• On the Sunny Side

    There was too much snow this winter for rabbit hunting, and my pickup got stuck just below Orval’s cabin on a thick sheet of ice. Large snowbanks were still piled around on Easter. So, in an effort to cheer myself up, I offer a few of my favorite Vermont stories, told by folks who are experts at finding humor in the worst possible situations with a cocktail of sardonic wit, self-deprecation, and an appreciation of the random absurdity of life.

    A Texan was visiting Vermont and stopped to talk to a farmer on the side of the road.

    “Glad to meet you,” said the Texan. “Nice place you got here. How much land you got?”

    “Pretty good-size farm for around here—’bout two hundred acres.”

    “Where I come from that’s an awful small place,” remarked the Texan. “Down in Texas, I drive for most of the morning before I get to the corner of my ranch.”

    “Ayuh,” the old-timer commiserated, “I had a truck like that once, but I got rid of it.”

    A New Yorker with a Great Dane on a leash tried to board a bus in Bennington, Vermont. The driver opened the bus door and, looking out at the pair, said, “You can’t get on this bus.”

    “Why not?” snapped the New Yorker.

    “No dogs allowed,” countered the driver.

    The New Yorker, throwing aside all sense of common decency, shouted, “OK, you know what you can do with your bloody bus!”

    Equal to the occasion, the driver replied, “If you do the same with your dog, you can get on!”

    A substitute minister went to a small rural church and found that there was only one man in the congregation. The preacher asked him if he wanted him to perform the service anyway.

    The man thought a bit and then said, “Well, Reverend, if I put some hay in the wagon and go down to the pasture to feed the cows and only one shows up, I feed her.”

    So the minister went through most of the service, including a full-length sermon. Afterward, he asked the lone member of the congregation what he thought of it.

    “Well, Reverend, I’ll tell you. If I put some hay in the wagon and go down to the pasture to feed the cows and only one cow shows up, I don’t give her the whole damn load.”

    One particularly wet spring, Arlo Benson missed seeing his neighbor, Seth Perkins, for several days and got worried. Arlo drove around to Seth’s place and found him sitting in his pickup in the yard, mud up to his hubcaps.

    “Howdy, Seth,” said Arlo. “You all right?”

    “Ayuh,” said Seth.

    There was a pause and then Arlo said, “You stuck?”

    “I would be,” replied Seth, “if I tried to move.”

    Many years ago, land values in Vermont started to rise. So a sharp real estate speculator came up from the city and drove way back into the country to pick up some cheap land that he would soon turn around and sell at a big profit.

    He drove around until he came upon a hill farm, miles from civilization, and saw a farmer by the side of the road. After some conversation, the flatlander said, “I’d like to buy about five hundred dollars’ worth of land from you.”

    “Good,” said the farmer, “that’s very good. Go fetch your wheelbarrow and I’ll fill it up for you!”

    A man from Quechee, Vermont, was taking the train from North Station in Boston to White River Junction. The train was crowded and a well-dressed city man sat down beside him. After getting acquainted, the Bostonian said:

    “You say you are just a Vermont farmer, but I am impressed with your intelligence and common sense. To pass the time, I suggest that we play a game.”

    “Well, what’s your game?”

    “I suggest that we each ask the other a question and if we can’t answer the other fellow’s question, we give him a dollar.”

    “Well now, that might be a good game but I don’t think that the terms are quite fair.”

    “What’s wrong with the terms?”

    “Well, you’re a city man, probably well educated and traveled. I’m just a poor Vermont farmer—only went through grammar school and spent all the rest of my life on the farm. So, I suggest that if you can’t answer my question you give me a dollar, but if I can’t answer your question I give you fifty cents.”

    “That seems fair enough; let’s play. You ask the first question.”

    “Well, I’d like to know what it is that has three legs and flies.”

    After some thought the city man said, “Damned if I know. Here’s your dollar.”

    “OK,” said the Vermonter, “what’s your question?”

    “I’d like to know what it is that has three legs and flies.”

    “Damned if I know. Here’s your fifty cents.”

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