Although few folks know it now, Davy Crockett–in his day–was famous for a whole lot more than fighting Indians and getting himself killed at the Alamo. He served as both a magistrate and representative in the Tennessee Legislature before being elected to three terms as a U.S. Congressman in the late 1820’s and early 1830’s. And Crockett generally won those elections because of his frontiersman’s ability to take a known fact–say, Franklin’s experiments with electricity — and then embellish it into a droll, yet highly imaginative, tale peppered with mispronunciations and coined words that more than likely he made up as he went along … as reported in this 1846 reprint of one of his stories:
Thar war a feller in Washington that put the thunder and litening into glass bottles, and when a feller had the roomatiz, or the Saint Vitals dance, he would put the axletressity into his corpse fist like pouring whiskey into a powder horn, and it cured him as clean as a barked tree. So I seed how ’twas done and intarmined whenever ennything aled me to try it, only I didn’t keer about the bottles, for I thort I could fist as well take the litening in the raw state as it cum from the clouds. I had been used to drink out of the Massissippy without a cup, and so I could take the litening without the bottles and whirligigs that belongs to an axletressityfying macheen.
It fell out that sum two yeers arter I had ben to see this axletrissity, I got a leetle in lope with a pesky smart gal in our cleering, and I knowed it war not rite, seeing I war a married man. So I combobbolated on the subject and at last I resisted that I would explunctificate my passions by axletrissity, so it must be done by bringing it rite on the hart and driving the love out of it.
So I went out into the forrest one arternoon when thar war a pestiferous thunder gust, and I opened my mouth so that the axletressity might run down and hit my hart, to cure it of love. I stood so for an hour, and then I seed a thunderbolt a cummin, and I dodged my mouth rite under it, and plump it went into my throte.
My eyes! It war as if seven buffaloes war kicking i n mybowels. My hart spun round amongst my insides like a grindstone going by steem, but the litening went clean through meand tore the trowsers cleen off as it cum out. I had a soregizzard for two weeks afterward, and my inwards war so hotthat I use to eat raw vittals for a month afterward and itwould be cooked befour it got farely down my throte.
I have never felt love since.
If you think there’s been a lack of rain this year, you just weren’t farming in the mid-50’s when we had four or five summers back to back so dry that we had to prime the grasshoppers before they could spit. Interestingly enough, though, along about the last year of that little drought, an underground spring bubbled up in the middle of one of ole Clarence Smither’s cornfields. And the drier the rest of the county got, the wetter that field became. Finally the neighbors began to notice and, when one of them asked him about it, Clarence–who was a mournful cuss–just looked sad and said, “Yep. I’m afraid that if it don’t rain soon … that field’s gonna wash clean away.”
And, in case you’ve forgotten who Clarence Smithers was, he was the fellow who lived so far back up in the woods that the sun used to set between his house and the main road. Clarence never had much to do with anybody, especially know-it-all city folks who put on airs.
Once he was standing by the side of the old dirt trail that used to run up past Punk Craw’s place when a fancy big car come driving by and stopped right on the edge of a bodacious; big mudhole that reached from one side of that glorified cow path to the other. A rather distasteful lookin’ fellow-dressed to the teeth and with a big cigar in his mouth leaned out of the vehicle, smirked a little, and said, “Tell me, hayseed, can I get across that mudhole with this car? “
“Reckon so,” said Clarence, just as cool as a north breeze.
So the fellow drove his car on across the sinkhole until, about halfway to the other side, the whole machine kinda oozed down out of sight in all that mud. And pretty soon, the smart guy–with the cigar still in his mouth–come floatin’ up to the top and he pulled himself out of the slime and he spit and he sputtered and finally he walked over to Clarence and shook his fist in the old man’s face and hollered, “I thought you said I could drive right across that mudhole!”
“That’s funny,” said Clarence, as lie made a mark on his pants leg. “I just watched a duck go across and it only come up to here on him.”
Old Man Smithers always did seem to get into trouble with machines and city people. Then again, lie was just as good gettin’ out again. I recollect the time another dude obviously impressed with himself-was toolin’ through Lick Skillet in an expensive limousine when ole Clarence come shootin’ out of a side street in that beat up pickup of his and crammed the stranger broadside.
Why are you this, that, and those,” screamed the out-of-owner in words which strongly suggested that Clarence both suffered from an overpowering Oedipus complex and had some animals of the canine persuasion in his immediate family tree, “just look at what you’ve done!”.
Well, Clarence kinda blinked a couple of times, pulled out a jug, of his best corn liquor and said, “Calm down. The accident’s over and there ain’t a blessed thing we can do about it now. But we’re both growed men, so let’s discuss this whole affair peaceable. Here. Have a drink. It’ll settle your nerves.”
So the stranger took a long pull on the jug and handed it back to Clarence … who capped it and set the gallon container in the back seat of the outof-towner’s car.
“Wait a minute,” said the other fellow. “Aren’t you gonna have a drink too?”
“Naw,” said Clarence. “I think I’ll jest wait until after the sheriff’s been here afore I have my drink.
Clarence come from a big family and all the other children was just as quick at getting into a tight and then back out again as he was. Once his brother Emory went into Jake Honeycutt’s blacksmith shop, walked right over to the forge, and picked up a hot horseshoe. Well, as you might have expected, he laid it right back down again.
“Ha!” Ole Jake said. “Burned you, didn’t it?”
“No,” said Emory. “It jest don’t take me long to look at a horseshoe.”