American Humor: Trapping Santa in the Chimney

The Last Laugh shares the childhood story of local trouble-maker Otis Bunkum trapping Santa in the chimney on Christmas Eve.

| November/December 1982

  • The Last Laugh Santa Trapped in the Chimney
    "Gotcha!" Otis chortled from the fireplace below, delighted thet his chimney snare had caught Father Christmas.

  • The Last Laugh Santa Trapped in the Chimney

The Plumbtree Crossing families remember the local childhood story of a mischievous little boy trapping Santa in the chimney on Christmas Eve. 

American Humor: A Childhood Story of Trapping Santa in the Chimney

"You can learn many things from children. How much patience you have, for instance."
—Franklin P. Jones

Well sir, in these parts there's a certain tale what's told most ev'ry year, 'round yuletide. Some folks say it's a true story, an' thet—though the names has changed over the years—it actually concerns Ott Bartlett when he was a young scamp. (An' those who know old Mister Bartlett's downright ornery nature don't see any reason to doubt that supposition.) But wherev'r the story comes from, it's pretty much a Plumtree Crossin' tradition thet one night before Santa Claus comes down the chimney, the members of each family will gather together, an' someone present will retell the local legend . . . the story of "The Boy Who Trapped Christmas".

It seems thet once there was a seven-year-old named Otis Bunkum who was the exasperatin'est, troublemakin'est, dang nigh untrainablest young feller what ever lived. This little stinker thought not a whit of dunkin' an onion in the butter churn . . . pullin' the wings off a butterfly . . . or bitin' his sister harder'n Satan's bulldog. (Why, he was so nasty-natured he even scowled in his sleep!)

Now Otis's big sister Mary Ellen, on the other hand, was jist the opposite of her spitfire brother. She was a kind, demure, 17-year-old girl. An' seein' as how she was right attractive, to boot, local boys was inclined toward her the way moths take to light. But her parents—who was busy enough with their son—jist didn't have any leftover patience to spend on a bunch of hillbilly Lotharios, so they forbade her to have any gentlemen callers.

Still, one particular lad—a lank-legged, good-natured feller named Jeremy Reed—was so smitten with Mary Ellen thet he'd go to jist about any length to catch a glimpse of her. Furthermore, his ardor was inflamed by the fact thet ev'ry once in a while Mary Ellen seemed to send a shy smile or a sparklin' glance his way. But he never could git a chance to find out if she really did take a shine to him . . . because of little Otis the Awful.

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