Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Voices from the Past: Free Fish Hook (1896)

The following account--from the 15 February 1896 Forest & Stream, gives the story of one Congressman who's constituent got in trouble for implying the government gave away free fishhooks.

Free Fishhooks

One member of the House is in a regular stew just now. He is telling the story himself:

"I was slightly surprised a few days ago to receive a letter from a constituent as follows:

"DEAR JUDGE: Tim Dooley says that Government gives away fish to those who apply. I don't know if this is so or not; but if so I wish you would send me some. The only kind we get here are in half-pound packages, called boneless cod. And they are no account, and then they make you thirsty. If they give away any fishhooks I wish you would send me some, for the Major, Ransom Brown, Judge Kaufman and I have planned to go fishing as soon as the weather opens up. You know they all worked for you last time.

For the sake of the joke I dropped into a sporting goods store and bought a tin box of hooks for $1.50, sent it to my friend with a note saying I was very glad I had some fishhooks still left from my quota, though there had been a great demand for them and the horse book. The supply of fish had run out, and the President had been so occupied with bonds and had Congress on his hands so long that our supply was exhausted. I regretted also that the ducks have been wild or could maybe have got some, but last trip Grover only got thirteen and he needed most of those himself.

The result was fourteen requests for fishhooks within a week, and they are still coming. It is no use saying that Uncle Sam does not handle fishhooks, as here are the hooks and there is my letter, and if I don't send them every last man that I refuse will sharpen a knife for me next campaign, and I do I will go broke. Don't fool with the granger."

-- Dr. Todd

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