Foresights and Hindsights From Harry View All Posts

About Foresights and Hindsights From Harry

In May 2015, a year after longtime Montgomery County resident Harry Zubkoff passed away, daughter Elaine Blackman relaunched the blog her dad began at age 88. She posts newfound essays, musings, historical notes, and excerpts from published and unpublished stories, novels, and poems, all mined from his computer and voluminous... Read more

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Greenbelt’s Laugh-a-minute Reunion – Part 2

Mark with his Zadie (grandfather in Yiddish) in 1986. A chip off the old block?

Maybe Harry was a wannabe comedian. Luckily he lived to see my son actually become one. I dedicate this post to Harry’s grandson, Mark, in honor of his upcoming marriage. It’s the transcript of side two of an audio cassette tape. (Side one is the previous post on this blog.) Harry kept the jokes coming at a 1996 reunion party for residents of Old Greenbelt, MD, the D.C. suburb where young, pioneer families grew up as close-knit neighbors. At the party, one woman recalled that it took a village to raise Greenbelt children, citing Hillary Clinton’s vision at the time for children of America. Between others’ reflections, Harry piped in with more jokes.

 

A little boy is walking down the street with a wagon, and all of sudden the wheels fall off the wagon, and the little boy says, “I’ll be damned.” And he reattaches the wheels to the wagon, and he walks a little further, and the wheels fall off again. And the boy says, “I’ll be damned.” Well the minister was walking behind him, and the minister says, “Young man, it’s not nice to say I’ll be damned. Instead when something unusual happens, say Praise the Lord.” So the kid walks a little further, and the wheels fall off again, and the kid says, “Praise the Lord.” And low and behold, the wheels pick themselves up and reattach themselves to the wagon. And the minister said, “I’ll be damned.”

Two cavemen were sitting by the fire. Outside it was raining and sleeting and thundering and lightening. And one of them turned to the other and said, “You know, we never had this kind of crazy weather before they started using bows and arrows.”

The dinosaurs were holding a revival meeting, and one of them turns to the other and he said, “You know it’s obvious that we will survive the coming problems of the Ice Age because otherwise we would cease to exist.”

People don’t always say what they mean. An example: A farmer in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, was suing an automobile driver for having been injured in an accident. And they’re in court, and the lawyer for the defendant is questioning the farmer. And he said, “Isn’t it true that at the time of the accident you told the sheriff that you were feeling fine, that nothing was wrong?” And the farmer said, “Well, let me explain.” And the lawyer said, like lawyers do, “Just answer yes or no.” The farmer says, “I have to explain. It was like this. I got up in the morning. I hitched up my horse and wagon. I threw my hound dog in the back of the wagon, and I started going toward town. And just when I got to the top of the hill, this great big automobile plowed into me from behind. It threw my horse to one side of the road; it threw my dog to the other side of the road; and I was pinned under my seat. Then the sheriff came along. He went to look at my horse, the horse had a broken leg, so he pulled out his gun and he shot him dead. He went to look at my dog, the dog was badly hurt, he had a broken back, so he shot him in the head and killed him. Then he came over to me and he said, ‘Well, and how do you feel?’ And I said, ‘I never felt better in my life!’” So you don’t always say what you mean.

A little boy came home from Sunday school, and his mother said, “What did you learn today?” “Well, our teacher told us about Moses, who rescued the Israelites from the Egyptians. When they came to the Red Sea, Moses called for the engineers to build a pontoon bridge. After they had all crossed, they looked back and saw the Egyptian tanks coming. Quick as a flash, Moses radioed headquarters on his walkie-talkie to send the bombers to blow up the bridge.” And his mother said, “Is that really the way your teacher told that story?” And he says, “Mom, if I told you the way she told me you’d never believe it.”

You know, there are all kinds of great errors in newspapers. I ran across this one: The highway commissioner said that detour signs will be conspicuously placed so that no one will have any trouble getting lost.

Here’s another one: The Northampton man has been sentenced to five years in prison for shooting but not killing his estranged wife.

A woman was filling out an employment application when she came to the square marked “age”. She didn’t hesitate; she wrote down “atomic”.  The last question on the form was “What are your aims and ambitions?” Again she didn’t hesitate. She wrote “I want to go as far as my education and sex will allow.”

The airline was advertising “Our airlines now have four hostesses instead of two, and with wider seats, too.”

[Replying to an attendee’s story about fundraising for the Jewish Community Center] I gave driving lessons for the JCC, and I had one particular student … You know, learning how to fly is not an easy thing, but it’s comparable, well, let’s say, you’ve got to have at least 18 to 20 hours of dual instruction and then another 18 to 20 hours of solo flight before you can get a license. Well I taught this lady probably 200 hours and she never was able to drive the car. She probably could have learned to fly faster than that. But you see she’s paying the shul by the hour, so the synagogue made a lot of money by her taking driving lessons. It was a good way to contribute.

As I was transcribing the audio cassette from this 1996 reunion party, I wondered if I’d find any photos of Harry at the podium. This is the one and only. As master of ceremonies, he was in his comfort zone.

A man put a coin in a vending machine and watched while the cup failed to come down. One nozzle sent the coffee down the drain, while another poured the cream in after it. “Now that’s what I call automation,” the man said. “It even drinks it for you.”

Now who can answer this very simple question? Which month has 28 days? [Audience member yells “Every month.”] You’re too smart.

This is an election year, ya know, lots of campaigning going on. This Republican is telling his friend how to get votes. He said, “What I do,” he says, “every time I take a taxi cab I give the driver a very generous tip and I tell him to vote Republican.” The other guy says, “I’m a Democrat. I’ll tell you what I do. Every time I take a taxi cab, I don’t give him any tip and I tell him to vote Republican.” If anybody here wants to vote Republican, you’re excused.

I’ve got a medical joke for you, Bill. This guy wants to buy life insurance and he’s filling out the applications, and there’s a question that says, what is your weight? So the man filled it in, 189 with glasses. So the insurance man said, “You know, this is kind of unusual. Why don’t you put down your weight without the glasses?” Well, he says, “I can’t read the bathroom scale without my glasses.”

This is one that tells an essential difference between men and women. A college English professor wrote these words on a blackboard: “Woman without her man is a savage.” And he said to the class, “Punctuate that sentence properly.” The way the males wrote it, “Woman (comma), without her man (comma), is a savage.” The way the women wrote it was, “Woman (exclamation point)! Without her (comma), man is a savage.” Emphasis on words.

The big joke going around Moscow right now, where everybody hates Yeltsin … So these people are in line for a store to buy food, and the line is very, very long, several blocks, and one woman gets out and she says to her friend, “I’m going over to the President’s house and I’m going to slap that Yeltsin right in the face.” And she left. A little while later she came back, and her friend said, “What happened?” “That line was longer than this one.”

The Russians were in the United States visiting manufacturing facilities. So they’re trying to privatize and all that. So they’re visiting one factory, and all of the sudden the whistle blows, and everybody in the factory goes out, and the Russian says to his host, “They’re all running away. What are you going to do?” And the guy says, “No, don’t worry, they’re just going out to lunch.” A half hour later the whistle blows and everybody came running back and started working. The Russian was amazed. He thought once those guys got out they’d never come back. Now the manufacturer said to him, “Which machine do you want to buy?” And the Russian said, “Never mind the machinery, I want that whistle.”

An [?] sultan kept his harem several miles away. Every time he wanted one of his wives, he sent his servant to get her. The sultan lived to be 95; the servant died at the age of 30. This proves that it’s not the women who kill you, but the running after them.

Anybody else want to talk? I can keep on all night you know. …

In a few minutes they’re gonna take away the tables and maybe do some dancing. OK, I’m gonna turn on the music. Those who want to dance, dance. Those who want to circulate, talk to each other. But let me conclude with this little story.

There’s a company that produces soap and perfume. And they had a contest for the best advertising slogan. And the one that won: If you don’t use our soap, for heaven’s sake, use our perfume.

At this point, Harry turns on the tape of music. We hear the first song: “Meet me in St. Louie, Louie. Meet me at the fair …” After a few more bars, the event tape-recording turns off. I have no doubt that Harry put together the music tapes for that evening.

Copyright 2017, Elaine Blackman

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Elaine Blackman

About Elaine Blackman

Elaine Blackman lives in Burtonsville and retired last year from her writing and editing career in the federal government's Department of Health and Human Services. Her intention for the blog website (foresightsandhindsights.blogspot.com) is to strengthen connections with family and friends. Writers and others in media and public affairs also may be interested in Harry’s variety of writings. In addition, retirees or people who are grieving might like the idea of creating a similar project. And, best of all, the blog may encourage people to write down their reflections for future generations to enjoy. Read more of Elaine's blog Foresights and Hindsights from Harry on MyMCMedia.

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