Wednesday, September 28, 2011

You Can't Address Farmers in Wrinkled Pants, 1942

The following funny story was printed in the Monroe Inquirer, Sept. 10, 1942, with a note saying that it was originally printed in State Magazine.

By Carl Goerch
There was a meeting of farmers in Tarboro recently. Among those who attended were Ben Kilgore of Louisville, Ky., Pop Taylor of State College, and Frank Jeter, also of State College.

They went in Mr. Jeter’s car.

When they got to Tarboro, Mr. Jeter parked his car near the hotel and said, “You fellows wait here just a minute. I’ve got to attend to a little business matter but I’ll be right back.”

He ran into a pressing club around the corner. There was nobody in the front room except a Negro man, and Frank said to him, “I’m in a hurry and I want to get my pants pressed. How long will it take?”

“Just a few minutes, boss,” said the Negro. “You jes’ take ‘em off in that back room and then set down and rest yourself.”

“You sure it won’t take long?” inquired Frank anxiously.

Sitting and Waiting
So Frank went into the back room. He took off his trousers, passed them through the curtain to the man, and then took his seat I a chair. He had discarded his Palm Beach suit that morning and had put on a dark one in its place. It wasn’t until he was about to leave Raleigh that he noticed that the suit needed pressing rather badly. Being of a somewhat fastidious nature, he decided that it would never do to appear on the speaker’s platform in a pair of wrinkled pants. He had a hesitancy to mention the matter to his two friends, because he knew they wouldn’t want to wait for him; and besides, they’d undoubtedly have told him that he looked all right.

So he sat. And he waited.

There was the sound of somebody stirring in the front room. Then a lady’s voice called out: “Jim!”

Mr. Jeter held his breath.

“Jim!” the voice said again. And then came the sound of footsteps approaching the curtains that hung in the doorway leading to the back room.

With remarkable agility, Frank sprang from his chair and dashed behind a large packing case in the rear of the room. The curtains parted and the woman appeared. She seemed rather surprised to see Mr. Jeter standing there.

“Isn’t Jim in here?” she inquired.

“No, he ain’t,” said Frank, forgetting for the moment that he was a college man.

“Would you mind giving him this coat?” she inquired, holding it out toward him.
“I’ll be glad to,” said Mr. Jeter.

She extended her arm a little further in his direction, waiting for him to come and take the garment. Frank wouldn’t have moved from his position behind the packing case for fifty coats.

“Just lay it on the table in the front room,” he told her.

She followed his suggestion and departed. Frank breathed a sigh of relief as he heard the front door close.

Further Embarrassment
Fifteen minutes passed, and by that time Mr. Jeter was getting very impatient. At the end of five more minutes, he parted the curtains and walked out into the front room. It was an inopportune time for such a maneuver, because at that very instant two ladies were passing by. As though drawn by some invisible magnet, their eyes turned in the direction of the pressing club and became focused upon Mr. Jeter’s bare legs and blue shorts. Inasmuch as he never has sought any public admiration of either his underwear or his legs, Frank dived hastily into the back room again.

Then, to his great relief, he heard a man’s footsteps in the front room. He peeped through the curtains and saw that it was the colored man.

“Where are my pants?” demanded Frank, glowering at him.

“Good Lawd!” said the Negro. “I plumb forgot that you were still waiting here. I’ll get them for you right away.”

He dashed out the front door and went into the adjoining building. In a minute he was back.

“Boss,” he said, “them pants got into the dry-cleaning solution by mistake an’ I jes’ can’t get them for you right at this minute.”

“But I told you that I only wanted them pressed!” howled Frank. “How long have I got to wait now?”

“It won’t take that long, boss. I’ll rush ‘em right through for you.”

And once more he disappeared.

The Pants Arrive
Frank sat there for another twenty minutes, fretting and fuming. Then the Negro appeared and, to Mr. Jeter’s relief, he had the pants in his arms.

“Give ‘em here,” said Frank holding out his hand.

“Boss, they’s got to be dried first,” the man told him.

So for another twenty minutes Frank had to sit there, watching his beloved trousers blowing in balloon-like fashion in front of the drying contrivance. Altogether, he spent well over an hour in the shop. In the meantime, Mr. Kilgore and Mr. Taylor were wandering all over town, looking for him. They were hot and they were mad.  So was Mr. Jeter. When the three of them got together at last there was some heated conversation for a few minutes, and Frank’s explanation didn’t help matters any. They finally started for the meeting and, although the program had already started, got there in time to make their talks.

Frank’s pants looked very nice to the crowd.

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