Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » Funny Bones, 1923

Funny Bones, 1923

By: Ardis E. Parshall - March 28, 2009

Your weekly dose of funny from the old church magazines —

In the Restaurant

Diner – This ham’s bad!

Waitress – Rubbish, it was only cured last week.

Diner – Well, it must have had a relapse!

Back to Normalcy

“Look pleasant, please,” said the photographer to his (more or less) fair sitter. Click! “It’s all over, ma’am. You may resume your natural expression.”

Oh, Jack!

“I think Jack’s real mean.”


“He wrote to Gladys from Florida he shot an alligator six feet long and if he was lucky enough to get another he’d have a pair of slippers made for her.”

A Delightful Remedy

“I’m worried about my complexion, doctor; look at my face.”

“My dear young lady, you’ll have to diet.”

“Oh, I never thought of that! What color do you think would suit me best?”

Mistaken Identity

Two women who were riding a streetcar were discussing their favorite operas, and as the conductor approached to take their fares, one of the women, handing him her fare, remarked, “I simply adore Carmen!”

Blushing at the roots of his hair, the embarrassed conductor replied, “Try the motorman, madam; he’s a single man.”

Yes, Yes?

He – What beautiful arms you have.

She – Yes, I got them playing baseball.

He – Do you ever play football?

No Goods Returned

Johnnie was much disappointed that the new baby was a girl. “Why don’t you exchange her for a boy?” a friend of the family asked him.

“It’s too late,” he replied, “we’ve used her four days.”


“I think, dear,” said Mrs. Grabbit, “I’ll ask the people next door to share our Christmas dinner.”

“Why?” asked her husband.

“Well, the man left their turkey here by mistake, and it seems only fair.”


Young lady – “Were you pleased with the new school, little boy?”

Little boy – “Naw! Dey made me wash me face an’ when I went home me dorg bit me ‘cause he didn’t know me.”


A visitor from America was introduced to an old Scotsman.

“From what land do ye come?” asked the Scotsman.

“The greatest in the world,” replied the American.

“Puir bairn, ye’ve lost your accent.”

Flying Start

An old yokel saw a motor-car for the first time in his life. It came dashing up the main street, and disappeared in a cloud of dust.

“Well,” said the yokel, “the horses must ha’ bin goin’ a good speed when they got loose from that carriage.”


A little girl of five was entertaining callers while her mother was dressing.

One of the visitors remarked to the other, with a significant look: “Not very p-r-e-t-t-y,” spelling the last word.

“No,” said the child, quickly, “but awful s-m-a-r-t.”

Even Scarcer

“Here’s a man found nine pearls in an oyster stew. Wonderful, hey?”

“Oh, fairly startling. I thought you were going to try to lead me to believe he found nine oysters.”

No Cause for Worry

“Are you the plumber?” asked Mrs. Cook.

“Yes, ma’am. I’m the plumber, all right.”

“Well,” she replied, “I want to caution you to exercise care when doing your work. All my floors are highly polished and in perfect condition.”

“Oh, don’t worry about me slippin’, lady, I’ve got nails in me shoes.”

He Knew *

“Sam, what’s a university?”

“A university is a place where they teach you how to starve to death in a gentlemanly and cultured manner.”

[* Full disclosure: The joke was funny enough to include, but offensive racial language was rewritten.]

Had His Nose On It

Daughter: “Oh, pa-pah, what is your birthstone?”

Father of seven: “My dear, I’m not sure, but I think it’s a grindstone.”

Going It Blind

Boy: “Dad, can you sign your name with your eyes shut?”

Dad: “Certainly.”

Boy: “Well, then shut your eyes and sign my report card.”

Generous Hospitality

A tramp, entering the gates of a rich lady’s villa, knelt down on the lawn and began to eat the grass. The old lady, noticing his pathetic performance, came out and said: “My good man, are you so hungry that you are obliged to eat grass?”

“Yes, ma’am, I am,” replied the tramp.

“Oh, dear!” said the old lady. “Come round to the kitchen door. The grass is longer there.”


First Italian – Oh, looka dat bird on da rubber plant!

Second Ditto – Sure; he gutta percha.”

Proving His Case

He – Wise men are always in doubt. Only idiots are sure of their case.

She – Are you sure of that?

He – Yes; absolutely.


Lot (to slaves) – “Here, you! Take this wheelbarrow and shovel and bring along that pillar of salt my wife turned into. We’ll use her in the ice cream freezer.”

A Dead Sure Thing

He – My father weighed only four pounds at his birth.

She – Good gracious! Did he live?



  1. [* Full disclosure: The joke was funny enough to include, but offensive racial language was rewritten.]

    I think I know what word was deleted, and isn’t it really a case of of it sounding like a offensive and racist word but actually meaning something quite different? I think I remember a flap over a public official resigning over the word I’m thinking of.

    Comment by queuno — March 28, 2009 @ 11:01 am

  2. I don’t get the baseball football joke. Is he asking if she has nice legs?

    Wow, I keep getting the feminist creeps about so many of these old jokes. Assumption that a couple would prefer a boy baby over a girl… could this joke have been told the other way? Does anyone want to send back their boy baby and get a girl instead in jokes like this? A young girl who is judged not p-r-e-t-t-y… would this joke work for a boy? Not very h-a-n-d-s-o-m-e, yes but s-m-a-r-t. It totally doesn’t work. The alligator one makes fun of a girl with big feet. Tell me that would ever be told about a man.

    These jokes show me that sexism was so totally pervasive in those days that I guess the good news is that things must be better or we wouldn’t notice so much. The racist jokes you edit out, which is nice that you spare our sensibilities. I look forward to the day when old sexist jokes are as shocking as old racist jokes are today. Whoever believes in the good old days can learn better here. That’s one great thing about studying history, I guess. It makes us appreciate now. =)

    Comment by Tatiana — March 28, 2009 @ 11:35 am

  3. queuno, a couple of months ago I collected enough “Funny Bones” pages to last through the April-June closure of the LDS church history library when I won’t have access to the magazines. There were several jokes that I edited this way (I marked each one, so you’ll see them over the coming weeks), and I don’t recall the specific wording of any of them now.

    I don’t recognize the instance you’re referring to, but don’t think I changed anything that sounded-offensive-but-really-wasn’t. My changes were along the lines of removing so-called “negro dialect,” some instances of the “n word,” and images of blacks as chicken thieves and watermelon-patch raiders. Probably, although I can’t swear to it without going back to the original, the “Sam” in this joke was originally “Sambo,” and it was probably written in “dialect” that made “Sambo” sound stupid.

    Odd, maybe, that in the same handful of jokes I felt fine with including one that depends on a heavy Italian accent for its punchline. I’ve posted many that depend on German, Irish, or Scottish accents for their effect. But the dialect in jokes about those groups doesn’t paint them as stupid, merely different — and sometimes, as in the Scottish joke in this set, as wise or superior, even. The entire point of all the black ethnic “humor,” though, is to depict blacks as both stupid and criminal, so I haven’t used it.

    Humor, and noticing ethnicity for any purpose, is a minefield. I have to depend on what “feels” right, which means I’m personally responsible for any misjudgements both in being too squeamish or in not recognizing a problem.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — March 28, 2009 @ 11:36 am

  4. “Oh, don’t worry about me slippin’, lady, I’ve got nails in me shoes.”

    That one made me laugh.

    So, what’s a “ditto” (as in “First Italian” and “Second Ditto”)? I didn’t get that joke, by the way. :-(

    Comment by Hunter — March 28, 2009 @ 11:41 am

  5. Ardis –

    Thanks for the explanation. I’ll send you a private email with the word I was thinking of. It’s one that sounds bad, but isn’t, and it would actually fit the punchline.

    There are still a few Church members I know who make watermelon-patch and Sambo jokes. (Including a current temple worker in one temple who distribute anti-Obama stuff to a wide distribution of Church members.) I’ve largely gone on hiatus trying to correct them and have opted for filtering their emails. I appreciate the editing.

    Comment by queuno — March 28, 2009 @ 11:44 am

  6. Tatiana, my response about racism should perhaps be expanded to include sexism, because of course I’m responsible for whatever I choose to include.

    The football one, I think, isn’t sexist at all, except insofar as it involves a man noticing beautiful female body parts (whether he thinks she has nice legs, or is suggesting that she ought to play football in order to improve the poor ones she has, I don’t know.) The alligator slippers one gets its humor from the speaker reading the letter literally and seeing something that is undeniably but unintentionally there. A child who is teased for wanting a baby of the same sex isn’t the same as a couple preferring one sex over the other — that’s normal childish longing, not guilty sexism.

    I thought the s-m-a-r-t one was really quite positive — the joke would work for any child, including boys, by having the rude visitors spell some comment about b-i-g e-a-r-s or f-r-e-c-k-l-e-s or whatever. The child, whether boy or girl, triumphs over the rude adults. Hurray!

    Yes, I have posted a lot of jokes that are slams against women, and some against men, and I apologize if I’ve made choices in particular cases that offend. But humor does depend on disparity — a winner/loser, a joker/straightman, unexpected misinterpretations. I don’t think, though, that I’ve ever put up anything that was plainly mean-spirited. I hope not.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — March 28, 2009 @ 11:50 am

  7. Hunter, “second ditto” just means the second man is also Italian. Gutta percha is a plant that gives natural latex, and before the widespread availability of artificial rubber and plastics gutta percha was used for raincoats and boots and things we might use rubber for.

    The humor comes from the juxtaposition of “rubber tree” and “gutta percha” combined with the Italian accent making a pun between “gutta percha” and “he’s got a perch.”

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — March 28, 2009 @ 11:56 am

  8. “Reciprocity” – Nice!

    I loved “Going it Blind”.

    About “Underestimated” – On my mission in Japan one day, my companion and I were riding the subway, standing next to three high school girls. My companion looked a lot like Christopher Reeve. The girls were chattering about how beautiful he was and how they wished someone like he would marry them. This lasted for at least a couple of minutes.

    When we got close to our stop, my companion turned to them, bowed slightly, smiled and thanked them in Japanese for their compliments. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone blush that deeply.

    Comment by Ray — March 28, 2009 @ 12:28 pm

  9. Ardis, maybe you could use the phrase “proving your case” whenever you want to make that general point in the Bloggernacle. We Keepapitchininnies would recognize the reference right away. :)

    Comment by Ray — March 28, 2009 @ 12:31 pm

  10. Are you sure about that, Ray? :)

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — March 28, 2009 @ 12:42 pm

  11. Ardis, I wasn’t calling you to task! Far from it. I was just thinking about society and how the thoughts and prejudices of our times, both past and present, are revealed in things like jokes.

    I totally read Johnnie as the father of the child, not the older brother, but I see now that you’re right. The diminutive indicates he’s a child. My perception was probably influenced by my southern culture in which adults often retain nicknames, e.g. Jimmy Carter.

    Comment by Tatiana — March 28, 2009 @ 1:08 pm

  12. Oh, gee, if you read Johnnie as the father, I completely understand your dismay!

    And I didn’t feel particularly called out, just continuing the thoughts I had while responding to queuno. We laugh at these jokes as intended, but we also get into some serious conversation, don’t we?

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — March 28, 2009 @ 1:26 pm

  13. I liked “Going it Blind” the best. These jokes really are a glimpse into another time.

    Comment by Maurine — March 28, 2009 @ 4:19 pm

  14. Yes, I think these things that obviously were meant as innocuous fun reveal more about the times than many serious writings. So we enjoy the laugh, then we think deeper about the changes that society has undergone and the underlying assumptions that made the jokes funny.

    What I’d like to do is look at a modern one (maybe something from Readers Digest) and an old one side by side and see if we can detect what in our current batch of biases and social norms will seem incongruous or just plain ugly to future generations.

    Comment by Tatiana — March 28, 2009 @ 4:26 pm

  15. Great jokes, some pretty sophisticated. Keep up the posts; they sure wouldn’t pass correlation today. ..bruce..

    Comment by bfwebster — March 28, 2009 @ 5:48 pm

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