Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » Funny Bones, 1913 (12)

Funny Bones, 1913 (12)

By: Ardis E. Parshall - February 01, 2014

Mother: “What’s the matter, Willie?”

Willie: “Boo-hoo-oo! Yesterday I fell down an’ hurt myself.”

Mother: “Well, what are you crying today for?”

Willie: “You weren’t home yesterday.”





Mrs. Worth came over from Brooklyn with her precocious nine-year-old son Tommy, and walked with him across the City Hall Park. Tommy manifested a lively interest in the Nathan Hale statue. He wanted a good, long look at it, and his mother humored him.

“Mamma, what’s he tied for?” was Tommy’s first question after his searching examination.

“So he can’t get away,” the proud mother replied.

“Is he live?” was the next question.

“No, Tommy, he’s made of bronze, and there’s no life in that.”

“Then he couldn’t get away, could he, mamma?”

“No, dearest.”

“Then what is he tied for?”

“You see, dear, the soldiers caught him and bound him that way, and then they hanged him.”

“Did they kill him, mamma?”

“Yes, darling.”

“Then he is dead, isn’t he?”

“Yes, love.”

“Very dead?”

“Yes, pet.”

“Then how could he get away?”

“Um– er– why, Tommy –”

“Then why did they tie him, mamma?”

Only the roar of Broadway could be heard above the intensity of her silence, and as she led the little fellow along he echoed over and over, “What did they tie him for, mamma?”


A teacher was reading to the class about George Washington. In the story it said that he had a friend who was a man of letters. Then she asked if anyone knew what “a man of letters” meant. No one knew. After a pause of about a minute, John’s hand went up, and with a broad smile, he said, “It meant he was a mail carrier.”


Mother – “Mercy, child, how do you get your hands so dirty? You never see mine as dirty as that!”

Child: “No, but I guess grandma did!”

His Just Desserts

The man who complains of his victuals,
And all his wife’s cooking belictuals,
Should be starved till he’s thin
As a wooden ten-pin
Like they used in the old game of skictuals.


“We had a sensational case of kidnaping in our house lately.”

“You don’t tell me! How did it happen?

“The baby slept the whole night.”


The teacher lammed him on the head,
Which was against the rule;
It made the children laugh and play
To see a lam in school.


“It’s awful queer to me,” said Jimmie as he thought it over. “I can’t see why chickens that haven’t any hair have combs, while dogs and horses that have hair don’t have any combs.”


First Mother: “What is your boy’s favorite dish?”

Second Mother: “Well, I hardly know – but it certainly isn’t the wash-dish.”


It was the first time Dorothy had seen a street sprinkler. “Oh, mother,” she exclaimed, with wide-open-eyes, “just see what that man’s got on his wagon to keep the boys from riding on behind!”


“Georgie, I’m glad to see that you are polite and offer sister the oranges first.”

“Yes’m; ‘cause then she has to be polite, an’ take the little one.”


Teacher: “Johnny, what do you suppose will become of you if you don’t learn to spell better?”

Johnny: “Dunno. I expect I’ll take to writing dialect stories.”



  1. Re: “His Just Desserts”:

    When a tramp is given cold victuals,
    Your kindness he ofttimes belictuals.
    And if asked to work,
    He howls like a Turk
    And smashes the dishes and kictuals.

    From a 1906 compilation of limericks.

    (This because I had to look up “belictuals,” and I still don’t know what it means … :-) )

    Comment by Gary Bergera — February 1, 2014 @ 9:45 am

  2. Georgie is a genius!

    Comment by Carol — February 1, 2014 @ 9:47 am

  3. Oh, you know the vagaries of English spelling, Gary — you’ve no doubt heard of Nauvoo’s “Whistling and Wictualing Brigade,” and about spittoons to contain chewers’ spictual, and about the innocent defendant who won an acquictual, and about the candy known as peanut brictual, and …

    Carol, I’ve probably told you this before, but I took a lesson from Georgie once. When the new Church History Library opened, I was outside waiting very early, because I wanted to be the first patron through the doors. Just before opening, though Laurel Thatcher Ulrich arrived and my heart sank, because of course I would have to hold the door for her and SHE would be the first inside. But then I realized that the double doors meant that if I held the first one for her, naturally she would need to hold the second one for me … and voila, yours truly was the first patron of the new Library. Georgie and I know that manners work BOTH ways!

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — February 1, 2014 @ 10:30 am

  4. Ardis, if you think of that you certainly deserve to be the first inside!

    Comment by Carol — February 1, 2014 @ 10:56 am

  5. Okay, now I get it:
    victuals = vittles
    belictuals = belittles
    kictuals = kettles
    skictuals = skittles
    It now seems so obvious …

    Comment by Gary Bergera — February 1, 2014 @ 2:14 pm

  6. Yeah, the last time I was in Preston, I took a side trip to Cholmondeley Castle in Cheshire for some victuals. In never more than two syllables. Didn’t see the cat.

    Comment by Mark B. — February 1, 2014 @ 3:07 pm

  7. I’m embarrassed to say that I only very recently became aware of the correct pronunciation of victuals. I always thought that vittles and victuals were two different words with very different pronunciations, albeit with similar meanings. In fact, I never really thought of the two words as being related. To me, vittles was kind of a slangy lowbrow word, probably because I mostly heard it from Jethro Bodine. (And who defines the highbrow of lowbrow more than Jethro?) Victuals, on the other hand had a more academic highbrow connotation, probably because I only ever saw it in writing and (curiously) never heard it spoken. I’m a college professor in my 50’s. It was a little discomfiting to learn that despite all those years and all that education, I still never realized that vittles and victuals were variant spellings of the same word with the same pronunciation.

    I did however, know that shew in the KJV is an archaic spelling of show, and is not pronounced like “shoe.”

    (Or maybe I’m wrong about that, too…)

    I think I was in my twenties before I realized that the spoken word debris and the written word debris were the same word. I like to think that I never verbally used the words “vic-tu-als” and “deb-ris,” but I’m sure I must have.

    Comment by Left Field — February 4, 2014 @ 6:05 am

  8. You’re definitely right about the pronunciation of “shew,” LF, and I’m puzzled that it wasn’t corrected in the new edition of the scriptures. (Guide to changes.) If you can update asswaged to assuaged and stedfast to steadfast, why not update shew to show? It’s words like those that hinder peoples’ understanding of the text. (Of course I work with the Young Women, so your mileage may vary.)

    Comment by Amy T — February 4, 2014 @ 6:33 am

  9. I read all of the Ralph Moody books out loud to my kids mispronouncing victuals. I’d better call them all and correct it now. We didn’t get Hermione right until the movie either. Thanks, Gary. These things are interesting.

    Comment by Carol — February 4, 2014 @ 8:19 am

  10. Here is one of several websites explaining the etymology of vittles/victuals, with the silent “c” being added in the late medieval period when grammarians were trying to “correct” everything to be more like Latin.

    My mother once told me that she was a teenager before she realized that “misled” was “mis-led” and not “mizzled.” She didn’t like it when I teased her about that later.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — February 4, 2014 @ 8:35 am

  11. I remember seeing the word “vittles” in Western novels, and I figured that it was cowboy dialect for “victuals,” pronounced as it was written. So I was surprised when my dad was reading from the Bible (probably Luke 9:12) and pronounced the word “vittles”–since he was rigorous in his pronunciation and grammar and not given to slang.

    Regarding mis-pronunciation, I won’t confess how old I was when I discovered that “battalions” had nothing to do with the king of beasts.

    Comment by Mark B. — February 4, 2014 @ 8:50 am

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