Uncle Josh's Punkin Centre Stories, page 6
Wall, Ezra didn't say much fer quite a spell, and we all expected tharwould be trouble; but finally he sed, "Wall, I s'pose the community ofPunkin Centre needs a railroad and I hadn't oughter offer any objectionsto its goin' through, but I'm goin' to tell ye one thing right now,afore you go any further. When you git it bilt and a-runnin', you'vegot to git a man to cum down here and take keer on it, cos it's a-cumin'along hayin' and harvestin' time, and I'll be too durned busy to rundown here and open and shet them barn doors every time one of your peskyold trains wants to go through."
Love--An indescribable longing, something that existed since Mother Eve was in the apple trust, and will exist until the end of time. Somethin' that no man has ever yet defined or ever will define. A somethin' that is past all description. Which will make a hired man fergit to do the chores, and will make an old man act boyish, and will make a woman show herself to be stronger than the strongest man. Gosh durn it, an indescribable somethin' that has never yet bin described. --Punkin Centre Philosophy.
Uncle Josh on a Bicycle
A LONG last summer Ruben Hoskins, that is Ezra Hoskins' boy, he cum homefrom college and bro't one of them new fangled bisickle masheens humwith him, and I think ever since that time the whole town of PunkinCentre has got the bisickle fever. Old Deacon Witherspoon he's bina-ridin' a bisickle to Sunday school, and Jim Lawson he couldn't rideone of them 'cause he's got a wooden leg; but he jist calculated if hecould git it hitched up to the mowin' masheen, he could cut more haywith it than any man in Punkin Centre. Somebody sed Si Pettingill wuztryin' to pick apples with a bisickle.
Wall, all our boys and girls are ridin' bisickles now, and nothin' woulddo but I must learn how to ride one of them. Wall, I didn't think veryfavorably on it, but in order to keep peace in the family I told them Iwould learn. Wall, gee whilikee, by gum. I wish you had bin thar whenI commenced. I took that masheen by the horns and I led it out into themiddle of the road, and I got on it sort of unconcerned like, and then Igot off sort of unconcerned like. Wall, I sot down a minnit to think itover, and then the trouble commenced. I got on that durned masheen andit jumped up in the front and kicked up behind, and bucked up in themiddle, and shied and balked and jumped sideways, and carried on worse'n a couple of steers the fust time they're yoked. Wall, I managed tohang on fer a spell, and then I went up in the air and cum down all overthat bisickle. I fell on top of it and under it and on both sides of it;I fell in front of the front wheel and behind the hind wheel at the sametime. Durned if I know how I done it but I did. I run my foot throughthe spokes, and put about a hundred and fifty punctures in a hedgefence, and skeered a hoss and buggy clar off the highway. I done moredifferent kinds of tumblin' than any cirkus performer I ever seen inmy life, and I made more revolutions in a fifteen-foot circle thanany buzz-saw that ever wuz invented. Wall, I lost the lamp, I lost theclamp, I lost my patience, I lost my temper, I lost my self-respect,my last suspender button and my standin' in the community. I broke thehandle bars, I broke the sprockets, I broke the ten commandments, Ibroke my New Year's pledge and the law agin loud and abusive language,and Jim Lawson got so excited he run his wooden leg through a knot-holein the porch and couldn't git it out agin. Wall, I'm through with it;once is enough fer me. You kin all ride your durned old bisickles thatwant to, but fer my part I'd jist as soon stand up and walk as to sitdown and walk. No more bisickles fer your Uncle Josh, not if he knowsit, and your Uncle Josh sort of calculates as how he do.
Notoriety--A next door neighbor to glory, but another way of gittin' it.--Punkin Centre Philosophy.
A Baptizin' at the Hickory Corners Church
A LONG about two summers ago we had a baptizin' at the Hickory CornersChurch, and before the baptizin' we had preachin', and before thepreachin' we had Sunday school. Wall now, some of them questions andanswers in that Sunday school jist made me snicker right out loud. Yousee, old Deacon Witherspoon wuz a-teachin' the Sunday school class,and he sed, "Now let me see what little boy can tell me who slew thePhilistines and whar at?" Wall, no one sed anything fer about a minnit,then a little red-headed feller down at the foot of the class sed,"Commodore Dewey, at Manila." The Deacon sed, "No, Henry, it wasn'tCommodore Dewey what slew the Philistines, it wuz Sampson." Anotherlittle feller sed, "No, Deacon, I think you've sort of got it mixed up;he wasn't there; Schley is the feller what done the job, at Santiague."The Deacon sed, "Now, boys, you've bin readin' too much about them wardoin's in the papers. Now what little boy can tell me what is the firstcommandment?" And Ezra Hoskins' boy sed, "Remember the main." Gosh,I had to go right out of the meetin' house, whar I could have a goodlaugh. Wall, I wouldn't have bin down thar in the fust place, or thesecond place, fer that matter, if it hadn't bin fer old Jim Lawson.You see, Jim he's a peculiar old critter. He's got one eye out; lost itlookin' fer a pension, I believe. Wall, Jim he cum over to my house andhe sed, "Josh, let's you and me go down to the baptizin'." I sed, "Whatdo you want to go down thar fer, Jim; you can't git any pension thar,kin ye?" Jim sed, "Wall, you see, Josh, thar wuz a pedler left some hymnbooks at my house, and I want to go down thar and see if I can't sell'em." Wall, we hadn't bin thar more 'n a minnit when Jim he told theminister he had the hymn books to sell, and the minister sed he'd tellthe congregation all about it. Then Jim he sot right down in the meetin'house and went to sleep; and then he went to snorin'; you could hear himclar across a forty acre lot. I wouldn't a-keered a gosh durn, but hewoke me up Wall, about the time the minister wuz a-gittin' through withhis sermon, he sed, "Now all members of the congregation having babieshere to-day and wantin' of them baptized after the sermon is over, bringthem up to the pulpit and I will baptize them." Wall, Jim he woke upabout that time, and he thought the minister wuz a-talkin' about hishymn books; so he stood up and sed, "Now all you folks what ain't gotany I'll let ye have 'em, twenty-five cents apiece."
Religion--Any one man's opinion, but consists mainly of doing right.--Punkin Centre Philosophy.
Reminiscence of My Railroad Days
Dedicated to Engineer John Hoolihan, Pittsburg and Lake Erie Railroad,Pittsburg, Pa.
WALL, John, I read your poetry, And laughed till I nearly cried, Seein' how you became an engineer, And got on the right hand side. It made me think of the days gone by, When I wuz one of you fellers, too, What used to run an old machine, And go tootin' the country through. But the engine that I had then, John, Wuz far from a "Nancy Hanks;" She wuz old and worn and loggy, And jist chuck full of pranks; And she wuz wonderfully got up, John, Full of bolts and valves and knobs, And the boiler wouldn't hold water; Gosh, it wouldn't hold cobs.
But I wuz younger then, John, And I didn't care a cuss; So I'd pull the throttle open And jist let her wheeze and fuss. The road that I wuz a-runnin' on Wuz out in the woolly west; Two streaks of rust and the right of way Wuz puttin' it at its best. So we sort of plugged along, John. And didn't put on any frills, Never thought of doin' anything But doublin' all the hills. I tell you those were rocky times, And we hadn't no air brake; And fifteen miles an hour, John, Wuz durn good time to make.
And thar wuz as good a lot of boys As you could meet with anywhere; Rough and ready open up, And always on the square. And I'd like to see them all again, And grasp each honest hand; But some of them, like me, have quit, Some have gone to another land. I have changed somewhat since then, John, Jist a little more steady grown; But I often think of my railroad days As the happiest ones I've known. And, John, I often watch the train. As they go whizzing by; As I think of Bill, or Jim, or Jack, Thar's a tear comes in my eye.
Perhaps you'd like to know, John, Just why I quit the rail, And as some feller one time sed, "There
So now you have my story, John; Still, you don't know how it feels To know you've got to plug around On a couple of flat wheels. But it doesn't bother me, John, Gosh, not fer a minnit; I'm as happy as the day is long, And feel jist strictly in it. But sometimes I like to meet the boys, And talk them days all over, And I feel as gay and chipper As a calf in a field of clover But the happiest days I've known, John, The ones that to me see best, Wuz when I run an old machine Way out in the woolly west.
Glory--Gittin' killed and not gittin' paid fer it. --Punkin Centre Philosophy.
Uncle Josh at a Circus
WALL, 'long last year, 'bout harvest time, thar wuz a cirkus cum toPunkin Centre, and I think the whole population turned out to see it.They cum paradin' into town, the bands a-playin' and banners flying,and animals pokin' their heads out of the cages, and all sorts of jimcracks. Deacon Witherspoon sed they wuz a sinful lot of men and wimmin,and no one aughter go and see them, but seein' as how they wuz thar, healowed he'd take the children and let them see the lions and tigers andthings. Si Pettingill remarked, "Guess the Deacon won't put blinders onhimself when he gits thar." We noticed afterwards that the Deacon had afront seat whar he could see and hear purty well.
Wall, I sed to Ezra Hoskins, "Let's you and me go down to the cirkus,"and Ezra sed, "All right, Joshua." So we got on our store clothes,our new boots, and put some money in our pockits, and went down to thecirkus. Wall, I never seen any one in my life cut up more fool capersthan Ezra did. We got in whar the animals wuz, and Ezra he walked aroundthe elefant three or four times, and then he sed, "By gum, Josh, that'sa durned handy critter--he's got two tails, and he's eatin' with one andkeepin' the flies off with t'other." Durned old fool! Wall, we went on alittle ways further, and all to onct Ezra he sed, "Geewhiz, Josh, thar'sSteve Jenkins over thar in one of them cages." I sed, "Cum along yousilly fool, that ain't Steve Jenkins." Ezra sed, "Wall, now, guessI'd oughter know Steve Jenkins when I see him; I jist about purty nearraised Steve." Wall, we went over to the cage, and it wan't no man atall, nuthin' only a durned old baboon; and Ezra wanted to shake handswith him jist 'cause he looked like Steve. Ezra sed he'd bet a peck ofpippins that baboon belonged to Steve's family a long ways back.
Wall then we went into whar they wuz havin' the cirkus doin's, and Iguess us two old codgers jist about busted our buttins a-laffin at thatsilly old clown. Wall, he cut up a lot of didos, then he went out andsot down right alongside of Aunt Nancy Smith; and Nancy she'd like tohad histeericks. She sed, "You go 'way from me you painted critter," andthat clown he jist up and yelled to beat thunder--sed Nancy stuck a pinin him. Wall, everybody laffed, and Nancy she jist sot and giggled rightout. Wall, they brought a trick mule into the ring, and the ring mastersed he'd give any one five dollars what could ride the mule; and RubenHoskins alowed he could ride anything with four legs what had hair on.So he got into the ring, and that mule he took after Ruben and chasedhim 'round that ring so fast Ruben could see himself goin' 'roundt'other side of the ring. He wuz mighty glad to git out of thar. Thena gal cum out on hoss back and commenced ridin' around. Nancy Smith sedshe wuz a brazen critter to cum out thar without clothes enough onher to dust a fiddle. But Deacon Witherspoon sed that wuz the art of'questrinism; we all alowed it, whatever he meant. And then that sillyold clown he told the ring master that his uncle committed sooisidedifferent than any man what ever committed sooiside; and the ring mastersed, "Wall, sir, how did your uncle commit sooiside?" and that silly oldclown sed, "Why, he put his nose in his ear and blowed his head off."Then he sang an old-fashioned song I hadn't heered in a long time; wentsomething like this:
From Widdletown to Waddletown is fifteen miles, From Waddletown to Widdletown is fifteen miles, From Widdletown to Waddletown, from Waddletown to Widdletown, Take it all together and its fifteen miles.
He wuz about the silliest cuss I ever seen. Wall, I noticed a feller arummagin' 'round among the benches as though he might a-lost somethin'.So I sed to him, "Mister, did you lose anythin' 'round here any place?"He sed, "Yes, sir, I lost a ten dollar bill; if you find it I'll giveyou two dollars." Wall, I jist made up my mind he wuz one of them cirkussharpers, and when he wan't a-lookin' I pulled a ten dollar bill out ofmy pockit and give it to him; and the durned fool didn't know but whatit wuz the same one that he lost. Gosh, I jist fooled him out of his twodollars slicker 'n a whistle. I tell you cirkus day is a great time inPunkin Centre.
Uncle Josh Invites the City Folks to Visit Him
I DIDN'T s'pose when I wuz gittin' ready to go home, that all you folkswould be down here to the depo' to see me off. Wall, now, that's purtygood of ye, I'll be durned it it ain't. Yes, I guess I'll have to begoin' home now; I've stayed here this time 'bout as long as I kin affordto. I must say, some of you folks have made it purty warm fer me sinceI've bin here in New York; but I guess I've enjoyed it 'bout as much asyou have.
I'd like to have you all cum down to Punkin Centre and see MEE some timethis summer, if you hadn't got nuthin' else to do. Lots of fun down tharon that farm of mine, huntin', fishin', and shootin', and other things.Wall, I never shot but one bird in my life, and that wuz a squirrel;yes, sir, a flyin' squirrel.
I had a feller workin' fer me on the farm last summer, and he wascross-eyed, and I sent him out in the paster to dig a well fer me, andwhat do you s'pose? Wall he dug it so tarnal all-fired crooked that hefell out of it and sprained his ankel. Then one day I sent him out inthe garden to plant some pertaters and some unyuns fer me, and it jistseemed like that feller didn't have good hoss sense. He planted themunyuns and pertaters right alongside of each other, and the unyuns gotinto the pertaters' eyes and they couldn't see to grow. Oh, yes, lots offun down home onct in a while. I calculate I've got the funnyest lot ofchickens you ever heerd tell on. I've got sixty old hens and they lay anegg every day; but they don't lay any at nite, cos when nite comes everyone of them is roosters. I had one old hen, she went into the woodshedand sot down on the ax and tried to hatch-it. I had another one sottin'on a door knob, tryin' to hatch out a house and lot, but she didn't.While she wuz a-sottin' there along cum a rooster, and he sed, "We'rehaving a little party down behind the barn; will you dance with me thisset?" and she sed, "No, sir, I'm engaged to his nobs for this set."Gosh, I wuz afraid to go out in the barnyard one while, cos one daywhen I wuz out thar I heerd a hen say to a rooster, "Thar's that oldgray-headed cuss we've bin a-layin' fer."
Guess that's my train; s'pose I'll have to be a-goin'; good-bye; cumdown and see me some time if you kin, ev'ry one of ye; cum down aboutapple-butter time and jist butt in--good bye.
Yosemite Jim, or a Tale of the Great White Death
YOSEMITE JIM wuz the name he had, And he came from no one knowed whar; Quiet, easy goin' sort of a cuss, And wuz reckoned on the squar'. Ridin' a route for the Wells Fargo folks May have made him stern and grim; But thar wasn't a man that crossed the divide But 'ud swar by Yosemite Jim.
He wa'n't one of the regular sort What you'd meet thar any day, But as near as the camp could figure it out, In a show down he'd likely stay. A shambling, awkward figure, Rawboned, tall and slim, And his schaps and togs in general Jist looked like they'd fell on him.
I wuz somewhat of a tenderfoot then, Hadn't jist got the lay of the land; Thar wuz a good many things in them thar parts As I couldn't quite understand. But I took
Our headquarters then wuz the valley camp, It wuz down by the redwood way, With Chaparel across the spur, 'Bout fifty miles away. Wall, what I'm goin' to tell you, pard, Happened thar whar the trail runs into the sky; And if it hadn't a-bin fer Yosemite Jim, Wall, I'd be countin' my chips on high.