain’t up on Cajun, you call that A-bear. Hebert, he whiffs three, retires the side, score four to nairn after the top of the first.

Arcenaux trots back to the dugout and glares at Geautreaux. “Dammit, Geautreaux, you got dat right fiel’ so screwed up nobody can hold on to dem dam ball out dair, I gawrantee!”

Every time I run across someone named Geautreaux, I think of Charlie Go. Charlie had a TV shop and one day called a parts place in New Orleans. The counterman wanted to know “Who dis?”

“Geautreaux TV in Hattiesburg, Miss’ippi,” says Charlie.

“How you spell dat,” says the counterman.

“G-e-a-u-t-r -” begins Charlie when the counterman cuts him off.

“I can spell Geautreaux, how you spell Hattiesburg,” he says.

Now, that counterman was a “pure bleed Cajun, name of Alfred Packer.” How in heck he got a name like Alfred Packer when he’s from down in Gator Alley where you can stand on the porch and holler Bergeron at the top of your lungs.

And from all over “dat swamp” you will hear “Which one?”

Anyway,if Alfred Packer rings no bells with you – Packer was snowed in the Rockies with a companion. After a few days Packer had a fit of appetite and ate the companion. When the snaw melted Packer walked out of the mountains fat and happy.

Alfred said his right bower had wandered off in the snow and hadn’t been heard of since. And several other things. The folks around Leadville started looking for the remains. Which they soon found. Well gnawed.

Packer was tried and convicted, of course. When the judge passed sentence he supposedly said “Alfred Packer, I condemn you to hang by the neck until you are dead. Cuss you, there wasn’t but one Democrat in Fremont county, and you ate him!”

Packer was a Harvard graduate, and a lawyer. I suppose that explains his cannibalistic tendencies since lawyers tend to consume everything in sight.

And of course, we have a Harvard educated Constitutional lawyer in the White House.

Stranger

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The Four Preachers From Texas Confess

I was headed for the stockyards for one of Beatrice Johnson’s burgers, a cuppa joe, and a piece of pie for 35 cents, when “Hey, you” at foghorn volume pierced the air.

I had noticed the four musketeers’ Hudson was wearing Texas plates, so I headed for Kansas when I skipped town later that evening. I didn’t feel like getting caught in a religious uprising, but I was still chuckling!

Anyhow, Ten Eyck was a Dutchman, came over here because his families tulip plantation wouldn’t support all his brothers. The youngest brothers had to leave town! No living in Holland, so Ten Eyck gets gold fever and goes to South Dakota.

The news of a gold strike was old, and he was lucky to make day wages in Deadwood. But he met a German girl and got married up there. Some folks think Deutch, German, and Dutch are the same lingo, but they aren’t.

They are enough alike to cause some royal confusion when a Kraut and a Dutchman start jabbering at each other, but they aren’t the same. Ten Eyck and Mama had just a little English in common and that’s all it took!

Anyway, Ten Eyck brought that sign with him from Deadwood, South Dakota. It originally said “KITTY’S CAFE,” and it adorned the false front of a combination blind pig, sign painter’s shop, and – well, the girls who “roomed” upstairs knew a lot of the fellows, if you know what I mean!

Ten Eyck brought the sign to Oklahoma when they opened the Cheyenne Arapaho country for homesteading. Then it stayed in his barn until they started the Cafe in ’28. Sign painters were scarcer than hens teeth, so the old sign came out and got “Ten Eycked.”

Money was as scarce as sign painters, so Ten Eyck talked Banker Mullendore into loaning him $500 for operating money. I can’t tell anyone who hasn’t started a business how Ten Eyck and his wife worked to make a go of the place.

For five years, it was to bed after the last pot had been scrubbed and up at 4:00 to get ready for another day. It was man killing work, but that’s the only way you
can succeed. If you have ever started a successful business you know the trouble you haven’t you cannot imagine it!

The Depression hit in ’29, and the Hoovervilles, and the Dust Bowl, and people were eating each other for money. Man, it was a tough life. Most folks were doing good to eat, and eating out was a rare extravagance. The Dutchman couldn’t pay on the principal, but he never missed an interest payment.

It must have been ’34 when Ten Eyck went to the Bank to pay the interest and Mullendore called the note. He had some dude from Wichita Falls who would pay $3,000 for the place and Mullendore sure wasn’t about to turn down a nice profit.
THE Mullendores were and are one of the most important families in Oklahoma. And all THE Mullendores I ever met were mighty nice folks. But this Mullendore wasn’t related to THE Mullendores. He just revelled in the name.

Banker Mullendore always reminded me of the story of the farmer who went to his banker to get his note renewed with a long story and no money. The banker had already called a dozen notes that week, and didn’t really want to pull the rug out from under this young man. So the banker decides to give him a chance.

“Son,” says the Banker. “Let me tell you that I ought to foreclose right now. I ought to have you out of there before sundown. But let me tell you that I am going to give you a fair chance to renew your note for one more year.”
“Now, I just paid ten thousand dollars to have a new glass eye put in. The best men in the world tell me that my eye is perfect in every way. If you can tell me which eye is the glass eye, and you are right, I’ll renew your note.”

“Ok,” says the young farmer. “Any chance is better than no chance.”

“Now, take all the time you want to, look close, and tell me which eye is the glass eye,” says the banker.

“Oh,” says the farmer. “There ain’t no doubt about it. Your left eye is the glass eye.”

Banker starts in cussin’! “I paid ten thousand dollars for that eye. It’s the best in the world. It’s supposed to be perfect. Tell me, what gave it away? How’d you know it was the glass eye?”

“Well, Banker,” says the farmer, “As I was looking at your eyes, I noticed a little glint of sympathy in your left eye. I knew that it had to be glass.”

Mullendore was just like that. He didn’t shed no tears for the folks he foreclosed on, not none. And if he could foreclose and liquidate at a profit, you could consider it done. That shorthorn was so unpopular he put a vault in his house and he kept all his real estate papers in that, because he was afraid Pretty Boy Floyd would rob his bank and give the deeds back to the owners.

Anyhow, there’s Ten Eyck, dispossessed. He was too ashamed to go home and tell Mama what happened. Instead, he goes over to the Odd Fellows hall and cries on Ol’ Hardman’s shoulder. Hardman was a good listener.

Now, if I haven’t mentioned it before, Pvt. Olwyn Hardman was shot through both legs in Kaiser Bill’s war. The croakers did a poor job of patching him up. It put a hitch in his git along – and it kept him in hospital for a year. Doin’ what soldiers have done since time began. The Hittites used to, ne’mine!

Ten Eyck started blowing in Hardman’s ear, and here comes Mullendore, looking like the cat that swallowed the cream. He had already written the Wichita Falls man to bring the cabbage and take possession. Yep, that tinhorn banker felt like the money was as good as in his hand.

Hardman gives Ten Eyck a signal to fade into the woodwork, and proceeds to ring Mullendore into a game of poker with three of the other loafers in the Hall!

Mullendore did pretty well for a few hands, and then lost his winnings betting heavy and drawing to a pair of jacks. That’s a tyro’s play and Mullendore was a shorthorn but not exactly a beginner. He was testing to see who would fold and who would bluff!

A few hands later one of the loafers had most of the money showing – and lost it to Mullendore. That made Mullendore figure his luck was in for sure, so he didn’t protest when the tapped out player left an empty chair and Hardman suggested Ten Eyck set in for the bankrupt gambler.

“Long as he can put money on the table, he’s in,” says Mullendore.

The money seesawed back and forth for a bit, and then Ten Eyck started winning every hand where Hardman cut the cards. It wasn’t long before the Dutchman had over a thousand on the table, most from Mullendore. The next go round was Hardmans deal. So you will have a good idea of the situation –

One of the loafers was at the dealers left, first man dealt to, with a ten spot, a fin, and some ones on the table. Next, Mullendore had about fifty on the table, a fat wallet, and a big itch to win back what he’d lost. Then Ten Eyck had over a thousand in his pile, and the other loafer who had ten to fifteen singles on the table. Of course, Hardman was fifth and last, showing two fives and some ones.

Hardman dealt and the banker’s hand was a beaut! A full house, a pair of queens and three jacks! That’s a money hand anywhere you want to go so Mullendore stood pat with that. Ten Eyck drew three cards, a sure sign of a weak hand.

The bets went around. Hardman and the two loafers threw their cards in and folded. Mullendore bet strong, Ten Eyck matched him, and Mullendore went strong again. Every time Mullendore would bet, Ten Eyck saw him and raised him. In a minute every cent Mullendore had was on the table, his studs, his rings, his gold watch and chain, everything! Ten Eyck still had over $400 and wanted to raise.

Mullendore got to feeling around in his pockets and came up with the deed to the Jackpot. And every man in the place stopped to watch.

There was a pause while Mullendore tried to get himself under control – and then the deed went on the table against the rest of Ten Eyck’s pile. The Dutchman pushed his pile into the pot as Mullendore dumped his cards face up on the table like he’d been holding so many anvils and was glad to lighten his load.

Ten Eyck took a long minute to light his pipe, took a puff. Then he turned over the Ace of Clubs. The corner of the Dutchmans mouth twitched. The Ace of Hearts took its place on the table. Ten Eyck’s mouth twitched again. Then the Ace of Spades was laid slowly and carefully along side the first pair of Aces.

A joyous whisper of “It’s an ace high full” went around. That was followed by a groan as the Ace of Diamonds was carefully laid beside the other three Aces. Ten Eyck hesitated. The crowd groaned again as the kibitzers calculated odds.

A full house beats four aces. Four aces on the table meant Mullendore won the pot, sure as little apples are round and red, and Ten Eyck was busted flat. But the Dutchman’s grin was spreading, and a joyous chuckle found its way past his pipe stem as he laid his last card on the table with a flourish. Joker!

The crowd gasped, and then roared! Five aces! The highest poker hand it is possible to get! Five aces would beat a royal flush if it were possible to get a royal flush with the ace in another hand.

Ten Eyck won the Jackpot! The Jackpot Cafe was paid off, free and clear! They say Ten Eyck laughed for fifteen minutes, and Mullendore cussed a blue streak for twenty, mourning the thirty five hundred bucks he’d lost. The five hundred he’d loaned Ten Eyck and the three thousand he was going to get for the Cafe! Well, the Dutchman had a reason to laugh. The thirty bucks he scraped together to pay his interest turned into the jackpot of a lifetime.

His place, free and clear, and nineteen hundred iron men in cold hard cash. A two hundred dollar Elgin watch, a set of gold studs, a couple of rings, and a few other knickknacks! And that was after he gave their losings back to the three guys who helped Hardman shill Mullendore into the game!

Hardman was hoping Mullendore would stop in carrying the days foreclosures, in his pocket like he usually did! For the rest, well, everyone who ate at the Jackpot was glad they gave Hardman a post graduate course in stacking a deck while his legs were healing. Hardman was the poker champ of the AEF, he was!

Mullendore didn’t take any chances. He didn’t play poker with Hardman or Ten Eyck. Period! Of course, Hardman and Ten Eyck didn’t put their money in Mullendore’s bank, either! That sort of made them even. But that’s that story.
OH, did you hear about the goat roper from Plano, Texas, who won the radio station contest? The grand prize was an all expenses paid trip to Puerto Rico. When he discovered he couldn’t drive his pickup to San Juan he almost didn’t go.

The boys he worked with finally talked him into getting on that big silver bird. Wound up in a $250 a nite hotel with about a mile of exclusive beach, well populated with well filled out bikinis! Just like the commercial.

He’s figuring on making a Texas impression on the gals, so the first morning he’s up early. He hit the beach in all his sartorial splendor. He had on his Nocona Python cowboy boots, hot pink boxer short swim trunks down to his knees, and a big black 1X Stetson. The girls totally ignored him. They wouldn’t say a word to him.

After striking out twenty five or thirty times he retires to the bar. Hoists a few. Meets a fellow. Buys the stranger a brew. Or two. Tells him all his troubles. The stranger is muy simpatico.

“I can’t help you with your girl problems in Texas,” says his new found friend. “But let me make a suggestion or two that will help you with the ladies around here. I know you are mighty proud of your boots, but leave them in your room. Leave your John B. Stetson hat in your room, too. Hats and boots may be hot in Texas but they don’t cut no ice over here.”

“Stop by the Surf Shop and pick yourself up a bikini bathing suit. A black one a couple of sizes too small would be the best. Oh, one last bit of advice. Go by the kitchen. Pick up a potato and slip it in your swim suit.”

The Tejano thanks his new buddy and tells him he will take his advice. And he does. The next morning he’s at the beach bright and early. Barefooted, bareheaded, in an itty bitty bikini suit that fit like a coat of spray paint. And his luck was even worse today than yesterday.

He tries to chat up twenty five or thirty of the dolly birds on the beach.
Not a word out of a one of them can he get. Every last one of them gives him a disgusted look and walks off. The Texan can’t figure this thing out. So he retires to the bar.

He’s nursing his second beer when his new found buddy walks in. The Texan hails him and tells him all of his troubles. His new chum looks him over close.

“Well, you did OK, as far as you went. If I were you, though,” the friendly stranger says, “I believe I’d put that potato in the FRONT of my bathing suit.”

Reading back over that last I notice I used the term “goat roper.” There ain’t nothing mysterious about the phrase, although some folks just want to make life complicated. Let’s see if we can untangle it. Starting at the beginning!

A real cowboy, a “vaquero” or “hand,” works stock on the range. Ropes callus your hands up and you can’t work stock without “stepping in it.” So a real cowboy has calluses on his hands and manure on his boots.

A “puncher” is not a vaquero. A puncher is the fellow with the prod who drives livestock onto cattle trucks or cars. Livestock is not very particular about cleanliness, so punchers step in manure also. A handshake might give it away but it’s hard to tell a puncher from a hand so a “cowboy” can be either one. A goat roper is somebody dressed in serviceable Western style clothes, a dude or dudette who wears the right duds, but who does not work stock. A ranch kid going to college, or the clerk at the saddle shop, for example. Since he or she does not work stock they have no reason to have manure on their boots. They may have been working cowboys, they may be again, but in any case a goat roper is dressed like but is not a working cowboy.

Notice that a goat roper is different from a “drug store cowboy.” A drug store cowboy dudes up in fancy Western style duds to impress the teeny boppers around the soda fountain. The hallmarks of the drug store cowboy are 1X hats, rhinestone hat bands, feather hat fans, fancy neckerchiefs, lacy or embroidered shirts, gold filigree belts, designer jeans, fake exotic skin boots, Mustang convertibles, and a yen for Huntsville Hare.

The kind of jailbait they call Parchman Partridge in Mississippi, Deer Lodge Doe in Montana, and San Quentin Quail in California. And “It’s the syme the ‘ole world overrrr, hit’s the poor ooo gets the blyme!”

A drug store cowboy is a fake, macho y macho. In the Spanish, “macho” means a jackass. By extension from jack’s flying hooves, “macho” also means a sledge hammer. Macho y macho means a hammering jackass, similar to a double dyed deceiver. Doubling both meanings, a sledge hammer and a jackass, “un machismo” is a dude or dudette who “hammers;” who acts so hard to be something they ain’t they make jackasses of themselves. I hope that’s clear. Anyway, the only time a drug store cowboy has manure on anything is when the toilet paper tears.

And while we are at it I suppose I should complete the set by clarifying the difference between a cowboy and a stockman. They are real easy to tell apart, if you are observant. The cowboy wears a big belt buckle on his belly, the stockman wears a big belly on his belt buckle!

Now, speaking of friendly strangers, I ran across one a while back in Stevens Point, Wisconsin. He noticed the Forrest County tag and comes over to discuss Farve and the Packers. This fellow was from Waynesboro, and he knew Hattiesburg very well. The Hattiesburg of thirty years ago, anyway. I am glad I’m not the only one who misses Fines and Waldoffs! And the Citizens Bank.

We were talking, and the subject of the provincial attitude of many Yankees came up. I was telling him how the waitress at Arby’s in Watertown, South Dakota, had to call all of the other employees over to “Hear this man talllk!,” before I could get my Arbycue sammitch! I hates to play Rover and “speak” before I can get any grub!

The stranger, his name was Eugene Something or Other, starts telling me about his experiences with the rude and ignorant folks in his end of the world. Eugene says when he first moved to Wisconsin in ’69 the locals really razzed him about being from Mississippi. That boy had a real hard time, don’t you know.

One day Eugene is trying to get his job done when a whole herd of Yankee pests come over and started in doing what comes natural to such folks, pestering him. Naturally, after a while Eugene gets a bit short with them.
“Tell us, Mister Mississippi,” says the leader of the pack, “are there any fools in Mississippi?”

“Well, we do have a few fools in Mississippi,” admits Eugene. “But they don’t run around in packs the way they do in Wisconsin!” Eugene says he hasn’t had much trouble with the two legged pests since then.

Now, Stevens Point is big Lutheran country. I remember back just after the war, when I summered in that part of the world every year, that a Lutheran WAC made news by marrying a Baptist Air Force Captain. After the ritual was over the Captain asked the padre how much he owed him for the splice job.

“Oh,” says the padre, “We do not charge for that. But if you like, you can give a donation based on the beauty of the bride.”

The Captain thought a moment, and then reached in his dress blues and handed the preacher a quarter. The pastor was a bit startled, so he steps up to the bride and lifts her veil. The padre took a long thoughtful look at the bride, then fumbled around under his robes and handed the groom fifteen cents change!

And that reminds me that I made the Sauk County fair at Baraboo in 1948. That was the polio year. Kids were dropping like flies from polio – and nobody knew how polio was spread.

The doctors were warning everyone that mosquitos and flies were likely carriers, so if you didn’t want to catch polio you had to make sure to keep the bugs out. And the bugs were well equipped to invade your personal space, whatever you did. The skeeters got their stingers busy, pried the screen wire far enough to make a hole and the flies followed them in!

There were some folks showing their stock and living in tents that had a hard time. The mosquitos hit them about eleven the first night. The skeeters ran the folks out of their tents and left them to huddle with their animals in the cattle barns the rest of the night. Because the livestock barns had been sprayed with “Devil Done Took’em” as the preacher described DDT.

The next morning the exhibitors looked out the barn windows and discovered the skeeters had torn the tents down and made slacks and suspenders from the canvas and tent ropes. The exhibitors got their own back, though.

One of the boys thought a little smoke would keep the bugs away. He made a torch out of wire and cloth and coal oil that made a fine smudge. That didn’t work, but in waving it around he accidently set a skeeter’s wings on fire.

That skeeter went flying off and first thing you knew there were thousands of burning mosquitoes. That sure caused some excitement! They had fire departments coming from as far away as Madison because they thought the fairgrounds was burning down.

Stranger

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Listen To Nurse Tilton: “A Little Jive Is Good For You

Martha Tilton from 1941, the innocent times before Pearl Harbor:

Yep, a little jazz is good for you. Just like an occasional slab of Shoo Fly Pie and Apple Pan Dowdy. But that’s a recipe for another day.

Enjoy

STranger

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Bogey Was A Real Polite Horse – He Was Happy To Let You Go Over The Fence First!

Well, there’s the late Phil Harris singing “Mama’s on the Warpath.”

The younger set probably remembers Phil Harris best for his voice of “Baloo” the bear, in Disney’s Jungle Book. The baby boomers probably best remember him for “The Thing,” or maybe “That’s What I Like About the South.” I remember his great show at the Minnesota State Fair, and the many tunes he put on the Hit Parade before Jack Benny hired him for his weekly radio show.

Besides big band music Harris’ shtick was his “drunk act.” That was one of the best such acts in the business. He would sure keep his audience in stitches for a half hour at a time. He gave good value for the price of admission. Let me add that Harris was much less a drinking man than he let on. As they say, “A drinking musician can’t get past the first bar.”

Yep, Phil Harris was probably the best known whiskey baritone in the business when I was a kid. Had a big band, used to make the ballroom circuit, with a few State Fair spots thrown in for variety.

The first time I heard The Thing was the day I tried to ride some of the foolishness out of Bogie, one of Tag Taggert’s horses. Tag “rode the range in a Ford V8,” but he kept horses for fun and let anyone he considered reliable ride them. It kept the horse from forgetting what Tag was feeding it for!

That little favor to Tag made me think I was crippled for life. I haven’t been that sore or that dirty, before or since. I think I mentioned the day Sheila Reid came in the Jackpot skint from one end of the other. She had lost enough hide to resole an elephant, and enough more to half sole a rhinoceros, and Sheila wasn’t that big to start with.

When they asked her why she was wearing a square yard of tape and gauze, Sheila said she’d been riding a real polite horse. It let her go over a fence first! I knew all about that little stunt because Bogie had done it to me.

Yessir, I had my share of soaring without wings, courtesy of my friend the brand inspectors horse. (Bogie was named after the actor. Tag’s wife said he looked like Bogart. Humphrey Bogart did have a sort of a horse face, at that!)

Now, what brought all this reminisce on in the first place was something on the toob. A jugheaded idiot was collecting the Screen Actors Guild minimum, “guesting” on the “News,” supposedly giving a police officers view of things.

You have to understand that Windy Bill has never been a cop, or much of anything else. He joined a police farce, and about halfway through training decided he’s not cut out to write tickets, he’s cut out to be a union organizer. And he didn’t feel like working his way up the ranks so he started his own police union! His “police organization” has just about sixteen hundred members.

Wholly involuntary members, from what I can understand from the several members of his union that I know. And he takes their dues and his $1700.00 per appearance Screen Actors Guild pay with a smile, just as often as he can.

Anyhow, this play cop was on the boob toob, deponing that no law abiding citizen had any reason not to stop when ordered to by a “police officer.” In theory, he’s right. But let me tell you two things. First, these days I want to see the markings on the car – there are too many crimes committed by criminals with blue lights.

Second, there’s plenty of times when a someone with the most innocent of intentions just don’t want to see no po-leece! Period.

One of the several times in my life when I didn’t want to see no po-leece, no shurf, no highway pe-troll, nor nobody else, was when Bogie pitched me over a barb wire fence into French’s pasture. I rolled about twice and fetched up in a puddle covered with green scum.

I climbed back over that fence covered with stinking green slime; feeling my way because I was mostly blinded; thanking God that it was only about three hundred yards to Sand Creek and Tag kept a bar of Octagon Soap in his saddle bags. And a towel! And a bottle of liniment! And I threw in a few extra thanks that Bogie would stay ground tied.

I led that horse to water and he acted like it hurt his feelings to follow me. It hurt my feelings to walk, but I wasn’t about to mess Tag’s saddle up! It took me the better part of an hour to get me and my clothes clean enough to make a trip to my room to take a regular bath tub full of the hottest water Mrs. Baker’s antique “Volcano” could heat. Until I was clean clear through I darn sure didn’t want to see no police! Nor nobody else.

Now, I didn’t blame Bogie. You ride a horse, you are supposed to keep a leg on both sides and your mind in the middle. If I had been doing my part, I would have stayed between cantle and horn, where I was supposed to.

My mind was straying. I don’t remember where but at that age I probably had a gal on my mind. There were several gals around that were well worth looking twice at and thinking about later. But after that I paid attention when I rode that bronc – and I put quite a few miles on him. He was a good horse but any flash, like the sun on a wire, would cause him to try to unload. Some sudden, at that.

But anyway, talking to folks here and yonder I get the
idea that everyone has at least once found himself in a fix that would have been a whole lot worse for the presence of an ossifer of the law! And I have had my share.

I stepped out of a Pennsy freight car one dark night and discovered that the nice soft bank I was jumping on was covered with four foot tall blackberry bushes. About forty acres of them, with spines in abundance! I didn’t want any police obstructing my search for my war bag – and I didn’t want to show my over exposed stern in public until I could find a spare set of seat covers.

I have locked my keys in my truck twice and had to burgle my own wheels. I liberated a gallon of French’s “Lost Weekend” moonshine one time, too. That would have been real hard to explain because my monthly paycheck was a county voucher, drawn on the Sheriff’s account.

They called French’s tipple “Lost Weekend” because a couple of drinks and you lost the weekend! I don’t know what he put in that stuff besides pears, sugar and yeast, spuds, and wheat, but it was some potent. One drink and your buddies would wonder which was the deepest, biggest, and roundest. Your eyes or a post hole! Two drinks and you either slept a while, or you got up and did wonders!

I saw Billy Peet, the laziest Indian in Oklahoma, set a half mile of fence posts, string the wire, pull it double tight with a come-along, and staple it down. By himself. On one pint of Lost Weekend. And not only not remember, but claim he was too honest to take money for something he didn’t do!

Getting Billy to dig a post hole was a wonder. Getting him to build fence for a day was a miracle. But, you know, Billy wouldn’t take another drink of Lost Weekend! Said it made him too tired when he drank that stuff! He also claimed two drinks of it would raise blisters on your hands.

Of course, some of the folks that took two drinks took the second one at gunpoint, because it was hell for stout. You take a sip of Lost Weekend and it would burn all the way from the tip of your tongue to the end of your – AHEM!

It was so stout that Ol’ Hardman swore to me that he left a glass full of pneumonia cure made with French’s Finest mixed on his porch while he visited the privy, and when he came out he saw a hummingbird taking a sip.

Hardman swore he followed that hummingbird down to Jacobs, where the kids were growing game roosters for a 4H project, and that bird whipped every rooster on the place. Of course, I can’t say here what else he said that hummingbird did – but if Hardman was telling anything like the truth the Jacobs kids should have gotten some real long billed biddies in their next hatch! Biddies that would have been really hard to keep in the coop!

I “liberated” some because a friend of mine was down with lung rot, pneumonia, and what the croaker had available wasn’t doing him no good at all. A water glass full of hot whisky, lemon juice, and sugar isn’t in the Pharmacopeia, but it seems to do about as well as the drugs that were available. (And to tell the truth, the drugs that are available now!) At least that’s what I poured down him and he was up and feeblin’ around in a couple of days. Chasin’ women in a week – and that’s a sure sign of a cure.

I have drunk whisky, and rum, and gin. I tried some rice wine that kept me drunk for a week. I drank some arrack, what the Hindu’s claim will make a rabbit whip a tiger. I tell you true, I never drank anything more potent than French’s bootleg whisky. Or anything that tasted worse. Except the time the doctor gave me a ‘scrip for ox gall. And I’m not sure gall tasted worse than French’s.

At that time, Oklahoma was the wettest dry state in the nation. And the law was well aware that French was distilling his water of life. But before Big Peters took office he told French as long as he didn’t sell any of his snakebite cure – and as long as it didn’t cause the law any trouble – he wasn’t interested. So French ran off a gallon every now and again and stayed on the good side of the law.

French figured Bill Peters would be four years and out. French didn’t take into account how much people appreciated good law enforcement you could depend on to do what’s right. Bill didn’t necessarily act according to the letter of the law, because lawyers run for office so they can make laws to make lawyers money. Bill did what was fair and proper under the circumstances.

Let me tell you – Billy Peet’s legally wedded wife came looking for Big one day. The usual story – house full of kids and no support. In those days, that was a lot less against the law than it is now. ‘Fact, most law enforcement people then or now wouldn’t have done the first thing about Billy’s wife and children going hungry.

These days the law refers victims of neglect or abuse to welfare. And if your life’s been threatened, there’s no use to tell the police. They will tell you to get a court order. As if a wife beater will obey any court order out of sight of the judge!

If you are on the recieving end you better make sure your burial insurance premiums are paid up and get on the right side of God because the shysters have the police tied up forty ways from Sunday. Either that or find a twelve gauge and learn to use it.

But it wasn’t that way with Big Peters. Big went looking for Billy. Found him, too! I heard Big picked Billy up by the scruff of the neck and shook him but I wasn’t there. I do know Billy went to the oil patch and the biggest part of his pay checks came addressed to his wife via Bill Peters.

Billy’s wife quit running into doors and bruising her face all up. His kids lost that lean and hungry look. And when Billy came home – he brought something for the wife besides a hangover, and some more somethings for the kids.

And when he came home Billy’s wife and kids acted glad to see him. Like they were supposed to. And Billy came up to the Courthouse and thanked Big Peters publicly for putting his moccasins on the right trail. That was one thing about Bill Peters. If it was his business to fix it he fixed it. And if the Legislature said it wasn’t his business he fixed it anyway!

What you did behind your doors pretty much wasn’t any of his business. What you did where other people could see better be strictly on the up and up. If Big was told something he kept it quiet and checked it out. He didn’t waste any time, but he didn’t go off half cocked, either. And Big Peters believed the punishment should fit the crime.

The most common crime was public drunk and possession of ardent spirits. Ardent spirits was anything over two percent alcohol. Judge Ross started at ninety days and if the cure didn’t take you got a years worth of second chance. Prisoners loaded gravel trucks with grain scoops. And if you were not in good physical condition when you went to jail, you were when you got out!

And you didn’t ever, not never, want to come back. It wasn’t that you were treated badly. You got more to eat than most prisoners cared to eat, from the Jackpot, as good as any grub in town, and plenty of good healthful exercise.

Visitation was every evening from 7:00 to 9:00 winters, sundown to 10:00 summers, and from 1:00 to 5:00 on Sunday. If the Sheriff was convinced you were gentle, and you were married, there was a room they called a “temporary cell” where you could have an hour’s privacy. And you got taken to Church every Sunday morning and evening, whether you wanted to or not. None of that was according to the “Code of the State of Oklahoma, as revised.” All that was according to Peters!

No, it wasn’t harsh treatment that made people stay out of jail. Most prisoners ate and slept better in the jug than they did at home. And some of them saw more of their wives and families while they were in the Callaboose Arms Motel than while they were “free.” No sir, it was just that the work was so durn regular that made folks stay away! Sunup to sundown, Monday to Saturday!

Over in Arkansas, Cummings Prison had “Black Annie.” Black Annie was a black leather strap, and the prisoners lived in deathly fear of spending an evening with the lady. I hear the percentage of Cummings prisoners who came back to Cummings was less than fifteen percent. I don’t know what the percentage of backsliders Big Peters rest cure had, but it was mighty low.

Now, speaking of the Jackpot, I don’t remember ever mentioning how the place got its name. The faded sign said “CITTY CAFE, E. TEN EYCK, PROP.” That was sure enough confusing. Strangers used to detour fifty miles to eat at the Jackpot and then they couldn’t find the place.

Like the time the four preachers stopped me and asked for directions. I was sort of hiding out, trying to stay clear of Lizzie Cooter at the time. That was just after Lizzie peed in the well at Brother Cook’s Church Raising. Lizzie adulterated the church’s drinking water, just before dinner on the ground!

All her friends cut her dead, and she acted like she wanted to take up with me. The thought of cuddling up with that well stacked red headed gal was sure interesting, but the thought of how mad the Lane Cooters, Junior and Senior, would have been was enough to make me lose interest in the proposition.

Adding that to the fact that Lizzie had a temper like a cage full of wildcats – and the idea of having the Cooter twins for in-laws sure enough made me lose interest. I figured it was just about time to make myself scarce. Like that banker who lost interest and just faded away!

I was watching for Lizzie, but these preachers snuck up on me! Of course, I didn’t know they were preachers. As long as they kept their mouth shut they were just four guys who shopped the black suit rack.

The first time I knew these preachers were in the world was when a loud voice assaulted my ears. T’was no trouble to match voice to profession. This bellow had that HEEE HAWWWW, that jackass rhythm some preachers get.

“YOUNG man AHHH, WHERE IS THE AHHH, JACKPOT CAFE AHHH? WE HAVE AHHH, HEARD OF THE AHHH, EXCELLENCE OF AHHH, IT’S PROVENDER, AHHH, AND WE WISH TO, AHHH, PARTAKE THEREOF,” the voice said, real loud. I turned around and there was a nice shiny black ’48 Hudson with four preachers inside!

I got them turned around and headed in the right direction in a flash. Then I decided the Jackpot was such a good idea I decided to break my fast there. So I put one foot in front of the other and went.

When I got there the preachers were in booth five. I sat down in six, where I could see Lizzie Cooter coming and maybe barricade myself in the biffy if I could not make it out the back door.

Well, the preachers had enjoyed a fine meal. They were just at the point of putting a cuppa joe down on top of it for tamping. And they were talking Church business. One preacher, with a voice like a can of oil, was lamenting that the peons in his district didn’t want to leave the Catholic Church because his church didn’t have confessional. No confession, no conversion! So oily voice was in favor of putting in a confessional right then.

The loud mouth who startled me was wholly in agreement. Their church should have a confessional. It was “AHHH, NECESSARY THAT, AHHH,” their church have a confessional! In order to lead the poor straying lambs to God and increase the weekly offering, of course.

“And, AHHH, let me be the first to AHHH, confess my sins. My major sin is, AHHH, the desires of the flesh. There’s AHHH, an attractive young widow AHHH, who works at the proving grounds AHHH. She looks better every Sunday. She is so attractive and friendly that I AHHH think of her night and day. Just last Sunday AHHH, she said she wished I would drop by AHHH, her home for coffee.!”

The oily voiced one began his song. “A desire for other people’s property is my failing. I hardly ever call on a parishioner without coming away with some small token of my visit. I have taken ash trays, salt cellars, and all sorts of small things. I fear that I shall soon begin taking money and other valuables.”

The third preacher took up the refrain. “I been drinkin’ whisky since I was ten. I used to slip whisky out of my Uncle’s jug and pee in the jug so’s to cover my tracks. He was always fussin’ about how salty and weak the whisky got when he let a jug get old. All because of me. I’ll drink anything. Whisky, gin, shine, anything. I guess you could call me a hard down sot drunk!”

The fourth preacher started his song. I thought he sounded rather pleased, too, as he said “I’m mighty glad you didn’t call on me first. You see, my deadly and overriding sin is a terrible compulsion to engage in idle gossip.”

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A Bit O’ Phil Cunningham for fast steppers

Phil Cunningham, with the Four Stroke Reel and Martin O’Malley’s Flying Clog:

Enjoy

Stranger

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