Lucky for those upon whom responsibility for the success of this thing has fallen, the big meeting of the Amsterdam Fish and Game Club is being held tonight. There is no telling what might happen if the excitement of preparations had to be extended a week. Welker Engel and Bill Holleran nearly had the jitters trying to handle one big proposition the other day, and in that lies a story.
Welker had two big men from Philly in his office when that telephone call came. And was he excited when he received the message! But imagine what this thing would mean to the local club of sportsmen -- getting a 750-pound fish. Why that was almost a young whale. Wonder how it managed to get up the Hudson, into the Mohawk, and so far west as Schenectady, where it got stuck in the ice? Well, that was none of his concern at the time. His job was to get rid of the two visitors and grab this sea monster before some other fish and game club beat the locals to it.
It was not long after that the Larrabee Company telephone rang. Yes, Bill was there -- just a minute. Hello. Yes, this is Holleran ... What? ... A 750-pound fish? ... Are you sure about this, Welker? ... Oh, migosh, what'll we do? ... No, we couldn't send our truck down to Schenectady now ... What kind of a fish is it? ... Oh, you don't now yet, eh? ... Well, let's talk this thing over ... What are we going to do with it after we get it up here?
They did talk it over -- and came to the conclusion that they had better defer action until more information was available. It was available at the next committee meeting when the other members of the group snickered at the Moby Dick yarn. The boys were just having some fun with these two ardent fishermen who'll bite on anything at this time of the year. "Sea Monster Sandwich" has been crossed off tonight's menu, and the guests will be limited to pancakes, sissach and Java.
TRIBES HILL FOLLIES
It has come out at last -- why they changed the program order of the Good Time Minstrels at Tribes Hill, thereby adding an element of mystery to a show that was labeled as a half-circle and end-man production. When the curtain went up, Blackface Bill Bennett was seen with a broad grin that indicated keen enjoyment. Suddenly his countenance clouded, and it was so noticeable that it could be seen right through the burnt cork. He had just remembered it -- his music was home on the piano.
The distress signal was wig-wagged to Director Harold Gordon and it was not long before a general SOS was sent out. Two members of the chorus were about to make a dash for the Bennett home near the Lower Crossing (a considerable distance from Community Hall) when it occurred to them that they wouldn't be able to get in without a key. That meant finding Mrs. B. in the audience. Which was done and then followed a record-breaking trip for the missing song. Bill didn't give the number at the scheduled time, but Harold juggled the program with nice effect and everything came out all right.
The bright spot of the evening, however, came in the joke about the woman who so craved publicity that she dressed up in print (printed cloth -- get it?) every morning. The audience was waiting for that one and it went over big in spite of the fact that Interlocutor Joe Schilling and Endman Harold Van Alstine muffed it beautifully. Joe and Harold had been rehearsing that one for three weeks and it never seemed to go right. Word of their trouble spread around the village and when the time arrived for springing the gag the awful silence of expectancy made the boys very nervous. The result was that they fizzled it in an entirely new way and the audience and cast howled in glee.
Wouldn't life be wonderful if it were all fun, if we could laugh on and on without that fear of uncertainty that makes all joy short-lived at best? The two yarns I have just written made me howl with glee when I heard them and I hope the rest of you Main Streeters get at least a grin out of them. But perhaps you don't feel like grinning and a story with a sign in it would be preferable. Well, I've got one of those, too.
It came from a newsboy, a little fellow who was in trouble. He lost a customer yesterday. If you have ever peddled papers, if you can understand the seriousness of these young business men, you have an idea why he was down in the mouth. Business wasn't so good for him.
And that's real trouble.
How did he happen to lose the customer? Yes, that's a story, also. I'll give it to you in his words:
"Well, this old man had to give up the paper a couple of weeks ago when his wife went to the hospital. He's blind, you see, and there ain't no one to read to him when she ain't there. He said that when she came home they'd take the paper again, and so I stopped around today to see how things were coming. But he said he wasn't going to have any use for a paper now."
"She didn't get home from the hospital yet?" I inquired.
"Yes, they brought her home today. But she won't be able to read the paper for him any more. She's dead."
And there, my friends, is real trouble.
This was first published March 22, 1934.