Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Fishing for Laughs, Part I

Fishing for Laughs, Part I

I'm going to start a different kind of series this week, dealing with fishing humor, or fishing-themed humor as the case often is. There's a ton of it out there, some of it good, some of it awful, and a lot of it that hasn't aged well. Take the following bit.

This blurb from The Chicago Day Book dates from November 7th, 1912. It's a short anecdote, the kind of thing that most papers ran as filler. It is fascinating to note that hundreds of writers made their living producing dozens of such pieces every week.

An Unwelcome Bite

As a sign of his business a shopkeeper hung outside his shop a large fishing rod with an artificial fish at the end of it. Late one night a man who had been dining out happened to see the fish, and going up to the door, he knocked gently.

"Who's there?" demanded the shopkeeper from an upper window.

"Sh-h! Don't make a noise, but come down as quickly as you can," said the man below.

Thinking something serious was the matter the shopkeeper dressed and came quietly and quickly downstairs. "Now, what is it?" he inquired.

"Hist!" admonished the other man. "Pull in your line quick--you've got
a bite."

A classic set up, a lot funnier back in the days when alcoholics were the butt of many jokes. From a historian's perspective, we get further evidence that tackle makers/tackle shop owners often lived above their shops. From a humor perspective, I award this story two fish out of five for delivery and two fish out of five for laughs.

It didn't make me laugh, but it didn't make me frown, either. Which is important.

-- Finn

Finn Featherfurd is the pseudonym of a sad and lonely retired professor and newspaper columnist who has spent the better part of the past four decades (unsuccessfully) chasing fish in the Lower 48. A long-time collector of vintage fishing tackle of all kinds, he is currently fascinated by pre-1920 children's fishing reels (40 yards and smaller). When the spirit moves him, he will contribute occasional pieces and essays to the Fishing for History Blog. He can be reached at

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