Dad possessed the unique ability of being able to watch his listener and be able to tell exactly when he had convinced them that he was telling the truth, then he would let them have it, as they say, with both barrels. It was during the early days of the “great depression” that I heard him tell the following yarn, and as far as I know it was extemporaneous, because I had never heard him tell it before.
On this particular occasion I happened to be within hearing range of Dad and Charley Chambers when I heard Charley ask him how things were going. I immediately suspicioned that the old boy was about to let him have one, so I got up real close because I didn’t want to miss anything. Then too, Dad always seemed to operate more effectively when he had a large audience.
Now, Charley was sincere about his inquiry, because there were times, during those years, when a good many folks relied pretty heavily on “taters and beans”. We were one such family and Charley’s was another. Dad rose to the occasion and rambled on for some time, about how rough it was and luck seemed to be for other people, until he got Charley all prepared for his coup.
He then went into his dissertation on the ham bone that we had been using for several weeks. He explained how Mother had used it, several times, to flavor bean soup and a couple of times in scalloped potatoes, but that she had made the mistake of telling one of the neighbor ladies about the good luck that she was having. Right away, this neighbor lady wanted to know if she could borrow the bone for a day or two. Mother, being a very sympathetic person, loaned it to her.
Dad told Charley that loaning out that bone was one of the saddest mistakes that my mother had ever made, because that lady had put too much salt on it which ruined it for any further flavoring. Now we were back to just straight beans, with no ham flavoring.