The 'Headers In Life & Legend
by Russell W. Knight

A Man Of Autor'ity

For years he had scrubbed decks, polished brass, hoisted, lowered, and furled the sails of some of the sleekest yachts in the harbor. But those days had come to an end: He was now the captain of a schooner, manned with three deckhands.

Nattily attired in a navy blue uniform flaunting two rows of gleaming brass buttons, and sporting a cap decorated with anchors, he clambered aboard and shouted his first order.
"Hoist the mains'l!" he barked.

Ten minutes later, the schooner's vast spread of canvas was flapping and crackling in the wind. But once it was made fast he bellowed, "Lower that mains'l," and in rapid succession the crew was ordered to hoist the mains'l and lower the mains'l again and again, until one of them exploded.

Tuckered out and nursing two blistered and bleeding palms, this deckhand snarled, "What'n hell's the idea captain? Why've you got us doin nothin'but raisin' and lowerin' this damned mains'l?"

" 'Cause I sez so!" rasped the captain. " 'Cause I'm now a man of autor'ity - and I want you butterfingered louts to know it!"

* * *

A Marbleheader, best known for his penny-pinching ways, once hired two out-of-town carpenters to reshingle his house. But a neighbor soon noticed that they spent the better part of each day smoking and gabbing and killing time.

Suspecting his friend was being hornswoggled and fleeced, he approached him.

"Tom," he said, "them two men you've hired to shingle your house...they don't do much real work in the course of a day, do they?"

"No, they don't," Tom replied. "But on the other hand," he added complacently, "I ain't paying them much."

* * *

"Beverly!" brayed the Old Timer. "Beverly!"

"Why 'tis nought but a city of pixilated landlubbers and kelpsailors who got that way when they tried to navigate its mudlined, corkscrew channel!"

* * *

"I hear'd Joe Doakes just kicked the bucket."

"Yep! He sure did."

"Sudden, was it?"

"Awful sudden."


"Damn serious."

"Was anything wrong with him?"

"He had a hangnail."

"A hangnail?"

"Yep! A hangnail."

"Do you mean he was done in by a measly hangnail?"

"Hell no."

"Well, iff'n it wasn't his hangnail, what was it that done him in?"

"A truck. He was run over by a truck."

* * *

A tourist, craving a smoke, lacked a match. With cigarette in hand, he approached a Barnegatter:

"Sir," he asked. "Have you a match?"

"Yes," the Barnegatter replied.

* * *

"An old gentleman of this town, who has had his gravestone standing in the cemetery, appropriately inscribed, for several years, is now endeavoring to get contributions toward paying for his coffin." -The Marblehead Messenger, 17 March 1877

* * *

"Do I like living in Marblehead?"

Startled by the question, Mr. Johnny-come-lately stared in disbelief at his former roommate.
"Boy, do I like living in Marblehead! Boy-oh-boy," he exclaimed, "I just love it. It's like living in olden times," he added. "It's so unspoiled, so congenial, so warm and so friendly.

"Here, Marbleheaders revere their town's past. They prize their old 1727 Town Hall and swell with pride whenever they speak of Elbridge Gerry, General John Glover and Captain James Mugford," he explained. "And, believe it or not, they truly believe that the war for independence was won by Glover's Marblehead Mariners!"

He continued ...

"And when you compare it to Boston's ill-mannered crowds, horrible traffic jams, dirty streets and two-bit politicians, it's a heaven on earth. Fact is, there's no place like's in a class by itself.

"But I do think streets here are awful," he admitted. They're picturesque of course...but too narrow and zigzaggy and boxed-in by rows of old weatherbeaten houses.

"They ought to be straightened out and made two cars wide. And if they were smart, they'd tear down some of those antiquated buildings and overpriced houses that border the waterfront and use the land for parking cars; it would bring a lot more people here.

"And why the townspeople persist in celebrating the Fourth of July and Washington's birthday by ringing every church bell in town morning, noon and night is beyond me. And that goes for Abbot Hall's nine o'clock curfew bell. It's not only's stupid...a freaked-out that's had its day.

"Still worse, the clanging of that damned bell plays hob with my weekly bridge game. It not only shatters my eardrums, but ruins my concentration...

"Otherwise, Marblehead's a great little town!"

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