Sunday, November 29, 2009

A Cure for Youthful Exuberance

Unruly children are the bane of many an adult. Where an adult sees challenges that must be dealt with in a sober manner, a child often sees an entertainment opportunity. There is a cure for this disparity of viewpoints, however. With a little ingenuity, there may even be some profit.

For example, the next time you see a youth using a cat to whitewash a building, stop him immediately. Lecture the child sternly and take the poor animal from him. Find a safe place for the creature. At your next show, display it as a rare albino racoon (for a fee, of course).

This will teach the youth a valuable lesson – never paint a cat without a marketing plan.

There are many more ways in which you can turn mischief-makers into useful citizens – as drink caddies, poker chip manufacturers, card sorters and lookouts, to name a few. Merely show them how much one can gain from a constructive activity, and reap the benefits.

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Sunday, November 22, 2009

Advice for Lighthouse Keepers

I once briefly served as a lighthouse-keeper. I applied for the job because the work, I heard, entailed little beyond cleaning the lens and making sure the signal lamp was lit at dusk and extinguished at dawn. This suited my lifestyle at the time, as I was quite a “night owl” and I believed that the tower could double as an exclusive gambling house to men of means. The facility would be open when the beacon was lit and closed when it was not, and I would be assured of a double income – that of a government employee and of an independent businessman.

The isolation of the lighthouse proved a perfect place for gentlemen who desired the privacy necessary for serious betting. Business was so good that I had to expand to the keeper’s quarters and still lacked space. Finally I decided to make room for additional tables in a fuel storage building several hundred yards from the other structures. I took care to move the barrels of coal oil outside, placing them along the exterior wall of the tower so they would be handy when the signal lamp needed refilling. I left empty barrels in the storage building so that customers might have some place to put down their drinks and cigars.

I still believe all would have gone well had the barrel-maker done his job properly. Due to shoddy workmanship, some oil must have leaked out. Otherwise, one of the empty barrels would not have exploded so easily, and a line of fire would not have extended to the tower.

It always amazes me how high flames can reach. The barrels packed along the tower wall produced a billowing, Vesuvian effect. All the customers were able to get out before the roof blew off, but in their haste to escape many left their winnings behind. I told them to seek justice from the barrel-maker, but they did not see it that way.

This is why I say: Safety First! Before you ever conduct business near water, you should learn to swim. Swimming is a healthful activity. It can also provide a refuge from wildfires and, when done at the proper depth, from bricks and bullets.

copyright ©2009 Laurie J. Anderson, all rights reserved.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

A Treatment for Indigestion

pickling cucumbersEat two large dill pickles, one after the other, then take a half-gallon of boiled cider followed by 10 or 12 sausages and a plateful of fried potatoes. Get on your horse and ride several times around your house at a gallop. When you dismount, eat some hot Indian fry bread, a pound of sauerkraut, and wash it all down with at least a quart of buttermilk. This treatment will definitely give you indigestion.

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p.s. I don’t know who would want indigestion, but you never know what your audience will find useful.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Mountain Music & Medicine Show - November

Buzzard Mountain BoysThe sheriff allowed me into Dahlonega yesterday, and this time I was joined by the popular music groups Mist on the Mountain, the Gentleman Jack String Band, Jim Wood, the Camp Creek Committee and, unfortunately, the Buzzard Mountain Boys. Jim-Bob and Joe-Bob of Buzzard Mountain are mighty fine musicians, but don't ever go hunting with them. If you were at the show, you'd know why, and if you weren't, just listen to the rebroadcast on Georgia Public Broadcasting on November 21 or December 19 to understand what I'm talking about. All I'll say right now is that finding the bear is not the problem. If you want to see more of the Mountain Music & Medicine Show, visit my photo album.

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Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Ghost of a Gambler

old playing cardsI was playing cards with some acquaintances at a hotel in Nuckollsville the other night when the lights began to flicker. “Oh that’s just Old Joe,” said one player. “He used to gamble here, but he died a few years back. His widow Miss Sally works as the hotel cook to make ends meet. Her little boy washes the dishes.”

“Why don’t you invite Old Joe to play?” I asked.

“’Cause he don’t have nothin’ to bet with,” said another fellow.

Well the lights continued to flicker, so I finally called out, “Joe! Come sit down! I’ll stake you!” Then I dealt another hand at an empty seat and added a few of my chips. My fellow players were not amused.

“How will he bet?” said one.

“How many chips do you want to bet, Joe?” I asked loudly. The lights flickered twice. “He’s in for two dollars,” I said, and moved a couple chips out of his pile. “And so am I,” I added.

Well we played like that for a while, Joe indicating how he wanted to bet with the help of the gas light fixtures. The other gentlemen were annoyed at first, then taken aback when he started winning.

“Just how,” one of them finally asked, “will he collect his winnings?”

“I think,” I replied, “that his wife can use the money.” I looked at my hand, and pushed my remaining chips to the center. “I’ll see your bet, Bryson,” I said, “and raise you ten.”

“Hmph,” said Mr. Nix to my left, pushing a stack of chips toward the center of the table. “You’ll have to do better than that.”

“I’ll see that, and raise you another ten,” added Emry Adams. And so it went, around the table.

When Old Joe’s turn came, everyone glanced at me.

“Well Joe, what do you want to do?” The lights became extremely bright.

“Put all his chips in the middle and don’t give him any more cards,” I said. “And I fold.”

There was silence all around.

“Too rich for my blood,” said Bryson.

“Me too,” said Nix, disgustedly.

“I think I’ll quit while I’m behind,” said Emry, folding.

“Looks like you win, Joe,” I said, pushing the chips toward the empty chair. “And since it’s getting late, I think I’ll call it a night.” I got up to leave.

“You’re not going to see what kind of hand he had?”


“Well I don’t think he’ll mind if I look,” said Nix, and he flipped over the cards.

“A two, a five, a seven, a nine and a king! Dang,” said Bryson, incredulous. “Now I KNOW that wasn’t Joe playing.”

“What makes you say that?”

“’Cause he was a TERRIBLE bluffer.”

They all looked at me.

“Gentlemen,” I said, “Perhaps his facial expressions would give him away. I advise you to be more careful when playing with him in the future. Somebody tell Miss Sally to come collect his chips.”

My wife complains that I play cards too much and don’t do enough charitable work. I tell her that you can be very charitable when playing cards, if the spirit moves you.

copyright ©2009 Laurie J. Anderson, all rights reserved.