Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Life Worth Living


An Original Mind That Was Great In Getting Rid of Rats.

John Kernell, the well known comedian, tells a story that might very well be true.

"I'll never forget," said John in the deep bass that is familiar to all fun loving playgoers, "a kind of dramatic situation in real life that occurred at Steve Brodie's place on the Bowery one night while I was in New York rehearsing.

"Well, while we were sitting in the little back room listening to the pianist a stout looking old man came in and began to be sociable with us. He said he was a milkman from Hoboken and the maddest man in America.

"'This is why I'm sore,' he said. 'I own a nice little house, which I left in charge of an Irish hired girl while my wife and I were in Chicago. One day a man came and asked the girl if there were any rats in the house. He said he was a rat killer by trade and would guarantee to rid the house of any number of rats. We'd never had any rats in the place, and the girl told him so. He loitered around awhile and then went away. In a week the house was alive with rats. The man called again and offered to remove them for $10. The girl wrote me simply that the place was full of rats, and that the rat killer would destroy them for $10. I sent her the ten, the man came with a dog and made a bluff at slaying the rats, and she gave him the money. She's never seen him since, and I've never seen him at all. Our house is now a hotel for rats. I tell you, gentlemen, if I could only lay my hands on that rat man!'

"The Hoboken man took a big drink of whisky, and we changed the subject.

"Presently in came as hard a looking bum as I ever saw. He ordered whisky and looked around at us. Brodie knew him and asked, 'What are you doing for a living now, Muggsy?'

"'Nawtin,' said the bum. 'I don't have to work. I'm rich. I played a new gag dis summer. I went over into New Jersey and stocked houses with rats and den went back and made a bluff to clean 'em out for $5. Some places I got ten. Der was one jay of a milkman in Hoboken' —

"He never got any further. The Hoboken man was at him with a wild yell, and the bum's whisky glass struck the ceiling. For three minutes we could see nothing of the milkman or the bum but a confused mass of clothes, legs and arms rolling on the floor. When the milkman was through, he dragged the bum to the door, dropped him out on the sidewalk, strutted up to the bar with his clothes in disorder and cried out:

"'Have one with me, gentlemen? Life's worth living after all. Make it wine, barkeep!'" — Philadelphia Times.

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