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Revised 7 December, 2009

HERE’S TO JOE

It was the 1930’s.  The world was full of youth and joy.  My grandmother and her children were on a grand adventure, grandma and grandpa having taken temporary leave of their senses and separating for a brief time.  (They later reunited and remained inseparable until grandpa’s death many years later.)  .  .but I digress.

Grandma moved to San Francisco, taking her children with her.  My aunt Ruth, having nothing better to do, moved up there with them.  Together, they rented the top two floors of an old house near the university and Grandma proceeded to rent the attic to a group of college boys, who called themselves “The Attic Gang”.  Their adventures were numerous and despite the possible harshness of their surroundings, they managed to make the most of it, as young people usually do.

On one occasion, they moved to new quarters a couple of blocks from the original house, and carried their belongings to their new digs, walking past the old folks home and through the park.  Jimmy, a short young man, looked to be about 14, though much older. They walked, pretty much in silence, with their heavy load and continued thus until just in front of the old folks home, where the oldsters sat in their rocking chairs enjoying the sunshine of the day.  Just then, Jimmy piped up---“Gee Maw…..why’d Paw throw us out?  How come you brought the percolator Maw?  You know there’s no place to plug it in at the park.” …….(the thought of homicide was not far from grandma’s mind as she noticed the rocking chairs picking up speed and all eyes on her awaiting her response.)

The “boys”, including my Uncle Ken, enjoyed outings together and good manly camaraderie.  And in this bent, one evening decided on a night out on the town.  They dressed in their tuxedos and snagged a lily from the garden next door.  One gentleman assumed the posture of a corpse, arms stiffened and holding the lily in his crossed palms.  The others picked him up and walked into the nearest bar, propped “the corpse” up against the wall and proceeded to the bar, where they ordered a beer and encouraged the astonished on-lookers to drink a toast to the newly departed good old “Joe”.  They then walked back to “the corpse” and picked it up and staggered out the door.  This they did for several more stops, each taking a turn at being “Joe”, until they were finally beyond the capability of continuing.  At each stop, they repeated the strange performance and each time, the unwitting dupes of the bar raised the requested send off to “Good Old Joe”. 

This only goes to show that people are capable of going to great lengths to make total fools of themselves in the name of pure and unadulterated fun.  Without laughter, and our sense of humor, we would be a sorry lot indeed.  It is good to laugh at ourselves.  It puts our lives into perspective and makes the drudgery bearable.

The next time that life is getting you down, pull up a chair, raise your glass and drink a hearty toast to “Good Old Joe” and picture in your mind, the looks of astonishment on the faces of the witnesses to this little farce.  If you can do it without laughing, then get thee to the shrink…..you are further gone than you think.

“CHEERS!”