Laugh Tracks in the Dust 12-28-09 |

Laugh Tracks in the Dust 12-28-09

Sometimes adults take humorous advantage of children’s gullibility. This is one of those true stories that happened years ago.

An elementary teacher in a rural eastern Kansas school, ol’ Hans Zahn, was a deep believer that out-of-classroom experiences, where the students get a lot of hand-on education, really rounded out the kid’s schooling and got them ready for a “practical” life.

So, Hans jumped at the chance to have a professional land-grant university forester, Dr. Eydee Plantz, lead a field trip for his students. The plan wuz for the forester to take the students on an extended walk through one of the riparian ecosystems near the school.

The appointed day for the fall field trip turned out to have beautiful weather. The students were eager. The sun wuz shining. The fall leaves were turning colors. The wild fruits and berries were plentiful. A perfect day for an educational field trip.

Doc Plantz led the group down a wild animal trail that ran close to the stream. He identified native trees and shrubs and described their characteristics. He explained the trees that had commercial forestry value. He pointed out native woodland grasses and forbs. He scrutinized the surroundings for signs of native animal species.

As the field trip wuz getting close to its end. Doc Plantz grabbed a bunch of berries from one of the plants – it might have been wild grapes – and told the students that this particular berry was a little difficult to correctly identify, but he was pretty sure it wuz both tasty and nutritious to both humans and wild animals.

He then popped several berries into his mouth and invited the students to sample the berries, too. Of course, they all did. Then as they were savoring the berries, Doc Plantz – a known practical joker to his peers – explained to the students that the berry they were eating looked very much like a rare poisonous berry that also grew locally.

About that time, the playful forester grabbed his throat, fell to the ground and started gasping for breath and writhing about on the ground. The startled students immediately thought the worst – that they, too, were poisoned – and began spatting berries and berry juice from their mouths.

After a few moments of his practical joke, the forester jumped up, started laughing, and told the kids he wuz just faking. It took them awhile to believe him. Doc Plantz then explained to teacher Hans that “I’ve been conducting student tours like this for years, and I’ve always wanted to do what I just did. I’ll bet your kids will always be cautious about what wild plants they eat from now on.”


Thanks to the thoughtful readers who e-mailed these jokes to me.

An Irishman goes into the confessional box one Christmas Eve after years of being away from the church.

He’s amazed to find a fully equipped bar with Guinness on tap. On the other wall is a dazzling array of the finest cigars and chocolates.

Then the priest comes in. The Irishman says, “Father, forgive me, for it’s been a very long time since I’ve been to confession, but I must first admit that the confessional box is much more inviting than it used to be.”

The priest replies: “Get out. You’re on my side.”


An Oklahoman took a vacation to visit a Texas friend who ran a “Dude Ranch” in the Texas Hill Country northwest of San Antonio.

One morning the Oklahoman watched as his Texas cowboy friend prepared the horses for his big city Eastern guests to ride on trail. He asked one lady decked out in the finest shiny new western wear if she wanted a Western or English saddle on her horse. The lady looked a bit perplexed and asked what the difference was.

The Texan told her one saddle had a horn and one didn’t. 

The lady guest replied, “The one without the horn is fine. I don’t expect we’ll run into too much traffic out here today.”


And, from Iowa comes this joke about two Minnesotans, Ole and Sven, who are sitting in a boat watching fishery biologists from the University of Minnesota prepare to enter the water with scuba diving gear so they can conduct an underwater study of the lake’s fish population.

After the divers plunge from the boat into the lake, Ole turns to Sven and asks, “Why do scuba divers always fall backwards off ‘der boats?”  

To which Sven replies, “Well, you know, if they fell forwards they’d still be in de boat!”

Sounds pretty logical to me.


And it would be logical for me to quit this column for this week with a heartfelt wish for a great holiday season and New Year for you.

So, now I’ll close, with these words of wisdom about Christmas from former President Calvin Coolidge: “To the American People: Christmas is not a time or a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and good will, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas. If we think on these things, there will be born in us a Savior and over us will shine a star sending its gleam of hope to the world.” 

Have a good ‘un.

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