Monday, September 10, 2012

Can You Top These?

Every now and then, in the collection of papers passed down by my husband’s grandmother, Agnes Tully Stevens, I find a newspaper clipping with no date, no source, no notes even identifying the reason for saving it. The clipping I’ve scanned today belongs in that category—almost. Except for the handwritten note on the side margin, I can only imagine who originally thought this slip of paper was worth saving.

Perhaps this was one of the missing enclosures referred to by Will and Agnes’ son Frank in his many letters home during the war. I’ve seen him mention stuff like this in these letters, but when it came time to look back in the envelope, I’d find no sign of the missing newspaper clipping. Something like this article would be just his style.

The clipping is about an organization founded in 1929 in Wisconsin—the Burlington Liars Club. Evidently, newspaperman Otis Hulett gathered some of his cronies on New Year to determine which was the biggest whopper told in the past year.

Or perhaps that, itself, was a lie. How could you really be sure?

The Burlington Liars Club—to which you made a passing reference the other day—does it still exist?—S. T., Des Plaines

            Unless Otis Hulett, founder (in 1929) and president, is lying in his teeth, it certainly does. Actually, though, it is not so much a club as a group of contest judges who get together every New Year’s Day to select the biggest lie of the year. Anyone can submit an entry, the only requirement being the ability to tell a whopper. This might exclude only such types as George Washington, who not only could not tell a lie but had no teeth (or few, at any rate). Entries should go to the Burlington Liars Club, Burlington, Wis. 53105.
            Winning lies usually have been short and preposterous: “Our town is so small we had to extend the town limits to put in a phone booth.” Or, “The food here is so bad that, if it weren’t for the salt and pepper, I would starve to death.” Again: “It has been raining so much the past few weeks that, when I went into the back yard, the night crawlers were hanging themselves on the clothesline to dry out.” But in 1942, the championship went to Joseph Paul Goebbels for his whole body of propaganda broadcasts from Berlin. Originality is a major quality the judges look for in the entries. About 80 per cent of all entries duplicate others, past and present, Hulett said, insisting that, preposterous as this figure may seem, it’s no lie.


  1. :) Someone (or someones) in the Tully-Stevens family just enjoyed a good laugh.

    I bet Frank sang songs like this one too:

    "Salvation Army, Salvation Army
    Put a nickel in the drum
    Save another drunken bum
    (or we changed up and said 'Take a quarter out and run')
    Salvation Army, Salvation Army
    Put a nickel in the drum and you'll be saved

    All the girls in our town wear grass skirts
    But we got lawn mowers

    "Back in our town we only had one bar... But it was a mile long!"

    1. Iggy, sounds like you and Frank could pull an all-nighter, topping each other's whoppers.

  2. Reminds me a little of the segment they do in Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me, on NPR. Do you hear it? The one where the tell three stories and only one is true and the contestant has to figure out which one. Often the truth is the most outrageous of them all! LOL!

    1. You made me laugh with that one, Smadar. Yes, I do know that segment...thanks to my husband. He never misses a week of that show--one of his favorites! I'm convinced it's genetic ;)

  3. Intense Guy cracks me up!
    Jacqi, I cant top that right off my head but I bet there are some story's that are similar in my tree. Still Laughing....

    1. Glad your morning had a little laughter added to it! :)

  4. Thanks for the good laugh and no, I can't top those! My dad has all kinds of lines though that his dad use to say.

  5. Loved the night crawlers hanging on the clothes line vision..yes the Liar's Club was quite a deal back in the day:)


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...