American Humor: The Annual Saturday Cove Summer Picnic

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Illustration by the MOTHER EARTH NEWS staff
The Plumtree boys share stories from Cap'n Pere Sane and the annual Saturday Cove summer picnic.

The Last Laugh shares MOTHER EARTH NEWS reader submitted American humor with other readers.

It’s not so much that all the fools aren’t dead. The
discouraging thing is that lots of them aren’t even born

“We can lick gravity . . . but sometimes the paperwork
is overwhelming.”

Wernher van Braun

“I remember the old Vermont farmer who was asked if he
believed in infant baptism. ‘Believe in it, hell,’ he
replied. ‘I’ve seen it with any own eyes.'”

U. S. Attorney General Griffin

Remember that the night has a thousand eyes . . . but
then, so does a 600-pound potato.

They’s a certain kind of strange reader out there in MOTHER
land (perhaps you’re one of ’em) that always likes to have
at The Last Laugh in every issue of this magazine. Well,
sir . . . that’s why we put the feature inta each new
MOTHER. Sick-joke comedians and situation comedies on TV is
all right, I reckon iffen you can stomach ’em) . . . but
for real humor, you jest can’t beat the natural antics and
time-tested stories that you’ll still find makin’ the
rounds in places like the Plumtree Crossin’ General Store
(where, as you know, this column usually makes its home).

But this ain’t the only place you can still see that kind
of laughter and merrymaking reproduced in print. No sir. I
can think of two other rich sources of the same kind of
drollery without even thinkin’.

First off, there’s Cap’n Pere Sane . . . who holds forth
monthly on the editorial page of National Fisherman (21 Elm
Street, Camden, Maine 04843 . . . $8.00 a year . . . and
worth more even if you ain’t in the commercial fishin’
trade). It seems that of Pere lives somewhere called
“Saturday Cove, Maine” jest down the wharf from a motley
lot of characters with names like Bubba Beal, Shorty Gage,
Slats Farnum, Pud Hall, Sam Wheeler, and Beulah Banning.
And the column Cap’n Sane wrote last July ’bout the annual
Saturday Cove summer picnic probably gives you as much
insight into the crew’s way of thinkin’ and doin’ as you’ll
care to handle at one time.

Pere starts right off braggin’ about the event’s turnout:
“We had four boat loads goin’ over t’Flat Island n’three
comin’ back. That’s a little better than most years,
‘specially the comin’ back loads.”

Beulah Banning was there, a’course . . . along with her
cousin Thurzie (who had married a French Canadian and who
was invited along just to add a little decorum to the whole
affair). “Thurzie n’Beul made up a washtub of potato salad
with French dressin’,” the good cap’n solemnly reported.
“They also strung up a sack of French Fries n’French
vanilla cookies. N’Thurzie brought along her French poodle
. . . which took care of all the French class we could

Pere further noted that the Dodge girls fetched along 12
Mason jars fulla beet wine, Sam Wheeler (who must be kinda
tight with a dollar) “surprised everybody n’brung salt
n’pepper”, and that Slats Farnum “brung three slabs of dry
salt cod which went pretty damn good with the Dodges’ beet

There was a little delay gettin’ the party together, it
seems, but Shorty Gage and Slats Farnum filled in the time
by killin’ two six-packs. Which probably wasn’t the best
idea in the world since they led the flotilla out to the
Cove’s picnic site later “so’s we landed on the weather end
of the island rather than the lee side”. And once ashore
(“twenty damn trips in Short’s leaky peapod” ), the Dodge
girls “went rose hippin’ with gunny sacks while all others
pitched in with the firewood gatherin’. Thurzie’s poodle
went yippin’ off down the shore n’damned near got his ears
taken off by a fish hawk”.

After that, someone went about lightin’ up a good blaze and
all hands pitched in to put clams, ear corn, and other
edibles t’steamin’ in seaweed. And then it was time for the
games. “The underwater walk was canceled,” Cap’n Sane
wrote, “’cause of last year’s near tragedy when Shorty ran
outa’ air n’his rock ballast got hung up in his belt. Slats
grappled him off bottom just about in time.”

The crew did have a hot rock juggle, though. “We just toss
’round a hot rock outa’ the fire n’the first one who drops
it is a skunk. Shorty was double skunked . . . not ’cause
the rock was so hot, he just couldn’t see.”

Pere also noted that “Pud Hall won the flat rock skippin’
with 34 rings. Slats wanted t’skip Thurzie’s poodle but
couldn’t catch him. He run off down the other side of the
island from the fish hawk n’found one of the Dodge girls’
jars of beet wine.” Accordin’ to the Cap’n, the dog “came
back in ’bout an hour, the drunkest poodle you ever saw . .
. n’the rest of the afternoon, him n’Shorty were
inseparable, drinkin’ n’carrin’ on.”

The festive afternoon, it appears, was more or less closed
out eventually by the singin’ of hymns (“led by Thurzie
n’her drunken poodle”). Cap’n Sane seems to think it was
noteworthy that “we didn’t hear any shots fired from the
mainland” during the caterwaul.

“We all mustered up Vroll call just as the moon was
rising,” Pere reports. “On the fourth call we had
two-thirds present n’called it close enough.” No further
mention is made of the missing members of the Cove’s picnic
party . . . but as the rest of the group disembarked back
on the mainland and “trooped up the Cove road t’home” all
the hands who were still accounted for started singin’ The
Battle Hymn of the Republic. And everyone joined in, “even
Shorty, who was bringin’ up the rear carryin’ Thurzie’s
passed-out French poodle under one arm”.

At that, though, the outin’ seemed to go off a lot quieter
than it could have. Because, accordin’ to Pere’s June
report in National Fisherman, it had only been a few days
before, that Beulah (who happens to be the Cove’s harbor
master) had stood up at a meetin’ and declared to one and
all that Shorty Gage was a direct menace to the Cove’s
navigation. She then proceeded to read off a list of his
watery indiscretions . . . endin’ with the fact that his
fish house had come “in and out with the tide f’two years
until Sam Wheeler blew it up with 10 sticks of dynamite”.

Whereupon Short got the crowd’s attention by observin’ that
“anyone who wore size 13 sneakers, sideways, shouldn’t be
preaching on virtues”. Which jest naturally inspired Beul
to “let fly a lobster buoy which hit Pud Hall who was
rollin’ a Bull Durham n’want [wasn’t) lookin'”.

The point bein’ that the Saturday Cove crowd — jest like the
liars who hang around the Plumtree Crossin’ General Store — are an entertainin’ bunch . . . no matter which month it
is that you happen to be readin’ about them. And I’ll tell
you about that other source of printed downhome tomfoolery
in MOTHER’s next issue.

It’s what we value — not what we have — that makes usrich.

Dr. J. Harold Smith

There are many paths to the top of the mountain, but
the view is always the same.

Chinese Proverb

Repay evil with good and you deprive the evildoer of
all the pleasures of his wickedness.

Leo Tolstoy

Every step forward is made at the cost of mental and
physical pain to someone.

Friedrich Nietzsche·

Only a mediocre person is always at his best.

W. Somerset Maugham

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