I have an extensive collection of old farm periodicals and a recurring theme on the humor pages is the busy, hard working farm wife and her lazy, ne’er do well husband.
In the December 1926 issue of Farm Life, a monthly magazine published in Spencer, Indiana, by Farm Life Publishing, appeared the following so-called “Letter to the Editor.”
“Wunst more I’m tellin’ you–” it were the wife of my bosom speakin’ to me acrost my breakfast pancakes and ‘lasses–“I want those plants of mine took to the cellar, where they won’t freeze in this cold and drafty old house. I declare you’re enough to wear out the patience of a wooden injun. Everything I want done, I haft’a talk and talk–“
“And talk and talk and talk,” I completes, puttin’ my hat on the table, which always makes Marthy furious mad. And shovin’ back my chair I sauntered out the door.
At the dinner table I listened to a discussion of my weaknesses, chief of which, accordin’ to my Cheerful Sunshine, were puttin’ off things.
At the supper table, Marthy announced it were gettin’ colder, and she wanted her flowers moved at wunst.
“I got a pain in my head, a touch o’ rheumatiz’ in my knee, and my stummick ain’t just up to normal,” says I, “but tomorrow, Marthy, I’ll move your plants sure.”
“Ben Puttin-It-Off,” snaps she, “I believe you’ll be the death of me yet!”
At bed time it were still colder, and Marthy retired madder’n a wet hen, and full of doleful prophesies about the fate of her precious plants.
It were midnight or more, when I were awokened by a mournful, familiar sound, and the knowledge that I’d committed a frequent but terrible crime–I had failed to put out Jerushy, the family cat.
If Marthy waked and heard that “mee-yow,” why I were due for another lecture, so I hustled out, quiet but brisk, and stumbled through the dark and cold to the door and opened it for kitty’s exit.
Pussy, though, found it were colder than she thought and she took one look and scampered back.
“You will, will you?” says I, sarcastically, and shut the door and followed Jerushy.
A pair of green eyes under the stove were my goal and I made haste, with the bitter cold stinging my scanty clad form, and the fear hangin’ over me that any minute I might hear, “Watch’a doing there, Ben?”
“Crack!” That were my shin against a chair.
“Crash!” That were a flower pot and what it held, tumblin’ to the floor.
“Hey, Marthy, come here quick–I’m kilt or stabbed, or somethin’!” That were me, as I danced about on one foot, holdin’ the other in my hand, because it were stuck plumb full of needles or pins, or somethin’.
As I hopped about in agony, urgin’ Marthy to hurry with the light, I stepped again square upon that fearful stingin’ thing, and naturally lost my balance and sat down sudden and painful on the same secret foe.
Marthy arrived about here, and none too soon, with the light.
“For the love of Lysander, what ails you, Ben?” And then she spies the wreck.
“You’ve busted up my best Californy cactus!”
“I don’t give a hoot in Halifax if every Californy cactus in the United States is smashed all to pieces, and the pieces throwed in the ocean,” I roars, rubbin’ anxiously where the nettles were thickest. “What in the blinkety-blink blim-blam do you want to set your old plants on chairs for, to break a fella’s arms and legs, and to fill him full’a quills like a porcupine!”
“Didn’t I tell you forty times to take them to the cellar?” says she.
“You know good and well,” says I, “that I aimed to, but I just kept puttin’ it off. Get your spectacles and a pair of tweezers and pull these stickers out’a me.”
“Put your foot up here,” says Marthy.
“Mee-yow,” says Jerushy, under the stove.
Yours, in affliction,