Column: Want a good laugh? A few riddles of old
WORTHINGTON -- There are curious things -- funny things, really -- that come to mind now and again. The other day I remembered a man, a neighbor, a friend of our family. He and his wife -- oh, there were a number of people -- we left Worthington ...
WORTHINGTON -- There are curious things -- funny things, really -- that come to mind now and again.
The other day I remembered a man, a neighbor, a friend of our family. He and his wife -- oh, there were a number of people -- we left Worthington early one summer Sunday afternoon for a picnic and for fishing on the Lake Shetek grade. That day was memorable, in part, because it brought my best fish story. I was pulling out crappies when no one else was catching anything. Fishers kept edging closer to me, and closer.
The neighbor said, "I think you found a crappie hole."
I didn't know quite what this meant, but I surely enjoyed it.
This is not the first thing that came to mind, however. While we were sitting, while fish weren't biting, the neighbor asked me, "Do you know where fish keep their money?"
I protested. "Fish don't have money!"
"They do, too," the neighbor insisted.
"Well where do they keep their money?" I wondered.
"In the lake bank," he said.
That is what he said.
I was wondering: do people still tell riddles to kids? Do you?
Are kids today too smart for this kind of thing?
I have a vivid memory of just part of an incident. I was in the back seat of a car. Bristly upholstery. It probably was our car. We came to a railroad crossing -- the big, black and white "X sign" with "Railroad Crossing" painted on the cross boards. That was when I first heard:
"Railroad crossing, look out for the cars. Can you spell that without any Rs?"
"I don't know what you mean --you can't spell that without any Rs."
"You can too. T-H-A-T. That"
There was no end of them. They are a little hard to call to mind but they linger there.
"A man was locked in a room. There was no way to escape. All he had was a bed and a calendar on a wall. How did he live?"
You know this one?
"He ate dates from the calendar and he drank water from the spring on the bed."
I think that one would might not be understood today. What kids have beds with springs any longer?
Worthington had two garbage men through a great many years, first Ira Boyington and then Bill Pedley. I don't remember which of them the riddle, the joke, came with. I nearly have given it away:
"What has four wheels and flies?"
A garbage wagon.
You know that is an old one. We don't have garbage wagons any longer, and we don't often see swarms of flies.
We don't see clothes pins:
"Why did the police arrest the clothes pins?"
"Because they were holding up the pants!"
I remember the time we -- oh, half-a-dozen kids, on a summer afternoon when we were totally bored and idle. One of us called good Harold Brown, manager and owner of Brown's grocery store on Fourth Avenue.
"Do you have Prince Albert in the can?" was the question.
"We do," Harold said.
"Well let him out!" Receiver slammed down. Howls of laughter. (Are you sure the police can't find out who is calling?)
That is another one that wouldn't work today, of course. Do you know what is Prince Albert in the can?
Prince Albert was a popular brand of pipe tobacco. It came in a red, pocket-size tin with a full-length picture of the Prince in his princely clothing on the side. Prince Albert was -- well, husband of Queen Victoria. (You heard of her?)
There was another call. Another pointless summer afternoon. This call was directed to Byrl Hoover at the Clary Street Grocery.
"You have pickled pigs' feet?"
"Yes we do."
"Gee you must look funny!" Hang up the phone! Quick! Huge laughter -- ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha. What a funny joke!
A question: "How many letters in the alphabet?"
Every kid knew there were 26.
"Uh, uh. Wrong! There are not twenty-six."
"There are seven. Count them: A-L-P-H-A-B-E-T. 'A' only counts once."
I suppose it is better having kids watch SpongeBob SquarePants. People say television is educational.
(What is black and white and red all over? A newspaper.)
Ray Crippen is a former editor of the Daily Globe. His column appears on Saturdays.