“I have already given two brothers to the war and stand ready to sacrifice my wife’s brother.”

ArtemusWard

Artemus Ward 19th Century Comedian

“The Shakers is the strangest religious sex I ever met. I’d hearn tell of ’em and I’d seen ’em, with their broad brim’d hats and long wastid coats; but I’d never cum into immejit contack with ’em, and I’d sot ’em down as lackin intelleck, as I’d never seen ’em to my Show—leastways, if they cum they was disgised in white peple’s close, so I didn’t know ’em. from THE SHAKERS

 

INTERVIEW WITH PRESIDENT LINCOLN:

“Mr. Linkin, who do you spect I air?” sed I.

“A orfice-seeker, to be sure,” sed he.

“Wall, sir,” sed I, “you’s never more mistaken in your life. You hain’t gut a orfiss I’d take under no circumstances. I’m A. Ward. Wax figgers is my perfeshun. I’m the father of Twins, and they look like me—BOTH OF THEM. I cum to pay a friendly visit to the President eleck of the United States. If so be you wants to see me, say so,—if not, say so & I’m orf like a jug handle.”

“Mr. Ward, sit down. I am glad to see you, Sir.”

“Repose in Abraham’s Buzzum!” sed one of the orfice seekers, his idee bein to git orf a goak at my expense.

“Wall,” sez I, “ef all you fellers repose in that there Buzzum thar’ll be mity poor nussin for sum of you!” whereupon Old Abe buttoned his weskit clear up and blusht like a maidin of sweet 16. Jest at this pint of the conversation another swarm of orfice-seekers arrove & cum pilin into the parler. Sum wanted post orfices, sum wanted collectorships, sum wantid furrin missions, and all wanted sumthin. I thought Old Abe would go crazy. He hadn’t more than had time to shake hands with ’em, before another tremenjis crowd cum porein onto his premises. His house and dooryard was now perfeckly overflowed with orfice seekers, all clameruss for a immejit interview with with Old Abe. One man from Ohio, who had about seven inches of corn whisky into him, mistook me for Old Abe and addrest me as “The Pra-hayrie Flower of the West!” Thinks I YOU want a offiss putty bad. Another man with a gold-heded cane and a red nose told Old Abe he was “a seckind Washington & the Pride of the Boundliss West.”

Sez I, “Square, you wouldn’t take a small post-offiss if you could git it, would you?”

Sez he, “A patrit is abuv them things, sir!”

 

AND A FINAL BIT OF HUMOR:

“One of the principal features of my Entertainment is that it contains so many things that don’t have anything to do with it.”

 

THE FIRST COMEDIAN

MORE ARTEMUS WARD STORIES

Mark Twain’s 70th Birthday at Delmonico’s Restaurant

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On the night of my first visit to Delmonico’s, at a table affording me the grandest spot for people watching my husband asked me whom I loved more, him or God. The answer spoiled the night and the first marriage. Mark Twain had more reason to celebrate on his night at Delmonico’s and here’s a small sample of his speech:

“I have had a great many birthdays in my time. I remember the first one very well, and I always think of it with indignation; everything was so crude, unaesthetic, primeval. Nothing like this at all. No proper appreciative preparation made; nothing really ready. Now, for a person born with high and delicate instincts-why, even the cradle wasn’t whitewashed-nothing ready at all. I hadn’t any hair, I hadn’t any teeth, I hadn’t any clothes, I had to go to my first banquet just like that. Well, everybody came swarming in. It was the merest little bit of a village-hardly that, just a little hamlet, in the backwoods of Missouri, where nothing ever happened, and the people were all interested, and they all came; they looked me over to see if there was anything fresh in my line.” excerpted from birthday speech at Delmonico’s

My character Buck Crenshaw loves Delmonico’s. Dining there with his banker friends makes him feel as if he’s arrived, but Buck’s my creation and like his maker we often think we’re arriving when we’re actually not even close.

HISTORY OF DELMONICO’S

FUN FACTS ABOUT DELMONICO’S:

  • The first dining establishment in America to be called by its French name, “Restaurant”
  • The first dining establishment to have a printed menu
  • The first restaurant to offer a separate wine list
  • The first dining establishment to have tablecloths
  • The first restaurant to offer private dining rooms
  • The first restaurant to accommodate a ball or gala outside a private residence
  • The first restaurant to allow women to congregate as a group
  • The first restaurant to have a “star” chef
  • The first dining establishment where guests sat at their own tables
  • The first restaurant to have a female cashier
  • The first restaurant to offer Eggs Benedict
  • The home of Delmonico Steak and Delmonico Potatoes  (Delmonico Firsts)

Do We Really Like Homemade Gifts At Christmas?

She looks talented, but I don't know . . .
She looks talented, but I don’t know . . .

There’s always someone at Christmas who says the real spirit of the holidays is lost on shopping and killing each other in stampedes at the malls. I think if people continue to line up on Black Friday year after year, they must get some kick out of the near-death experience and warfare. I go to sleep each night fending off the fear of being buried alive during a dystopian apocalypse so I stay away from malls after Thanksgiving.

My childhood friend used to get a bottle of cheap shampoo every year from her awful grandmother, but I’m not sure a handmade gift would have been any better. While the grandmother was closely related to John Singer Sargent, you could tell by her hair and make-up that she’d have no talent.

Someone always says, “Let’s keep things simple this year. How about only homemade gifts?” Maybe during the Civil War that was a good idea. People whittled back then. I still have my grandmother’s whittled figurines and tiny sword (she was post-Civil War, but still whittled and knit). I wonder why she whittled a tiny sword?

Anyway, the point is I wouldn’t want a homemade gift from my brother. While I’m not impressed with a New York Jets ski mask, I can’t imagine anything good that could come of him crafting something for me.

I bet these women knew how to knit a good turtleneck.
I bet these women knew how to knit a good turtleneck.

When I was super broke I did the homemade thing because I was fairly good at sewing and painting, but I still got the sense that people were like, “I spent good money on her and she makes me this weird tree ornament with a creepy painted face on it?” I was going for weird and primitive. I thought my weight-lifting, UFO obsessed brother would like that!

Lest we beat ourselves up too much about what Christmas has become, we should remember that in Europe partying hard at Christmas was the tradition for centuries. We only gave all that up as Puritans. Finally as the Civil War progressed we decided we needed a good lift out of the misery of death, doom and destruction. Yes, the gifts were mere tokens compared to the electronic extravaganzas and blood diamonds of today, but people back then were no saints and probably some of their homemade gifts were less than stellar.

Do you really like homemade gifts?