Friday, November 13, 2009

It’s Sunday – Come Read the Funnies of 1921 with Uncle Zeke!

by David Parmer
By 1921 Uncle Zeke had been writing the Buzzardtown News for over ten years. Never without an opinion about a national or local event, Uncle Zeke was either making his readers smile, laugh, or curse, but hardly ever were his readers indifferent to his musings about what was going on in the nation or on Oil Creek. This article re-lives his ramblings in the Buzzardtown News from 1921.
February 1, 1921
Crippling Briers
Burr Skinner has actually crippled a few briers this winter.
That’s Some Parsnip
Listen! O. P. McCord tells this one: He says J. L. Fox dug a parsnip and the family cooked two messes of it, then sent the remainder to George Riffle whose family ate two messes of it and sent the remainder to O. P. McCord and his family ate three messes of it, and then had to throw the remainder away. Some parsnip, eh?

The Greatest Common Divisor
Marion Riffle
asked one of his boys the other evening how he was getting along with his arithmetic. “Ohh,” said the boy, “I am having some trouble. The teacher wanted me to find the greatest common divisor.” “Well,” exclaimed Marion, “haven’t they found that fool thing yet? They was lookin’ for it when I was a boy.”
Who to You, Too
One evening not long ago O. P. McCord walked out upon the hill to look over his farm, something which he had not done for a long time. On nearing a patch of woods an old owl looked out of a big know hole in the tree and said in a loud voice, “Who-who-who?” O. P. said, “It’s McCord, you infernal fool; I thought everybody knew me.”
The Orlando Literary
At the Orlando literary last Friday night the following question was debated: Resolved: that the State Capitol should be moved to Clarksburg. To affirm, P.A. Moran and Walter Mills; to deny, P. N. Blake and James Griffin. The decision stood two to one in favor of the negative.
It is said that when Methuselah was a little boy three hundred years old he was very mischievous at school. Of course a boy at that age would be very bashful so when he disobeyed, the teacher would make him sit with the girls. I imagine that this is the reason he never got married in his young days.
Noah and P. T. Barnum
Some people claim that just as soon as Noah’s ark landed he sold his animals to P. T. Barnum who was in then show business and got drunk on the money. Well, we read of Noah being drunk, but I don’t know where he got his money or booze either.
Just Listen to This
Someone said there must not be anybody in Buzzardtown but O. P. McCord and Fred Lemley. Listen! Bruce Posey told George Riffle that Mart Posey told Roy Riffle that Rich Posey told Jack Riffle that Ezra Posey said that he heard John Posey tell Ellis Riffle to tell Taylor Riffle that Budde Posey told Marion Riffle that Sanford Posey wanted Lee Riffle to tell Oscar Riffle that Jarrett Fox saw Rye Heater telling Tom Conley that Ernie Fox had overheard Joe Skinner tell Poke Sharp that P. N. Blake said that Fred Lemley told O. P. McCord that "Red” Beckner “wanted Bud Hamilton to keep his infernal hounds at home.
Right: Bud Hamilton, owner of the "infernal hounds."
February 18, 1921
Take Your Time
Never hurry through life unless you are going for the doctor.
Big Game Hunters
Ezra Posey and Burr Skinner spent a few days in the mountains recently looking for big game.
Brains and Beauty
If you are looking for brains and beauty come to Buzzardtown.
It Sure Beats the Deuce or Contrary as Dick’s Hatband
Well, sir, it beats the deuce. There are some people in this world as contrary as Dick’s hat band and yet they don’t seem to know it.
It Must Have Been Mail Pouch
The other night O. P. McCord started to laugh and swallowed about a pound of tobacco. He says he very nearly swallowed a whole chew.
A Year of the Census
Our town is improving very rapidly: we now have one preacher, two section foremen, two bachelors, two old maids, three widows, a Smart Alec, a dude, a tattler, a know-it-all, a liar, about forty church members and a few Christians, six fox hounds, two coon dogs, one fiddler, one banjo picker, one Jew’s harp player, one boozer, and last but not least, plenty to eat and a host of good cooks. Drop in some day when you can’t stay long.
It’s True if Bill Copeland Told It
Well, I’ll be jumped up and befuddled if Bill Copeland isn’t talkin’ of gittin’ up a liar’s contest. Well, Bill can’t be beat. Of course, I won’t mention any name, but it is real funny to see Bill Copeland when he hears the truth told.

Right: Bill Copeland
See What Holly Griffith Caused
Well, since the State Capitol building has been burned and the penitentiary has been damaged, and Griffith is at large again, I hardly know what to do. I think I will leave West Virginia and move to Webster County where it’s root hog or die.
That’s the Craziest Thing
What do you think? A feller told me the other day that I must be crazy. Well, if he could notice it, I must be doggone crazy.
April 19, 1921
Bad Roads is the Cause
John Blake
says that if the roads weren’t so bad he could ride his kickless mule to the moon in three hours.
Spousal Abuse
The housewife seems to be the most cruel person on Earth. Listen: She will beat eggs, whip cream, thresh beans, pound beef, squeeze lemons, mash potatoes, rob bees and kill chickens. And then claim to be so innocent.
Smells like Old Spice
Hogs are so scarce in the community, it would be almost worth a quarter to smell a hog’s breath.
Snap Back with Stanback
I have been bothered considerably with headache recently. The doctor said he thought it was caused by insufficient knowledge.
Loaves and Fishes
O Gee! If I had some lard I would fry some fish if I had any.
He’ll be in Trouble Tonight
It is said that in six days God made heaven and earth and then he rested. Then he made man and rested again. Then he made women and since then neither God nor man has had any rest.
Champion Angler
Red Beckner, the champion angler of our town, succeeded in landing four dandy suckers recently, the largest being nearly three inches long.
If Bill Copeland Told It, It Must beTrue
Bill Copeland
says that Dr. Peck has threatened to indict Henry Cole at the next term of court for being so slow. See here, Doc, men who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.
Left: Dr. Peck
May 3, 1921
Now, He’s a Plantsman
O. P. McCord says if he had a gallon of molasses he would plant them and raise his own sorghum this year.
Making Music
As good luck would have it I happened to hear a pig squeal the other day, and it sounded as sweet as Uncle John McCarty playing “Leather Britches” on the fiddle.
A Big Eater
O. P. McCord doesn’t feel very well at this writing. Neither would I if I would eat a peck of greens at one mess.
Bug Juice
We have been informed that the devil recently visited Orlando with his holy water, commonly known as bug juice.
May 24, 1921
He’s Sick
I have been troubled a little of late with neuralgia, rheumatism, and headache, and, to tell the truth, I don’t feel very well myself.
Winding his Waterbury
I have been so busy the past week that I haven’t got to do anything. I have both the itch and a Waterbury watch, and what time I ain’t a scratchin’ I am windin’ my Waterbury.
He’s Got No Talent
Archie Jones is learnin’ to play the fiddle, and honestly you can hardly tell it from a Buzzard cluckin’.
He’s Done Plowing
O. P. McCord actually plowed a patch of potatoes the other evening, something he was never known to do before. It is feared that something awful will happen. His little son Fred says the horse would soon teach him to plow very well.
He’s Not a Big Man
George Riffle tried for two hours the other day to sit down on his own lap and when he found out he couldn’t he tried to crawl into his pants pocket. Well George is awfully queer, anyhow.
Is it Yams or Sweet Potatoes
Gee Whiz! Mrs. O. P. McCord has six thousand sweet potatoes set out, up to now. Or maybe its only six hundred; it’s a big lot anyhow.

Left: O.P. McCord's wife Della (Hyre) McCord
Right: in Oil Creek, orange sweet potatoes (on the left of this image) are yams. There's a wonderful, milder root vegetable that we call "sweet potatoes". Generally speaking, we're pretty snobby about the superiority of our white sweet potatoes over the commonplace orange yams.
Jack Benny Didn’t Invent It
Poke Sharp
, who has been only thirty five years old for the last forty years, is on the sick list.
Truth Has a Sharp Edge
Some people say they suppose it would be easy enough to tell the truth if they only knew how.
Maybe He’ll Buy a New Hat
N. J. Henline
says that Joe Skinner’s hat is in a very bad shape since it had a stroke of paralysis some time ago.

Right: Joe Skinner and his hat
June 8, 1921
No Good Came of It
Tuesday morning just after I got out of bed, I discovered that a nice heifer calf had died, and it so upset Jerooshy that when she went to get breakfast she put sugar in the coffee pot instead of coffee, soft soap in the bread for shortning, baking powder in the sugar bowl and salted the eggs with soda. Gosh, my appetite weren’t much good for a spell. I have a kind of fool headache yet.
July 6, 1921
What Will She Do Now
Mrs. A. N. Posey is troubled very much over two dish rags that blew away during Saturday’s storm.
Them’s Big Claws
What do you think? The tarnal crawfish are catching Joe Skinner’s chickens.
Seasonal Footwear
If the weather keeps on getting hotter, by Jucks, I’ll have to order me a pair of barefooted shoes. .
Cleanliness is Godliness
It begins to look like some people ought to send their feet to the laundry and their faces to the barber shop.
They are Both out of Work
It has been said that God made man, and man made money. Then God made bees and bees made honey. It seems that neither man nor bees are doing much at the job at present.
It’s Almost Time
George Riffle
says he will soon have a mess of young chickens, as he has some almost ripe.
It’s Either Too Late or Too Early
During these short nights, it takes some people half the night to go to bed and the other half to get up.
August 10, 1921
I’m Glad that is Straightened Out
Biddie Fox
says she likes Grafton better than she does Buzzardtown. I suspect she means
Grafton Riffle.
August 17, 1921
On Women’s Fashions
Women wearing shoes with heels like peggin’ awls, waists that only cover about half the upper cut of the body and skirts that reach far above the shoe tops. I wonder what we’ll see next!
Where Did He Go
“Bud” Hamilton
was somewhere one day last week, but you’d never know where by asking him.
August 31, 1921
Crop Failure
Ha, Ha, Ha! ‘Jist orter see Bill Copeland’s ‘terbacker patch.
It’s Those Horse Traders Again
A peculiar looking person passed this way a few days ago. He was almost barefooted and naked. He had long hair and a misshaven beard. I think he was president of the horse traders reunion.
Boozing Amphibians
Bull frogs must be bootleggers for they keep a yellin’ “Jug-of-rum,” all the time.
He Needs to Cleanse His Palate
A certain person at the birthday dinner recently mentioned, kept eating pound cake very freely. When someone passed him the bread and asked him if he wouldn’t like a piece of light bread, “Oh, no,” he said; “this corn bread suits my taste exactly; it tastes so much like the corn bread my wife makes.”
What Won’t They Think of Next
Ernie Fox says just as soon as he can get someone to help him he is going to make him a horse; he got the pattern at the “hoss” traders’ reunion last Friday.

Left: Ernie Fox
It’s Booze That Talks
I’ll bet a gallon of old hen against a gallon of pick handle that the devil has more people employed at present than any other person on earth. Now put up or shut up; its booze that talks.
What do you think of a person who would tear down a garden fence to let cattle in to destroy a woman’s summer’s work. I think such a person ought to be banished to Boogerhole, there to associate with big Boogers, little Boogers, little Boogers, he Boogers, she Boogers, black Boogers, and all other kinds of Boogers until old Nick shall say “Well done, good and faithful servant; enter into the eternal abode of my dark domain.”
Davy Parmer
of Orlando has been seen looking a little skygoglin’ at some of the fair sex in our town recently.
Dog Days
Some people say that every dog has its day. As dog days are now out I wonder what the balance of Bud Hamilton’s dogs will do, as there was not enough dog days to go round all of them.

“Elder” Apples
What do you think? People are making apple butter out of elderberries this year.
Wedded Bliss
Well, who would have thunk it. And yet I guess it is so, at least everybody is tellin’ it. Davy Parmer told it twice, and Sonny Conrad is still tellin’ it. And Pat Moran said by “tunder” it is a fact: “That John Dolan and Miss Addie McCauley were recently joined in the Holy bonds of hemlock E Pluribus Unum, world without end. Amen. Miss McCauley is the accomplished daughter of Sam and Cecelia McCauley of Weston and John Dolan is the young proprietor of the Dolan Hotel at Orlando. May they live long and happy on this earth and may peace, pleasantness and sunshine surround their way, and may their voyage on the sea of matrimony be calm and serene, is the wishes of their old friend, Uncle Zeke.
Left: Pat Moran
Right: Sonny Conrad (Detail from a photograph of Beham Henline's funeral.)
September 31, 1921
Half Souled
George Riffle
actually broke the Sabbath, and he is wondering if Davy Parmer, the shoe cobbler, can mend it.
And the Street Flowed with Liquor
It is said that old John Barleycorn and all his imps were in Orlando last Sunday. The day was pleasantly spent in a general knock down and drag out. Some people think that the Devil might swap his interest in the infernal regions for a little patch up here on the earth. Well I have the very spot picked out for him already equipped with the Devils, and I’m sure he would like it if it isn’t too tough a place for the old gentleman. If he ever comes to see about it he had better bring a gallon or two of moonshine and a deck of cards and I think he would be sure to make a deal. He couldn’t make it any worse.
Which Will it Be
Some of our folks have about decided to buy a horseless carriage, but they are puzzled to know whether to get a Ford or an automobile.
October 4, 1921
It Must be a Dodge
Fred Lemley sure has some car. It can almost climb a tree.
Old Lafe
Our school is being taught this term by Prof. L. Mick of Burnsville. Lafe is a good teacher and takes great delight in telling the pupils how it happened.
As Short as Short Can Be
Mary had a little skirt,
As short as short could be,
And every time she took a step,
You could see above her knee.
-Uncle Zeke
(Old and half blind)

October 19, 1921
High Prices
I wonder what is the matter? Cattle are low and beef is higher than it was when the old cow jumped over the moon.
A Light Eater
George Riffle says if he had two ‘taters and a pint of chestnuts he could winter like a top.
Squirrels Beware
Burr Skinner says he has all the squirrels killed around here but one: and Devil and Tom Walker couldn’t get it.
Tsk! Tsk!
It is sad that even the church members at Orlando are moonshining and that the class leader was caught with a sixty gallon barrel of booze in his possession, but we can vouch for the latter not being true. O, when will prohibition prohibit? I would like to see the time when the officers of the law would do their duty and put a stop to such cussedness as is being carried on in most every community. Shame on the young men and older ones too who are ruining their reputations, their health, and their immortal souls. Listen, the Good Book tells us that no drunkard can enter the Kingdom of Heaven , and if you miss Heaven you miss all.
November 9, 1921
The Great Pumpkin
Talk about your pumpkins and squashes! Neither Bailey nor Riffle is in it when Bill Copeland steps in. He says he raised 92 pumpkins on eight vines averaging eleven and one-half pumpkins to the vine. The smallest one weighed 41 pounds and the largest 100 pounds. He says he weighed one blossom alone that weighed an even five pounds. The vines, he says, ran around the garden each way and met and grew together on the opposite side, so he doesn’t know how long they were, but they were “some pumpkins” anyhow.
The Splendid Oarsman
While over in Ohio last week some very strange things happened there. One man jumped into a boat and began to pull up the Ohio River. I couldn’t have pulled up a little ravine much less a river like that one.
The Lost Child with Short Arms
In one of our towns I saw a little boy running along the street crying. A cop asked him what was the matter, and he said he had lost his mother. The cop sad, “Why didn’t you hold on to her skirts?” He said it was so short he couldn’t reach it.
The Great Dilemma
Another fellow asked an old bachelor why he didn’t take a wife and settle down in life. He said he would but he didn’t know whose wife to take.
There Was No Medicaid
A doctor went into a home to see a patient. “Well,” said he, “young man, you will soon be on your feet again.” “Quite likely,” replied the young man; “I will have to sell my automobile to pay your bill.”
All or Nothing at All
A young man asked a peculiar old codger for his daughter’s hand in marriage. “No indeed,” said the old man; “you take the whole girl or none.”
It Was a Rough Night
One man said to another, “I heard you were held up the other night.” “Well,” said he, “It must have been an act of charity. I was so drunk I couldn’t stand.”
December 7, 1921
Hit Him on the Shin
A lie jumped a cog the other day striking Bill Copeland on the knee and nearly put him out of commission.
War Tax
There seems to be a war tax on nearly everything. Some time ago a judge sentenced a prisoner to one year and ten days. The prisoner asked the judge what the ten days was for. The Judge replied, “War tax.”
Capitol of the League of Nations
I suppose the next thing after the disarmament will be the building of the World Capitol and I know of no more suitable place than the City of Buzzardtown.
Subject, Predicate, Modifiers and Dangling Participles
The question has been asked, “What part of speech is ‘woman’.” In most cases they are no part at all; they are usually the whole thing.
Expect a Big Bill
I fear that part of my household effects will have to be taken to the hospital. The other day they got into a rumpus and the bed got its head cracked, a chair got an arm broke, the table sprained one of its legs. Just as the clock started to run the shotgun kicked it in the face; my watch fell and mashed one of its hands; the comb got one of its teeth knocked out; the tape line lost one foot; the darning needle got an eye put out. Just about that time I thought peace was restored the umbrella opened up, sputtered around and broke two of its ribs, a bottle fell out of the cupboard and broke its neck; molasses and coffee had a fight; molasses got licked and coffee had to settle down on its own grounds. The dresser complains of rheumatism in its legs and back and the stove pipe has the flue.
. . . . .
Comment on W. H. “Holly” Griffith by David Parmer
“Holly” Griffith dominated the pages of newspapers in West Virginia in 1921. The three-time murderer, escapee from the State Penitentiary, and fugitive, Griffith created quite a bit of excitement in central West Virginia by continually thwarting the efforts of law enforcement to recapture him. One of the murders committed by Griffith occurred in Gassaway. The name “Holly Griffith” seemed to be on every tongue in 1921. Finally recaptured in South Carolina, Griffith served his multiple life sentences in the West Virginia State Penitentiary. Receiving a “medical leave” from Governor Hulett Smith in 1967 in order to obtain cancer treatments at the Cleveland Clinic, Griffith absconded once again and roamed the western states and Mexico with an old penitentiary buddy. He finally turned himself back in to prison authorities and died in prison in 1971

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