Finger Blight

Laugh Tracks in the Dust

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I’ve been writing recently about “shrinkflation” and “thinflation” robbing us consumers in sneaky ways. On old county extension agent friend from Oklahoma, Myris Snipedown, reminded me about a third way, much more blatant, to get ripped off, and it’s about as old as humankind itself. It’s called “Finger Blight.”

Myris related to me several stories of how “finger blight” works. A pecan orchard owner, ol’ Nutson Schells, close to Ft. Gibson, Okla., caught a citified lady helping herself picking pecans off the ground in his grove.

He asked the thief, “What are you doing?”

The pleasant lady replied “Oh, I like pecans and I saw them scattered all over on the ground, so I thought I’d keep them from going to waste.”

Ol’ Nutson replied, “Lady, I’ve got some beef in my deep freeze that’s just laying there. Do you like T-bone steaks, too.”

That wuz just before he not to pleasantly asked her to leave and not come back, and leave the pecans she’d gathered in a pile by the tree trunk.

***

A second of Myris’s stories was about a watermelon farmer, ol’ Blackie Diamond, near Braggs, Okla. The way he tells it, Blackie wuz losing a few melons each night to “finger blight.”

So, Blackie put up a sign that read: “Beware: One of these melons has croton oil in it. You figure out which one.”

The next night the “Finger Blighter” changed the sign to read “Two of these melons have croton oil in it. Now, you figure out which two.” For folks who don’t know croton oil is a severe laxative.

That wuz a case where the “Finger Blighter” got the last word.

***

Then there wuz a third finger blight case close to Oktaha, Okla. A watermelon farmer sold a load of melons to a roadside produce stand. Some of the melons were rejected by the produce stand owner because of their shape. The odd-shaped melons were stacked outside the fence with a sign reminding people: “Free. Help yourself.”

It didn’t matter. Most folks welcomed the “freebie melons,” but a few “Finger Blighters,” continued to climb a the fence and make their own selection from the correctly- shaped melons. Guess they figgered a stolen melon tasted sweeter than a free one.

***

Myris’s stories stories show that finger blight is a state of mind or a philosophy. The philosophy is that anything just “laying around” is there for the taking.

It used to be a finger blighter had to weigh the probability of getting sway with the crime against the chances of getting caught and prosecuted.

These days, “Finger Blighting” is rampant. I don’t think “Finger Blighters” even worry about getting caught and prosecuted and more. They just lift, load, and don’t linger.

***

Well, we’ve been settled into our new home long enuf that a few visitors have come a’calling, and we’ve welcomed the company.

The first visitors were faithful column readers from far away Lusk, Wyoming. They are a cattle ranching couple — Hayes d’Heard and his wife Tallie d’Heard. They traveled to Riley primarily to visit their daughter and grand-children here, but decided to take the opportunity to see ol’ Milo and Nevah in their natural surroundings.

We had a nice visit and, surprise, discovered we are all acquaintances of Jerry Palen, creator of the Stampede cartoons featuring Elmo and Flo. Jerry resides near Saratoga, Wyo.

***

Our second set of visitors were former close neighbors from Chase County —Mr. and Mrs. N. Joey Tripps. Just for the fun of it, they took a leisurely Sunday afternoon excursion to visit with us and see our new abode.

Our third set of visitors were both charter members of the Saffordville Gentle Men’s Club. They are both dyed-in-the-wool fishermen — ol’ Bates N. Flingsitt and ol’ Ty T. Lyner. We spent a couple of welcome hours shooting the bull and seeing who could tell the biggest fishing tale.

***

Did you hear about the teenaged farm kid who woke up and complained to his mother, “My ear hurts.”

His mother asked him, “Does it hurt more inside or outside.”

So the kid walks out the front door, comes back in and says, “Both hurt the same.”

I wonder if at that moment his mother wondered if she wuz worrying too much about saving moolah for her son to go to college.

***

Words of wisdom for the week from a wise bumper snicker:

“Instead of finding new forms of social media, perhaps we should all go back to bonfires, tailgate parties, pajama parties, night fishing, porch sitting, cruising around with the radio blaring, and eating three family meals together every day.”

All those might improve our lives.

Have a good ‘un.

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