Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Automatic Needle Threading Machine

A Big Chief Tablet Story
By The Legendary Jim Parks

Pappy has many ancestors. Some are tailors, others tinkers, farmers, sailors and underground railroad ticket takers, rainmakers and jokers, smokers, and big shot log rollers.

His daddy Bitsy, short for Bitsy Baby Boy, worked in the tailor shop when he was a boy. It was during hard times – the Great Depression.

What was that? It was a time when there was no money. So, there you go, honey. No money. None. Zip. Zilch. Nada. Zero. Nothing.

It always made him angry when he said that part. No money.

He wadded up his newspaper. He balled up his fists. He stood up from his chair. He pointed his finger. He thundered when he talked. He strutted when he walked. He was a little old man and he was angry because there was not enough money.

Ever.

In the history of the world. Money. Never. Ever.

One day, this little old man jumped running off the Texas Electric Interurban Tram and jogged up on the sidewalk, then up the steps. He strolled into the shop.

He didn't stop to even say hello, just started selling what he had in his sample case.

He was a peddler. That's what he was, a peddler.

Pappy's daddy listened carefully. He was all alone in the shop. The tailor, the seamstress, the presser and the bookkeeper, they were all at the house, eating their lunch.

“I didn't have the heart to stop him and tell him I didn't have any money. Besides, I wanted to see what this wonderful thing-a-ma-jig could do. It was slick. Sure enough. Plenty slick,” he said.

First, you put the spool of thread on the spindle.

Then, you put the thread through the eye of the little deal where you put the needle.

After that, all you had to do was mash down the button and the machine poked the thread through the eye of the needle.

Handy little gadget, it was. Slick as a button.
Pappy's daddy, your great grandfather, asked the little old man how much.

“Fifty cent.”

“Is that right?”

“Yes, that's all, fifty cent - or a half a dollar – it's all yours, old son. It's all yours.”

“Sir, I don't have any money. Even if I did and it was my pay day, I still don't have any money because my mom needs it and she wouldn't understand...”

The little old man held up his hand.

He said, “Say no more, son. I understand.”

He smiled.

“You see, I have to see a certain number of people each day to find out which ones have the money and which ones want to buy my machine. If I don't do that, I can't sell not even the first one. Don't you see? You helped me on my way.”

Pappy's daddy felt a lot better when he told him that.

“I had to get my ticket punched in here,” the little old man said.

Then, he put away his machine in his case and backed away from the counter.

He stood at attention and squared away the brim of his hat.

Then, he danced across the room from side to side. He said,

“Conductor, when you collect a fare,
punch in the presence of the pasen-jare.

“A blue trip ticket for a twelve-cent fare,
a white trip ticket for a ten-cent fare,
a pink trip ticket for an eight-cent fare,
and a buff trip ticket for a five-cent fare.

“Now, punch, brothers, punch with care.
Punch in the presence of the pasenjare.”

And then, he was gone, out the door, down the street, walking fast, with his case in his hand. Yes, indeed, child. He was. Gone. Yes.

This story is a bespoke piece written expressly for Miss Alison Parks, a mentally nimble and very spry child of the eastern seaboard who is a student in the First Grade.

En la Place D'Armes, Big Chief By Professor Longhair and the Shuffling Hungarians

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