The Last Laugh: The Life of a Florida Cracker

The scribe of Plumtree Crossing shares a few passages from books about self-described "Florida cracker" Billy Driggers.

| November/December 1978

Well sir, it weren't but two issues of this magazine ago that I was regalin' you folks with the hijinks of Cap'n Perc Sane, who carries on (along with the rest of the Saturday Cove crowd) ev'ry month in the pages of National Fisherman.

And if I recall correctly, I mentioned at that time that I would let you in on another source of down-home drollery. And I meant to do so in the issue immediately followin', too. ('Course, if ev'rybody's plans always worked out like they was organized to, we'd have us a country full of millionaires and precious few folks still workin' to keep 'em all fed.) Fact is, I got so plumb tickled about the goin's on at Plumtree Crossin' last time out that I jist felt obliged to share 'em with you and never got back to my original story, so to speak. I do apologize for trippin' over my good intentions, though. But as Doc Thromberg says, it's better to be late for dinner than to get there before the invite. Anyways, I aim to make up for my little detour here and now.

That other storehouse of real honest humor that I mentioned two issues back is snug between the covers of a coupla books that chronicle the life and times of self-proclaimed "Florida Cracker" Billy Driggers. (If Nothin' Don't Happen and The Trouble of It Is, by a feller named David M. Newell. Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. published ‘em) And believe me. That life (and them times) is funny enough in spots to make you kick yer giggles in the teeth with a horselaugh.

Howsomever that may be, I do hafta admit that when I showed these books around at the Crossin', sev'ral members of the Truth and Veracity League's distaff division claimed to be purely scandalized by 'em. Sadie McCannon even went so far as to aver that a lot of the writin' in the stories was "risk-A". Her husband Cleedy (who'd brayed like a spring mule most of his way through the books) responded that it didn't matter to him whether them anecdotes were risk-A, B, or C, and that even a snappy turtle knows you got to stick yer neck out once in a while iffen you hope to get anythin' worthwhile accomplished.

I s'pose, though, that the best thing fer me to do would be to let you judge the merits of Mr. Newell's books fer yerselves. So I will.

The Trouble of It Is begins, in a natural fashion, at the beginnin', with Billy Driggers doin' a little clamberin' through the branches of his fam'ly tree. That tree, the comical Cracker tells us, pretty much took root "way back in the days when most people were children ...", which was at about the point that "... Jeremiah Epps came over from England and settled near Front Royal, Virginia".

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