Albert Morehead 171 West 57th Street New York, N. Y.

 

THE LIARS’ CLUB

In a well‑appointed liars’ club, the tallest of the tall tales can aspire to no higher than second prize.

First prize always goes to the member who says he believes it.

There are innumerable liars’ clubs throughout the country. Most of them are cracker‑barrel groups that are loosely organized if at all — any stranger who wanders in is welcome to spin his yarn. The Burlington (Wisconsin) Liar Club gets the most publicity, its winning story being front‑page news via the Associated Press every year, but other liars’‑club members affect the greatest scorn of it: Burlington liars, they aver, limit their imaginations to long fish and smart animals, whereas a really accomplished liar graduated from that class by the time he was ten years old.

Unique in the field is the Kentucky Liars’ Club. It never meets. When any two members encounter each other, they tell each other a tall tale. If either of them fails to do so, that is the only way the other can know he is not a member.

I am proud to say that I am an honorary member of the Kentucky Liars’ Club. They wouldn’t make me a regular member; they said it wouldn’t be fair. They said I tell more lies when I’m not trying than their regular members tell when they are. So I’m not allowed to tell intentional tales when I meet another member. I’m supposed to just follow my natural bent. This cramps my style considerably, so I won’t bore you with any of my own lies. I’ll just tell you some of the stories my fellow members have told me.

THE HOUSEPAINTER’S STORY

Seems there was this fellow Cern Sammons, lived down in Hannibal, Missouri, and one day he slipped off a scaffolding and fell five stories.

Well, sir, that fall done poor old Clem in. It broke his back and his neck and all his arms and legs, and crushed him to a pulp and mussed up his face and blacked both his eyes and tore his overhauls and gave him a heart attack besides.

So they took Clem and laid him out, and the preacher came and preached over him, and the pallbearers picked up the coffin and started for the cemetery.

Just then old Clem sits spang up on his bier. “The reports of my death,” he says, “are a gross understatement.” Then he laid back and they buried him.

THE TRUCK DRIVER’S STORY

You see, I wanted a day off once in a while, so I taught my St. Bernard dog to drive. He got to be a good, careful driver, too, except he had a little trouble parking.

One day he ran out of gas, so he took a bucket in his mouth and trotted over to the nearest filling station. Well, somehow that dumb filling‑station attendant got the wrong idea when he saw a St. Bernard come trotting up with a bucket in his mouth arid he filled that bucket up with brandy! The truck ran fine on the brandy but so much had sloshed off on the dog that he smelled something awful. After he started off again, some cop stopped him and gave him a ticket for driving while intoxicated. So they took his license away, and now I never get a day off.

The thing that annoys me is, that dog never took a drink in his life.

THE PILOT’S STORY

When my engines conked out and I dropped into the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, I sure thought I was a goner. I had a life raft, but something had gone wrong with my cartridge and it wouldn’t inflate!

But do you know, I still managed to get that raft blown up, and I stayed afloat for a couple of days, until they found me. You see, I had my Short Snorter dollar on me, and that dollar has become so inflated…

THE TOBACCO PLANTER’S STORY

Why, what kind of a story is that? Any halfway decent marksman can pick off a horsefly at thirty paces. Old Jawge Hoskins he used to pick off a skeeter with birdshot at sixty paces, and that ain’t all. He’d call the piece of shot that old skeeter’d get winged with.

Jawge used to be a great duckshooter, but he wouldn’t hit no duck with no piece of lead shot. Not Jawge. Claimed it give the duck lead poison. He made him a piece of solid gold shot out of a lump his old lady had in her tooth. Like to broke the old lady’s heart, havin’ Jawge dig out that gold.

Well, Jawge never missed till fo’teen years later. He always hit with the piece of gold shot. Then one day Jawge took a bead on a pintail and brought it down, too, but when he went to dig out the piece of gold shot, all he found was a hunk of lead. He et the duck anyway, ‘cause Jawge was a hungry man, but the very next day he took sick and died. Doc says it was his appendix, but widder Hoskins she claims to this day it was lead poison.

THE SOURDOUGH’S STORY

So there I was, alone in the Yukon. It was forty below. My dogs had stampeded, my food was low, my ammunition was gone and the wolves were howling. Unless help reached me, I was a goner, but there wasn’t a soul within forty miles.

But I wasn’t worried. I just took out my pack of greasy, dog‑eared cards and began a game of solitaire. It hadn’t been half a minute when somebody tapped on my shoulder. I looked up and there was a man standing over me. “Why,” he asked, “don’t you put the red seven on the black eight?”

THE LIARS’ CLUB

“That ain’t nothin’,” scoffed the little man with the round bald head, inching his chair out to a better leaning angle. “Any halfway decent marksman can pick off a hawssfly at thirty paces. Why, ole Jawge Hoskins he used to pick off a skeeter with bu’dshot at sixty paces and that ain’t all — he’d call the piece o’ shot that ole skeeter’d get winged with.

“Cawss,” the bald man continued, giving one of his orange galluses a hitch, “Jawge never give an ex-eye-bition till he’d had plenty o’ practices. Jawge used to be a great duckshooter, but he wouldn’t hit no duck with no piece o’ lead shot, not Jawge. Claimed it give the duck lead pis’n. So Jawge he made him a piece o’ solid gold shot out of a lump his ole lady had in her tooth. Like to broke the ole lady’s heart, havin’ Jawge dig out that gold. Well, suh, Jawge he clumb a pine tree seventy foot high and he melted up that piece o’ tooth and dropped it spang into a bucket o’ water. After that Jawge never loaded up but one shell to go duckshootin’ with, and he always put that piece o’ gold in it. Made sure he’d wing his duck with that piece o’ gold shot, too, so he could dig it out and use it again.”

The bald man gave his other gallus a hitch. “No, suh,” he said, “ole Jawge he never missed till fo’teen years later. He took a bead on a pintail and brought ‘er down, too, but when he went to dig out that piece o’ gold shot all he found was a hunk o’ lead. Well, suh, Jawge he like to had a fit. Swore he wouldn’t never eat no mo’ duck meat till he got him another piece o’ gold shot.

“Well, suh, it’s a funny thing. Befo’ long Jawge he got to hankerin’ after some duck meat, so he went out and winged himself a duck with jes’ plain lead and took it home and et it. And the very next day Jawge he took sick and died. Doc he says it was his appendix, but wider Hoskins she still claims it was lead pis’n.

“Y’ know,” the bald man concluded meditatively, “I’m jes’ beginnin’ to get on to why they had that fake gold rush up to Warren County las’ fall.”

[AHM note: This story won second prize in the forty-sixth annual meeting of the Liars’ Club. First prize went to a man who said he believed it.]