Is It That Time Again?
Every time the government takes the census,
this story enjoys renewed popularity in some form. So, it is rejuvenated every
ten years. My favorite version stems from the days when birth control was
unknown and features the enumerator who appeared at a humble cabin in the
Eastern Kentucky mountains to find the householder hunched over a large volume
of printed material. During the course of conversation, it developed that the
mountaineer had recently been induced to invest in a set of encyclopedias. To
get the worth of his money, he was endeavoring to read the volumes cover to
In response to the visitor’s questions, he
gave his name and age and similar data for his wife.
"And how many children do you have?"
"Three. And let me tell you, that’s all
there’s every gonna be." Then the householder added, puncturing the air with a
finger for emphasis, "And you can write that down on your form."
"What makes you so sure about that?" asked the
government man, innocently enough.
"It’s wrote right cheer in this book ," the
citizen declared, thumping the volume in his hand, "that ever’ fourth baby born
in the world is Chinese."
The Tools Were Lacking from the one
and only Irvin S. Cobb
Two traveling men sat at breakfast in the dining
room of a Bowling Green hotel. To them came a polite waiter, soliciting their
orders. Said the first: “Bring me grape fruit, coffee with hot milk, corn
muffins, bacon and scrambled eggs.”
“Yessuh,” confirmed the waiter. He addressed the second patron: “What’s yourn
“I’ll have the same as my friend here, except I want the eggs eliminated.”
At the sound of that last mysterious word, the waiter stiffened. “’Scuse me, suh
but how you say you want them aigs fixed?”
The diner caught the point, but being somewhat of a practical joker anyway, he
decided to press on. Raising his voice slightly for emphasis, he repeated, “I
said I want the eggs eliminated.”
The waiter blinked hard, but recovered. “Yas suh,” he said, departing for the
kitchen. Almost immediately, the sounds of a heated discussion boiled through
the swinging doors separating the dining room from the kitchen. Shortly, the
waiter reappeared, sweating profusely.
“’Scuse me, dere, suh. Wouldn’t you des’ ez soon have yore aigs scrambled or
maybe fried? We meks a mouty tasty om’let yere. Folks what eats the om’let
speaks mouty high of ‘em. Or maybe …..”
The joker broke in. “Say, I gave you my order. Look here, I’m on a diet and
under my doctor’s orders, I must always have my eggs eliminated. So, go take
care of it.”
“Ain’t my fault,” the waiter pleaded. “Hit’s the cook. I told him plain,
‘Liminate me a couple of fresh aigs.’ Then he tell me to come back yere and
“Never mind,” snapped the humorists, seemingly highly irritated. “You go tell
that cook that he’ll fill my order as I gave it or there’ll be trouble.”
The waiter disappeared into the kitchen. In only a moment, he returned
accompanied by a large person in a greasy apron. The cook presented himself to
“Mister,” he began. “I’s the cook yere and I strives to please. But, you gonna
have to ‘scuse me regardin’ yore request for ‘liminated aigs.”
“Don’t you know how to eliminate an egg?” demanded the diner.
The cook swelled with professional pride. “Why suttinly I does. Under ordinary
circumstances, them ‘liminated aigs would be sittin’ right in front of you right
now, pipin’ hot. But the fact is that they was a flighty gal come foolin’
‘round my kitchen dis mawnin‘-- din’t rightly have no business in there a’tall
-- got to flittin’ ‘round in there and knocked the ‘liminator on the flo’ and
broke the handle plum’ off of it!
A rural Kentucky resident
ventured all the way to Lexington, his young son in tow. The pair wandered Main
Street staring up at the tall buildings, mouths agape. Finally, they walked into
the Fifth-Third Bank lobby.
As they took in their surroundings, the likes of which neither had ever seen, an
elderly lady, blue hair flowing above her withered body, hobbled across the
lobby to a set of double doors. Balanced on her walker, she deliberately pushed
a button set in the wall. In a moment, the elevator door opened. She stepped in
and the doors closed behind her.
The mountain duet continued to gaze at their surroundings until the doors once
again opened. The prettiest girl either of the watchers had ever seen stepped
out of the car. Their eyes followed as she walked across the lobby and out the
Turning to the boy, the man said, “Floyd, the next time we come down here, I
believe I'll bring your Ma and run her through that thing.”
One of my father’s favorite tales involved an
old man in Bell County who, despite failing eyesight, refused to let his
vanity slip so far as to visit a doctor for glasses. Consequently, the
prideful one made quite a few errors in his behavior and so became quite
sensitive on the matter.
On a particular day he went out to the barn,
saddled his mule and was about to mount and ride off when his grandson ran out
of the house yelling for him to stop.
“Grandad,” the boy shouted, “hold on. You’ve
got the saddle on the mule backwards.”
“Whippersnapper!" the old man spat. "When are
you ever gonna learn to hold your tongue? How do you know it’s backwards
when you don’t even know which way I’m aheadin’?”