Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » Funny Bones, 1904

Funny Bones, 1904

By: Ardis E. Parshall - August 08, 2009

From the Improvement Era of 1904:

Gardener: “This here is a tobacco plant in full flower.”

Lady: “How very interesting! And how long will it be before the cigars are ripe?”


Two elders were laboring in Scotland, one of whom was so new to outdoor preaching that he had successively prevailed on his companion not to ask him to participate in any of the services. This had been carried to a point where it was clear that a start would have to be made some time. So one evening, the elder of the two, having as usual opened the meeting with prayer and also preached the sermon, called on his companion to dismiss. With a nervousness that almost overcame him, but with sublime courage, nevertheless, the young man stepped up to the large and expectant crowd and – asked the blessing on the food!


A prominent southern lawyer who had just repented of his wild ways and joined the church, was called upon in a religious meeting to pray. He started off very well, but did not know how to stop. After asking the Divine blessing on everything he could think of, he finally, with a determined effort, ended with these words: “Yours truly, P.Q. Mason.”


The boy in this story is not the only one who misunderstands the singers: A school teacher at Three Rivers asked her pupils the other day who Nero was. The only response came from a little fellow who held up his hand. “Arthur,” said the teacher, “do you know who Nero was?” “Yes, ma’am,” he answered proudly, “He’s the one we sing about in our Sunday school.” The teacher was unable to recall any song in gospel hymns where Nero was mentioned.

“What is the song like, Arthur?” she asked.

“Nero, my God, to thee,” was the answer given by the child.


An Irishman was called upon to give evidence in a shooting affray. “Did you see the shot fired?” asked the magistrate. “No, sor, but I heard it,” replied the witness. “That is not satisfactory. Step down.” As the Irishman turned to go, he laughed and was rebuked by the magistrate, who told him it was contempt of court. “Did yez see me laugh?” “No, but I heard you.” “That is not satisfactory.” And then the court laughed.


Two young ladies on the promenade of a seaside resort had been watching the vessels pass, through a telescope lent them by an “ancient mariner.” On handing the glass back one of them remarked that it was a very good one. “Yes, miss,” said the old tar, “that ’ere telescope was given me by Lord Nelson.” “Good gracious! why, Nelson has been dead nearly a hundred years.” “Well, I’m blowed,” replied the salty one, quite unabashed, “’ow the time do fly!”


You may lead an ass to knowledge – but you cannot make him think.


The judge of one of the United States Circuit Courts, has a five-year-old niece, of whom he is very proud. A few days ago, she came to him, and said, with a very serious air: “Uncle, there is a question about law I want to ask you.” “Well, dear, what is it?” patiently inquired the judge. “Uncle, if a man had a peacock, and it went into another man’s yard, and laid an egg, who would the egg belong to?” The judge smiled indulgently, and replied: “Why, the egg would belong to the man who owned the peacock; but he could be prosecuted for trespassing, if he went on the other’s property, to get it.” The child seemed very much interested in the explanation, and then observed, innocently: “Uncle, did it ever occur to you, that a peacock couldn’t lay an egg?”


Only the young die good.


At the end of a day’s journey a traveler stopped for a night at a small rancher’s shack in Montana. As he sat on the door-step with his host, a troop of children began playing about them. The New York Times reports this conversation:

“These children all yours?” inquired the traveler.


“How many?”

“Let’s see,” and the rancher hesitatingly began counting them up on his fingers.

Pretty soon a drove of hogs came into view.

“Yours?” asked the traveler.


“How many?”

“Five hundred and sixty-three,” was the instant response.


What can’t be cured must be insured.


Nat Goodwin, the actor, tells a story of an encounter with a lunatic on a country road, which makes one’s hair stand on end:

“I was playing in Austin, Texas, at the time, and one day strolled out along a country road which skirted the river. I had walked probably half a mile, when suddenly a man scrambled from the bushes near the water and advanced near toward me. I saw at a glance that he was crazy. His clothes were torn, his face flushed, and his eyes glittered with the fire of insanity. In one hand he grasped a huge knife.

“I confess I was dismayed. The lunatic meant mischief, and there I was without a weapon of any kind to defend myself. There was not a house or human being aside from the maniac in sight. There was only one thing to do, and I did it without loss of time. I took to my heels and sprinted down the road. The lunatic shrieking with fury, darted after me. Before we had gone two hundred yards I knew that I was no match for him as a runner. Just as I made this discovery I tripped over a stone and sprawled full length in the dust. The next moment I could feel the lunatic’s hot breath upon my face. Something touched my shoulder. I thought it was that horrible knife. It wasn’t. It was the maniac’s hand. Springing to his feet, he darted away and called out airily:

“‘Tag! You’re it!’”


Freshman: “That’s a beautiful song. It simply carries me away.”

She: “I’m sorry I didn’t sing it early in the evening.”


A farmer says he has solved the drought problem. He plants potatoes, corn and onions together; the onions bring tears to the eyes of the potatoes in such quantities that the roots are kept moist and a big crop is raised.


“Now, Tommy,” said Mrs. Bull, “I want you to be good while I’m out.” “I’ll be good for a nickel,” replied Tommy. “Tommy,” said she, “I want you to remember that you can not be a son of mine unless you are good for nothing.”


“Wouldn’t you like to know how to catch rabbits?” asked a youth who thought himself smart. “Why, yes,” said his friend. “Well, you crouch down behind a stone wall, and make a noise like a turnip.” Quick as a flash came the reply: “Oh, a better way than that would be for you to go and sit quietly in a bed of cabbage heads, and look natural.”


The wages of gin is debt.


There are other charges than those of the judge. An exchange says that Albert P. Massey, attorney, tells of a stuttering man named Sisson who was arraigned before a police magistrate.

“What is your name?” asked the magistrate.

“S-s-s-sis-s-s-ss,” began the prisoner, and then stopped.

“What’s that?” demanded the magistrate.

“S-s-s-sis-s-sis-s-s-s,” hissed the stutter.

“His name’s Sisson,” interrupted the policeman who had made the arrest. “He stutters.”

“So it seems,” said the magistrate. “What’s he charged with?”

“I don’t know, your Honor,” said the policeman, “it seems to be soda-water.”



  1. I seem to recall some variant of the maniac-with-a-knife one as a campfire tale of the mid-70’s at a midwestern YMCA camp. Though I think it involved a pink gorilla chasing after a hapless camp counselor, who could never finish his assigned chore because he was running away from the gorilla (and hence was relegated to doing only the truly lowly dirty work around camp, like scrubbing toilets and unstopping shower drains). The tale was dragged out forever and a day, with the same ending of “tag! you’re it!”.

    Comment by Coffinberry — August 8, 2009 @ 8:15 am

  2. I like the peacock joke. I guess law school hasn’t stolen all of my sense from me yet, because my first thought was that peacocks are male, and therefore don’t lay eggs. The one with the witness mouthing off to the judge made me laugh, too.

    Comment by Keri Brooks — August 8, 2009 @ 9:49 am

  3. Interesting versions of the tobacco and gin jokes.

    Comment by JonW — August 8, 2009 @ 10:25 am

  4. I liked the peacock joke, the laughing at the judge joke, and the farmer knowing how many pigs but not kids joke.

    Comment by psychochemiker — August 8, 2009 @ 1:43 pm

  5. I liked “Only the young die good.”

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — August 8, 2009 @ 2:40 pm

  6. “Only the young die good” was my favorite, also. I might make a T-shirt.

    Comment by Edje — August 9, 2009 @ 12:16 am

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