Tillman County wit


By David Barnett



David Barnett Contributing Columnist


Someone once asked an old man from Tillman County if he had lived here all his life. With a twinkle in his eye (seen often in Tillman County), the old man drawled, “Not yet!” This is just an example of the kind of witty response I have come to appreciate in my years in Tillman County. Our county heritage is chock full of similar witty responses. I want to examine a few for the purpose of preserving them for posterity.

One cannot talk very long about witty sayings without mentioning Spain’s Oil and Gas, for many of the county’s wittiest sayings and funniest practical jokes originated there. One of the best comes from Harold Gant. One of Bob Spain’s regular customers was in the station, talking about the very poor fuel mileage of his new pickup, claiming he was only getting around 10 or 11 miles-per-gallon. Harold responded with surprise, “Well, I’m getting 26 miles per gallon with my old pickup.”

The new pickup owner could hardly believe his ears, but after some discussion, left the station convinced that what he had heard was true, and resolved to go directly to the pickup dealer to complain about his poor fuel economy. As soon as he was gone, some other men began to question the bold claim of superior fuel economy, whereupon Harold responded, “Sure, I get 26 miles-per-gallon, 14 on the highway and 12 in town.”

Jay Oxford told me of a time when Howard Goodknight (my uncle) was working on a pump for his dad, Howard Oxford. Those two Howards, though far apart in age, were good friends, and Jay jokingly told Howard Goodknight, “I think my dad may have even been named after you!” Uncle Howard responded quickly without even smiling, “Yes, a long time after me.”

Back in the 1920’s or 1930’s, my dad and his family furnished housing to a country school teacher. The teacher was from far away, and knew nothing of the farm. On one occasion, she asked my dad what it was he farmed, whereupon he claimed to be a macaroni farmer. She expressed interest and he furnished a detailed explanation of how the macaroni harvest took place, including how the macaroni was actually harvested with a pithy substance in the center, and the family spent most of the cold winter months cleaning the pithy substance out of the macaroni with a piece of baling wire. He never told her any different, and I suppose she didn’t find out the truth until after she left Tillman County!

My favorite story of the resourceful good humor of Tillman County-ites is of unknown origin, probably from the 1940s or 1950s. The identity of the farmer is unknown, but I have known at least 50 farmers who could fit into this story. As is still the case, you could purchase fuel for a farm tractor without paying the road tax, but you could not use that fuel to travel on state roadways. It seems that this certain farmer was pumping tractor gasoline into his car when he noticed an agent from the Oklahoma Tax Commission watching him from the roadway. He could even see the smile on the face of the “revenuer” as he prepared to approach the farmer and cite him for using gas in an automobile without paying the road tax. However, this OTC agent wasn’t used to Tillman County wit, and was quickly put in his place.

As the agent approached, the farmer hung the hose back on the tank, waved cheerfully, put the car in reverse and backed over to a spike harrow a short distance from the pump. As the agent scratched his head, the farmer hooked the harrow onto the rear bumper of the car, waved again and started harrowing the adjoining field!

If you live in Tillman County, you had better not let your guard down, lest you get hit with a double barreled “Tillman County Witticism”!

Reach David Barnett by contacting Kathleen Guill at pressled@pldi.net

David Barnett Contributing Columnist
http://www.press-leader.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/web1_pic-of-Barnett-1.jpgDavid Barnett Contributing Columnist

By David Barnett

Reach David Barnett by contacting Kathleen Guill at pressled@pldi.net

Reach David Barnett by contacting Kathleen Guill at pressled@pldi.net

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