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Stories Archives for 2018-10

The First Thing We Do


The above line, first spoken on stage around 1590, and first published in 1594, evidences a basic animosity toward lawyers among the folk of the Renaissance period.


In the 428 years since the composition of this line, attitudes toward lawyers among the common folk have changed very little.


The Spanish novelist, Franciso Quevedo, suggested, “A lawyer is like a cartwheel – he must be greased before he’ll move.”  He also wrote, “A lawyer is one who picks your pocket, and shows you a law for it.”


Woodrow Wilson, the 28th president of the USA, said, “I used to be a lawyer, but now I am a reformed character.”


Sir John Hamilton warned his contemporaries, “An attorney is like a porcupine; it’s impossible to touch him without pricking one’s finger.”


The following lawyer riddles have been around for awhile, and have been voted the best by us common folk. 


1. How can you tell when a lawyer is lying?
( When his lips are moving)
2. Why won’t a rattlesnake strike a lawyer?
(Professional courtesy)
3. What do you need when you have three lawyers up to their necks in 
 (More cement)
4. What is black and brown and looks good on a lawyer?
( A doberman pinscher )
5. What do lawyers use for birth control?
( Their personalities)
6. What do you call two hundred lawyers at the bottom of the sea?
( A good start)
7. What do you call a lawyer with an IQ less than 50?
( your honor )
     8. What do you get when you cross a lawyer with the Godfather?
          ( An offer you can’t understand )
          This is reminiscent of a remark made by Will Rogers, “The minute 
           You read something you can’t understand, you can be sure it was
            Drawn up by a lawyer.”
9. What is the difference between a dead skunk in the road, and a dead
Lawyer in the road?
( There are skid marks in front of the skunk)
10. What is the difference between an alligator and a lawyer?
( You can make a pet out of an alligator )

11. What is the difference between a chopped onion and a chopped up 
            Up lawyer?( People cry when they chop up an onion )
12.  Why are lawyers buried twelve feet deep instead of six feet?
( Because down deep they really aren’t so bad )


Did you hear about the blizzard in Amarillo?  The weather was so bad that schools had to close, pipes were frozen, and streets had to be sanded.  It was so cold that a lawyer was actually spotted with his hands in his own pockets.


One evening an honest lawyer, a dishonest lawyer, and the tooth fairy were sitting around a table.  There was a ten dollar bill on the table.  Suddenly the lights went out.  After a while, the lights came back on.  The ten dollar bill was gone.  Who took it?

     (The dishonest lawyer.  You don’t believe in the other two, do you? )


Once the Devil was walking through hell when he saw one of the big shot lawyers who was a resident.  Satan walked over to him and said, “You know, the trouble with you lawyers is you think you’re the best people in hell.  But you’re not. You are just the more numerous.”


All of these stories about lawyers help us to laugh at them, and at ourselves, and at the stressful situations which require us to deal with lawyers.  Some of my best friends are lawyers.

Excerpts from: corners of  Texas, by Francis E. Abernethy










PO BOX 511
CELL: 936-275-6986








The summer of 1956 was an interesting one for me. I was out of classes from Baylor University for the summer.  I had purchased my first car, a 1950 Chevrolet two-door sedan.  My future wife and I were courting pretty often, and I found a much-needed job.  The only problem with this picture was that the job was in Houston, Texas.


A job had opened up for me with Anderson-Clayton Cotton Company paying $350.00 per month.  This was good money for a nineteen year old naive kid from East Texas.  I needed the money badly enough to accept the job, and rent one room in an elderly couple’s house on Pease street in Houston.


The job was located in a large warehouse on the docks of the ship channel. No heat or air conditioning made for an uncomfortable shift.  I had never seen so many bales of cotton in my life as were stored in this warehouse, and several more warehouses along the docks.  I soon learned that each and every bale of cotton received by the company had to be rated, weighed, and classified.  This is where I came in.


Situated at a long table with several other men, a bale of cotton would be brought to the table. One man took three samples from the top to bottom of the bale.  Another man would grade the color, another the texture, and finally a third man the length of the fibers of the samples.  My job was to write down all these ratings on a tally sheet.  I did not know much about cotton, but I sure could tally.


One week we were instructed to take inventory of the bales of cotton contained in these warehouses, which were stacked from floor to ceiling.  I and another man would start at either end of the cotton bales and start counting until the end of the row.  If we both came up with the same number, we could go to the next one.  Not only were there bales of cotton in those warehouses, there were also rats, spiders, lizards and other unidentified critters. Needless to say, I hated taking inventory.


Each Friday afternoon we were paid by check.  I would come to work Friday morning with my Chevrolet packed, then speed out of Houston at the end of the work day, stopping briefly in Cleveland to cash my check at a bank.


Once back in San Augustine on Friday night, I would call Clara and set up dates for Saturday and Sunday nights.  This worked well for us all summer.


One Sunday night while driving back to Houston after our date, my Chevrolet began to act up.  On highway 190 between Woodville and Livingston, the engine died and I coasted to the shoulder of the road.  I realized that I was stranded right in the middle of the Alabama and Coushatta Indian Reservation.  My only knowledge of Indians was reading about Geronimo and Sitting Bull, and they did not seem to be very hospitable.  I was more than a little nervous.  After locking my car doors, I dozed off to sleep.


The first car along the road after dawn contained an older couple, yes, an Indian couple.   Their car stopped, backed up even with mine.  The woman peered at me through the window.  I rolled down my window and told them I was stranded and needed help.  These nice folk drove me all the way to Livingston to the Chevrolet dealership.  The movies never showed this side of the Indians


Well, all’s well that ends well.  I saved up enough money to buy Clara an engagement ring. And the rest is history.




P.O. BOX 511

635 Words




The Stop Sign




I feel that I was one of the fortunate ones to have grown up in a small town in East Texas during the 1940s and 1950s.  I was fortunate as well because my father was not a farmer or rancher during that era which would have required that I spend a lot of time working the fields, wrangling cattle, or harvesting timber.  As a result, I usually had some free time on my hands after school, on Saturday, and even Sunday afternoon.


The free time usually would result in a search for something to do to occupy my mind and abilities.  Living in San Augustine, Texas, with a population of less than 3,000, there was not much for a young teenager to do.  This was pre-television and pre-computers days, so I had to find my own entertainment.  I did learn to drive early, and got my drivers license at age 14, so this enabled me to drive to places of enjoyment.


One of those places of enjoyment was the fellowship hall of the Memorial Presbyterian Church.  Unlike today, the church buildings were left unlocked, a silent invitation for worshippers to enter and pray, or visit with the pastor.

The fellowship hall contained a ping pong table, the only one in town.  So, anytime the urge struck, I would call several friends and we would meet there and have a self made ping pong tournament.


It was there that I learned to handle a ping pong ball and paddle like a pro.  Along with friends Ben, Mike, Gayle, Bobby, Harold, and others near our same age, we crowned ourselves the ping pong champions of San Augustine.  Occasionally, some Methodist and Baptist kids would show up to play, but they were no match for the Presbyterian crew.

At our age we did not appreciate history.  We never gave a thought to the fact that we were playing in the fellowship hall of the oldest Presbyterian Church in the state of Texas. Records show that this church was organized on June 02, 1838, under the name Bethel Presbyterian Church.  They met in a country school house, Goodlaw School, about four miles west of San Augustine.  The church minutes indicate that twenty-two people organized this church, and sometime later called their first pastor, Rev. Hugh Wilson.

Around 1888 the present church building was erected at a new location in downtown San Augustine on East Livingston Street.  The fellowship hall was completed in 1950, directly behind the church building.


My close buddy, Mike, had bought a Cushman scooter around the time our ping pong  playing.  He would ride about a mile from his home to the church on his scooter to play with us.  One fateful day as Mike was leaving on his Cushman, he ran over an embedded stop sign at the end of the street.  He lost control and crash landed in the middle of the intersection.

Other than a few cuts and bruises, Mike was not badly injured.  However, his Cushman suffered severe injuries.  I don’t recall seeing him ever riding it again.  Mike had forgotten that the city had recently installed new metal stop signs, about eight inches high, at each street intersection.  Only one of these embedded stop signs remain in the city today, having been replaced with the more modern signal lights and octagon shaped stop signs.  This remaining old sign, located at the intersection of E. Main and Montgomery streets, is just a reminder of how things were in a small town over fifty years ago.  Mike certainly remembers.


In April of 2015, the city resurfaced that portion of Montgomery Street that intersects East Main Street.  The last of the embedded stop signs was removed at that time, being replaced with a regular metal stop sign.  I hope that the old one will be preserved as a part of the history of our small city.


Today you can see this old stop sign, refurbished, and housed in the new 1919 Jail Museum in the old restored jail on the courthouse square.  I urge you to stop by and say “hello” to this relic of the past.






107 Hemlock Street
PO Box 511
San Augustine, Texas 75972
Cell: 936-275-6986



The Addiction



I suppose than anyone can get addicted to anything.  People get addicted to alcohol, drugs, shopping, and all kinds of other things.  My addiction happens to be to popcorn.

It started at an early age.  My parents used to pop corn in a deep skillet with a lid.  They usually put a bit of butter in with the oil and shake the skillet until the corn was all popped, except for a few “old maids”.  I got addicted to that wonderfully tasting corn which has lasted a lifetime.

Fast-forward to around 1955 when my wife and I were courting and we see the popcorn addiction coming into play.  It turned out that Clara’s family loved popcorn as well, and popped it very frequently.  So, I was courting another addict which came out whenever we attended a movie.

Clara’s friend, Bessie Alford, owned and operated the movie in Hemphill.  She would always let us in the movie for free, but had to pay for any treats once inside.  I soon learned that one bag of popcorn was not enough.  Clara would need two bags at a minimum.  Luckily for me they cost only 15 cents a bag during that time.  Her love of popcorn became a private joke between us.  In fact, for her wedding gift I gave her an electric popcorn popper.  In the years since then we have worn out numerous other poppers.


Our love of popcorn prompted us to purchase a popcorn business while living in North Carolina in the early 1980s.  I purchased fifty unique small popcorn machines and placed them in businesses within a twenty-five mile radius.  I also furnished flavoring to put on top of the popcorn, such as taco, green onion, cheddar cheese, and jalapeño.  I ran my route of businesses twice per month, collected the money and re-supplied the retailer with more  popcorn and flavoring.  It was a great sideline business.


When our first child was born in 1959, we would feed her popcorn.  Of course we would pinch off a piece of white corn and give it to her.  She loved it.  Her name for popcorn was ‘knock knock”.  Naturally she became an addict, too.  When our son was born we introduced him to popcorn at an early age.  Even today when we all get together several bags of popcorn adorn the card table when we play forty-two.


It seems that popcorn has been around in one form or another for many years.  It is said that Native Americans invented, or discovered, popcorn around 3,600 BC in the area now known as New Mexico.  The Indians reportedly taught the early explorers about growing and popping the corn.  Today three states claim the title “Popcorn Capital Of The World”, those being Nebraska, Indiana, and Illinois.  In fact, popcorn is the official state snack food in Illinois.  So, they seem to know a good thing when they see it.


Most homes today no longer pop corn the old fashioned way, over the stove in a deep skillet.  With the invention of the microwave oven and popcorn in a bag it is a very fast and tasty snack food. I still feel the old way produced the best popcorn one could eat.  But, that’s just me - an addict stuck back in the 1950s.







107 Hemlock Street
PO Box 511
San Augustine, TX 75972
Cell: 936-275-6986

554 Words


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