And Up Jumps The Devil

Well, the stores think Christmas is almost here and the radio is playing those old familiar refrains again. Like Rudolph. I sure remember when that song came out. I was in the railroad station in Raleigh, North Carolina the first time I heard Roy Rogers singing that tune.

The ticket agent was a buxom blonde showing more chest than was generally acceptable in those days and several of the college kids buying tickets were a more’n a little goggleyed at the sight. Some of their eyes got so big they stuck out like a crabs! One of them rubbed his eyes back in their sockets and squeezed in line ahead of me. In a minute that purty thang sang out “Destination, Puleeze?”

“Two pickets to Tittsburgh,” sez the boy. He didn’t notice, but she did! I could sympathize with him, she had just about the same effect on me. But I managed to get my ticket to Savannah without misspeaking myself. I think. At least, If I did, she did not glare at me.

Which ‘minds me that I was totin’ bags for tips when a country looking couple walks in and the man asks for a room – while the gal hangs back and looks embarrassed. Jimmy, the desk clerk, recognizes the symptoms, of course.

“You will want the bridal chambers, of course,” sez Jimmy.

“Well, we will rent one for the wife,” sez the lad, “But I’ll jest pee out the winder like I do at home.”

But anyhoo, right now the radio is playing a cheerful ditty that goes “Happy Birthday Father Christmas.” Father Christmas is what the Brits and Aussies call Santa Claus, and the song reminds me of a red headed college professor type war bride I ran into one time. Literally!

We turned the same corner at the same time and wham! She had about two hundred and fifty or so pounds on me and it was like getting smacked by a feather bed tied to the front end of a Mack truck. Although the truck she smacked me into did me more damage.

I found her a pleasant enough bird, but rawtha intimidating to a skinny kid like me. She was the type to warm you in winter and shade you in the summer, though. Big gal! Six seven or so, and she’d go around four hundred on the hoof. So big I figured they took her measurements like surveying land, by rods and chains.

But she was towing a daughter about my age, and OH MY!, that Hermione gal made me forget all my cuts and contusions. Yessir, that gal just naturally forced a growing boy to look her up one side and right back down the same side, she looked so good.

She was a popular gal, although she took after her mama. Crik in the neck tall. She could have had a date every night. But this English gal was a budding opera singer. And opera in English makes about as much sense to me as Russian baseball.

It’s sort of like playing country music backward. You know how that goes, the dog comes back; your ex gets married, stops the alimony and brings your truck back; your mamma gets out of jail, somebody else confesses to the crime, and you ain’t left with a thing to cry about.

Hermione got religion and Brother Hataway James was going to baptize her. She gets ready and Brother James sez “Now, Hermione, I’m going to wash all your sins away.”

“My goodness,” giggles Ermie, “In that little tub?”

Speaking of Brother Hataway James, that young man told a story about going to preach sermons in little country churches when he was still in Bible School. He said he got to a church in Eram, which is out from Muskogee if they haven’t moved it, and the congregation was waiting on him. The whole congregation!

They wanted him to have a trial for one of the oldest members of the congregation, who was accused of cussin’ the church! Now, that was a serious matter! So the whole congregation gathers up to try this old fellow and kick him out of the church.

Naturally, they had to let the defendant have his say after four or five said they had heard him cuss the church in church.

He starts out “I don’t know what to say about this. They say I cussed the church, and I didn’t, but in a way I did.”

Of course, that had everyone’s attention so Brother James waved him to go on.

“We had that funeral for Aunt Ophelia Jenkins last week, and the whole settlement gathered up for services. When they opened the casket there was a big old polecat setting on top of Aunt Ophelia just like he belonged there.”

“That critter stuck its tail straight up and started running around trying to get out of the coffin. The congregation made a rush for the door. In all the rush and excitement Brother Jenkins and Sister O’Toole got jammed up in the door, and little Johnny Jenkins tried to crawl between their legs and kicked me in the knee. It was just an awful mess. In all the excitement I hollered out `Damn a church house anyway that don’t got but one door.'”

Those folks should have taken a page from the old gypsy’s three simple rules for a long life. “Always have payoff money. Always have getaway money. Never let yourself get parked in.”

Anyhoo, Father Christmas has had his birthday and now somebody is playing a Irish jig on a pipe organ. Sounds like an elephant trying to toe dance. The Washerwoman is a fun “chune” on an accordion, banjo, or a concertina, but it wants a more agile instrument than the “giant Wurlitzer pipe organ.” Or someone with faster fingers who can compensate for the delay between pressing a key and getting a toot.

Of course, the accordion, the “knee organ,” called a Cordovox isn’t much smaller than a theater organ. At something like nine grand and up, way up, new, it’s not much cheaper than one, either. And not a darn bit lighter. As the kinks in my back can attest.

You know what a half step in music is? That’s a Cordovox player staggering on stage with fifty pounds of squeezebox strapped to his chest.

The only thing in portable music boxes heavier than a Cordovox is a bandonion, a semi-portable bass register box that’s popular in Argentina. But any knee-harmonica is heavy. Even a little fifteen pound pedalowka gets heavy at the end of a six hour polka session.

That’s why male squashbox players have so much sympathy for women’s issues. They know what it’s like to be nine months preggers and stand on your dogs all night long.

One thing, though, a squeezebox doesn’t kick like a baby. It pinches. Particularly on a long cut time solo. Things get moving when you play twice as fast as the rest of the band.

A second’s carelessness can feel like you just had your appendix out without anesthetic. It can make a boy think he’s been turned into a girl, I guarantee!

But a piano with suspenders has certain advantages over other instruments. I knew a Scotsman that took up the “box.” He had been first piper in a bagpipe band until all his teeth fell out. The poor soul had lost his grip! He couldn’t hold on to his mouthpiece.

The change made sense, since the “box” is the Scot’s second national instrument. They call it a bagpipe with pleats. Of course, most accordions are “musette” tuned, and “musette” is French for a sort of Breton dudelsak.

But the Scots are a unique people. They can take the two instruments that annoy the most people in this world, put them in the same band, and make ’em sound pretty good. Especially when the audience gets a snootful of that aged motor oil distilled with peat they call Scotch whisky.

Of course, these days stomach steinways are out of style with Americans. Considering that a decent Striduli starts at around six grand and goes up, I expect they are priced out of the US market.

A kid that won’t hesitate to pay $80,000 for a mass produced motorized rollerskate with a snake on the logo will balk at five grand for a handcrafted musical instrument. A 99 buck Chinese plunkbox with a warped neck and frets set so high they eat fingertips like a five year old eats Eskimo Pies is more their speed.

Accordions are as popular as ever with folks from the rest of the world, though. I was over in Hotlanta a few weeks ago and read in the Constitution that a Mexican accordion player who was on his way from a wedding to a dance just had to have a cuppa. So Jose stops at the 7-11 on Peachtree Industrial for some caffine. He was just drawing one when he realized his mistake. He ran back outside, but it was too late.

Somebody had already smashed in his pickup window and thrown two more accordions into the seat. But at least accordion players are a sociable lot.

You know what happens when a bunch of accordion players get together, don’t you. Bellowship!

Speaking of which, do you know the difference between an accordion and a lawnmower? The neighbors get real upset if you borrow a lawnmower and don’t return it.

But bad puns aside, accordions have a lot of health benefits. If you stand up to play, the extra weight is good exercise. Learning to play is much like playing the piano lying on the piano stool, but it sharpens your mind something wonderful, especially when you are exercising your fingers with the Hanon, but playing a familiar tune is very relaxing. And no, accordions are not hard to play. No harder than learning Polish.

You know, a lot of famous people have been pleated piano players. Richard Nixon for one. John Dean for another. And both the Nixon daughters – making a White House pancordion quartet of an ill assorted sort.

And an Air Force General, and movie actor name of Jimmy Stuart was a whiz with the waistline wurlitzer. He didn’t need backup in that Western scene where he’s playing his antique Busson on the train, waiting for the baddies to show up.

‘Fact, when they were making that movie Stuart’s playing intrigued an Apache extra, who persuaded Jimmy to teach him to play the belly baldwin. And insisted on giving Stuart drum lessons in return.

That’s how Jimmy Stuart became the best Apache war drum beater in the Air Force. And also how the squeezebox became part of Waila, the Mex-Oodham music of southern Arizona.

Huddie Ledbetter, “Leadbelly,” picked out the tune on a 12 bass he called a “windjammer” when he wrote Goodnight Irene. Charlie Chaplin was another actor/accordionist. Another ham, actor, and musician, “Big Daddy” Burl Ives, played the accordion. As did former French PM Giscard d’Estang and the former President of Iceland, Vigdis Finnbogadottir. And a bunch of other fairly famous folks.

Oh well, let me change the station! Ah, “He fought for Red Nellie’s honor, he died with two six guns a blazin’, but only two hairs on his chest.”

Well, the Lavender Cowboy had a common enough problem. The education system failed him. Nobody ever told him the facts of life. He-men don’t have hair on their chests. They keep it wore off. Or their women folks do, at any rate.

Of course, women are changeable folks. I remember a while back when a Coast big shot croaked and the widow told the folks at O’Keefe’s to absolutely spare no expense. The bill came to a cool thirty seven grand and change. And the widow was plumb indignant.

“But madam,” sez the undertaker, “You said to give him the best.”

“Yes,” said the grief stricken one, “And it would have been three thousand dollars cheaper to bury him in a BMW.”

It would have been, too. Well, the tune has changed to a varsouviana. Shoe the Donkey, it’s called. Which reminds me of the time I was up in fox hunting country, Kentucky.

The widow lady I was doing odd jobs for was named Mary Harris, and she had a mule she called Herb. Late one afternoon she calls the vet and sez “Doc, Herb is sick and I wish you would come over and look at him.”

The doc told her Herb was most likely “bound up” with gas, and to give Herb a dose of mineral oil. The doc promised to call in the morning and see about him if he didn’t perk right up.

“How do I give it to him?”

“Through a funnel, of course.”

“But he might bite me!” sez Miz Harris.

“Now, Mary, you are a farm woman and you know about these things. You have to give it to him through the other end.”

So Miz Harris went out to the barn and there’s Herb with his head down, moaning and groaning. Something had to be done!

Miz Harris looks around for a funnel, but the nearest thing she could find to one was her Uncle Charlie’s fox hunting horn, a brass horn with red tassels tied to it.

She takes that horn, inserts the mouthpiece in the proper place and ties the tassels to the root of Herb’s tail so it won’t fall out. Herb pays no attention at all to these goings on. Then Miz Harris reaches up on the shelf where the veterinary medicines were kept.

But Miz Harris was long sighted and her reading glasses were in the kitchen, so she misses the mineral oil and gets the turpentine instead. And promptly proceeds to pour an extra liberal dose of turps in the horn and all over Herb’s hindquarters. Like the better part of a quart. You talk about a surprised mule!

Herb raised his head with a sudden jerk that snapped his halter rope. He let out a scream they could hear a mile away. He rears up on his hind legs, brings his front legs down, kicks a hole in the side of the barn, bolts through it, and starts down the road at full gallop. Don’t think a mule can’t run!

Now, the vet was right, and Herb was full of gas. All the activity got things moving back there, so every few jumps that horn tooted, long and loud.

Every dog in the neighborhood knew when that horn blew it meant Uncle Charlie was going fox hunting. So the dogs held a gathering out on the highway, barking joyously and running like blazes after old Herb.

I tell you, that was a sight. First, Herb running at full gallop, the brass horn hanging under his tail, the ends of the tassels flying, and about sixty or seventy dogs baying him on.

The went by Old Man Howe, who was setting on his front porch. The Old Man hadn’t drawn a sober breath in forty year, and he gazed in absolute amazement as the parade passed under the street light. He thought he’d come down with the delirious tremulous and was seeing mules instead of snakes. He swore off moonshine for the rest of the night.

By that time it was pitch black out. Herb and the dogs were on the main road, coming up on the swing bridge over the Elkhorn. The bridge tender heard the horn blowing and figured a coal barge was coming.

So the bridge tender turns the bridge. Herb ran out of road, fell in the river, hit the bridge pier, broke his neck, and died. The dogs followed him into the water, but they swam out without much trouble.

Now, it just so happened that the bridge tender was running for tax assessor of Jessimine County. But he only got three votes.

Folks figured any idjit that didn’t know the difference between a mule with a horn up its behind and a coal barge coming down the river wasn’t fit to hold office.

Well, there’s Christmas in Killarney. I can’t think of anything I’d rather hear this time of year than a pretty sounding girl singing “Father Brown, before he’s gone, will bless the house and all.”

I knew a preacher one time name of Brown, over in Buna, Texas, back when gas was rationed and most folks either walked or stayed home.

Brother Brown was always exhorting his congregation not to be scared of the Devil, the Lord would take care of them. Some of the tough kids in the bunch decided to test the old boy’s nerves so they got some red flannel and made themselves a devil suit.

One Wednesday sermon Brown’s preaching away about not being skeered of the Devil when one of the boys jumps out of the loft wearing that devil suit and yelling a blue streak.

The congregation got the jump on the preacher and got to the road before him. But he caught the congregation, passed them, and was going away in about three seconds flat! As he faded in the dark he hollered back “I ain’t skeered of the Devil, mind you, I’m just too good to associate with him.”

Well, that’s it for that half hour. If I can get my regular computer to behave I will post more often.


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And The Charitable Lawyer Could Spare A Kidney

I hear a lot of folks were disappointed that the end of world hasn’t happened yet. ‘Minds me of the story they told on old Cooter Hatcher. This young preacher came prospecting around looking for – well, to tell the truth he was looking for folks that would drop pictures of Lincoln or Jackson in the collection plate every Sunday. But he said he was looking for souls to save.

This feller, I don’t remember his name, was called on to preach on the courthouse lawn one first Saturday. He called on himself, of course, like most of the self appointed preachers I have known. And every one of the bunch could could blow up a blimp by themselves between breakfast and dinner.

This jackleg starts his trade day sermon with “I’m just a poor country preacher” and Mrs. Jackson Willets hollers out “I know you are. I’ve heard you preach.” Which cracked up the crowd. They had heard him preach too!

But anyhoo, this shirt tail preacher pulls up in the Hatcher yard, hops out, and without as much as “Howdy” comes right out and asks Cooter if he’s lost.

“Why, no,” sez Cooter. “I been living right here more’n forty year.”

“I mean, have you found Jesus?” sez the Bible thumper.

“I didn’t know He was lost,” sez Cooter. “My Bible sez He’s up in Heaven until He comes agai

“No, what I mean is, are you a member of the Christian Band?”

“I don’t play no pianner nor nothin’,” Cooter orates, “You must be lookin’ for that fiddle playin’ Charlie Christian that lives third house the other side of the forks.”

“No, my question is are you ready for the Judgement Day?”

“When is it?” asks Cooter.

“No man knows. It might be next week or it might be next year.”

“Well, when you find out let me know. The old woman might want to go both days.”

Yessir, no man knows the day or the hour. But if there’s a nickel to be made some sharper will claim to know. And there will be fourteen hundred more standing with their hands out following him.

But that Cooter Hatcher was a cutter, a hard worker, but he was bad to drink and generally a mess – and all sixteen of his boys were just like him. I remember when his youngest, Coy, came walking down the main drag all dressed up like the guest of honor at a ten thousand dollar funeral. Except Coy’s pants didn’t have the hind end cut out of them like those funeral home suits do.

But anyhoo, Cleveland the grocer asks Coy where he’s going.

“Oh, I’m going over to Joplin,” drawls slow talking Coy. “I’m gunna visit me one of those sporting houses where they got all them good lookin’ women, you know.”

“Well, hayell,” sez Cleveland, “Why are you all duded up just to visit a sportin’ house?”

“If’n it’s as much fun as they say it is,” drawls Coy, “I figured I might just as well stay over Sunday.”

But speaking of funeral home pants reminds me of the time ‘Ol Cooter got potted and came wabblin’ out of the alley, there was only one alley in town, wabblin’ like a model T Ford with a flat tire, and almost run over Father Fitzgerald.

Cooter takes one bleary look at the padre and busts out with “My God, man, you must be drunk! You done put your shirt on ass backards.”

“No, you don’t understand,” sez the padre in his rich Irish brogue. “I’m Father Fitzgerald.”

“Well, heyell, I got sixteen boys myself and I don’t wear my collar ass backard.”

“No, you still don’t understand me,” sez the Padre. “I’m the father of thousands.”

“Heyell, man, you don’t need to wear your collar backards,” slurs Cooter. “You need to wear your pants backards!”

Which, speakin’ of Father Fitzgerald, somebody asked the Padre what the difference was between Lutherans and Catholics. “Me bhoy,” sez the Padre, “Lutherans sin just like Catholics. They just never learned to enjoy it.”

Now – speakin’ of Cooter Hatcher and his boys, Cooters wife bought two identical big letter Bibles, not the regular King James version but some sort of revisionist Bible, from a travellng salesman one time. She kept one and gave the other to Brother Henry, the preacher at the Hatcherville Baptist.

Brother Henry was almost blind, so the gift was much appreciated. But two of Cooters younger boys got to going through their mama’s Bible and noticed something real interestin’ about the way Noah’s flood described. And when the word got around that Brother Henry was going to preach on the Flood – the boys slipped into the church and cut one of the pages of the gift Bible out.

So come Sunday, Brother Henry started reading out of the Book and sez “Noah took unto himself a wife and she was,” and he shifts the Bible where he could start at the top of the next page, “Three hundred cubits long and fifty cubits wide and fifty cubits high.”

All at once he breaks off and very obviously goes back to the bottom of the previous page. You could see his lips move as he read the passage over again.

Then he starts to take up his sermon again, starting out “I been reading this Bible over 80 year, man and boy, and they’s parts of it that’s mighty hard to believe.”

But I got Leroy Van Dyke singing that “Auctioneer” song on the radio. Now that brings back memories – of fifteen cent quarts of milk, dime loaves of bread, fifty cent a pound sirloin with a big hunk of suet thrown in to cook it in, and a whole bunch of good times. I had a lot of fun in those days even if I almost starved to death. Broke – more’n somewhat – most of the time.

This world has improved a bunch since those days. But one thing is just the same as it’s always been. You got to be careful, and you got to be smart, and you always have to consider the consequences of everything you do, just to get along.

Like that story about Joe, a Cape Cod lawyer who figured he was just about at the end of his rope. His addition showed it would take a cool million to pay off his loans and let him eat off the interest for the rest of his life. Two million would let him live in the style to which he had accustomed himself. And being broke and hungry and sleeping under the dock – he didn’t see how he’d ever survive.

So he hikes down the beach, figuring he’d find a nice deserted place to start swimming for Europe. Not that he expected to make it, but he was going to swim as far as he could before he drowned. But anyhoo he’s strolling along the beach when he comes across an odd looking ceramic jug with a funny looking lead seal on top of a cork stopper.

Being the very model of a thoroughly modern College Man, Broke Joe had never heard of the Seal of Solomon. So he does not know what he is looking at. And if he did he probably would have figured he had nothing to lose and gone ahead and indulged his curiosity.

So he pulls the cork, there’s a cloud of smoke, and a Djinn appears. A Djinn being the right name for what TV calls a Genie. Except that a Djinn is the real McCoy and has powers to read minds and manipulate time and matter that TV never thought of – and the manners and morals of an eight year old brat.

Which is why Solomon, Son of David, imprisoned them in clay jugs, amphoras rather than bottles, one to a jug, put an impenetrable seal on them, and threw their prisons in the sea about 3200 years ago. Naturally, quite a few of the Djinn have gone off their rockers in those thousands of years of solitary confinement, so breaking Solomon’s seal and uncorking a crazy Djinn is taking your life in your hands.

But this Djinn smiles at our bankrupt hero and sez “Yes, to thank you for rescuing me from my prison, I really will give you any three of your heart’s desires. You have only to ask and you will receive. But let me warn you that I was the chief judge among the Djinn, so what I grant to you, I will grant to every other lawyer in the world, in double measure. Choose carefully, for whatever you wish for, every other lawyer will have two of.”

“Sounds Jake to me,” sez Broke Joe. “I can’t afford to worry about trifles like that. First of all, I want two million dollars American in hundred dollar bills.”

“Done,” sez the Djinn, as box after box of U.S government issue paper money appeared in front of Broke Joe. “But remember, you have two million dollars but every other lawyer in the world has four million.”

“That’s OK,” sez Nouveau Riche Joe. “I can’t afford pride, and I never begrudged anyone anything. But I have always wanted a Rolls Royce limo to carry my money in.”

“Done,” sez the Djinn with a smile. “And every other lawyer in the world has two. And what do you want for your third wish, my friend?”

“Well,” sez Joe, “I always liked to help people in need and I can spare a kidney….”

And with a gusty laugh, the Djinn left Joe to load his newfound wealth in his limo and contemplate a brighter world…..


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The Only Way You Can Tell Is By Their Vote

Glancing over the morning’s news, I was struck by the number of Congressmen who are members of the Republican Party, but usually vote like Democrats.

As the hawkers used to say at the ball games, “Programs, getcher programs, You can’t tell the players without a program. Getcher programs here.”

Yep, you cannot tell who belongs to what party without a program. And the closest thing we have is the ‘On the Issues” website.


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Head Start As Successful As Teaching A pig To Play The Banjo

A five year study at Vanderbilt University found little, if any, gains in pre-kindergarten school programs.

While they do provide a state controlled place for pre-school age children to stay under State control and indoctrination, they do nothing toward furthering the children’s education. Given the nature of the rasa tabula that is a small child’s mind, that would be the expected result. Briefly quoting the Nashville Public Radio report linked above:

Vanderbilt Peabody College professors followed a thousand students from pre-K through third grade and compared them to a control group who skipped pre-K. All of the students are considered economically disadvantaged.

Not only did students who missed pre-K catch up within a year or two. But researchers found, on the whole, students who attended pre-K fell behind their peers by the time they finished third grade.

Yep, just as many experienced teachers expected, Head Start is a counterproductive failure. One that would not have been imposed on helpless children, had not it profited someone enough to buy a new government program.


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Amusing: Far Left Academic Says America Owes Trillions

Years ago, when I bewailed the fact that every recess turned into a brawl, my father told me “Never regret the circumstances that led to your existence.”

If Custer had not chased a band of Cheyenne hundreds of miles in order to kill a chief and seize the daughter that caught Yellow Hair’s eye, I would not exist. If a Scots Laird had not ordered his crofters burned out to make room for sheep, I would not exist. And there is hardly a man alive on the face of the earth who is not an accidental product of some tragic event.

That comment made, I see a Communo-Socialist academic, Noam Chomsky, says America should pay reparations to Black Americans, Indians, and Iraqis. And used the insulting “native Americans” in that advocacy.

Of course, there would be very few Black Americans had not their own people sold their ancestors into the hands of Arabian slave traders, who sold them in turn to their Spanish counterparts, who sold most of them to Spanish and Portuguese slave dealers at the Havana slave market. There is no doubt the United States had slavery, but American slaves were at least fed, housed, and given the same medical treatment as their owners. Slaves were too valuable not to treat them well, compared to the unfortunates that went to Spanish and Portuguese colonies.

For the most part, even the “blackbirders” who transported millions of African slaves across the Atlantic treated the unfortunate victims of an African custom better than their captors did. If spending up to four weeks chained to the filthy deck of a ship was bad, consider the plight of up to forty thousand captives a year yoked to stakes driven in hard ground, waiting to be sacrificed ti their captors ancestors. Or an equal number in chains, working their captors fields until they too were sacrificed. Before the slave trade, captives were sacrificed to their ancestors, not giv3e at least a chance at survival And to become the ancestors of today’s Black Americans.

Reparations? If reparations are due they should be borne by the Dahomey, Fon, and the other major African slave sellers. Not by people whose ancestors were, by and large, in Europe and bitterly opposed to human slavery. A condition uncomfortably close to their own.

Reparations for Native Americans? You imply that a peoples are aboriginal, primitive, unsophisticated, “unsophisticated” and tell a third party they owe them? True enough, by nature, I owuld like to see the Great Plains given back to the Sioux, the Cheyenne, Ponca, Kiowa, Comanche and the many other nations that inhabited that land before the sort of governance that academic supports drove huge numbers of Europeans to seek a place to make a better life.

While reparation’s my well be due to the Indian Nations that were crowded out by population pressures and the conflict of cultures, there is not enough money in the world to pay the Indians for what they have lost. You cannot pay a man for the murder of his ancestors. As a practical matter, the best you can do is to try to make The People proud and self supporting humans again.

Reparations for Iraq? Virtually all the damage done to Iraq was done by its own people, in sectarian violence. America toppled a tyrant, put a country on a path to independence as a nation, only to see it destroyed in the age old conflict between Sunni and Sharia, and the power madness of the Iranian theocracy. the Iraqis are responsible for their own plight. so let them pay.

Chomsky’s ideas on reparations are as unrealistic as his Communo-Socialist politics. Politics that, with its Fascistoo-Socialist twin have cost more than 300 million innocent lives since 1900. Opinions based on an unrealistic view of reality, combined with a simplistic view of how social systems work.

It is time for the professor emeritus to become emeritus.


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Maisie Made Everything Perfectly Clear

Well, I got Mickey Gilley on the CD player. That’s one of those transplanted Texans 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. Even the ones that moved to Hurricane Central, AKA Florida.

Now, I went to school in Texas, learned all about Sam Houston single handedly whipped the whole Mexican Army at the battle of San Jacinto, Audie Murphy whipped the whole German Army in Europe, and I even had an “I am a Texan” sticker on my notebook while I was doing it.

But I also went to school in the the OK State, Alta Tejas, and I dared not mention attending school in Baja Oklahoma. Not unless I had an urge to whip every boy in school and half the girls. Do you know how hard it is to whip a girl when you cannot touch her? So shutmouuth was the rule.

But even at that I heard plenty of implausable stories about Texans.

It was the summer of ’47 that a one of those folks from Baja Oklahoma, careless folks call them Texans but their right name is Tejanos, “Tee han os,” came up to Kiowa and got in with Joe and Jimmy Exter. Who always claimed to have more of what you had than you did, so we generally called him Jimmy Extra.

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 class. 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 his dads old pickup, Jimmy was riding shotgun, and the Tehanner kid was riding in the pickup bed.

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. Since the Exter kids drove like bats out of hell, it was safer to hang on and hope.

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

Yessir, Okies as a rule will tell you e Texans are a bit dumb. And some would give aa post serious competition in the smarts department. Most 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 Texans 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 for a funeral procession to pass 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 in he Star-Telegram 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 four seven and a ninety pounds. Pretty girls, liked to dance all night and dance a little longer. Had a lot of boy friends because they were so small they couldn’t wear the pants in the family. Maybe they could not wear the britches, but they knew how to get their way.

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 finance companies hired her to read the fine print at the end of the radio commercials.

One of the Ladies Aid women got tangled up with Margaret Sanger’s eugenics brought up the subject of when life began. One of her Sunday School class 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 John Jeremy Jenkins Hendrix but everyone called him Pa because his kids did. 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.”

Did I mention 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 three ride carnival sets up in Elk City and the whole Hendrix clan takes off to see the elephant and ride the rides. The Ferris Wheel, carousel, and kiddie cars. The star of the show was Joey Pedderson, aka “Atlas Shickeliviki,” the Russian Strong Boy.” I knew Joey, who was from Waterloo, Iowa.
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 saw log, 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 and my dad 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 Pa 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 a poor Church for nearly twenty years.”

That happened after Pa got sick, real sick. Pa 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. And pie is Pa Hendrix favorite fruit.

When Ma comes in Pa puts on his most feeble tone of voice and pleads for a last 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 bottom of the stack.

Jim got to unstack and 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.”

Well, the time I had has gone so keep checking. I will have more – and more variety, later.


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“Is That How High you Want The Steeple?”

Well, the preacher made a rare appearance at the breakfast stop, and I got to listen to his mellifluous voice expounding on his his line of work, herding the flock toward heaven’s gates. He pulls out a piece of paper and said “I want to share this with y’all, because it is the absolute truth.” And Brother John begins to make oration.

“The results of a computerized survey indicate the perfect pastor preaches exactly 15 minutes,” Brother John began.

“The perfect pastor condemns sin but never upsets anyone.”

“The perfect pastor works from 8 AM to midnight. In his spare time, he is also the janitor.”

“The perfect pastor makes $50.00 a week, wears good clothes, reads good books, drives a good car, and gives about $50.00 a week to the poor.”

“The perfect pastor is 38 years old and has been preaching at least 40 years.”

“The perfect pastor has a burning desire to work with teens, and spends all of his time with senior citizens.”

“The perfect pastor smiles all the time and keeps a straight face because he has a sense of humor that keeps him seriously dedicated to his work.”

“The perfect pastor makes 15 calls a day on parish families, shut-ins, and parishioners who are hospitalized.”

“The perfect pastor spends all of his time evangelizing the unchurched and is always in his office when he is needed.”

I was sitting there drinking coffee, black as hell and twice as hot, and thinking the poll respondents must all be Democrats, when the Preacher came to the windup of his oration.

“If your pastor does not measure up to these standards, simply send this letter to six other parishes that are tired of their pastor, too. Then bundle up your pastor and send him or her to the church at the top of the list. In one week, you will receive 1,643 pastors and one of them should be perfect. But remember, you must have faith in this letter. One church broke the chain and got its old pastor back in less than a week.”

I was thinking, as he read that, that there is more truth than poetry there. In fact, it wouldn’t take much of a workover to describe what folks expect out of any of who volunteer their time and services to a cause.

Now, speaking of preachers, pastors, sky pilots, and such, I heard there was an ecumenical council in Wichita last summer. Of course, they had to open the meeting with a prayer. The delegates were surprised when the moderator began, “Puke and weenie men as we are, er, I mean, weak and puny men as we are….

According to some gossip on a Topeka repeater, during that meeting somebody ran in hollering “The building is on fire.” At the shout of fire….

The Methodists immediately gathered in a corner and prayed.

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

The Congregationalists shouted, “Every man for himself.”

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

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

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

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

The Episcopalians formed a procession and marched out in good order.
The Unitarians formed a committee, which concluded the fire had as much right to be there as anyone else.

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

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

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

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

Now, the Southwestern Bible College was big on what would have been called “circuit riding” back in the old days. When they thought a prospective preacher was ready they would send him to this little church or that little church to hold services. Johnny Grubbs had gotten to that stage and was looking forward to his first preaching experience when a fellow student wound up in the hospital.

The boy had been sent to one of the little pipeline towns that would spring up and fade away over a summer – and the pipeliners didn’t take a shine to the boy’s style of preachment. So they shot him! id

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

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

course, poor Johnny was about to faint at that point.

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

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

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

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

Speaking of sorry preachers, I saw a want ad in the Minneapolis Star last summer that began “TAKE OUR PASTOR, PLEASE. Thriving congregation in rapidly developing suburban area desperately needs new, creative, clerical leadership. We would like to trade pastors with a congregation that needs a kindly but do-nothing pastor. We will pay the first year’s salary package plus a substantial bonus for speedy departure. Please respond ASAP to box 275, the Star.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now, speaking of Preacher Hollingsworth reminds me that I spent several hard days working in his plantation. Digging holes in clay that was as hard as brick to plant folks in.

Most of them for good folks who were missed by everyone who knew them. But every once in a while somebody would come along whose departure was a relief to all.

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

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

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

But bad weather didn’t stop a prairie funeral. Skin don’t leak, you know, and most folks were glad enough to get soaked as long as it rained. I thought Preacher Hollingsworth preached a mighty fine sermon, myself. Although I noticed a couple of the DuFresne’s neighbors looked mighty doubtful when the Preacher dwelled a little on her points.

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

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

It sounded a lot like Bill to me. But speaking of Berta DuFresne reminds me of how natural everybody said she looked.

Everybody looked, you know. Because she was one of those folks who have a big funeral. Everybody came to make sure she was dead. The undertaker was an old man name of Dollarhide. Alexander Dollarhide.

Al was a real artist at making the departed look like they were still breathin’. After Berta’s departure somebody put a limerick in the paper, contributed a verse that the editor put in the paper, about Dollerhide’s expertise.

Alexander, the cheerful mortician

With makeup is a real magician.

For all sexes and races,

He paints smiles on their faces,

So they can grin as they go to perdition.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What did he say?” asked Father Pat.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Speaking of Father O’Brien, one time they called the Padre to come to Breckinridge to administer the last rites to old man Jones. Eldridge Jones.

After he had done everything he could for the man, he steps aside to make room for the family. The old man’s only granddaughter stood at the old man’s feet, the rest of his children and the grandsons gathered around the bed, and the waiting began.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Reminiscing About Spinning Wax

Back when I first got my Second Class, I got a job as a jack of all trades at a radio station. The First Class from the big station in Tulsa stopped by at 3:3- in the AM and brought the old crackerbox’ filaments up to temperature, and from 4:30 to 9:00 I spun wax and ran across the street when the bus came in so I could read the news off the “wire.” The wire being the front page of the Daily Oklahoman.

I found a playlist on the ‘net that sure reminds me of those days. Got lots of good music on, the Hut Sut Song, reminds me of the old days – real old days. I started school at Cleveland, the first time that song was popular.

Miss Brand was my first teacher. After more’n a I sure remember that woman. Mighty nice, and mighty pretty. And above all mighty patient, trying to get thirty seven six year old’s to peck up a few kernels of learning.

There was one boy in class who had been set back twice. His name was Tommy, Tommy Schwartz. Tommy’s daddy had bottle fever awful bad, and his mother had run off, (Who could blame her?) which would have been bad enough but his daddy was always on his duster to beat somebody up. He’d come in after school and if he hadn’t had a fight or two, or he’d lost a fight, his daddy would call him Mary Ann and use him for a punchin’ bag. Just a sad case all ’round, but all the kids were scared of Tommy and had real good reasons to let him alone. I still wear scars Tommy gave me.

One day Miss Brand was tryin’ to get a little basic add em up down the kids, so she says, “Class, if I laid one egg in this chair and two eggs on this desk, how many eggs would I have?”

And Tommy pipes up, uninvited, “Miss Brand, I don’t think you’re built right to do that.”

Busted the class up, for sure, and Miss Brand laughed loudest of all.

Another time Miss Brand wanted all the kids to take a nap, so she says, “Now class, lets all be quiet as a little mouse.”

Tommy says, “Mice ain’t quiet.” Which they ain’t, but it got another good laugh, and this time Tommy didn’t have no desire to sit down the rest of the day.

Yep, that Tommy was sure a tough kid, and I look at scars he gave me every time I shave. I got in more fights there than in any school I ever went to – except Waldo, Arkansas.

Went to part of the fourth grade in Waldo. That’s where I learned not to sock somebody in the mouth that’s chewing tobacco.

There’s Shoo Fly Pie. That always reminds me of one of the two jobs I have been fired from. I sure deserved that firing. I was the early morning announcer at the radio station. That was back just after the FCC had banned “Stone Cold Dead in the Market” as being unsuitable for the American public to listen to – which “dey fount ‘im stone col’ dead in de mah-ket” was the whole Calypso song! It was a real big radio station, 100 watts 4:00 AM to sunrise, 250 to sunset, then off.

It was so big that I had to wait for the bus to come in and bring the Daily Oklahoman so I could read the livestock prices, ball scores, how many were arrested in last nights panty raids, and the other really important news. After I got through with important stuff I had to read the war news, Israel versus some Arabs, and politics – and remember to make out like I got it off the “news wire” too.

Every morning the bus would pull in between 4 and 4:30 and throw out the papers. Hilda would set me out a paper and wait for the next record to pour me a big mug of coffee. I’d sprint down the stairs, across the street, throw a dime on the counter, and run back to the studio.

Well, the governor and the legislature had been having a war and The Guv proved a bigshot Senator lying. The Senator claimed he was just using “constructive fiction to clarify the situation.” Something about that got my mouth runnin’ off when it shouldn’t.

When I played the next record I didn’t kill my mike. I could see Hilda, standing in the Cafe window drinking coffee, and the first soft passage I said, loud but real innocent, “I thought constructive fiction was when you were trying to talk a girl into a naval engagement.”

ilda sprayed coffee all over the window. A couple minutes later I was unemployed.

“Kawliga”, Hank Williams – I lived up at Decatur, when that was popular. Most all the working men around town wore khaki pants. Most wore khaki shirts, too, for that matter. They got used to wearing khaki in the army, same placi I learned to carry a coffee cup, and they didn’t feel any more natural in anything but khaki than I do without my coffee cup.

The man who ran the service station on the corner next to Pearl Van Etten’s Boarding House and Cafe on the Southwest corner of Courthouse Square – wish I could remember that man’s name! – told this one on himself.

Said that one night he and his wife went to bed mad. You shouldn’t do that, you know, but they did. Next morning, they got up mad. Of course. So mad that the wife decided to really doll herself up – so she puts on her newest prettiest favorite dress. Then she has to get him to zip her up.

Well, he is still mad, so he just runs her zipper up and down about a dozen times, zipppp – zipppp – zippppp, and then the zipper sticks, plumb. He has to cut her out of her dress, and you know how that makes her feel.

Well, she changes dresses and goes to work, and when she comes in that evening she sees him laying under a car in their driveway. She reaches down and grabs his zipper and zip, zip, zip, real quick.

Then she walks in the kitchen door and he’s settin’ up there in the kitchen drinkin’ coffee.

There’s Jeep Jocky Jump and that reminds me of Joe Cloud.
I mentioned Joe Cloud a while back, the picture taking Indian. Joe was a crackerjack driver, drove everything and always kept the equipment he drove in top shape.

Joe was a truck driver, drove ammo trucks from Cherbourg to Berlin, unloadin’ about a hundred feet behind the fighting ’cause soldiers can’t do much fighting without ammo. ‘Course, this got him shot at a lot and hit some, so they decided a Wisconsin Indian should go to a hospital in Oklahoma. Makes the usual kind of screwy sense most gummitup decisions make.

While Joe was convalescing he would limp around Okie City – and a gal named Mary Mankiller hit Joe’s eye – just right. Good looking gal, too. Mebbe a little hippy for some but sure suited Joe. Sunny personality. Mary got about as stuck on Joe as Joe was on her, too – but the fly in the buffalo fat was Mary’s papa. He wasn’t about to have no son in law to support, not none.

“You get a quarter section with a good house, farm it, and get a good job, you can marry Mary,” sez Papa Mankiller.

Joe takes his back pay, mustering out pay, and his poker winnings and buys a nice place, two quarter sections, 320 acres.

That winter Joe’s folks died, so Joe wound up with a little brother to keep, and the Kid spent most of his time with Mary – which Mary and Papa Mankiller both was as fond of the Kid as if it were really hers, ‘stead of being kinda on loan.

Now, Joe hardly ever spoke his brand of Indian – but he would say “mii iw”, sounds like mee oww, which means that’s enough, or that’s all, or the end, or something like that.

Anyway, one time Joe said his little brother had a cat that knew how to speak Indian. All it did was run around and say “mii iw, mii iw, mii iw,” all day.

Considering how the Kid deviled the cat I ‘spect the cat would have said “mii iw”, that’s enough, for sure, if he could have known what it meant.

Joe took the Kid to the circus one time, and Joe got to walking and talking with Mary. Custom said that they were supposed to walk with the kid between them, and they are looking at each other, talking’, you know, and not paying no ‘tention a’tall that the kid got about six or eight feet in front.

All at once Joe and Mary realize that the kid is standing’ looking up, about a foot behind an elephant – and the elephant is sticking its tail out, and… Joe peeled off left and Mary went right! After they dug the Kid out – he sure did need a bath!

Sure did kill the evening. Joe is a fine fellow. Funny too. Make a stuffed bird laugh!

He’s the guy who told about the old rancher that married a young wife. He couldn’t keep his hands off her. He finally had to fire every one of them.

Ella Mae Morse singing No Love, No Nothing. Dunno’ why but that reminds me of the joke that used to go around about the traveling salesman that broke down miles from nowhere. He goes up to this house and asks for a place to spend the night.

The farmer says “Well, I sure can’t turn you out so you got a choice. You can sleep with Baby or you can sleep in the barn.”

Salesman decides on the barn. Next morning he gets up, goes to the well and pumps water over his head to get him awake, and when he straightens up he comes face to face with the prettiest young woman he ever sees. He gets real excited, and to cover his confusion he asks this maxima femina pulchra her name.

“They call me Baby,” the beauty says, “And who are you?”

“Me? I’m just the biggest dum fool in three states!”

That’s one of those jokebook jokes, not too good.

My son up Yankeeland likes to buy old furniture and stuff at estate auctions. He was at one where the defunct had been collecting rare and valuable Scotch whiskey bottles. The bidding had gotten over 200 bucks on one fancy bottle when an old farmers wife walked over to it and shook it.

“Gawdamighty,” she says, plumb shocked, “It’s empty!”

I’m with her – but two hundred bux is too much for a full bottle of hooch tastes like bad whiskey cut with used motor oil.

Went to see some relatives one year before last and took the grandkids to the Henry Doorly zoo over in Omaha. They have a beautiful zoo there, you go in and almost the first building you go in is the cat house. You walk in the front door and there’s this big glass cage with a white Siberian Tiger pacing back and forth. Durn thing gave me the creeps!

Every time we would go by the cage that tiger would stop pacing and come over to the window and look at me like I was a walking pork chop. First time I have ever been able to read a cats mind. LUNCH!, on the hoof!

Guess he figured the way I walk I couldn’t run very fast, but if he’d broke the glass we’d ha seen how fast I could have got my pocket knife out. I sure had my hand on my Case Stockman’s Special! Left there nervously, for sure.

Down at the bottom of the hill in this zoo there’s a pond with the most and biggest carp I ever saw.

I was taking pictures when a wallet fell out of a mans coat and dropped into the water – and this big carp balanced it on his nose like a seal with a ball. Another one came up and hit it, knocked it over and a third carp bumped it back up in the air. First time I ever saw carp to carp walleting.

Would you like to see my vacation pictures? Well, sorry I axed! There’s Tex Beneke with Jukebox Saturday Night….

Mentioned Sheila Ried a ways back. Nice little heifer, she was. Farm gal, moved to town, real quiet gal. You might near had to hold a gun on her to get her to say anything, but when she said you better listen close.

She was kin of Tag Taggerts, the brand inspector, and she used to ride Tags horses. One day she came in the Jackpot and she’d lost enough hide to half sole an elephant. Everybody wanted to know where she wrecked her car.

She said she’d just been out riding a real polite horse.

“A polite horse? How’s a horse polite, Sheila?”

“Well,” she says, “Tag’s horse was so polite we came to a barb wire fence and he let me cross first.”

Yeah, horses can be a trial, all right, but when you ride you are s’posed to keep a leg firm on each side and your mind in the middle. One thing about horses, they start at thirty below another is they don’t need oil, or grease, or antifreeze, and they don’t get dead batteries either.

The place next to Tag’s was Ol’ Hardmans, but a man named French had the place before Hardman bought it. French had him a little bottling operation there during prohibition. They called his hooch “Summer Vacation” ’cause one drink and school was out. Tag said him and two, three more used to get a pint of French’s nose paint out behind the barn, and take turns nippin’ at the bottle.

After a while one of them would get up and leave and the others would take turns guessing which one it was.

Doggone – there’s Ella Mae Morse with Blacksmith Boogie…

One of the reasons Tag quit shoein’ horses and took Big Peters job of brand inspector was his wife wanted a new indoor bathroom. One with a private tub, ‘stead of a Number 3 washtub in the kitchen, a gas water heater instead of more coal in the stove, and with an indoor reading seat ‘stead of a 30 yard walk in the dark when it’s so cold the cows let down icicles. She told Tag she wanted every night to be Saturday night!

Tag had a falling out with Mullendore at the Bank, so he goes to Altus to borrow a thousand dollars for the job.

Natcheral, the banker hadn’t ever done no business with Tag, so he’s cautious, you know. “Since this is the first time we have done business, Mr. Taggert, would you mind telling me where you done your business before?”

“Out back, where we dug her out and set her in the middle of a willow thicket.”

Ac-cent-chu-ate the Positive, Nat King Cole. MMMM….

The next place out 9 past Hardman’s was the two Church’s, Owen E. and Earle O. The reason I remember their names is because Hen Johnson came back from England talking’ Oklahoma Cockney – the durndest haccent Hi hever ‘eard. She was rattlin on to a lease hound in the Jackpot one day and she told him the place behind Hardmans place was “Ho He hand He Ho Cu-urk’s.” Made me swallow my Java sideways and I durn near strangled.

There were three, four families of Churches on Highway 9. From town pass Hardmans, then the brothers, and Tom, Glenn, and one I can’t put a name to right now. The brothers were two nice old batches, first class farmers, made 3-4 trips a year to Dallas to “Git Them Deep Ellum Blues.”

If you don’t know, Elm Street was a pretty notorious street all over the Southwest – like the song said, “You go to down on Deep Ellum, just to have a little fun, keep your money in your pants. Those redheads on Deep Ellum, they don’t give a man a chance. Papa’s got them Deep Ellum Blues.”

They wouldn’t go over to Tulsa – said they saw too many folks they knew from church “Down on Archer,” and too many folks from church saw them, too. Ever so often Glenn would have to go to Dallas and bail ’em out.

The brothers were big on rotatin’ crops, don’t remember the sequence but it was something like wheat, corn, milo, alfalfa, with a 160 of ditchweed hemp every so often.

Each of the Church places were a full section, 640 acres, and one time this guy came down from Stillwater doing some kind of Ag census for A&M, before it became Oklahoma State. The guy asks O.E. what kind and how many acres of each crop he had. O.E. says “We got a hunnert sixty acres of wheat, a hunnert sixty acres of corn, a hunnert sixty acres of cotton, and a hunnert sixty acres of hemp.”

And the census type says “My word, Mr. Church, you are tilling a lot of acreage. What time do you go to work?”

“Go to work! Hell, man, I’m surrounded by work!”

That reminds me of Tim Jacks, the A&M professor who had to do a bunch of research at the U of Oklahoma library . He gets on campus at Norman and asks the first guy he sees “Where is the library at?”

The Sooner gets snooty and sniffs “At the University of Oklahoma we do not end a sentence with a preposition.”

Tim sez “OK, Where’s the library at, Jackass.”

It was a lovely fight. Made Gabriel Heatter’s evening news.

The next place was Tom Church’s place, and Tom had the three boys, Jim, Len, and Jack. Jim’d promised his girl he’d go to UBO, U of Baja Oklahoma, cause she was going there – and Jim had one of those cash under the table deals there too. Did well at Texas, 3.8 grade point average and played pro ball under a “nom de pigskin” in the late forties and early fifties. Smart fellow, real sharp, too!

Now, Oklahoma has always been real big on football, of course. One day one of the OU assistant football coaches was tooling down Hiway 9, past the Church’s places, and sees Jim going like a streak, running a loose yearling down on foot.
The AC is doing about twenty or so and Jim passes him, right behind the critter, gets it around the neck and sticks his boot heels into the shoulder of the road, stops that critter one hand, sticks the other hand under its belly, picks it up and drops it, kerchunk, right there between the fence and the road.

The AC stops, rubs his eyeballs back in his head, and calls over to Jim, “Hey, son, what grade you in school?”

“The twelfth, sir, I’m a senior,” says Jim, thinking’ fast.

“Well, do you think you could pass a football?” says the AC.

Jim finishes tying the calf, and ambles over to the car. “Well, I reckon I could if I could swallow it.”

There’s “House of Blue Lights,” “Detroit barbecue ribs”…

There were no kids on Ho Hee and Hee Ho’s place but Glenn had a house full of kids. All sizes, all kinds. One of his girls gave me a good laugh one day. I was down at Altus, chowing down on barbecue when somebody said something about President Harry S Truman firing General McArthur.

Sally Church said she reckoned Truman was doing what could be expected considering how vulgar he was. “Anybody with a hairy backside hadn’t ought to advertise it as part of his name!” She said it just like that, too. When we quit laughing Sally was so mad she went home.

Glenn Churc’s house was a big two story with a big wide porch that was big enough to set tables out and feed the threshing crews – and there was a big ol’ bell at the end of the porch to call the crews to dinner. The Churches would give you the shirt off their backs, or put you up for a night or a month, but don’t cast no covetous eyes on that bell!

Glenn’s wife would have a house full of visiting kinfolks and kids every summer and the kids sure loved to ring that big ol’ bell. Mrs. Church would get Glenn to set the tables up and everyone would eat on the porch in scorching hot days.

Now, Sally’s fellow was name of Joe Wilkes. Sally and Joe had an agreement that when Joe got his internship out of the way he was going to hang out his croakers shingle and give Sally the biggest house in Okie City by way of a wedding present.

Which meant that Joe spent every moment he could at the Church house, that sounds funny – don’t it, courting Sally. Now, it was hot. So hot you’d dig baked potatoes out of the field.

Well – Joe is setting there eating some of the finest fried chicken he ever hooked a lip over, when the beans the med school cafeteria had served the day before started paining him. Joe felt like somebody had a tire pump and was pumping his guts up.

Joe didn’t know what to do – he couldn’t very well excuse himself with dessert not even served yet – but he was in pain and it was getting worse. All at once he got a flash – he was setting directly under the bell rope!

In fact, that rope wasn’t a foot over his head – and you could hear the bell over the whole township, so it was plenty loud enough to cover up what he had to do. Joe fidgets a little, then he reaches up, stretching like, and when he feels the bell rope he jerks like he hit a spiderweb or something and lets loose of what ails him.

And then he turned the brightest shade of red any of the Church’s ever saw. Glenn had got tired of the kids ringing the bell and had taken the clapper out!

Sally called Joe’s public and spectacular explosion a foxes puss – but I seen later she married him anyway.

Remember glass milk bottles? Glenn’s wife was a city gal, had lots of relatives come from Kansas City to visit every summer. One day one of the younger girls that was visiting, she was about five, came in carrying one of the glass bottles Phillips 66 stations used to put motor oil in – they looked like a glass milk bottle with threads for a tin pouring spout to screw on. Glenn asked the girl where she got the bottle. “Oh, Mr. Church, I found a cows nest!”

One of the older city boys brought a young Rhesus monkey, and the monk was getting to be a grown up monkey and just plumb hard to handle. Glenn had to call the vet about some heifers, so while the vet was out they asked if there was anything he could do about this rambunctious monk.

The vet says “Let me tell you right now – you need to take that monkey to the Zoo in Oklahoma City. That’s a Rhesus monkey and you ain’t never going to be able to handle a full grown Rhesus monkey. They ain’t nothing but trouble.”

About a week later the vet runs into the kid in town. “Say,
what did you do about your monkey?” he asks.

“Oh, I did what you told me, I took him to the Zoo. We had so much fun I’m gunna take him to the movies next.”

Glenn took his family to a church in Mountain View, a fine big stone affair. Had everything except a bell. Back during the Dust Bowl a new preacher wanted to get a bell. Everybody was trying to figure out how to pay for a bell when Glenn pipes up, real serious. “We got steam heat in the balcony, we got steam heat in the choir room, we got steam heat in the basement. Let’s see if the Rock Island will give us a steam whistle.”

The congregation didn’t like the idea, for some reason.

Well, my hour is up, so let me post this, and go.

Remember, always wear a smile. It’s easier on your face, and it fools folks into thinking you agree with ’em.


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Well, It is A Bit Dry!

NOAA says we are supposed to be in the midst of a record breaking El Nino – which should be an indication of rain. But it is so dry right now that trees are following dogs around.

Anyhow, I found a station that plays Scots music, and I finally found out what that tune Willie McNab was alla time whistling is. Willie was a good looking Scots sailor who jumped ship in Houston and took up the carnival life until he got enough cash to go home to Strathclyde as a passenger.

Since half the people in Texas got their backs wet every time they visited home, a lack of official papers wasn’t the problem it would be nowadays. Yessir, Willie was illegal but he sure cut a wide swath among the young ladies.

But I remember that tune very well well, because once you have been whistled at all day long for two or three weeks straight you don’t forget things like that. The tune’s called the Drunken Piper – and in Willie Fergus McNab’s case it was doggone appropriate.

Sober, Willie was as cheerful as anyone I ever labored with. But Willie would drink all you gave him, long as it was alcoholic. And one sniff of a bar rag would make all reason desert Scotty. Man, feed him one shot glass of firewater and Willie was ready, willing, and able to stagger from place to place and look on slack jawed and owl eyed as the world spun on its axle.

But give him two drinks quick and pretty soon Willie was a sodden nuisance. Three drinks within an hour put him out like Lottie’s eye. Blind drunk. Just aware enough to take another drink and stagger from chair to chair. Which definately made him a problem when we talked a cupple of gals into playing canasta.

Because it’s hard to stop a guy from pouring himself another shot when you have your mind on cards and conversation and navel engagements and such. And two gals with one guy is not a recipe for romance. Or wasn’t in those days, anyhoo.

One Friday Willie got away from us and wound up in Dallas, down on Deep Ellum. Used to be a Greek guy there, purebred, with as ugly a mug as you will ever see outside of a nightmare. The Greek ran a combination eatin’ joint and blind pig. Blind pig because anyone with a thirst could get blind drunk if he made a pig of himself!

El Greigo had hamburgers, hot dogs, chile for the Mexican trade, mebbe a little Greek food for his domino playing buddies, and beer. Greek beer.

But the Greek kept a bottle of hooch under the counter for “special customers.” The ones with the money to pay. I can sure remember plenty of moonshine getting served up there as “the good stuff.” It was good. One shot and you were mellow, two shots you were jovial, and if your disposition ran that way the third shot and you were ready to whip Joe Louis and take a run at Sugar Ray Robinson.

But Willie was a stranger, and when he walks in and asks for a dog and a beer the Greek takes him in. As a man with a thirst. So he asks Willie if he’d like a shot of “wizky.”

Willie figures a tot of Scotch would do him good and sez yes. And gets served a water tumbler of 150 proof Sneaky Pete. Which was about three times Willie’s total daily capacity.

Natural, Willie eats his dog, and drinks his shine, and calls for another round. And most likely another. But he don’t remember anything after he orders the second round.

What he did remember was waking up three mornings later, wearing his his shoes and a hangover, in a strange room. While he’s trying to figure out where he’s at and how he got there and how the 12th Battalion of the Scots Field Artillery could fire all those guns is such a small room he realizes he’s not alone.

Willie casts his eyes to the left and sees his neatly folded on a char. Except his shoes, which he was wearing. He casts his eyes to the right – slowly because it hurt the roots of his hair to move his eyes – and he’s face to face with a naked woman. Who was so ugly she made him forget his hangover.

Because the first glance shows him she’s plumb ugly in the face, the second glance reveals she’s the gnarliest, most repulsive female Willie Fergus McNab never hoped to meet! It takes Scotty a minute to notice she has a strong resemblance to the Greek who served him his supper.

Willie figures he’s passed out and been parked in the Greek’s mothers or sisters bed. Since he don’t want no racket in his debilitated and vulnerable condition he eases out of bed and starts for his clothes. And stumbles over something soft!

He looks down and is revolted to discover he’s tripped over another naked woman. And this woman is so ugly she makes the one he woke up with look like Miss Texas! In fact, Willie claims this second female is a dead ringer for a baboon. Teeth, hair, and all!

While Willie is standing there petrified with horror, Miss Nude Frightful sits up, rubs her eyes, shows off a remarkable set of oversize incisors, and sez “Good morning, dear. You slept with our bridesmaid, don’t you have a good morning kiss for your bride?”

Willie broke down the door getting away! And dressed in an alley three or four blocks away! For the two or three weeks more he stayed around he carnival he was strictly on the water wagon.

And everytime a stranger showed up he’d hide, because he was afraid the Greek had sent somebody after him to bring his son-in-law home! Red Brown finally took pity on the boy and paid him off so he could go home.

Yessir, firewater will make you act like folks in that old song. You know the one – “They say strange things, and they do strange things, in the Bowery, the Bowery, the Bowery; I’ll never go there any more.”

Personally, I never tasted any I that does anything but make me want to get out in the middle of a 40 acre field and go to sleep. So I ‘spect I’m going to be on the coffee train until I cash in. I just wish coffee tasted as good as it smells brewing. Speaking of coffee reminds me of Father Flynn, the “Catlik” padre back when I came from.

One of the Padre’s parisioners was a lady, getting a mite hard of hearing – so when she said anything she put it at a force seven volume level like deef as a post folks do.

When she went to confession, everybody in the church and some of the folks in the street could hear her bellerin’ about all of her little lapses. Which – her lapses were little ones like getting annoyed when some person kept ringing her telephone knowing she couldn’t hear it and her husband wasn’t home.

Finally the Padre asked her to write down everything she wanted to confess, roll the paper up, and slide it through the grille in the window to him.

She agreed to that and the next week here she was, poking her list through the grille at the priest. The padre takes it and looks at it, and turns it over and looks at the back, and looks at the front, and turns it every way but loose, and then he bellows “What is this, this looks like a grocery list” at her.

The woman slaps herself on the forehead, and bellows “Holy Mother of God, I left my sins at the Safeway!”

Now, I have made a few miles in my time, went to a lot of different schools, and of course went to school with a lot of different people.

Back in first grade me and a fellow named Willie Weichert were pretty thick. When I came back to town the first person I ran into was Willie. Couldn’t have been nobody else – how many people do you see, redhead, six foot six tall and sixteen inches around the chest? Built like a red top tomato stake!

Willie was a worker, too. He wasn’t like the old boy that came in for breakfast one morning and told his mama he’d dreamed he had a job.

“You poor lad,” sez Mama real sympathetic. “You look so tired.”

Anyhow, Willie had been looking for a job and finally found a job waitin’ tables in a fancy restaurant in Tulsa. ‘Bout the second day on the job he runs up against a customer who was more’n a little drunk, mostly on self importance.

“Do you know who I am?” this gee roars at Willie.

“No sir, but I’ll ask around and when I find out I’ll come back and tell you, sir.” Willie says, straightface.

Willie thought he was going to get fired over that but instead it tickled the boss so much he got promoted instead. But speakin’ of embarassment on the job, I used to know a fellow I’ll call Len Overstreet, who wanted to be a preacher.

Len went four years to a high class Bible College – won’t say what denomination, you understand. Anyway, Len was about ready to graduate, right at the head of his class. The preacher at an older church nearby had a heart attack, so they sent Len to his church to do a little substitute preachin’ for practice, and get a feel for havin’ a church of his own to be shepherd of and sky pilot to.

Now, Len’s borrowed robes were just a tad long, and they had the processional, solemn and slow, and Len is walking slow like he is supposed to, and he gets tangled in his robe, and KERFLUNK, he falls down, shakes the church, right in front of a packed house.

Len, he keeps his cool, though. He gets back up, and squares around and looks at the congregation, and mostly the congregation is about to choke, but there’s one old fellow in the front row that Len has been warned about. That fellow ain’t cracked a smile nor liked a preacher or a sermon in forty year.
“Watch Brother McInairny,” they told him, “And don’t let the old sourpuss ruin your sermon.”

So Len, he says “Brother McInairny will now lead us in prayer.”

And Brother Mac gets up, slow and solemn, and starts out, solemn, “Dear Lord, did YOU SEE THAT, HAW, HAW, HAW!”

Len gritted it out and I heard he delivered a fine sermon, but somehow or t’other he just didn’t feel like he had a proper
call for the ministry any more – so he took up making crank bait, fish lures, for a living. Now he’s up in Springfield, and he’s a fish bait millionaire!

But anyhoo, speaking of Willie Weichert reminds me of his mama. You talk about a plain spoken working woman, Willie’s mama was plain spoken some – and work was the only thing she put any faith in here on earth. Jesus for heaven, work for here! T’ only time I ever remember her not having anything to say was the time the bum came by and asked her for a handout. It made her plumb mad!

“You sorry bum,” she sez. “I bet you never did a lick of honest work in your life.”

“Lady” sez the bum, “If youse don’t think going around askin’ dames like you for a bite to eat ain’t work youse don’t know what work is.”

And just for clarity, a bum wouldn’t work and a hobo would. Which made hobos respectable when bums weren’t, you see. Now, it was Old Lady Donnely who lived down by the Katy railroad that got squared up by a railroad bum. But the bum turned down her offer of working for food.

“You sorry no good loafer,” she hollers. “You ain’t never made the acquintance of work.”

“Yes I have, lady,” sez the bum. “I lost all three of my wives that way.”


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Noted: Lynch Mob Says Clinton Had The Right!

Buzzfeed reports DOJ lawyers are arguing Hilary Rodham Clinton has a right to delete any e-mails she chose.

In other words, the DOJ, under Loretta Lynch, essentially says Hillary has the right to delete evidence of criminal activity, even when such activity is against Federal law.

While Ms. Lynch is new to the job, even amateurs know better than that.


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