Worth a Repeat, Because We All Need a Good Laugh: Gosh Awfuls, Jackalopes and Other Tall Tales

I grew up in what is known as the Oregon Outback, Eastern Oregon. My dad is a retired logger, and my childhood was spent in the woods, camped a few miles from where he was working at the time. Most often we were next to a lake or a creek - a wonderful way to spend childhood summers, except for my dad's tall tales.

Not only did we groan at the puns, my sister and I were often the stars of the tale.

One of these occasions we were camped about a thirty minute drive from the town of Silver Lake, up in the Gearheart Wilderness area. My father announced we were going to town for a Tube Steak dinner. All excited we loaded into the pickup truck and headed down the mountain. We never noticed the twinkle in his eyes, or the wink he gave the waitress when he placed our order. We waited impatiently for our Tube Steaks to arrive, totally unaware we were being duped.

 The waitress finally returned with plates piled high with French fries and something familiar looking in a bun. I looked at my sister and she looked at me. We shrugged, made faces at our dad and ate our steaks and fries.We notched this tale right up there with his stories of Jackalopes and Gosh Awfuls.

Now the Gosh Awful is a horrible creature who lives in the woods and preys on unsuspecting girls walking alone along any of the trails, night or day. In an unguarded moment  he springs from his hiding place and does Gosh Awful things, like tickling, or Indian hair rubs, or simply saying, "BOO", and causing said girls to run screaming.

And, added to this, all of my dad's tall stories started out with, "When I was a little girl...." Even at a very early age, we knew better.

Then of course, there were the road trips. My dad read the road signs and made comments.

"Slow Children must go to the Slow School."

"Speed [for] 50 miles"

"It is very likely we will drive through the town of Likely."

In Death Valley. "250 feet below sea level. Better hold your breath."

At the Grand Canyon. "Golly what a gully."

There were many more, but I can't recall all of them (or have space to write them). 

Then, there were the mosquito stories like the poor logger unmercifully attacked at a local sawmill. He raced for cover in an unused metal sawdust burner. In their zeal to get the man, the mosquitoes drove their proboscis right through the metal. Finding a discarded hammer, the man pounded their snouts flat like nails. There were so many mosquitoes, they flew off the with the building and the man. He was never seen again. 

There are a lot of mosquitoes in the area. The town of Paisley has a Mosquito festival every year. (I'm not kidding.)

There were also Poodle cookies and Mongrel cookies. Poodle cookies don't shed, but the Mongrels do.

While driving through Goldfield, Nevada we stopped at the Green Frog grocery for  cookies. I was a little worried when I had to blow the dust off the packages in order to read the labels. My dad assured us a little age would only enhance their flavor, like good wine. My sister and I were a little skeptical, but agreed to buy both Poodle and Mongrel cookies. After all we didn't want to discriminate. 

My dad suggested we stop at the diner for pie, and save the cookies for later. It was the first time I had seen blueberry pie snap back together when I tried to cut it. My dad agreed  the pie, and the waitress might have both been left over from the 1880 Gold Rush. 

Jokes aside, I've stood in virgin timber, watched sunrises over lakes and creeks, and sunsets from mountain tops with a sea of unbroken forest stretching from horizon to horizon. I've been to every national park and historical site from the Pacific Ocean to Tennessee. I learned to love nature, books, and history. All thanks to my father, sick puns, practical jokes, and all. 


Popular Posts

You Know Not What You Ask

How to Have a Joyful Mind

Dark Places

Still on the Hook