Back in the late sixties, when I was a high school student in Vergennes, Vermont, one of my teachers (in an effort to avoid teaching for a day...not that there's anything wrong with that) brought in a record of someone most of you have undoubtedly never heard of, Francis Colburn, a Vermonter who was a hit on the comedy circuit at the time...sort of Vermont version of Bert and I with their Down East humor.
While I don't remember the set-ups of many of the specific jokes, I remember the punch lines and will forever have Colburn's drawl etched into my brain.
I've been thinking a lot of one punch line in particular in the days since the election.
Whenever someone asks me if I won, I harken back to Francis Colburn.
"Just baaaarely" was one of his punch lines.
The set up was that an old timer asked for change from a purchase all in dimes. The cashier gave him his dimes, and the old timer proceeded to stand there and count the dimes...once...scratched his head...twice...scratched his head...three times.
Getting exasperated, the clerk finally asked him, "Well, is it all there?"
"Just baaarely," the old timer responded.
Maybe you had to hear it with the drawl, but it's really quite funny.
I sure did win, "just baaarely."
Here's another Colburn joke. The city slicker tried to pass off a counterfeit 18 dollar bill with an old timer.
"Hey old timer, can you change this 18 dollar bill?"
"Sure young fella," the old timer responds without missing a beat. "What would you like? Three sixes or two nines?"
Maybe you had to be there.
My favorite Colburn joke would also apply to this political season just past. It involves the flat lander who is trying to find a house and pulls over to ask directions from a farmer.
"Do you know where such and such a road is?" he asked.
Scratching his head (there was a lot of head scratching with Francis Colburn), the farmer says, "Nope."
"Well, what about...?" and the flat lander names another road.
"Nope," the farmer says.
After this goes on a while, the flatlander says to the farmer, "Hey ol timer, you don't know very much do you?"
"Well, young fella," replies the farmer, "at least I ain't lost."
Someone should tell that to Billy the Bully today. Those of us he bullied may not know as much as he thinks he knows, but at lest ain't as lost as he was in leading our party over the cliff.
"Three sixes or two nines."
"Well at least I ain't lost."
Vermont words of wisdom to live by...40 years later.
By the way, the teacher was the same one who turned me on to Tom Lehrer, so I shouldn't be critical of how she chose to teach us!
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I should have known, you can google anything these days. Just when I thought I may have been imagining Francis Colburn, sure enough I found him. Apparently he was an artist and UVM professor as well as a "droll Yankee humorist". Ah yes, a Vermont eduction pays off again! You can apparently download the entire album! But not today!
"The Campaign Speech...Poking Pun At Politicians" LP Record Album was
produced in St. Johnsbury, Vermont, by Loren Records in 1964. Record is As
New, unplayed. Monaural. Colburn was much respected while teaching at the
University of VT, an accomplished artist, and a keen observer of the Vermont
mind. His other two LPs were the classic "Barn Talk" and "Graduation
Address" Here's a free joke for you from the liner notes: "What does a tried
and true Vermonter think of the antics of those seeking public elective
office? Well, they tell the story of the farmer who, after being delayed a
half hour by chores, joined his neighbor at a political rally in Craftsbury
(Republican- of course). Indicating the speaker, the latecomer asked his
neighbor, "What's he speakin' 'bout, Calvin?" "He ain't said yet, Calvin
responded." 3.00 s/h for first, .75 for any additional. I cannot accept
Paypal or Billpoint but will take personal checks and ship immediately to
buyers with good feedback. Good Luck!!