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Uncles Josh's Punkin Centre Stories by Cal Stewart

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Concord, so turn round." Wall, they went
along 'bout two days, and them poor hogs
couldn't stand it no longer 'cos they wuz
jist clean tuckered out, so Jim had to sell
'em to Josiah Martin fer what he could git,
'cos it wuz jist right at Josiah's place whar
the hogs gin out, and thar wan't no way of
moovin' them from thar fer some time to

Wall, along 'bout two weeks after that
we wuz all over to Ezra Hoskins's store,
and some one sed: "Jim, you didn't do
very well with your hogs this year, did you?"
And Jim sed: "Oh, I don't know; that's
jist owin' to how you look at it. I never
caught up to that blamed markit, but I had
the society of the hogs fer two weeks."

Uncle Josh and the Lightning Rod Agent

WALL I s'pose I git buncode offener than any
feller what ever lived in Punkin Centre. A
short time ago we wanted to build a new town
hall, and calculated we'd have a brick
building; and some one sed, "Wall now, if
you'll jist wait 'til Josh Weathersby makes
another trip or two down to New York
thar'll be gold bricks enuff a-layin' 'round
Punkin Centre to build a new town hall."

Wall, one day last summer I wuz a sottin'
out on my back porch, when along cum one
of them thar lightning rod agents. Wall,
he jist cum right up and commenced a-talkin'
at me jist as if he'd bin the town marshal
or a tax assessor, or like he'd known me all
his life. He sed, "My dear sir, I am astonished
at you. I've looked over your entire
premises and I find you haven't got a lightning
rod on any buildin' that you possess.
Why, my dear sir, don't you know you are
flyin' right in the face of Providence? Don't
you know that lightning may strike at any
time and demolish everything within the
sound of my voice? Don't you know you
are criminally negligent? Why, my dear
sir, I am astonished to think that a man of
your jedgment and good common sense
should allow yourself to----" Wall, about
that time I'd got my breath and wits at the
same time, and I sed, "Now hold on, gosh
durn ye, what hav ye got to sell anyhow?"
Wall, he told me he had some lightnin' rods,
and he brought out a little masheen and told
me to take hold of the handles and he'd
show me what a powerful thing 'lectricity
wuz. Wall, I took hold of them handles and
he turned on a crank, and that durned masheen
jist made me dance all over the porch,
and it wouldn't let go. Gee whiz, I felt as
though I'd fell in a yeller jacket's nest, and
about four thousand of 'em wuz a stingin'
me all to onct. Wall, I told him I guessed
he could put up a lightning rod or two, seein'
as how I didn't hav any. Wall, he went
to work and I went over to Ezra Hoskins',
and when I got back home my place wuz a
sight to behold; it looked like a harrer
turned upside down. Thar wuz seven
lightning rods on the barn, one on the hen
house, one on the corn crib, one on the
smoke house, two on the granery, three on
the kitchen, six on my house, and one on the
crab apple tree, and when I got thar that
durned fool had the old muley cow cornered
up a-tryin' to put a lightnin' rod on her.
Wall, I paid him fer what he had done, and
thanked the Lord he hadn't done any more.
Wall, he got me to sine a paper what sed he
had done a good job, and he sed he had to
show that to the company.

Wall, about a week after that we had a
thunder storm, and I think the lightnin'
struck everything on the place except the
spring wagon and old muley cow, and they
didn't have any lightnin' rod on 'em. Wall
I thought I wuz a-gittin' off mighty lucky
til next day, when along cum a feller with
that paper what I had sined, and durned if
it wan't a note fer six hundred dollars, and
by gosh if I didn't hav to pay it!

Buncode agin, by chowder!


Energy--There is a lot of energy in this life that
wasted. I notis that the man who has a good strong
pipe most usually rides in front.
--Punkin Centre Philosophy.

A Meeting of the Annanias Club

WALL, sometimes a lot of us old codgers used
to git down to Ezra Hoskins' grossery store
and we'd sot 'round and chaw terbacker and
whittle sticks and eat crackers and cheese
and proons and anything Ezra happened to
have layin' 'round loos, and then we'd git
to spinnin' yarns that would jist about put
Annanias and Safiry right out of business if
they wuz here now. Wall, one afternoon
we wuz all settin' 'round spinnin' yarns
when Deacon Witherspoon sed that eckos
wuz mighty peculiar things, cos down whar
he wuz born and raised thar wuz a passell of
hills cum together and you couldn't git out
thar and talk louder 'n a whisper on account
of the ecko. But one day a summer boarder
what wuz thar remarked as how he wasn't
afraid to talk right out in meetin' in front of
any old lot of hills what wuz ever created;
so he went out and hollered jist as loud as he
could holler, and he started a ecko a-goin'
and it flew up agin one hill and bounced off
onto another one and gittin' bigger and
louder all the time 'til it got back whar it
started from and hit a stone quarry and
knocked off a piece of stone and hit that feller
in the head, and he didn't cum too fer
over three hours. Wall, we thought that
wuz purty good fer a Deacon. Wall, none
of us sed anything fer a right smart spell
and then Si Pettingill remarked "he didn't
know anything about eckos, but he calculated
he'd seen some mighty peculiar things;
sed he guessed he'd seen it rain 'bout as
hard as anybody ever seen it rain."
Someone sed, "Wall, Si, how hard did
you ever see it rain?" and he sed, "Wall
one day last summer down our way it
got to rainin' and it rained so hard that
the drops jist rubbed together comin'
down, which made them so allfired hot that
they turned into steam; why, it rained
so gosh dinged hard, thar wuz a cider
bar'l layin' out in the yard that had both
heads out'n it and the bung hole up; wall, it
rained so hard into that bung hole that the
water couldn't run out of both ends of the
bar'l fast enough, and it swelled up and
busted." Wall, we all took a fresh chew of
terbacker and nudged each other; and Ezra
Hoskins sed he didn't remember as how
he'd ever seen it rain quite so hard as that,
but he'd seen some mighty dry weather; he
sed one time when he wuz out in Kansas it
got so tarnation dry that fish a-swimmin' up
the river left a cloud of dust behind them.
And hot, too; why, it got so allfired hot that
one day he tied his mule to a pen of popcorn
out behind the barn, and it got so hot that
the corn got to poppin' and flyin' 'round
that old mule's ears and he thought it wuz
snow and laid down and froze to death.
Wall, about that time old Jim Lawson
commenced to show signs of uneasiness, and
someone sed, "What is it, Jim?" and Jim
remarked, as he shifted his terbacker and cut
a sliver off from his wooden leg, "I wuz
a-thinkin' about a cold spell we had one
winter when we wuz a-livin' down Nantucket
way. It wuz hog killin' time, if I remember
right; anyhow, we had a kittle of
bilin' water sottin' on the fire, and we sot it
out doors to cool off a little, and that water
froze so durned quick that the ice wuz hot."

Ezra sed, "Guess its 'bout shettin' up

Jim Lawson's Hoss Trade

SPEAKIN' of hoss tradin', now Jim Lawson was
calculated to be about the best hoss trader in
Punkin Centre. Yes, Jim he could sot up on a
fence, chew terbacker, whittle a stick, and
jist about swap ye outen your eye-teeth, if
you'd listen to him.

Yas, Jim wuz some punkins on a swap;
Jim 'd swap anything he had fer anything
he didn't want, jist to be swappin'.

Wall, a gypsy cum along one day and
tackled Jim fer a swap; and about that time
Jim he'd got hold of a critter that had more
cussedness in him to the squar inch than any
critter we'd ever sot eyes on, 'cept a cirkus
mule that Ezra Hoskins owned.

Wall, the gypsy traded Jim a mighty fine
lookin' critter, and we all calculated that
Jim had right smart of a bargain, 'til one day
Jim went to ride him, 'n he found out if he
fetched the peskey critter on the sides he'd
squat right down. Wall, Jim knowed if he
didn't git rid of that hoss, his reputation as a
hoss trader wuz forever gone; so he went
over in t'other township to see old Deacon
Witherspoon. You see the Deacon he wuz
mighty fond of goin' a-huntin', and as he
had rheumatiz purty bad it wuz sort of hard
fer him to git 'round, so he had to do his
huntin' on hoss back. Wall, Jim didn't say
much to fuss, just kinder hinted around that
huntin' was a-goin' to be mighty good this
fall, cos he'd seen one or two flocks of
partridges over back of Sprosby's medder, and
some right smart of quail over by Buttermilk
ford, and finally he sed: "Deacon, I've got
a hoss you ought to hev; he's a setter."
Wall, you could hav knocked the Deacon's
eyes off with a club, they stuck out like
bumps on a log, and he sed, "Why, Jim, I
never heered tell of sech a thing in all my
life; the idea of a horse being a setter!"
Jim sed, "Yes, Deacon, he's bin trained to
set for all kinds of game. I calculated as
how I'd git a shotgun this fall and do right
smart of hunting." So the Deacon sed,
"Wall, now, I want to know; bring him
over, Jim, I'd like to see him."

Wall, Jim took the hoss over, and all
Punkin Centre jest sort of held its breath to
see how it would cum out.

Jim and the Deacon went a-hunting, and
as they wuz a-ridin' along through the timber
down by Ruben Hendrick's paster, Jim
keepin' his eyes peeled and not sayin' much,
when all to onct he seen a rabbit settin' in a
brush heap, and he jist tetched the old hoss
on the sides and he squatted right down.
The Deacon sed, "Why, what's the matter
of your hoss, Jim, look what he be a
doin'." Jim sed, "'Sh, Deacon, don't you
see that rabbit over thar in the brush heap?
the old hoss is a-settin' of him." Deacon
sed, "Wall, now that's the most remarkable
thing I ever seen in my life; how'd you like
to trade, Jim?" Jim sed, "Wall, Deacon,
I hadn't calculated on disposin' of the hoss,
but I ain't much of a hand at huntin', and
seein' as how it's you, if you want him I'll
trade you, Deacon, fifty dollars to boot."

Wall, the Deacon had a mighty fine animal,
but he sed, "I'll trade you, Jim."
They traded hosses, and when they wuz a-
comin' home they had to ford the crick what
runs back of Punkin Centre, and when the
old hoss wuz a-wadin' through the water,
Deacon went to pull his feet up to keep
them from gettin' wet, and he tetched the
old boss on the sides and he squatted right
down in the crick. Deacon sed, "Now look
a-here, Jim, what's the matter with this ungodly
brute, he ain't a-settin' now be he?"
Jim sed, "Yes he is, Deacon, he sees fish in
the water; tell you he's trained to set fer
suckers same as fer rabbits, Deacon; oh, he's
had a thorough eddication."


Paradox--I can't exactly describe it, but it looks to
me like a tramp who once told me how to be successful
in life.
--Punkin Centre Philosophy.

A Meeting of the School Directors

WE had bin havin' a good deal of argufyin'
about the school house. You see it had got to
be a sort of a tumble-down ram-shackle sort
of an affair, and when it wuz bad weather we
couldn't have school in it, 'cause you might
jist as well be a sittin' under a siv when it
rained as to be a settin' in that school house.
Wall, it wuz a-cummin' along the fall term,
and we wanted our boys and girls to git all
the schoolin' an' eddication what they could;
so we called a meetin' of the school directors
to devise ways and means of buildin' a new
school-house without stoppin' school. Wall,
we all met down at the school-house; thar
wuz Deacon Witherspoon, Ezra Hoskins,
Ruben Hendricks, Si Pettingill, old Jim
Lawson and me. Before we commenced
debatin' and argufyin' on the matter, Si
Pettingill alowed he'd sing a song. Wall, he
got up and sang the durndest old-fashioned
song I calculate I ever heered in my life;
went somethin' like this:

Oh a frog went a courtin' and he did ride,
Oh a frog went a courtin' and he did ride,
With a sword and a pistol by his side,
He rode till he came to the mouse's door,
He rode till he came to the mouse's door,
And there he knelt upon the floor,
He took Miss Mousey on his knee,
He took Miss Mousey on his knee,
Said he, Missy Mouse will you marry me?

Wall, we headed Si off right thar; I guess
if we hadn't he'd bin singin' about that frog
and the mouse yet. Wall, jist then old Jim
Lawson he sed, "I make a moshen;" and
Deacon Witherspoon, he wuz chairman,
and he sed, "Now look here, young feller,
don't you make any moshens at me or durned
if I don't git down thar and flop you in about
a minnit. You take your feet off'n that
desk and that corncob pipe out'n your
mouth, and conduct yourself with dignity
and decorum, and address the chairman of
this yere meetin' in a manner benttin' to his
station." Wall, Jim he got right smart riled
over the matter, and he sed, "Wall, you
gosh durned old gospel pirate, I want you to
understand that I'm a member of this body,
a citizen, a taxpayer and a honorably
discharged servant of the government, and I
make a moshen that we build a new school-
house out of the bricks of the old school-
house, and I do further offer an amendment
to the original moshen, that we don't tear
down the old schoolhouse until the new one
is built."

Wall, Deacon Witherspoon sed, "The
gentleman is out of order;" and Jim sed, "I
ain't so durned much out of order but that I
kin trim you in about two shakes of a dead
sheep's tail." Wall, before we knowed it,
them two old cusses wuz at it. The Deacon
he grabbed Jim and Jim he grabbed the
Deacon, and when we got 'em separated the
Deacon he wuz stuck fast 'tween a desk and
the woodbox, and Jim had his wooden leg
through a knot hole in the floor and couldn't
get it out, and they've both gone to law
about it. Jim says he's goin' to git out a
writ of corpus cristy fer the Deacon, and
the Deacon says he's goin' to prosecute Jim
for bigamy and arson and have him read out
of the church.

Wall, we've got the same old schoolhouse.


Justice--Those who hanker fer it would be
generally better off if they didn't git it.
--Punkin Centre Philosophy.

The Weekly Paper at Punkin Centre

WALL, t'other day, down in New York, I wuz
a-walkin' along on that street what they call
the broad way, when I cum to the Herald squar
noospaper buildin', and it wuz all winders and
masheenery. Wall, I wuz jist flobgasted; I
jist stood thar lookin' at it. On the front thar
wuz a bell and a couple of fellers standin'
along side of it with slege hammers in their
hands, and every onct in a while they would
go to poundin' on that bell, and folks 'd
stand 'round and watch 'em do it; they reminded
me of a couple of fellers splittin'
rales. And all 'round the edge of the buildin'
they had hoot owls sottin', with electric
lites in their ize, and thar wuz no end to the
masheenery in that buildin'. If anyone hed
ever told me thar wuz that much masheenery
in the whole world durned if I'd a-beleeved
them; biggest masheen I'd ever seen
before wuz Si Pettingill's new thrashin'
masheen. Wall, I jist stood thar a-watchin'
them printin' presses a-runnin'; paper goin'
in to one end and cumin' out at t'other all
printed and full of picters and folded up
ready to sell; it jist beat all the way they done
it. Wall, we never had but one paper down
home at Punkin Centre; we called it "The
Punkin Centre Weakly Bugle;" old Jim
Lawson he wuz editor of it. You see Jim
he wuz sort of a triflin' no 'count old cuss,
so to keep him out of mischief we made him
editor. Wall, Jim he had his place up over
Ezra Hoskins' grossery store. He never got
any money for the noospaper--always got
paid in produce, and Ezra's store wuz a
mighty good place fer him to take in his
subskriptions. Wall, things went along
pretty smooth fer quite a spell 'til one day a
feller he cum in and give Jim a keg of hard
cider fer a year's subskription to the noospaper,
and we all calculated right then that
somethin' wuz a-goin' to happen; and sure
enough it did. You see 'bout that time Jim
had got two advertisements; one wuz fer
Ruben Jackson's resterant and the other wuz
the time table of the Punkin Centre and Paw
Paw Valley Railroad. Wall, Jim he got to
drinkin' the hard cider and settin' type at
the same time, and when the paper cum out
on Thursday it wuz wuth goin' miles to see.
Neer as I kin remember it sed that: "Ruben
Jackson's resterant would leave the depo
every mornin' at eight o'clock fer beefstake
and mutton stews, and would change cars at
White River Junkshen for mins and punkin
pise, and cottage puddin' would be a flag
stashen fer coffy and do nuts like mother
used to make, and the train wouldn't run on
Sundays cos the stashun agint what done the
cookin' would have to run en extra on that
day over the chicken and ham sandwitch divishion."

I believe that wuz the last issu of the
Punkin Centre Weakly Bugle.


Enthusiasm--Sometimes inspired, sometimes acquired,
sometimes the result of immediate surroundings,
and sometimes the result of hard cider.
--Punkin Centre Philosophy.

Uncle Josh at a Camp Meeting

WALL, we've jist bin havin' a camp meeting
at Punkin Centre. Yes, fer several days we
wuz purty busy bakin' and cookin and makin'
preparations fer the camp meetin', and
some of the committee alowed we ought to
have lemonade fer the Sunday school
children. Wall, as we wanted to git it jist
as cheap as possible, we damed up the crick
what runs back of the camp meeting
grounds, and put in ten pounds of brown
sugar and half a dozen lemons, and let the
Sunday school children drink right out of
the crick, free of charge. Wall, we had
right smart difficulty in gittin' a pulpit fixed
up fer the ministers, but finally we sawed
down a hemlock tree and used the stump
fer a pulpit. Wall, some of the sarmons
preached at that camp meetin' beat anything
I ever heered in my life afore. You see we'd
bin havin' a good many argyments 'bout
corporations, monopolies and trusts, and one
minister got up and sed, "Ah, my dear beloved
brethren and sisters, we should not be
too severe on the monopolists. If we read
the scripters closely we observe our forefathers
wuz all monopolists. Adam and Eve
had a monopoly upon the garden of Eden,
and would have had it 'til this day, no doubt,
had not Mother Eve got squeezed in the
apple market. Yea, verily, Lot's wife had
a corner on the salt market. And while
Pharoe's daughter was not in the milk business,
yet we observe she took a great proffit
out of the water; yea, verrily." Most on us
cum to the conclusion he wuz ridin' on a
free pass.

Samantha Hoskins concluded she would
have to sing her favorit hymn; it went something
like this:

"Oh you need not cum in the mornin',
And neither in the heat of the day;
But cum along in the evenin', Lord,
And wash my sins away.

Standin' on the walls of Zion,
Lookin' at my ship cum a sailln' ov{er};
Standin' on the walls of Zion,
To see my ship cum in."

Jist about that time Ruben Hendricks
skeered a skunk out of a holler log. Si
Pettingill stirred up a hornet's nest, Deacon
Witherspoon sot down in a huckleberry pie
and Aunt Nancy Smith got a spider on her,
and she started in to yellin' and jumpin' like
she had a fit, and two dogs got to fitin', and
old Jim Lawson he tried to git 'em apart and
he stumped 'round and got his old wooden
leg into a post hole and fell down, and the
dogs got on top of him, and you couldn't tell
which wuz Jim nor which wuz dog; and
durned if it didn't bust up the camp meetin'.

The Unveiling of the Organ

IT wuz down in Punkin Centre,
I believe in eighty-nine,
We had some doin's at the meetin' house,
That we thought wuz purty fine;

It wuz a great occasion,
The choir, led by Sister Morgan,
Had called us thar to witness
The unveilin' of the organ.

In order fer to git it
We'd bin savin' here and there,
Lookin' forward to the time
When we'd have music fer to spare,
And as the time it had arrived,
And the organ had cum, too,
We had all of us assembled thar
To hear what the thing could do.

Wall, it wuz a gorgeous instrument,
In a handsome walnut case,
And thar wuz expectation
Pictured out on every face;
Then when Deacon Witherspoon
Had led us all in prayer,
The congregation all stood up
And Old Hundred rent the air.

Jist then the doin's took a turn,
Though I'm ashamed to say it,
We found that old Jim Lawson
Wuz the only one could play it;
But Jim, the poor old feller,
Had one besettin' sin,
A fondness fer hard cider
Which he'd bin indulgin' in.

But he sot down at that organ,
Planked his feet upon the pedals,
And he showed us he could play it
Though he hadn't any medals;
He dwelt upon the treble
And he flirted with the base,
He almost made that organ
Jump right out of its case.

Wall, the cider got in old Jim's head
And in his fingers, too,
So he played some dancin' music
And old Yankee Doodle Doo;
He shocked old Deacon Witherspoon
And scared poor Sister Morgan,
And jist busted up the meetin'
At the unveilin' of the organ.

Uncle Josh Plays a Game of Base Ball

I HAD heered a whole lot 'bout them games of
foot ball they have in New York, so while I
was thar I jist cum to the conclusion I'd see
a game of it, so went out to one of their city
pasters to see a game of foot ball. Wall now
I must say I didn't see much ball playin' of
any kind. All I got to see wuz about fifty
or sixty ambulances, and I think about that
many surgons and phisicians. Wall, from
what I could see of the game I calculate
they needed all of them. I saw one feller
and 'bout fifty others had him down, and it
jist looked as though they wuz all trying to
get a kick at him. They had a half back
and a quarter back; I suppose when they got
through with that feller he wuz a hump
back. Anyhow, if that's what they call foot
ball playin', your Uncle Josh don't want any
foot ball in his'n.

I never played but one game of ball in
my life that I kin remember on, and don't
believe that I ever will forgit that. You see it
wuz along in the spring time of the yeer, and
the weather wuz purty warm and sunshiny,
and the boys sed to me, "Uncle, we'd like
to have you help us play a game of base
ball." I sed, "Boys, I'm gittin' a little too
old fer those kinds of passtimes, but I'll help
you play one game, I'll be durned if I
don't." Wall, we got out in the paster and
wuz gittin' ready to play; we got the bases
and bats put around in thar places, and a
buckit of drinkin' water up in the fence
corner, whar we could get a drink when we
wanted it. We didn't have any bleachers,
but we had thirty or forty hogs, and they
wuz the best rooters you ever seen; jist then
I happened to look around and thar wuz the
biggest billy goat I ever saw in all my life.
You ought to seen the boys a-gittin' out of
the paster; I would hav got out too, but I
got stuck in the fence. Wall, you ought to
hav seen that billy goat a-gittin' me through
the fence. He didn't git me all the way
through, cos I wuz half way through when
he got thar; but he got the last half through.
I didn't make any home run, but I wuz the
only feller what had a score of the game; I
couldn't see the score, but I had it. Every
time I'd go to sot down I knowed jist exactly
how the game stood.

They hav a good many new fangled
games now, but when they git anything that
can beet a game of base ball with a billy goat
fer a battery, durned if I don't want to see it.

The Punkin Centre and Paw Paw Valley Railroad

WONDERS will never cease--we've got a railroad
in Punkin Centre now; oh, we're gittin' to be
right smart cityfied. I guess that's about
the crookedest railroad that ever wuz bilt.
I think that railroad runs across itself in one
or two places; it runs past one station three
times. It's so durned crooked they hav to
burn crooked wood in the ingine. Wall,
the fust ingine they had on the Punkin
Centre wuz a wonderful piece of masheenery.
It had a five-foot boiler and a seven-foot
whissel, and every time they blowed the
whissel the durned old ingine would stop.

Wall, we've got the railroad, and we're
mighty proud of it; but we had an awful
time a-gittin' it through. You see, most
everybody give the right of way 'cept Ezra
Hoskins, and he didn't like to see it go
through his medder field, and it seemed as
though they'd hav to go 'round fer quite a
ways, and maybe they wouldn't cum to Punkin
Centre at all. Wall, one mornin' Ezra
saw a lot of fellers down in the medder most
uncommonly busy like; so he went down to
them and he sed, "Wat be you a-doin' down
here?" And they sed, "Wall, Mr. Hoskins,
we're surveyin' fer the railroad." And Ezra
sed, "So we're goin' to hav a railroad, be
we? Is it goin' right through here?" And
they sed, "Yes, Mr. Hoskins, that's whar it's
a-goin', right through here." Ezra sed,
"Wall, I s'pose you'll have a right smart of
ploughin' and diggin', and you'll jist about
plow up my medder field, won't ye?" They
sed, "Yes, Mr. Hoskins, we'll hav to do
some gradin'." Ezra sed, "Wall, now, let
me see, is it a-goin' jist the way you've got
that instrument p'inted?" They sed, "Yes,
sir, jist thar." And Ezra sed, "Wall, near
as I kin calculate from that, I should jedge
it wuz a-goin' right through my barn."
They sed, "Yes, Mr. Hoskins, we're sorry,
but the railroad is a-goin' right through your

Wall, Ezra didn't say much fer quite a
spell, and we all expected thar would be
trouble; but finally he sed, "Wall, I s'pose
the community of Punkin Centre needs a
railroad and I hadn't oughter offer any objections
to 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've got 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 run down here and open
and shet them barn doors every time one of
your pesky old 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 home from college and
bro't one of them new fangled bisickle masheens
hum with him, and I think ever since
that time the whole town of Punkin Centre
has got the bisickle fever. Old Deacon
Witherspoon he's bin a-ridin' a bisickle to
Sunday school, and Jim Lawson he couldn't
ride one of them 'cause he's got a wooden
leg; but he jist calculated if he could git it
hitched up to the mowin' masheen, he could
cut more hay with it than any man in Punkin
Centre. Somebody sed Si Pettingill wuz
tryin' to pick apples with a bisickle.

Wall, all our boys and girls are ridin'
bisickles now, and nothin' would do but I
must learn how to ride one of them. Wall,
I didn't think very favorably on it, but in
order to keep peace in the family I told them
I would learn. Wall, gee whilikee, by gum.
I wish you had bin thar when I commenced.
I took that masheen by the horns and I led
it out into the middle of the road, and I
got on it sort of unconcerned like, and
then I got off sort of unconcerned like.
Wall, I sot down a minnit to think it
over, and then the trouble commenced.
I got on that durned masheen and it
jumped up in the front and kicked up behind,
and bucked up in the middle, 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
to hang on fer a spell, and then I went
up in the air and cum down all over that 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 same time. Durned if I know how I
done it but I did. I run my foot through
the spokes, and put about a hundred and
fifty punctures in a hedge fence, and skeered
a hoss and buggy clar off the highway. I
done more different kinds of tumblin' than
any cirkus performer I ever seen in my life,
and I made more revolutions in a fifteen-foot
circle than any buzz-saw that ever wuz invented.
Wall, I lost the lamp, I lost the
clamp, 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 the handle bars, I broke the sprockets,
I broke the ten commandments, I broke
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-hole in 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 that want to, but fer my
part I'd jist as soon stand up and walk as to
sit down and walk. No more bisickles fer
your Uncle Josh, not if he knows it, 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 Corners Church, and before the
baptizin' we had preachin', and before the preachin'
we had Sunday school. Wall now, some of them
questions and answers in that Sunday school jist
made me snicker right out loud. You see, 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
the Philistines 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't
Commodore Dewey what slew the Philistines,
it wuz Sampson." Another little 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 war doin's in
the papers. Now what little boy can tell
me what is the first commandment?" And
Ezra Hoskins' boy sed, "Remember the
main." Gosh, I had to go right out of the
meetin' house, whar I could have a good
laugh. Wall, I wouldn't have bin down
thar in the fust place, or the second 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 it lookin'
fer a pension, I believe. Wall, Jim he cum
over to my house and he sed, "Josh, let's
you and me go down to the baptizin'." I
sed, "What do 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 hymn books 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 the
minister he had the hymn books to sell, and
the minister sed he'd tell the 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 him
clar across a forty acre lot. I wouldn't
a-keered a gosh durn, but he woke me up
Wall, about the time the minister wuz a-gittin'
through with his sermon, he sed, "Now
all members of the congregation having
babies here to-day and wantin' of them baptized
after the sermon is over, bring them
up to the pulpit and I will baptize them."
Wall, Jim he woke up about that time, and
be thought the minister wuz a-talkin' about
his hymn books; so he stood up and sed,
"Now all you folks what ain't got any 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,
"Thereby hangs a tale."
I wuz goin' along one night, John,
At a purty lively rate,
The old machine a-doin' her best,
And me forty minutes late,
When all at once there came a crash,
I felt the old track yield,
And fireman, machine and I
Went into a farmer's field.
There's little more to say, John,
They laid me up for repairs,
But my fireman, poor fellow,
Hadn't time to say his prayers.

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 to Punkin 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 jim
cracks. 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, he
alowed he'd take the children and let them
see the lions and tigers and things. Si Pettingill
remarked, "Guess the Deacon won't put blinders
on himself when he gits thar." We noticed afterwards
that the Deacon had a front 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 the
cirkus. Wall, I never seen any one in my
life cut up more fool capers than Ezra did.
We got in whar the animals wuz, and Ezra
he walked around the elefant three or four
times, and then he sed, "By gum, Josh,
that's a durned handy critter--he's got two
tails, and he's eatin' with one and keepin'
the flies off with t'other." Durned old fool!
Wall, we went on a little ways further, and
all to onct Ezra he sed, "Geewhiz, Josh,
thar's Steve Jenkins over thar in one of
them cages." I sed, "Cum along you silly
fool, that ain't Steve Jenkins." Ezra sed,
"Wall, now, guess I'd oughter know Steve
Jenkins when I see him; I jist about purty
near raised Steve." Wall, we went over to
the cage, and it wan't no man at all, nuthin'
only a durned old baboon; and Ezra wanted
to shake hands with him jist 'cause he looked
like Steve. Ezra sed he'd bet a peck of
pippins 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 I guess us two
old codgers jist about busted our buttins
a-laffin at that silly old clown. Wall, he cut
up a lot of didos, then he went out and sot
down right alongside of Aunt Nancy Smith;
and Nancy she'd like to had histeericks.
She sed, "You go 'way from me you painted
critter," and that clown he jist up and yelled
to beat thunder--sed Nancy stuck a pin in
him. Wall, everybody laffed, and Nancy
she jist sot and giggled right out. Wall,
they brought a trick mule into the ring, and
the ring master sed he'd give any one five
dollars what could ride the mule; and Ruben
Hoskins 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 chased him 'round that ring so fast
Ruben could see himself goin' 'round t'other
side of the ring. He wuz mighty glad to
git out of thar. Then a gal cum out on hoss
back and commenced ridin' around. Nancy
Smith sed she wuz a brazen critter to cum
out thar without clothes enough on her to
dust a fiddle. But Deacon Witherspoon sed
that wuz the art of 'questrinism; we all
alowed it, whatever he meant. And then
that silly old clown he told the ring master
that his uncle committed sooiside different
than any man what ever committed sooiside;
and the ring master sed, "Wall, sir, how did
your uncle commit sooiside?" and that silly
old clown 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; went something 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 a rummagin' '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 give you two dollars." Wall,
I jist made up my mind he wuz one of them
cirkus sharpers, and when he wan't a-lookin'
I pulled a ten dollar bill out of my pockit
and give it to him; and the durned fool
didn't know but what it wuz the same one
that he lost. Gosh, I jist fooled him out of
his two dollars slicker 'n a whistle. I tell
you cirkus day is a great time in Punkin

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 folks would be down
here to the depo' to see me off. Wall, now,
that's purty good of ye, I'll be durned it it
ain't. Yes, I guess I'll have to be goin' home now;
I've stayed here this time 'bout as long as I
kin afford to. I must say, some of you folks
have made it purty warm fer me since I've
bin here in New York; but I guess I've enjoyed
it 'bout as much as you have.

I'd like to have you all cum down to
Punkin Centre and see MEE some time this
summer, if you hadn't got nuthin' else to do.
Lots of fun down thar on 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 was cross-eyed, and I
sent him out in the paster to dig a well fer
me, and what do you s'pose? Wall he dug it
so tarnal all-fired crooked that he fell out of
it and sprained his ankel. Then one day I
sent him out in the garden to plant some
pertaters and some unyuns fer me, and it jist
seemed like that feller didn't have good hoss
sense. He planted them unyuns and pertaters
right alongside of each other, and the
unyuns got into the pertaters' eyes and they
couldn't see to grow. Oh, yes, lots of fun
down home onct in a while. I calculate
I've got the funnyest lot of chickens you
ever heerd tell on. I've got sixty old hens
and they lay an egg every day; but they
don't lay any at nite, cos when nite comes
every one of them is roosters. I had one
old hen, she went into the woodshed and 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're having a little
party down behind the barn; will you dance
with me this set?" 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 day when I wuz out thar I
heerd a hen say to a rooster, "Thar's that
old gray-headed cuss we've bin a-layin' fer."

Guess that's my train; s'pose I'll have to
be a-goin'; good-bye; cum down and see
me some time if you kin, ev'ry one of ye;
cum down about apple-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 a likin' to Yosemite Jim,
Wuz with him on my very first trick;
And from that time on I stuck to him
Like a kitten to a good warm brick.

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.

The galoot that wuz punchin' the broncos fer me
Wuz a greaser from down Monterey;
And Jim used to say, "Keep your eye on him, pard,
I don't think he's cum fer to stay;
His eyes are too shifty and yeller,
And his face is sullen and hard;
And 'taint that so much as a feelin' I have;
Anyhow, keep your eye on him, pard."

One day when the mercury wuz way out of sight,
And the frost it wuz on every nail,
With jist the mail sack and specie box,
The greaser and I hit the trail.
We picked two passengers up at Big Pine,
And while the broncos were changed that day
I noticed them havin' a sneakin' chat
With the greaser from down Monterey.

Did you ever hear tell of the Great White Death,
That creeps down the mountain side,
Leavin' behind it a ghastly track
Whar those who have met it died?
Wall, pard, as true as I'm a-livin',
No man wants to see it twice;
White and grim as a funeral shroud,
A mass of mist and ice.

Wall, we hadn't got far from the Big Pine relay
When my hair it commenced to rise,
For I saw across by the Lone Bear spur
A cloud of most monstrous size.
And the greaser acted sort of peculiar,
And the broncos commenced to neigh;
Wall, some thoughts went through my mind jist then
I won't forgit till my dyin' day.

In less time than it takes to tell it,
We were into the Great White Death,
With its millions of frozen snowflakes
A-takin' away our breath.
And jist then somethin' happened, pard,
The greaser from down Monterey
Tried to sneak off with the specie box,
Along with the passengers from Big Pine relay.

All at once a figure on hossback
Cum a-whoopin' it down the trail,
And bullets from out of a Winchester
Commenced to fly like hail.
The greaser and them two passengers
Cashed in their chips to him,
Fer the feller what wuz doin' the shootin'
Wuz my friend, Yosemite Jim.

Wall, we planted them thar together,
When the cloud had passed away;
And all they've got fer a tombstone
Is the mountains, dull and gray.
So, pard, let's take one together,
And I'll drink a toast to him,
Fer though he wuz rough and ready,
He'd a heart, YOSEMITE JIM.

The Great White Death, so named by the Indians,
occurs in the higher altitudes of the Rocky and Sierra
Nevada Mountains. It is almost indescribable. It might
properly be termed a frozen fog. It has the effect of
bringing on acute congestion of the lungs, from which
few rarely recover. Viewed at a distance it is a magnificent
sight, each and every particle of the frozen moisture
being a miniature prism, which reflects the sun's rays in
a manner once seen never to be forgotten.--By CAL.
STEWART, formerly Overland Messenger for the Wells-
Fargo Express Company.

Uncle Josh Weathersby's Trip to Boston

FER a long time I had my mind made up to go
down to Boston, so a short time ago, as I had
all my crops and produce mostly sold, I alowed
it would be a good time to go down thar, and
I sed to mother, "I'll start early in
the mornin' and take a load of produce with
me, and that will sort of pay expenses of the

Wall, I got into Boston next mornin'
bright and early, 'bout time they had their
breakfast, and I looked 'round fer a spell;
then finally I picked out a right likely lookin'
store, and jist conclooded I'd sell my load
of produce thar. Wall, I went in and I met
a feller 'nd I sed, "Good mornin', be you
the storekeeper?" And he sed, "No, sir,
I'm only one of the clerks." So I sed,
"Wall, be the storekeeper to hum?" And
he sed, "Yes, sir, would you like to see
him?" And I told him as how I would, and
he turned 'round and commenced to hollerin'
"FRONT," and a boy cum up what had
more brass buttins on him than a whole
regiment of soljers. I thought that wuz a
durned funny name fer a boy--front--and
that clerk feller he wuz about the most
importent thing I'd seen in Boston so far, less
maybe it wuz the Bunker Hill monument
that I druv past cummin' to town. He had
on a biled collar that sort of put me in mind
of the whitewashed fence 'round the fair
grounds down hum. I'll bet if he'd ever
sneeze it would cut his ears off.

Wall, anyhow, he sed to that front boy,
"Show the gentleman to the proprietor's
offis." Wall, I went along with that boy,
and presently we cum to a place in one corner
of that store; it wuz made out of iron
and had bars in front of the winders, and
looked like the county jale. The front boy
p'inted to a man and sed, "Go in," and I
sed, "I gessed I wouldn't go in thar, cos I
hadn't done anything to be locked up fer."
And that front boy commenced to laffin' tho'
durned if I could see what he wuz a-laffin'
about, and the storekeeper he opened the
door and cum out, and he sed, "Good mornin',
what can I do fer you?" I sed, "Be
you the storekeeper?" and he sed he wuz.
So I sed, "Do you want to buy any pertaters?"
And he sed, "No, sir, we don't buy
pertaters here; this a dry goods store." So
I sed, "Wall, don't want any cabbage, do
ye?" And he sed, "No, sir, this is a dry
goods store." So I sed, "Wall, now, I
want to know; do you need any onions?"
And by chowder, he got madder 'n a wet
hen. He sed, "Now look a-heer, I want
you to understand onct fer all, this is a dry
goods store, and we don't buy anything but
dry goods and don't sell anything but dry
goods; do you understand me now? DRY
GOODS." And I sed, "Yes, gess I understand
you; you don't need to git so tarnaly
riled about the matter; neer as I can figure
it out you jist buy dry goods and sell 'em."
And he sed, "Yes, sir, only dry goods."
So I sed, "Do you want to buy some mighty
good dried apples?"

Wall, that front boy got to laffin, and a
lot of wimmin clerks giggled right out, and
the storekeeper he commenced a-laffin',
too, and fer about a minnit I thought they'd
all went crazy to onct. Wall, he told a feller
to show me whar I could sell my produce, and I
disposed of it at a good bargain.

I like them Boston folks, they try to
make you feel to hum, and enjoy yourself
and be soshable, and I wuz chuck full of
soshability, too; I wuz goin' up one street
and down t'other, jist a-gettin' soshability at
ten cents a soshable.

Wall, I gess I seen about everything wuth
seein' in Boston, and I wuz a-standin' along-
side of one of their old churches, a-lookin' at
the semetry, and I gess thar wuz folks in
thar burried nigh unto three hundred years.
And I wuz jist a-thinkin' what they'd say if
they could wake up and see Boston now,
when I noticed a row of little toomstones,
and one of them it sed, "Hester Brown, beloved
wife of James Brown," and on another
it sed, "Prudence Brown, beloved wife of
James Brown," and on another it sed,
"Thankful Brown, beloved wife of James
Brown." Wall, I couldn't jist make out
what she had to be thankful about, but I sed,
"Jimmy, you had a right lively time while
you wuz in Boston, didn't you?" Then I
seen another toomstone and on it it sed,
"Matilda Brown, beloved wife of James
Brown," and another one what sed,

"Sara Ann Brown, beloved wife of James
Brown," and over in a little corner, all to
itself, I seen a toomstone, and on it it sed,
"James Brown, At Rest."

Who Marched in Sixty-One

CAL STEWART, New York, Memorial Day, 1903.

I'VE jist bin down at the corner, mother,
To see the boys in line,
Dressed up in their bran' new uniforms,
I tell you they looked fine.
And as they marched past whar I stood,
To the rattle of the drum,
It made me think of those other boys
Who marched in sixty-one.

The old flag wuz proudly wavin', mother,
Jist as it did one day
When you stood thar to say good-bye,
And watch me march away.
So I stood thar and watched them
Till the parade wuz nearly done,
But thar wasn't many thar to-day
Who marched in sixty-one.

And thar wuz my old Captain
And the Colonel side by side,
And as they both saluted me
I jist sot down and cried.
And I thought about some other boys
Whose work has long bin done;
Soon thar won't be any left at all
Who marched in sixty one.

I heered the band play Dixie,
And my old heart swelled with pride,
A-thinkin' of the boys in gray
Who marched on the other side.
And when my time it comes, mother,
The Lord's will it be done,
I hope he'll take me to the boys
Who marched in sixty-one.

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