"I believe I got something to cheer you up," Purvis Jacobs replied. He reached deep into his tow sack, felt around a bit and pulled out — a whole pile of letters! "
ILLUSTRATION: PETER KUPER
Last Laugh shares MOTHER EARTH NEWS reader submitted American humor with other readers.
Don't talk back. Keep the woodbox filled. And don't stake the cow where she can get to wild onions.
— Malcolm Buie Seawell
American Humor: The Plumtree Boys Enjoy Reader Sent Jokes
Well sir, I'm sure you recall how badly the Plumtree Crossing Rail Riders of America got basted by the upper crust of Boston (last issue). So you won't be surprised to hear that the fellas got out of that town but fast.
"Boys," Ott Bartlett said as their train left, "I'm as low as fleas at a funeral."
"I believe I got something to cheer you up," Purvis Jacobs replied. He reached deep into his tow sack, felt around a bit and pulled out — a whole pile of letters! "You remember how we asked folks to mail us jokes awhile back? Well, lots of 'em have!"
Those jokes turned out to be the perfect tonic. They reminded the boys of all those days in the Plumtree Crossing General Store, 'downing Nehi sodas, munching on Moon Pies and swapping yarns. So the fellas asked that I relate some of 'em here.
Richard Rinz of Bruce Crossing, Michigan, shared a little fall nature lore. "Do you know why one side of a V of migrating geese is usually longer than the other? There are more geese on that side!" Richard once met an old Indian who predicted that the coming winter was going to be a long, cold one. How'd he know? "All the white men have big woodpiles."
Donna Swanson wrote from Portsmouth, Virginia: "My grandfather was driving cows across the road when a man in a big car came barreling around the turn. The fender caught Grandpa's pants leg and dragged him 75 feet before the man was able to stop. The fellow then got out of his car, real nervous like, and asked Grandpa if he was all right.
"Grandpa stood up, brushed off his clothes and said he felt fine. The man said, 'You sure? Can I give you a ride someplace?' Grandpa eyed the fellow and said, 'No, I've ridden far enough with you already.' "
John Rishling of Rolla, North Dakota, asked the boys, "You know what you call a cow with no legs? Ground beef." And Joyce Mason of Westminster, California, asked, "What do you call a cow that's had a miscarriage? Decalfinated."
'Course, fall is hunting season, and Clyde Willis of Lutesville, Missouri, had quite a yarn about that:
"My neighbor Marce is an avid deer hunter. When deer season rolls around, he hunts from can-see to can't-see.
"His wife, Maybell, generally lets Marce enjoy himself. This last deer season, though, the first night Marce came in from hunting, she met him at the door and said, 'Marce, honey, my washing machine broke down today, and I have a big washing to do. Will you fix it before you go out tomorrow?'
" 'Maybell, this is deer season. You'll just have to do the washing by hand. I'll fix it after the season.'
"The next night, Marce came home and Maybell said, 'The well pump went out, and I've been without water all day.'
"Marce said, 'Honey, I told you it's deer season! You'll have to borrow buckets of water from the neighbors. They're just a half-mile down the road.'
"That was too much. 'Marce, how would you like to not see me for about three days?'
" 'Heck,' said Marce, 'it's all right if I don't see you until hunting season's over.'
"Sure enough, he didn't see her the next day. Or the day after that. The third day, the swelling had gone down some, so he could see her a little out of his left eye."
John Kelso of Fort Myers, Florida, had a much shorter hunting story. A friend of his got so hot when he was out bird hunting that he decided to take his clothes off and hunt bear.
Last, Harry Sherrill of Fredericksburg, Texas, had a bone to pick with the entire Plumtree Crossing General Assembly:
"Life in the country isn't always easy and humorous, like you fellows depict it. Country people have to deal with frustration, moral lessons and tragedy 24 hours a day.
"Take frustration, for instance. My cousin Edgar was trying to train his new puppy. Every day he'd hold a plate of food above the dog and say, 'Bark, boy, bark! Woof? Woof?' Well, that dog'd just stand there, wagging its tail, until Edgar'd give up and feed it. Finally, after two weeks, he just fixed some food, set it down in front of the pooch and said, 'Here, lazy, eat it.' The dog wouldn't do it, though — not until Edgar barked for him.
"Moral lessons? A family back home belongs to a religious sect that was opposed to violence. One night the head of the house heard someone pilfering in his woodpile. He stepped out on the porch, shotgun in hand, and said, 'Friend, I mean thee no harm — but thou art standing right where I am about to shoot.'
"And tragedy — it stalks country people like their shadows. I knew a young man who had a horse so smart it never needed any training to know just what to do. The fellow took the horse to Hollywood. Sure enough, the horse performed flawlessly. The studio never had to waste any time teaching it what to do or reshooting scenes. So the young man told his parents to sell their hard-scrabble farm and move to Hollywood.
"The whole town came to the train station to see them off. But just as the train pulled up, the stationmaster handed the parents a telegram which read, 'Your son fell and broke his leg today, so his horse took him out to the back of the lot and shot him.'
"So there — don't go treating country life like it's all fun and games!"
Editor's Note: The fellas wanted folks to know that they've enjoyed all the jokes you've sent (they didn't have room to share all the good ones this time around). Most important, they want to hear more, so the deal still holds. Send your distinctive bits of regional American humor to Last Laugh, MOTHER EARTH NEWS, Hendersonville, NC. We'll pay $10 for any joke we publish (that the fellas didn't know already!)