What’s in Mrs.Hale’s Receipts for the Million 1857?
4082. Wanted to know,—how the six persons can transport themselves over the river in pairs, so that no woman shall be left in company with any of the men unless her husband is present.
Today is my birthday, so I’m in a party mood. Humor abounds, even after I got that parking ticket (well, maybe I did say an unladylike word). The sun is shining and I’m not worrying about a major snowstorm slamming into my celebration. Humor abounds, which reminds me of my stint as a research volunteer for the Smithsonian as an undergraduate.
During my sophomore year (somewhere back in the archives of my life) I did a project for the head of Ethnology at the Museum of Natural History, John C. Ewers. My assignment was to browse 19th century American Magazines and find pictures of American Indians. Of course, the media was lithographs and wood cuts, but the purpose was to get the pulse of how Americans perceived our first nations people. The result was not only publication of Artists of the Old West by Ewers, but for me a first look at popular culture of the time. I’ll have to write more later, but only I wanted to say that while reading such works as Frank Leslie’s Illustrated News, Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, and The Casket, I began reading the riddles and jokes sections. What wonderful stuff. I collected them along with notations on the graphics, the oldest of which was from 1826. Dr. Ewers got very excited because it depicted a wigwam, done historically accurate, not like another litho from the same decade with Captain John Smith and Pocahontas dancing around Grecian Pillars somewhere in Virginia.
Here is a sampling of some of the jokes. Enjoy! (P.S. If you can figure out the riddle above let me know. I’ll post the real answer next time)
Joking Around in the 1850s
1857 Did the horsemen who “scoured the Plains” use soap?
The eye of the law – It has become so weak from want of proper practice in the different courts that is going to advertise for a pupil.
Why is the world like a piano?
~Because it is full of sharps and flats?
What is the difference between an accepted and rejected lover?
~One kisses his missus, the other misses his kisses.
1858 ~ Hint on dress – Don’t carry your handkerchief in your breast pocket. If you do – you take a wiper to your bosom.
A moral instrument – an upright piano.
How should a miller address his lady love?
~In the language of flowers, to be sure.