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New England Joke Lore
THE TONIC OF YANKEE HUMOR
BY
ARTHUR G. CRANDALL
Author of "Optimistic Medicine"
PHILADELPHIA
F. A. DAVIS COMPANY, PUBLISHERS
1922




DEDICATED TO THOSE
STALWART SONS OF NEW ENGLAND

WHOSE ABILITY TO THINK STRAIGHT, COMBINED WITH AN UNRUFFLED POISE AND NEVER-FAILING SENSE OF HUMOR, HAS ENABLED THEM AND THEIR DESCENDANTS TO TAKE A LEADING PART IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF OUR GLORIOUS COUNTRY



FOREWORD

THE dry wit of the New England Yankee has done much to cheer the Lonely Traveler on his way. It has oiled the thinking machinery when it creaked and provided inspiration for that spontaneous good fellowship which helps so much to make life worth living.

The following pages are not the product of an overworked imagination, but a record of actual happenings. The characters who pass in review before the reader are real personages whose various experiences have gladdened many adjacent firesides.

However, the author realizes that certain serious and literal souls are so constructed that what to others is a source of glee and merriment, is to them but "the crackling of thorns under a pot." Hence the origin of his conscientious plan to display in the book's "show window," so to speak, a sample of the brand of Yankee humor the reader may expect to find should he resolve to read further.

Therefore, let us turn aside from these gracious words of the author as above and consider for a moment the soliloquy of Uncle Andrew Cheney, who did not like his son-in-law.

Uncle Andrew did not like work very well either, which is often unfortunate for a husband and father of a family. In view of his own impecunious state, it was peculiarly annoying to him to continually be witnessing the lavish display of an elderly neighbor who had considerable inherited property, but, who though a long time married, was childless.

One summer evening Uncle Andrew was sitting disconsolately on the steps of the little Country grocery store, when he heard the clatter of horses' feet and saw the well-to-do neighbor driving by with his pair of high stepping colts. Uncle Andrew scowled but said nothing. Again came the thud of feet and the horses and proud driver, coming back up the country road, once more passed the store. Uncle Andrew glowered at the spectacle with increasing disgust, but still managed to restrain himself.

A third time the gay equipage swept past. This was too much and Uncle Andrew, deeply stirred, began to talk to himself. A neighbor, sitting near was the only listener, but what he heard he considered well worth repeating.

"Oh! Yes," Uncle Andrew muttered. "You are a mighty smart man, you are. And you've got some fine hosses, too."

A gleam came in his eye.

"You are a smart man, but I've got one thing you haven't got and never will have; and that's the biggest liar for a son-in-law there is in this county."




CONTENTS

CHAPTER I.
SHOWING SOME GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS.

Overlooked by Tourists — "Year Before Last Winter's Snow" — The School Master and His Snow Grave — Drifted Roads and the Right of Way — The Post Holes in the Ice — The Man Who Took Comfort at Funerals — The Story of the Field of Oats — The Kitchen Dance "Up The Branch" — The New Maple Sugar Tub — A Yankee Philanthropist — The Butcher Who Was Too Generous


CHAPTER II.

RELATING TO CERTAIN CONJUGAL INFELICITIES.

Why Dave Left Home — The Discouraging Matrimonial Experiences of Bill Jordan — Another Tale of a Confiding Husband — "Purty Bur-r-ds" — "Seven Wives and Seven Prisons" — The French-Canadian Who Wanted a "War for the Womens"


CHAPTER III.

LEGENDS OF THE ECCENTRIC.

"You Don't Have to Yell at Me" — The Story of the Stolen Bundle of Hay — The Raid on Jim Green's Pork Barrel — How Lote Platt Beat the Thunder Shower — The Tale of the Old-Fashioned "Settle" — The Lost Harrow Teeth — The Story of the Salt Shake — "Better Give Them to Some Poor Boy"


CHAPTER IV.

FAMILY CHARACTERISTICS AND SMALL TOWN LIFE.

The Young Man Who Had "Speerit" — The Lady Who Secured a Wardrobe — The Story of "Lafe" and the Livery Stable Man — The Man Who Wanted to Fight a Year Afterward — A Rural "Trademark" — An Early Example of Camouflage — "Noah Built the Ark"


CHAPTER V.

THE YANKEE TRADING INSTINCT AND SOME AMUSING EXAMPLES.

The Story of the Eccentric Cow — The Remarkable Incident of the Cart Wheels — The Thrilling Experiences of a Mountain "Doctress" — The Expedient of the Cow Buyer — The History of a Milk Sled


CHAPTER VI.

DOMESTIC ANIMALS AND THEIR PART IN LEGENDARY HUMOR.

The Story of a Wandering Sheep — The Young and "Self-Centered" Ram — The Sudden Enlightenment of the Young Pup — A Hen Heroine — The Story of the "Lolling" Horse — The Farmer Who Borrowed the Blind Horse — The Lame Horse That was Suddenly Cured — The Bird Policeman — The Evicted Swallows — The Proprietary Attitude of the Robins — The Haunted Cat


CHAPTER VII.

LEGENDS OF RURAL SPOOKS.

The Ghost in the Milk Dairy — The Spook Story of the Runaway Horse — Table Tipping and a Victim — The Story of the Ouija Board — The Unreal Arrival of Uncle Mark — The Locked Door Which Swung Open — The Joke Played on the Hotel Porter — The Pedlar Who Disappeared — The Sudden Discontinuance of the "Spirit Raps" — The Supernatural Illumination


CHAPTER VIII.

TALES OF RURAL LAWYERS AND THE COURTS.

The Litigating Horse Dealer — The Attorney Who Scorned Divorce Business — The Murderer Who Was Not There That Day — A Celebrated Arson Case — The Attorney Who Justified "Assault and Battery" — The Lawyer Who Was Going to "Get Over It" — The Story of the Wily Bank Robber — The Legend of the Pine Tree — The Man Who Wanted to be "Sociable"


CHAPTER IX.

SOME EXPERIENCES OF THE YANKEE TRAVELING SALESMAN.

The Hopeful Young Beginner — The Sick Engineer in the Next Room — What Happened in the Hotel Barber Shop — The Salesman Who Was Given a "Warm Room" — The Story of the Itemized Expense Account — "Two Barrels" — The Old Man Who Was Inveigled Into a Poker Game


CHAPTER X.

TRADITIONS OF THE RURAL CHURCH.

The Story of the "Raised" Biscuits — The Small Boy Who Scandalized the Congregation — The "Driveling Idiot" — The Love-Cracked Suicide — "There is a Lion in the Way" — The Man Who Borrowed "Arabian Nights" from a Christian Woman — The Woman Who Was Not Going to be a Pack Horse — The Enterprising Deacon Who Proposed at the Grave


CHAPTER XI.

TALES OF RURAL THRIFT.

The Old Friend and the Load of Hay — The Man Who Worked a Confidence Game on His Cows — "Stew 'Er Down" — "Never Mind, I Can Cut It" — The Empty Flour Barrel — The Town Pauper Who Made an Epigram — The Conscientious Neighbor Who Ran an Account — The Thrifty Man Who "Swore off" Using Tobacco


CHAPTER XII.

CHEERFUL TALES OF NEIGHBORLY INTERCOURSE.

"Am I Ben Jackson, or Am I Not?" — "The Farther You Go the Better They Are" — "Say, Put the Doctor Ahead" — The Scrambled Eggs in the Highway — The Story of the Rebellious Horse — What Happened to the Junk Man — What Happened to Another Junk Dealer — The Inquisitive Man by the Roadside — The Misfortunes of Mr. Foley


CHAPTER XIII.

SAD TALES OF PRE-PROHIBITION DAYS.

The Return of a War Hero — The Motorist Who Was Good To Antoine — The Tale of a Rescued Keg of Whiskey — The Prohibition Whale Oil — The Righteous Wrath of "Marm" Hooker — "Poor Kelly Took the Rest"


CHAPTER XIV.

TALES OF THE FARM HIRED MAN.

The Hand Mowers at Murray's — The Sporting Venture of the Country Editor — "I've Found the Spring" — The Expert Who Repaired the Fences — The Man Who "Arrived in a Great Hurry" — "Where's Hadlock?" — A French-Canadian Version of Employers' Liability Insurance