Now, I wonder Where I Mislaid That Title?

Well, I got Mickey Gilley on the radio laying into a piano. That’s one of those transplanted Louisiana guys that have been making so much noise lately.

Like that transplanted Yankee running for President. ‘Nother feller name of Bush. Seems like the native Tejanos have sort of gone even more to seed lately.

Now, I went to school in Texas, learned all about how Sam Houston single handedly whipped the whole Mexican Army at the battle of San Jacinto, and I even had an “I am a Texan” sticker on my notebook while I was doing it – but I do tend to agree with the opinion of my Oklahoma schoolmates about natives of the Lone Star State.

It was the summer of ’46 that a Tehanner, that’s one of those folks from Baja Oklahoma, careless folks call them Texans but their right name is Tejanos, tee-ham-oh, came up to the County and got in with Joe and Jimmy Exeter.

I knew all those kids but we didn’t associate. You might say I preferred to hang around a better class of clowns. Joe and Jimmy were not what you would call real bright – and the Tehanner kid was in the same categpry. Three peas out of the same pod, you might say.

Of course, what happened to that Tehanner kid was plumb terrible. See, Joe was old enough to have a drivers license, so he was driving their dads old pickup, Jimmy was riding shotgun, and the Tehanner kid was riding in the back.

Joe and Jimmy decide that’s it’s so hot they would drive down to the hole behind the Hendrix place in Sand Creek so they could go skinny dippin’. I don’t know that the Tehanner kid got a vote.

But Joe forgot the old Ford’s brakes wouldn’t hold on a grade, so the truck dived into the swimming hole! Joe and Jimmy climbed out the windows, but the Tehanner kid drowned trying to get the tailgate open.

Of course, that’s a joke. The Texas kid dropped the tailgate and waded out.

Yessir, Okies as a rule believe Texans are a bit dumb. Most native Okies will tell you that it’s easy to get a one armed Texan out of a tree. All you have to do is wave at him.

I heard a rumor from Beaver that most Tehanners think a can opener is a key to the bath room. And a lot more stories like those.

But I really wouldn’t like to say that all Tehanners are a mite on the slow side. About the most sensible answer to a dumb question I ever heard in Texas was while we were waiting on a funeral procession so we could cross the street.

One kid asked “Who died?”

The other kid sez “I dunno. The guy in the box, I guess.”

Yessir, I have even known Texans who were smart enough not to try their luck in politics. But if you see a Tehanner walking around with puncture wounds on his face, it’s not serious. He’s just trying to learn to eat with a fork.

Speaking of wounded Tejanos, I knew a kid from Hereford once who got a short sleeve shirt and a set of cuff links for his birthday. So he had his wrists pierced.

And I read about a Tehanner that started one of those chain letters. Sent ’em out all over Texas. Folks had already sent him 765 chains.

I think it was Outdoor Life that reported that a Texan on
an African Safari stepped behind a bush to relieve the pressure. A few seconds later he came running back to camp yelling his head off!

“What’s wrong?” asks his white hunter.

“A lion just bit my toe off!” exclaims the mighty hunter.

“Which one?” asks the anxious guide.

“Which one?” the Tehanner asked incredulously. “How would I know? All these lions look the same to me!”

Oh, you did see that piece in the paper the other day where a Texan broke his shoulder during a pie eating contest. A cow fell on him.

I read that somebody broke into the Crowell, Texas, cop shop and stole the toilet. The Vernon paper reports that the cops don’t have a clue as to who the culprits might be. Or as they said, “CROWELL COPS HAVE NOTHING TO GO ON.” Which sums it up in a nutshell.

But now, talking about that Texas kid drowning reminds me of the eight Hendrix kids. Those Hendrix’s ran to runts, the boys going maybe five three and a hundred twenty pounds and the girls about five foot even and a hundred pounds. The boys were all black heads but the gals were what Glenn Church called “suicide blondes.” Dyed by their own hands.

Ma and Pa Hendrix were little dried up squirts too. Ma answered to the name of Ruth, little gal, four ten, shape like a shotgun shell, and a sharp tongued fast talker. Generally about three hundred words a minute with gusts to over five hundred!

One of the Ladies Aid women brought up the subject of when life began. One said that life began at birth, Ginny Hug claimed life began at conception, but Ma Hendrix said “Life begins when the dog dies and the children leave home.” Which I ‘spect most of the ladies agreed with.

Pa was a bookkeeper for the co-op, quiet type, and he laid claim to the name of Jeremy but everyone called him Pa because his kids did. Besides, he looked like Pa Kettle.

One time Pa grumbled to his pal, Jim Peerce, that he lived in a hen house, ’cause a hen ruled his roost! Somebody told Ma, and for a long time all Pa got at the hen house was cold shoulder and hot tongue.

Yessir, Pa sang mighty small at home, and not much louder anywhere else. Which he was probably wise, since Ma Hendrix was a woman of determined opinion. She was determined to voice her opinion, too. Like Pa used to sigh, “Ma is just like an angel. She’s always up in the air and harping about something.”

Yessir, Ma was a talker. One time this guy was bragging about how strong his wife was. He claimed his wife could load a ton of hay an hour all by herself. Pa sez, “That’s nothing. My wife can tie up ten tons of copper telephone wires all by herself.”

Anyhoo, this carnival sets up in Elk City and the whole Hendrix clan takes off to see the elephant and ride the rides. The star of the show was Joey Pedderson, aka “Atlas Shickeliviki, the Russian Strong Boy.”

Joey went by the alias because carneys are like prophets, they don’t get much honor in their own country. Or to quote Joey himself, nobody will pay good money to see an American pissant tote a sawlog, but they will shell out the coin to see a foreign pissant drag a twig.

Joey had started out life mucking in the mines around Manassa, Colorado, where Jack Dempsey got his start, and Joey was a sure enough strong man. I knew Joey pretty well, him bein’ a friend of my dad and my boss both, and I had stopped by to chin when Pa Hendrix showed up.

Now I better explain that as “Atlas,” one of Joey’s acts was to pinch an iron wheel, the thing must have weighed two hundred pounds, between his thumb and forefinger and hoist it over his head. One handed!

No sir, you did not want to make Joey mad and then offer to shake hands and make up. Not if you had anything you wanted to do with that hand in the next few months. Big Peters could match Joey squeeze for squeeze, but even there it was a standoff.

“Atlas” was offering a hundred bux to anyone who could take a lemon he’d squeezed and get even one more drop of juice out of it. This one paid his buck and tried, and that one tried, and somebody offered to pay if Big Peters would try but Big and Joey had been pals during Big’s carnying days so Big wouldn’t waste his time that way.

But lo and behold, after everybody else had failed to get even one more drop out of that lemon, Pa Hendrix steps up and forks over his buck. Joey takes pity on the old man and squeezes a fresh lemon – but when Pop gets his mitts on the thing it looked like it had been mangled by a whole bunch of wringers. Pa squeezed and squeezed and squeezed and managed to get ONE drop of juice out of it.

So Joey digs in his kick, gets out a hundred dollar bill, and hands it over, while his talker makes a big deal out of the fact that nobody had ever managed that feat before.

“Tell me, sir, how did you ever manage to squeeze one more drop of juice from a lemon that had been squeezed by Atlas, the Russian Strong Boy?”

“Oh,” sez Pa softly. “I have had lots of practice squeezing things. I have been the treasurer of our Church for nearly twenty years.”

That happened after Pa got sick, real sick. He figures he’s about to cash in, and for some reason he thinks that since a condemned man is supposed to get what he wants for his last meal he ought to get his last wish, too. He hears one of the kids mentions that Mom is baking pies.

When Ma comes in Pa puts on his most feeble tone of voice and pleads for a piece of pie.

“Sorry Pa,” sez Ma, “I’m saving those pies for the funeral.” Made Pa so darn mad he got well just to spite her. And that’s the only time in living memory that Ma didn’t get her way.

Now, like I said, Pa’s buddy was Jim Peerce. Pronounced Percy. Jim was the guy who loaded those hundred pound sacks of flour up when some lady decided she liked the pattern on that bag on the floor.

Jim got to restack the flour ten sacks high, get that certain sack out, and then like as not put it back and restack the stack because the customer didn’t think she would look nice in that pattern dress. Needles to say, when Jim got home after a hard day at the office he didn’t feel like putting up with no female folderol.

So Jim’s wife Maisie sort of felt like the spark had gone out of her marriage. Not that she wasn’t a pretty nice looking gal, but she felt like she wasn’t getting all that was coming to her.

That was when saran wrap first came out, and the magazines were full of the wonders of this miracle see through clinging film. One of the ladies magazines mentioned that everything looked more appetizing wrapped in saran wrap, so Maisie got the idea that she would wrap herself in saran wrap and see what happened. Maybe the magazine suggested it, I don’t know. But anyhoo, Jim came home and Maisie met him at the door wearing a saran wrap dress and a smile.

Jim didn’t know what to say, so he said the first thing that popped in his head. “So, we’re having leftovers again tonight.”

Hey, look at the time! So before I go, let me admit that I cribbed every one of those Texas jokes from a joke book. The title was “The Joke’s on Massachusetts.”

Stranger

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