Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » Funny Bones, 1890

Funny Bones, 1890

By: Ardis E. Parshall - June 12, 2010

Probably few of these will even make you crack a smile – sorry – but read ‘em anyway. You’ll find out what made your great-grandparents smile.


“No, darling,” said a mother to a sick child, “the doctor says I mustn’t read to you.”

“Then, mamma,” begged the little one, “won’t you please read to yourself out loud?”


Precocious infant: “I think grammar’s very easy, mother. I know all about singler and pureal.”

Proud mother: “Do you, dear? That’s very clever! Perhaps you can tell me the plural of ‘sugar’?”

Precocious infant, after reflection: “Why, lumps, of course!”


There is a very talkative little boy whose brother offered him a six-pence if he wouldn’t say a word at table that evening, because there would be guests there. After ten minutes of silence the little boy whispered anxiously to his brother, “Arthur, Arthur, mayn’t I take a penny’s worth?”


An English doctor traveling in the East, studied the native methods of curing diseases. The following prescription, which he learned from an Arab, moves to laughter, but it is a good one, nevertheless, for it is based on a knowledge of human nature:

On one occasion, when on the confines of the Great Desert, he asked an old sheik, “What do you do with sick people when they can’t sleep?”

He received the very practical reply, “We set them to watch the camels.”


Garrick, the actor, is credited with having once administered a severe but merited dressing to Sterne, the author of “The Sentimental Journey through France,” who seldom put into practice the fine sentiments he put into his books.

Sterne treated his wife very badly; notwithstanding which he was sufficiently ill-advised to maunder one day, in the presence of Garrick, in praise of conjugal love and fidelity. “The husband,” said Sterne, “who behaves unkindly to his wife, deserves to have his house burnt over his head.”

“If you think so,” quietly remarked Garrick, “I hope your house is insured.”


A jewel of a woman is better than a woman of jewels.


Outside a well-known and fashionable hotel in Dublin, an Irishman, called Mickey, used to hang about and earn a few coppers by carrying messages and helping to remove the luggage from the cars as they drove up. Mickey was much more celebrated for his inebriety than his sobriety. One day the celebrated George Peabody (the renowned American philanthropist) arrived. Mickey was just able to stand, but, determined not to lose his opportunity, addressed the great philanthropist.

“Long life to you, Mr. Paybody (hic)! God bless you, Mr. Paybody (hic)! I hope you’ll think of a hard-working boy, yer honor (hic).”

Mr. Peabody saw the state Mickey was in, and said: “I am staying here for a few days, and, if you keep yourself sober during that time, when I leave I will give you five pounds.”

This was too much for Mickey’s nerves; he traded on the promised fiver, and spent half his days in the gutter. The time arrived for Mr. Peabody to depart; and he had just seated himself on a car, when Mickey ran up and cried:

“Mr. Paybody, yer honor, you promised me five pounds when you left!”

“I did,” answered the good man, “and should have kept my word had you been sober: but you have been drunk the whole time I have been here; I shall, therefore, give you nothing.”

The car was just on the move when Mickey yelled out:

“They call ye Mr. Paybody, do they? Mr. Paybody be blest! By my sowl, they ought to call ye Mr. Pay-nobody!”


A teacher of a primary class related to her pupils the story of Adam and Eve. To test their memory said she: “After God created Adam and Eve, what did He do with them?” With a quickness which did more credit to his idea of the “eternal fitness” of things than to his memory, a little boy answered: “Then He put clothes on them.”


[The following joke has been heavily edited to remove ethnic elements. While I can laugh at jokes based on some supposed ethnic traits, like the frugality of Scots or the lubricated joie de vivre of our friend Mickey above, I can’t find it in me to post jokes based on the supposed stupidity and criminality of an entire group.]

Shortly after a fire in a town, a man called on an insurance agent and said:

“I want my money, Cap’n.”

“I don’t owe you any money.”

“Aren’t you the insurance agent?”

“Yes, I am an insurance agent.”

“Then you owe me money, for my store burned up during the late fire, sir.”

“You were not insured in my company.”

“No, you say I wasn’t?!”

“No. Get out of here.”

“Hold on, and let me explain. Was Mr. Jones insured in your company?”


“Was Mr. Jackson?”


“Well and good. Now my store was just between Mr. Jones and Mr. Jackson. The walls of their stores made the walls of my store. If you had taken their stores away my store would have been gone. The insurance on their stores insured mine, don’t you see?”

“No, I don’t see.”

“Then I’m not going to get anything, is that so?”


“I’ll go see what the courthouse will have to say,” and turning away he muttered, “If I’d known the company was so tricky, I wouldn’t have set my dang store on fire.”


“Ma,” said five-year-old Merrick, “I didn’t ask God to keep me from swearing today.”

‘Why not?”

“I asked Him to make folks so good I wouldn’t have to swear.”


A poor family was turned out of their house because of inability to pay the rent. The next Sunday at Sunday school the little girl of the family, being asked why Adam and Eve were turned out of Paradise, gave the following pathetic reply: “Because they didn’t pay their rent.”


Doctor – “Well, my fine little fellow, you have got quite well again! I was sure that the pills I left for you would cure you. How did you take them? in water or in cake?”

Patient – “Oh, I used them in my blow gun.”


“Do you think your sister likes me, Tommy?”

“Yes; she stood up for you at dinner. Father said he thought you were a good deal of a mule, but Sis right up and told Father he ought to know better than to judge a man by his looks.”


Only foolish people think eccentricity a mark of genius.


Art received rather an awkward criticism from a free-and-easy young man who recently met a sculptor in a social circle, and addressed him thus: “er – er – so you are the man – er – that makes – er – mud heads?”

And this was the artist’s reply: “Er – er – not all of ‘em; I didn’t make yours.”



  1. I liked the two fire insurance jokes. The one about Adam and Eve not paying their rent was heartbreaking.

    Comment by Keri Brooks — June 12, 2010 @ 9:50 am

  2. I like young Merrick’s ingenuity!

    Comment by Anne (U.K) — June 12, 2010 @ 3:18 pm

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