Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » Funny Bones, 1912

Funny Bones, 1912

By: Ardis E. Parshall - September 13, 2008

What the Little Bird Said

A little bird sat on a telegraph wire,
And said to his mates, “I declare
If wireless telegraphy comes into vogue,
We’ll all have to sit on the air!”

Couldn’t Fool Her.

First Society Lady – “That pretty baby we’ve just passed is mine.”

Second Society Lady – “How ever did you know?”

First Society Lady – “I recognized the nurse.”


Every husband ought to make his bride a regular allowance from the start. This is but just, because from the start every bride finds that she must constantly make allowances for her husband.


Owner – “How did ye come to puncture the tire?”

Chauffeur – “Ran over a milk bottle.”

Owner – “Didn’t you see it in time?”

Chauffeur – “No; the kid had it under his coat.”

Would Be Cool

“Do you think he would be cool in time of danger?”

“I think his feet would.”

Not the Same

A child of strict parents, whose greatest joy had hitherto been the weekly prayer-meeting, was taken by its nurse to the circus for the first time. When he came home he exclaimed:

“Oh, mamma, if you once went to the circus, you’d never, never go to prayer-meeting again in all your life.”

Strong Convictions

It is surprising how strong a man sometimes is when he thinks he is in the right. Sometimes five men are necessary to down him and take him to the insane asylum.


“Mr. Cleaver, how do you account for the fact that I found a piece of rubber tire in one of the sausages I bought here last week?”

“My dear madam, that only goes to show that the motor-car is replacing the horse everywhere.”


Ella – “Do I make myself plain?”

Stella – “Somebody has, if you haven’t.”

Nifty Neighbors

The Man at the Door – “Madame, I’m the piano tuner.”

The Woman – “I didn’t send for a piano tuner.”

The Man at the Door – “I know it, lady; the neighbors did.”

Ready for More

Missionary – “And do you know nothing whatever of religion?”

Cannibal – “Well, we got a taste of it when the last missionary was here.”

The Penalty

“Johnny,” said the minister, reprovingly, as he met an urchin carrying a string of fish one Sunday afternoon, “did you catch those today?” “Ye-yes sir,” answered Johnny. “That’s what they got for chasin’ worms on Sunday.”

The Lingering Kind

Young Lady – “Guard, will I have time to say good-bye to my friends?”

Guard – “Afraid not, miss. This train leaves in two hours and a half.”

Baiting Her

“What are you cutting out of the paper?”

“About a California man securing a divorce because his wife went through his pockets.”

“What are you going to do with it?”

“Put it in my pocket.”

Only One Way

“Do you think it is possible to make an airship absolutely safe?”

“Sure,” replied the mechanician.


“Disable it before it gets a chance to leave the ground.”

Over the Counter

On a business trip to the city a farmer decided to take home to his wife a Christmas present of a shirtwaist. Going into a store and being directed to the waist department, he asked the lady clerk to show him some.

“What bust?” asked she.

The farmer looked around quickly and answered: “I don’t know; I didn’t hear anything.”

The Consideration

Sam – Will you keep our engagement secret for the present?

Lulu – All right; but where’s the present?

His Choice

“If you had to choose between me and a million dollars, which would you take?”

“I’d take the million; after that you’d be easy.”

What’s in a Name?

Judge Alton D. Parker, Democratic candidate for President in 1904, is said to tell as a favorite story the tale of a young man in Savannah named Du Bose, who invited his sweetheart to take a buggy ride with him. The young woman had a very fetching lisp. When they reached a rather lonesome bit of road the young man announced: “This is where you have to pay toll. The toll is either a kiss or a squeeze.”

“Oh, Mr. du Both” exclaimed his companion.

Physically Impossible

Chairwoman of Suffragette meeting – “Does any lady wish to make a motion?”

Voice – “Yes, I do, but my gown’s too tight.”

A Handy Voice

Aspiring Vocalist: “Professor, do you think I will ever be able to do anything with my voice?”

Perspiring Teacher: “Well, it might come in handy in case of fire or shipwreck.”



  1. These crack me up. A “fetching lisp” (or lithp).

    And, thanks for the reminder, Ardis, I’ll call the piano tuner on Monday. :-)

    Comment by Researcher — September 13, 2008 @ 7:19 am

  2. Please do … I can hear that wildly flat A all the way across the country …

    There’s something about this page (the vocabulary of trains and gowns and wireless telegraphy? but something else, too) that really pins it to its age, don’t you think? I thought they were hilarious.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — September 13, 2008 @ 8:34 am

  3. Not only were many of these jokes still quite funny, a few of them had some rather pointed social commentary.

    The “First Society Lady” joke (#2) brings to mind our six years of living in Washington DC (in the District itself, in the northwest portion). We would see babies and kids being walked through the neighborhood all the time, but it was usually by someone who was obviously a nanny or housekeeper.

    The “milk bottle” joke was pretty pointed as well. ..bruce..

    Comment by bfwebster — September 13, 2008 @ 9:54 am

  4. A little bird sat on a telegraph wire,
    And said to his mates, “I declare
    If wireless telegraphy comes into vogue,
    We’ll all have to sit on the air!”

    I only have read the first one, but it struck me how forward-thinking it was. I hadn’t considered the possibility that people in 1912 would have thought about wireless technology at all.

    Comment by Ray — September 13, 2008 @ 1:08 pm

  5. Nice, Ardis. All of them are funny, but so many brought a very short chuckle followed immediately by a cringe. Social commentary is interesting in this format.

    Comment by Ray — September 13, 2008 @ 1:12 pm

  6. I like the one about the sausage. Of course now horse sausage would be even more expensive than pork. Times do change.

    Speaking of sausage, how about this from Peck’s Compendium of Fun, pp.460-461:


    “Ha! Ha! Now I have got you,” said the grocery man to the bad boy, the other morning, as he came in and jumped upon the counter and tied the end of a ball of twine to the tail of a dog, and “sicked” the dog on another dog that was following a passing sleigh, causing the twine to pay out until the whole ball was scattered along the block. “Condemn you, I’ve a notion to choke the liver out of you. Who tied that twine to the dog’s tail?”

    The boy chocked up with emotion, and the tears came into his eyes, and he said he didn’t know anything about the twine or the dog. He said he noticed the dog come in, and wag his tail around the twine, but he supposed the dog was a friend of the family, and did not disturb him. “Everybody lays everything that is done to me,” said the boy, as he put his handkerchief to his nose, “and they will be sorry for it when I die. I have a good notion to poison myself by eating some of your glucose sugar.”

    “Yes, and you do about everything that is mean. The other day a lady came in and told me to send upto her house some of my country sausage, done up in muslin bags. and while she was examining it she noticed something hard inside the bags, and asked me what it was, and I opened it, and I hope to die if there wasn’t a little brass padlock and a piece of red morocco dog collar imbedded in the sausage. Now how do you suppose that got in there?” and the grocery man looked savage.

    The boy looked interested, and put on an expession as though in deep thought, and finally said, “I suppose the farmer that put up the sausage did not strain the dog meat. Sausage meat ought to be strained.”

    The grocery man pulled in about half a block of twine , after the dog had run against a fence and broke it, and told the boy he knew perfectly well how the brass padlock came to be in the sausage, but thinking it was safer to have the good will of the boy than the ill will, he offered him a handful of prunes. . .

    (I am missing the forematter and pages 1-32 and any pages after 538 of this marvelous book, so I can’t give a complete citation. If you like turn of the (20th) century humor, you can’t do better!)

    There is another story in there about the bad boy feeding his father snipped up rubber hose in place of macaroni, but I found this one instead.

    Comment by Eric Boysen — September 13, 2008 @ 1:55 pm

  7. That’s what I find so interesting, bf and Ray, beyond the laughs. I wish I were equipped to analyze what, if anything, it says about us that these are the kinds of things we thought were funny, and appropriate to mingle in the same pages with missionary testimonials and scripture stories.

    Ha! I’d heard of Peck’s Bad Boy but never read any of the stories. Now we need to figure out what exactly what era the Bad Boy is from, and see where that and this 1912 date tie into the Pure Food movement, and Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, and all that. Were they laughing at horse, etc., in the sausage because it was safely in the past, or was their a shiver of disgust mixed in with the laughter? Thanks, Eric. (Give Researcher a chance … I won’t be surprised if she comes up with the rest of the citation, and maybe even a link to a scan.)

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — September 13, 2008 @ 1:57 pm

  8. I’ll leave that for Justin :-)

    Comment by Researcher — September 13, 2008 @ 2:40 pm

  9. I wonder if things we find innocuous now would seem vaguely disturbing to people of other times and cultures? Probably so. I know that the way women are depicted in jokes from other times really makes me uncomfortable. These are such an interesting window upon our past. I just love these old joke posts!

    Comment by Tatiana — September 13, 2008 @ 11:03 pm

  10. The bad boy was definitely pre-Jungle.

    George W. Peck was a newspaper man from Wisconsin with the Milwaukee Sun. I get that much from the snippets of lampoonish news stories also included in the volume. The dates I found in a casual perusal is of the book were 1876. 1877 and 1881 – but not in chronological order. I think that would put the printing of this collection before the turn of the century.

    Comment by Eric Boysen — September 14, 2008 @ 7:56 am

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