The Master of Tall Tales

Plumtree Crossing's best teller of tall tales tells the story of the master who inspired him as a youngster.

| May/June 1989

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    The best tall tales come from the biggest liars.

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Everything would be just fine if there was more wildlife in the woods and less in the cities.—Lem Griffis 

Well, sir, one morning when the fellas were swapping yarns on the front porch of the Plumtree Crossing General Store, young Billy Parsons looked over at old man Bartlett (who holds the honor of bein' the biggest liar in these parts) and asked, simply:

"Ott, how'd you ever learn to lie so good?"

Ott was so took back by such a straightforward question that he forgot hisself and actually told the truth:

Billy, I reckon it goes back to when I was nine, and my Pa took me on a fishing trip down to the Okefenokee Swamp. We rode in on an old three-track road, past turpentine pines and peat-bog cypress. Finally, we reached a camp on the Suwannee River run by a six-foot-tall, snake-thin, fast talking, barefoot swamper named Lem Griffis. As soon as we settled around his kerosene lantern, Lem looked up (he'd been cleaning his toenails with a pocketknife) and started lying.

"Good thing you didn't get here last night—the mosquitoes were so thick I swung a pint cup and caught a quart of 'em. See that 1811 rifle up over the doorway? I've owned that since it was a pistol. I was born in this cabin myself—helped my daddy build it."

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