Those English, They Been Everywhere

Well, looking back at the rest of this issue, I can’t find a thing that strikes me as funny enough to begin a soliloquy about.

Unless it’s the weather – and we are all tired of the weather. Let’s see here, what I can find for inspiration.

Well, I see by the paper that one William James Snow married Mary Dolores Frost. I wonder if she’s one of these modern women that hyphenate their hubby’s name to theirs. Dolores Snow-Frost. Sounds appropriate to winter, somehow.

I remember when May Dye married Jim Linger, becoming May Linger. That’s not as funny as remembering that Bill Flowers wife was nee Missy Trees. She flowered all right. Five girls in seven years. And I remember when Owen Smells married Mary Knows. By now, she probably does!

You know, I haven’t thought of May Mary Dye for years and years and years. She was a good lookin’ lass, just a whole bunch older ‘n me – about twenty five years older. Jim was about twenty, and May Mary was forty if she was a day. Caused quite a stir when May Mary got hitched to a lad half her age.

One of the church biddies, Evalina Hug, tried to dig her claws into May Mary about robbin’ the cradle.

“Well, Sister Hug,” sez May Mary, sweet as pie. “Jim makes me feel ten years younger, and he says I make him feel ten years older, and we don’t think there’s a thing wrong with two thirty year olds marrying.”

Which there isn’t anything wrong if that’s what makes them happy. But that Evalina squaw was my mamma’s second cousin, or maybe third cousin, by marriage, and she was at least eighty.

Cousin Evvie was wrinkled like a prune, and she wouldn’t admit it for the world. One time the grandchildren got the whole family together and had a photographer come out and take some pictures.

When Evvie got her set of pictures she hit the ceiling, plumb. Made her poor, long suffering granddaughter drive her all the way to Elk City to gripe. She got to the photog’s place and spent about fifteen minutes lowering the boom.

The poor picture taker couldn’t get a word in edgewise. Finally Evvie ran down just a tad and the bewildered man managed to ask her what was wrong with the pictures.

“These awful things don’t do me justice,” says Evvie.

“Madam,” the photog says, “You want mercy, not justice!”

Yep, Evvie was a bellyacher, all right. She did plenty bellyachin’ about May Mary and Jim – but she didn’t do any more of it to May Mary Linger’s face.

Evvie come by her bellyachin’ natural, I guess. She had plenty of practice, too. ‘Fact, every time the party line ‘phone rang Evvie reached for a chair before she reached for the receiver. If it was her ring she was prepared to set a while. And if it wasn’t her ring she was ready to breathe heavy into the mouthpiece.

There were two of those Dye gals, May Mary and Marianne. May Mary was good looking, and she was hatched before her daddy left to whup the Kaiser. Marianne was a regular heart stopper, born after her daddy came back from whippin’ the Kaiser.

Marianne went to Oklahoma City, and went to work for some lawyers. She eventually married one, name of Jack Bacon, and made him hang out his shingle in town. Which, I guess, is another way of bringing home the Bacon.

Anyhow, while she was wearing Jack’s engagement ring she attended a doings for the State Supreme Court Justices. She was stepping across the ballroom and one of the Justices told Jack how lucky he was because “Your fiance is the loveliest sight I’ve seen since Oklahoma was Indian Territory.”

Marianne overheard the compliment, too. She just beamed at him and said, “I see that you are an excellent judge!”

Now, Marianne Bacon was one of those gals that get married one month and “get caught” the next. Which, Marianne was ready to start a family, and I don’t know that Jack had any objections. If he did I never heard about them.

The only thing I ever heard Jack say about marriage was that his marriage was happy because he could get his wife to do anything she wanted to do. That’s par for the course, so Jack had no reason to complain. The problem is persuading the wife that what you want to do her idea.

Anyhoo – Marianne was about eight months and getting pretty big when she and Jack went into Okie City to do some shopping. Layette and diapers and stuff.

She’s walking around in J.C. Penny’s and some woman walks up to her and gushes all over her. This strange woman sez “Oh, my dear! Are you pregnant?”

“Oh, no,” sez Marianne. “I’m just carrying this for a friend.”

Now, May Mary and Marianne’s dad was a railroad man. Little bitty feller, about five two, 125 pounds maybe, on a good day. You didn’t have to be a Paul Bunyan to be a conductor on a freight train – you just have to like riding a caboose with the brakeman. Joe Dye didn’t say two words a week outside of work so the work agreed with him.

The Dye girls mama was a housekeeper, and a doggone good one. I heard May Mary say one time that “Mama is a whiz at getting our blouses white. Even the red ones.” Miz Dye was a right smart of a talker, where her husband was not.

It got around that on their 40th wedding anniversary Joe started to leave the house with his lunch bucket same as usual when Miz Dye stopped him.

“Joe,” she says, “Have you forgotten what day this is?”

“Nope.”

“It’s our fortieth wedding anniversary. Let’s celebrate,” she says. “Let’s do something unusual.”

“OK by me,” Joe says. “Lets start by with three minutes of silence.”

I don’t know whether that story was true, but it sounded about right. But Joe Dye had the rep of always letting his wife have the last word. All three or four thousand more of them.

May Mary had one brother, young fellow, four of five years older than me. That was Joe, Jr.. Little feller, spittin’ image of his dad. He was Junior Dye to most of the town. Back then a fellow could take a job in a law office and learn enough law to pass the bar – just as if he’d spent three years in college. Junior was “reading law” up in his brother-in-law’s office.

Junior married a girl he met in the Army. She couldn’t speak a word of English when he brought her home – and everybody thought he’d married a gal from so far back on the reservation she only spoke Shoshone or something. Boy, were they wrong – by about seven thousand miles. I think she spoke Tagalog, or some such, but I know he called her Sweetie.

Anyhoo, Joe and his wife were in the Jackpot one day when the subject turned to how the married couples in the crowd met. Nettie Barnes told how she’d met Wallace – and the stories started to go around.

The confessions went around and pretty soon it was Junior Dye’s time to tell all. “It’s like this,” says Junior. “I didn’t actually meet Sweetie. She overtook me!”

I don’t think Junior would have said that if he thought Sweetie would have understood him. But she did! He finally put Sweetie in a better humor by teaching her to drive. That was a mistake. NEVER teach any woman you like to drive.

I went with the Sheriff when the call came in about a wrecked car on 183. When we got there Junior Dye and Sweetie were sitting on a clay bank, holding each other and thanking their lucky stars. They were pretty well banged up, and Junior had some cuts, but there wasn’t anything that wouldn’t heal.

“It was all my fault,” Junior kept saying. “I taught Sweetie to drive a car but I never taught her to aim one.”

You know, Sweetie wrecked four cars in five months and never got a single scratch! Plenty bumps, no scratches! The last one was when she misjudged things and pulled out in front of Mullendores green Pontiac, the moss green Pontiac we all called the “tin Indian,” in front of the school. T’wasn’t Sweeties fault. You don’t expect city traffic to going flat out.

That lead footed bankers wife wasn’t about to give any part of the center of the road to anybody, and least of all to some furriner – and she totaled the tin Indian and a really nice ’35 Buick Sweetie was driving, rather than swerve around Sweetie. Mrs. Mullendore wound up in one ditch and Sweetie in the other.

Sweetie got a bump on the chin, and the bankers wife got a busted leg and a cut lip. Worse than that, the banker had to pay Sweetie for her car. There were about two hundred school kids who saw it all – and every one of them was ready to swear that the tin Indian was doing at least eighty. In a fifteen mile an hour zone. Nobody liked the banker, you know, and the banker’s wife was even more so.

The tin Indian was a total loss, but Sweetie’s car could have been fixed. Problem was the Buick only cost Junior $75 – and a replacement ’38 Olds set the Mullendore’s back a princely $90.00. Used cars was some cheaper, back then. Of course, everything was cheaper back then. Including wages.

I spent a couple of summers working for Huffmaster, peddling popcorn. I started as a shill. A shill is someone who buys whatever the pitchman is selling, so the marks hand’s will come out of their pockets. With money in them, o’course!

Huff noticed how I like popcorn – so he gave me a bag of popcorn and a pocket full of dimes. I’d stroll to Huff’s popper on the other end of the midway, munching and smiling all the way. About that time the bag was empty, so I’d buy another bag of corn, and walk back slowly. Eating the corn, of course. The bag would be empty when I got back to Huff, so I’d buy another bag and walk back.

I never had another job I liked so well in my life. I got a buck a day, and all the popcorn I could eat! And I didn’t have to hit a lick at a snake, either. You talk about heaven, I was flat in heaven!

After a couple of days, I moved to the other side of the apron and sold that corn. Carney’s hours are from 9 Ayem to 2 Ayem, and that’s what I worked. Five bux a day, plus ten percent of anything I collected over a century. I usually sold 2,000 dime bags a day, so I did pretty well for an 11 year old. Fifteen bux a day was good money for a working man, and I got this handsome rate of pay six days a week.

Anyhoo, I was dishing out corn and here comes Huff, talking to a stranger. Well set up young fellow, nice dressed, the Marlboro man always reminded me of him. This guy is talking a blue streak about his new wife.

She’d been brought up in a convent, and she was about to take the vows when he came along and persuaded her to become his bride. I could see how he could do that, because boy, was he a talker. I learned more about her history in three minutes than some married couples learn in fifty years.

Finally, he wound down. Then he looks at Huff like, “what do you think of that.” Sort of demanding a reply, you know.

Huff, he hesitates a short. Then he says “I guess it shows she likes you better than nun.” Brought the conversation to a close in a heartbeat, he did!

Huff wasn’t what you would call a funny fellow. He was as serious as a double bar’l shotgun at a midnight wedding! Strong silent type, hardly ever said anything unless someone crowded him into it. In fact, I can’t remember another doggone thing Huffmaster ever said that was funny.

Huff’s wife was another matter. She was a really nice lady, kind to kids and carneys. One time I heard her talking to a woman -and t’other woman was some upset. The usual. Husband trouble.

Ceel and Jim had a soft ice cream joint, the first one I ever saw. Jim took the day shift, if he was sober enough, and Ceel took the night shift. It worked pretty well when it worked but it didn’t work that often.

Whenever you saw Ceel and Jim coming down the midway you knew the one two or three steps ahead was the one who was mad. They had lived twenty years like that and they weren’t going to change. Nor were they about to split the blanket, so I never saw any reason to pay any attention. Anyhow, Ceel was crying on Mrs. Huff’s shoulder when Mrs. Huff gave her some good advice.

“Ceel,” she says, “Marriage is a bargain and someone always gets the worst of a bargain.”

Which is often true, although living spliced isn’t supposed to be that way. Both partners are supposed to profit by matrimony.

I heard that some gal been married 80 years was told to “Look for the first man you see with a kind face, and don’t let him go.” She did and it stuck! And that’s the way it’s supposed to be.

Anyhow, Jim was bad to drink, and Ceel was careful to give him cause. One morning about 8:30, when everyone else was going to grab a shower and a bite before the crowd hit, me and my Dad came by Jim’s trailer and here’s Jim. My dad used to say Jim was so stewed he passed a cuckoo clock and checked it out for eggs.

“Hey, Jim,” says my Dad. “Where ya going this time of
day.”

“To a durn lecture,” says Jim, glumly.

Speaking of Jim Turley reminds me that he was a member of some off-brand lodge. He wasn’t an Elk or a Moose, or even an Odd Fellow. I can’t remember what the name of that outfit was but they had lodges all over and they sold insurance like the Woodmen of the World. Anyhoo, every chance Jim got he’d sneak off the lot to the local lodge so he could be a visitor from out of town.

He’d get free booze and get to set in a “friendly game.” After he’d trimmed the locals he wasn’t welcome back, but there were plenty of lodges. One evening my dad noticed Jim pull up and park early, before dark even.

“Jim, you go to a lodge meeting?,” my dad asked.

“No, they had to call it off,” sez Jim.

“What they do that for?”

“The Grand All-Powerful Invincible Most Supreme Unconquerable Potentate of the Host got beat up by his wife.”

I remember that title because it reminded me of Queen Victoria. You remember, “Victoria, Queen of England, Scotland, and Ireland, Empress of France and Viceroy of India!” You can trust a politician to grab all the glory, and some lodge politicians seem to want a title to put Victoria in the shade.

You know, I’m tempted to take a few pot shots at the real politicians, but I’m about to conclude that it isn’t sporting. If it’s unsporting to pot a sitting duck it’s darn sure unsporting to skewer a pol.

Why, just look at the stuff coming out of Washington. DC, of course. The rest of the country is on AC, and our fearless leaders are still on DC! I was listening to Harry Reid telling racist jokes and I was reminded of politicians who were men.

Coke Stevens, Texas Governor in those days, called all the Austin big wigs in and said “We got three hundred million dollars in the treasury and the banks are raisin’ cain. They can’t loan out enough money to earn the interest on what we got in the bank. What are we going to do?”

One of the little wigs raised his hand. “Governor, we cud build a bridge ovah the Trinity River.”

Coke says “I have already thought of that. It won’t cost near enough. We’d have too much left over!”

The little shot says “Guv’nah Stevens, suh, you reckon would it wud cost enough if we built it lenthwise?”

Heck, if we had a budget surplus, the DC pols would probably build a six lane bridge over the Mississippi for a poverty project. Lengthwise, between St. Paul and New Orleans, with no on ramps.

Of course Washington does not have money enough to have that problem. Their problem is that if they don’t stop spending money they don’t have Washington is going to have to take in washing to make ends meet!

Yessir, like the old boy sez, “U.S. stands for Unlimited Spending, and the National Debt is this country’s most outstanding figure.”

Actually, our system of government is a perfect example of altruism running amok. The altruists firmly believe that charity must begin at home. That’s why federal agencies like HUD, OSHA, and the EPA have legions of bureaucrats on this side of the hall trying to write regulations that take turf from the bureaucrats on the other side of the hall.

All this hassle about a balanced budget amendment reminds me of Winston Churchill. Winnie said “What is the use of being a great nation and a famous race if at the end of the week you cannot pay your housecleaning bill.” I ‘spect Winnie put that just right.

Yep, the situation in Washington is sure enough like that story from the unexpurgated version of the Arabian Nights. This one was about the winters day that the Emir called all his advisers together because his Emirate’s treasury was utterly depleted. Stony broke, flat busted! Too broke to buy fire wood!!
“How is it that the treasury is empty when we squeeze every dirham we can from the people,” sez the Emir, all huddled up under all the blankets he could find. “If we exact any more taxes the people will starve. What happens to the money we collect? Is someone stealing the dirhams from the treasury?”

Everyone looked to the Keeper of the Purse for an answer. This gentlemanexcused himself for a moment, to return with a large piece of ice. The Keeper of the Purse handed the ice to one man, and told him to hold the ice in his hands for a moment and then pass it to the next man. The ice went from man to man, steadily melting. When the lump of ice reached the Emir he could completely cover it with one of his hands.

“That, Great Lord,” said the Keeper of the Purse, “Is what happens to the taxes we collect. They go from hand to hand until they have melted away.”

‘Tain’t enough that the gumitup squeezes everything they can from people, they add insult to injury with “Federal Aid.” You know about Federal Aid. That’s the scheme the government has to keep people happy. They give part of the money they extort from the people back. That makes the people think it’s a gift!

Speaking of Washington DC, the handout artists have let large parts of the city become some of the world’s worst slums. Calcutta doesn’t have a thing on DC. A Britisher happened across one particularly unlovely part of town and told his American companion “That looks like Hell!”

“You English, you been everywhere,” grumbled the native Washingtonian.

Stranger

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