For years he had scrubbed decks, polished brass, hoisted,
lowered, and furled the sails of some of the sleekest yachts
in the harbor. But those days had come to an end: He was now
the captain of a schooner, manned with three deckhands.
Nattily attired in a navy blue uniform flaunting two rows of
gleaming brass buttons, and sporting a cap decorated with anchors,
he clambered aboard and shouted his first order.
"Hoist the mains'l!" he barked.
Ten minutes later, the schooner's vast spread of canvas was flapping
and crackling in the wind. But once it was made fast he bellowed,
"Lower that mains'l," and in rapid succession the crew
was ordered to hoist the mains'l and lower the mains'l again
and again, until one of them exploded.
Tuckered out and nursing two blistered and bleeding palms, this
deckhand snarled, "What'n hell's the idea captain? Why've
you got us doin nothin'but raisin' and lowerin' this damned mains'l?"
" 'Cause I sez so!" rasped the captain. " 'Cause
I'm now a man of autor'ity - and I want you butterfingered louts
to know it!"
* * *
A Marbleheader, best known for his penny-pinching ways, once
hired two out-of-town carpenters to reshingle his house. But
a neighbor soon noticed that they spent the better part of each
day smoking and gabbing and killing time.
Suspecting his friend was being hornswoggled and fleeced, he
"Tom," he said, "them two men you've hired to
shingle your house...they don't do much real work in the course
of a day, do they?"
"No, they don't," Tom replied. "But on the other
hand," he added complacently, "I ain't paying them
* * *
"Beverly!" brayed the Old Timer. "Beverly!"
"Why 'tis nought but a city of pixilated landlubbers and
kelpsailors who got that way when they tried to navigate its
mudlined, corkscrew channel!"
* * *
"I hear'd Joe Doakes just kicked the bucket."
"Yep! He sure did."
"Sudden, was it?"
"Was anything wrong with him?"
"He had a hangnail."
"Yep! A hangnail."
"Do you mean he was done in by a measly hangnail?"
"Well, iff'n it wasn't his hangnail, what was it that done
"A truck. He was run over by a truck."
* * *
A tourist, craving a smoke, lacked a match. With cigarette
in hand, he approached a Barnegatter:
"Sir," he asked. "Have you a match?"
"Yes," the Barnegatter replied.
* * *
"An old gentleman of this town, who has had his gravestone
standing in the cemetery, appropriately inscribed, for several
years, is now endeavoring to get contributions toward paying
for his coffin." -The Marblehead Messenger, 17 March
* * *
"Do I like living in Marblehead?"
Startled by the question, Mr. Johnny-come-lately stared in disbelief
at his former roommate.
"Boy, do I like living in Marblehead! Boy-oh-boy,"
he exclaimed, "I just love it. It's like living in olden
times," he added. "It's so unspoiled, so congenial,
so warm and so friendly.
"Here, Marbleheaders revere their town's past. They prize
their old 1727 Town Hall and swell with pride whenever they speak
of Elbridge Gerry, General John Glover and Captain James Mugford,"
he explained. "And, believe it or not, they truly believe
that the war for independence was won by Glover's Marblehead
He continued ...
"And when you compare it to Boston's ill-mannered crowds,
horrible traffic jams, dirty streets and two-bit politicians,
it's a heaven on earth. Fact is, there's no place like it...it's
in a class by itself.
"But I do think streets here are awful," he admitted.
They're picturesque of course...but too narrow and zigzaggy
and boxed-in by rows of old weatherbeaten houses.
"They ought to be straightened out and made two cars wide.
And if they were smart, they'd tear down some of those antiquated
buildings and overpriced houses that border the waterfront and
use the land for parking cars; it would bring a lot more people
"And why the townspeople persist in celebrating the Fourth
of July and Washington's birthday by ringing every church bell
in town morning, noon and night is beyond me. And that goes for
Abbot Hall's nine o'clock curfew bell. It's not only crazy...it's
stupid...a freaked-out tradition...one that's had its day.
"Still worse, the clanging of that damned bell plays hob
with my weekly bridge game. It not only shatters my eardrums,
but ruins my concentration...
"Otherwise, Marblehead's a great little town!"