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Some things to think about this week

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I don’t know about other people, but after a week of tension and drama, especially in Washington, I need a laugh — or two.

A longtime friend of mine, Mary Parker of Rolling Bay, Washington, still stays in touch and every now and then sends along something to make me laugh or think, even both.

She recently sent me a list of provocative and humorous questions and observations, some I had heard before and some I haven’t. But I thought we all could use the diversion, so here they are:

• I used to eat a lot of natural foods until I learned that most people die of natural causes. 

• Can you cry under water? 

• How important does a person have to be before they are considered assassinated instead of just murdered? 

• Why do you have to “put your two cents in” but it’s only a “penny for your thoughts”?  Where’s that extra penny going? 

• Once you’re in heaven, do you get stuck wearing the clothes you were buried in for eternity? 

• What disease did cured ham actually have? 

• How is it that we put man on the moon before we figured out it would be a good idea to put wheels on luggage? 

• Why is it that people say they “slept like a baby” when babies wake up like every two hours? 

• If a deaf person has to go to court, is it still called a hearing? 

• Why are you in a movie, but you’re on TV? 

• Why do people pay to go up tall buildings and then put money in binoculars to look at things on the ground? 

• Why do doctors leave the room while you change?  They’re going to see you naked anyway. 

• Can a hearse carrying a corpse drive in the carpool lane? 

• If the professor on Gilligan’s Island can make a radio out of a coconut, why can’t he fix a hole in a boat? 

• If corn oil is made from corn, and vegetable oil is made from vegetables, what is baby oil made from? 

• If electricity comes from electrons, does morality come from morons? 

• Why do the alphabet song and “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” have the same tune? 

• Why did you just try singing the two songs above? 

And, finally, one last thought to keep you up at night:

• How did the man who made the first clock know what time it was?

HISTORY OF BLACKFACE

On a more serious note, a few weeks ago I wrote about the blackface controversy and how we tend to judge history too harshly from a modern point of view and don’t give people credit for changing and growing.

In that column, I remembered the movie “Free Show Tonite” filmed in 1982 in Bailey, a documentary recreation of an old-time medicine show. As was typical of medicine shows 100 years ago and earlier, many of the performers wore blackface in their acts. And I remarked that those of us in Bailey who attended the recreated show, black and white, thoroughly enjoyed ourselves without a second thought.

One of the performers in the documentary was a man named Bob Noell, who performed as “Jake” in medicine shows during the 1930s and ‘40s. The shows were popular, but as Noell demonstrated putting on his blackface for the camera, his wife Anna told a story about a show they put on in Kenansville.

“So one night I said, “’Bob, let’s put on the blackface acts.’ So Bob put the black on and we went up on the platform doing the blackface act. And in the middle of the act I said, ‘Bob, Bob’ and when we looked up all of the black people were walking off the lot. Bob looked at me and I looked at Bob. That was never done to hurt anybody’s feelings because ‘Jake’ was a wonderful character. Jake was actually the whole show in the old days when I was a kid and we loved him.

“So Bob made the remark when we came off that stage that night, he says, ‘I’ll never put the cork on again. If it’s hurt anybody’s feelings like that, that’s not what it was intended for so I’ll never do it again.’ And he didn’t. He never did put the cork on again in public and this is the first time simply because it is part of our past that we loved and enjoyed,” she said, hugging her husband as he finished and looked up.

I couldn’t tell his story earlier because I ran out of space. But I thought of Bob today when I heard a snippet of news saying that three fraternity brothers had also had their pictures taken in blackface when they were in college, and they sure were sorry now they did.

So was Bob. And now you know his story.

Ken Ripley is a resident of Spring Hope and The Enterprise’s editor and publisher emeritus.

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