I recently promised readers a glimpse into my latest literary purchase — a 1936 publication called The World’s Best Jokes — and here it is. (We are on holiday at the moment, and I am simply too worn out from lying on the beach in the warm July sun, and from consuming draft beer and broiled lobsters, to tackle any weightier issues tonight.)
Regarding Chapter XIX: Little Willies, these turn out to be short rhymes with a theme of gruesome accident or violence, sort of a precursor to the Dead Baby genre. Some examples:
Willie saw some dynamite,
Couldn’t understand it quite.
Curiosity never pays;
It rained Willie seven days.
Willie fell down the elevator —
Wasn’t found till six days later.
Then the neighbors sniffed, “Gee whiz!”
“What a spoiled child Willie is!”
Willie on the railroad track —
The engine gave a squeal.
The engineer just took a spade
And scraped him off the wheel.
Willie split the baby’s head,
To see if brains were grey or red.
Mother, troubled, said to father,
“Children are an awful bother!”
You get the idea.
There are jokes about lawyers:
Some physicians direct their patients to lie always on the right side, declaring that it is injurious to the health to lie on both sides. Yet lawyers as a class enjoy good health.
And about doctors:
The instructor in the Medical College exhibited a diagram.
“The subject here limps,” he explained, “because one leg is shorter than the other.”
He then turned to one of the students, and addressed him:
“Now, Mr. Sneed, what would you do in such a case?”
Young Sneed pondered earnestly and replied with conviction:
“I have an idea, sir, that I should limp, too.”
My own tribe takes it on the chin as well:
Mrs. McPherson informed her gude man one morning that she expected a party of guests that afternoon. He immediately rose and put al the umbrellas away.
“Why, Alec,” she exclaimed, “dae ya fear that ma guests will steal yer embrellas?”
“Nae: I’m afraid they’ll recognize them.”
Irish jokes, rube jokes, Negro jokes, jokes about Jews and jokes about hobos — we’ve barely scratched the surface, friends. More later.