I remember that my Dad used to tell a lot of stories, and some that I found pretty hard to believe. Like the airplane that he said was flying so high that the sun was shinning on the bottom of it, and that was right in the middle of the day, too. Dad was a highly developed story teller when I was a kid, but he really reached his prime during the depression. This came about, I am sure, because of the help of one of our neighbors, when we lived on the Thoms farm, near Three Rivers, Michigan.
This neighbor, Joe Fitch, lived on the next place to the north of us, and was a real likeable person, but one whose veracity might sometimes be questioned. I am sure that Joe was also a well developed teller of tall tales before he and my father ever met. I say that because I had, over the years, learned to recognize a professional when I saw one, and Joe was definitely a Pro. I would say that he and Dad were pretty evenly matched.
You may note that I do not refer to these two as liars. I believe that, in most cases, they honestly thought that they were telling the truth. I think that they had told some of those stories so many times that they had become fact to them.
You might also wonder how the depression could have influenced the development of the story telling abilities of Joe Fitch and Clark Beck. It presented the time, the opportunity, the competition, and the motivation. During those few years that we lived there, neither Joe or Dad had a steady job and in the winter there was nothing to do except cut wood, hunt rabbits and do chores, so they had lots of time on their hands and much of this spare time was spent telling tales to each other.
The Fitches and the Becks lived only a couple of fields apart, so they had ample opportunity to get together. As I previously mentioned, they were so closely matched that for either one to come out of a session with any sense of victory, he had to come up with at least one outstanding presentation. Brother, let me tell you, there were several outstanding presentations, from each of them.