Dear RDC friends ~ In August, we sponsored a “Tall Tales Contest” wherein the winner earned a his & hers Annie Oakley fragrance set purchased from the Cherokee Trading Post. The competition was enjoyable, and we decided to award the runner-up a gift from the trading post as well. Then Red Dirt Kelly went to China…and to a conference…and we’re FINALLY publishing these Tall Tales! We’d like to thank every one who participated in writing these fun little stories. We have a penchant for Tall Tales around here, and are so glad our reader friends do too. Special congratulations goes to Robert Stemmons, the author of our winning essay, and Mary Bone, author of the runner-up essay. Enjoy! ~
Once upon a time Fred, Rolla Goodnight and myself thought we would do a little fishing. So we made us a good boat about 14 foot long and four foot beam and also made a trailer to haul it on. Then loading up our trot-lines, tools and bedding we all started down on the river to fish. We put our boat in the water and it was in good shape and waterproof, then we started out to get some bait.
On the bank near us was a big cottonwood tree with a long straight limb sticking out and was about 15 feet long. It showed marks of being the roosting place for wild pigeons but there were none there at the time. Now trot-line fishing has its many difficulties and one of the worst is getting bait.
A few “Truthful Pete Says” articles were published in the Perkins Journal around 1950 featuring the tall tales of Pistol Pete Eaton. We opened this series with his “Toad and Snake” tale, and thought it was about time to grace your literary sense with this masterpiece. Enjoy!
Studying Bed Bugs
While reading the paper the other day I came across an item that said there was a man who had made enough money just studying bugs that he could afford a clean shirt every day and four pairs of socks and could drink most any brand of liquor that he wanted. I took this paper down to Fred and asked him about it and he said sure was a fact, many men like that made money without working just like fellers working on government jobs and the Triple-A fellers, so he guessed playing with bugs was as useful as many things. He said it was called Entomology. I tried to say entomology, but nearly lost my chaw of tobacco and since I was low on money and couldn’t afford another chew I didn’t try and say it again. But then and there I made up my mind to study bugs. I took off my shirt and didn’t find nothing new so after thinking a while I started up for Stillwater.
I got me a room at a high class joint and decided to take a bath before retiring. The porter brought in a big tub of hot water, so I jumped in, jumped back out, dried off on my handkerchief, combed my hair, cleaned out the comb and throwd the hair in the wash tub, blew out the candle and put some matches beside it. I hardly laid down when I felt something crawling around. I jumped up, lit a match real quick and caught a mess of bed bugs, red handed. I threw them in the tub and in went the burnt match sticks. After many bed bug expeditions, I finally dropped off to sleep, but awoke to the sound of beautiful music and song, much like a choir. Upon investigating, I found the sound came up from the tub, and there all those bed bugs, had formed rafts from the used match sticks, they made hair-strung harps and were sitting floating in the middle of the tub, singing, My Bonnie, and Pull for the Shore Sailor. Taking my bottle I spilled a few drops in the tub and shortly arose the harmony of Sweet Adeline.
With no further ado I swore off studying bugs for I find they are much like a politician, suckling from the people.
When I was a little girl, my uncle Jimmy Yates told me that he was having a hard time growing anything in his back yard, so he cut up his garden hose and planted it just to see what would happen. Much to his surprise, a beautiful tree grew nice and strong and shaded the back yard, but even more surprising was that when it bloomed and harvest time came, he had the nicest crop of licorice whips he ever did see. He thought he’d try planting rocks next time and see if there wasn’t a good crop of rock candy to harvest this time next year.
Of course, I believe him until the very end of the story, he got rewarded with my grins, and he did his job by keeping a straight face through the entire escapade.
Uncle Jimmy was a life-time Okie and a story teller. My Uncle Dean was a story teller. My whole family, on both sides of the tree (as well as my husband’s) were full of real tales, tall tales, jokes and ghost stories. It’s a family theme for us, but it’s really a family theme for the state. Okies can tell tales like not too many others around the U.S.
Case in point? Frank “Pistol Pete” Eaton. There are books written about his life, a few videos that are pretty good summary statements covering portions of his life, and then tall tales about the Tale-maker himself. However, I thought you might like to read a few for yourself, written by his own hand. So, every once in a while I’ll put in a few of his “Truthful Pete Says” articles he origianlly wrote for the Perkins Journal newspaper in 1950.