It’s time to take a break from the grind and call up Lurlene to get the latest news from back home. Learn all about Laverne’s colorful hometown of Hickory, Arkansas, by reading this hilarious collection of tales from the South.
Harry: I love Thanksgiving.
Laverne: You don’t know diddly about Thanksgivin.’
Harry: I know diddly!
Laverne: In Hickory, we knew Thanksgivin.’ Ever’body would come and bring somethin.’ Cousin Tuffy would arrive with baskets of jam and succotash. The Breezy twins, Wilma and Winnie, would come with hubbard squash and popovers. Aunt Edna would come by with squaw bread and pooh butter. Uncle Ben would bring rice.
Harry: I get it. So I guess you’re going back to Hickory for Thanksgiving?
Laverne: No. Crop duster accident at Grandma’s house. The government’s payin’ for it, too. Now Aunt Edna started to volunteer…oh, it’s a long story.
Harry: They all are, aren’t they?
Laverne: It’s a full moon. Has the whole city outta whack.
Harry: Laverne, don’t tell me you believe in that full moon nonsense.
Laverne: Nonsense? Nuh, uh. That’s what Skeeter Jessup used to say.
Harry: I know I’m going to regret this. Who is Skeeter Jessup?
Laverne: Skeeter Jessup was one of the finest people in Hickory. Pillar of the community. Then one night when the moon was full…
Harry: Laverne, you’re not going to tell me a werewolf story, are you?
Laverne: Doctor, give me a little credit please. Anyway, the moon was full, and Skeeter started growin’ hair all over his whole body!
Harry: Wait a minute. This is a werewolf story!
Laverne: No, it’s not. Now let me finish. Anyway, his eyes turned red, and his nails turned into claws, and big ol’ fangs come outta his mouth.
Harry: Damn it, this is a werewolf story!
Laverne: Okay, have it your way. I won’t finish.
She turns to leave.
Harry: All right, Laverne, finish your story.
Laverne: He turned into a werewolf!
Laverne: I just booked my flight back home for my best friend Lurlene’s birthday party.
Harry: Oh, that’s right. It’s getting close. You’re going to have a great time.
Laverne: Actually, it’ll be bittersweet. She’s a’turnin’ 30, and she ain’t a grandmother yet.
Harry: You know, you think it’s not going to happen to you.
Laverne: Yeah. Oh, there’ll be cake and dandelion wine, followed up by the traditional Hokey Pokey marathon.
Harry: I guess Entertainment Tonight will be out there?
Laverne: We’re gonna try and break the 60-hour Hokey Pokey record. Now we came close last year, ’til Wilma Hotchkins put her left foot in but couldn’t quite get it out.
Laverne: It’s bad luck to wear a hat indoors.
Harry: Laverne, you don’t really believe that silly superstition?
Laverne: I don’t think it’s so silly. I had a cousin who wore a hat indoors, and he got gored by a bull. That’s another thing to watch out for. Never let a bull into your house when you’re wearin’ one of them little red hats. I guess wavin’ that cape around didn’t help either. I did get the ear, though. Unfortunately, it was Cousin Guillermo’s. Wanna see it?
Laverne: She reminds me o’ Emmabelle Sweeney.
Harry: Let me guess…rabbi friend of yours?
Laverne: Anyway, Emmabelle could drink an entire martini thu’ her nose.
Harry: Will you stop it? That’s nonsense.
Laverne: I seen it myself! Couple o’ years ago, she inhaled the olive, too, so now whenever she sneezes she passes out for a minute or two. She liked to show out at parties, too: drink, sneeze, pass out, drink, sneeze, pass out. You know, like ’em little faintin’ goats.
Harry: Fainting goats? You even have colorful farm animals?
Laverne: Yeah, you know, them cute little goats that faint if ya scare ’em. Buddy Hickson had one, named it Scare-Me Bob. Now you get Emmabelle and that goat at a party, Emma’d sneeze, scare Bob, they’d both be on the floor with their feet n the air! Lo, I wish I was at home.
Harry: Me, too.
Laverne: Back in my hometown, we had this wonderful boy. Sweet as could be, good athlete, smart as a whip. But for some reason all the other youngin’s made fun o’ him. But he just let it slide off his back, and today he owns five grain silos and a turkey farm. Now I’m not sayin’ everyone can achieve that. But I think you see what I’m drivin’ at.
Harry: Laverne, that was a terrific story.
Laverne: Well, it happened. I still can’t figure out why ever’body picked on poor little Bobby Crapper.
Laverne: Here you go, Doctor.
Maxine: Oh, I just love brownies.
Laverne: Yeah, this is an old family recipe, and there’s a fascinatin’ story that goes along with it.
Maxine: Can’t I just have the brownies?
Laverne: Suit yourself.
Maxine: [takes a bite] Ouch!!
Laverne: You got the lucky Brazil nut!
Maxine: Lucky Brazil nut?
Laverne: You should’a listened to my story.
Maxine: Well, that hurt.
Laverne: I’m sorry, Doctor, but now back in Hickory we’d do something that’d fix you right up.
Maxine: Like what, go down to the swamp and lick a bullfrog?
Laverne: No, go to a dentist. We quit usin’ that bullfrog thang years ago.
Harry: Good morning, ladies. It’s gonna be another scorcher.
Laverne: Oh, this ain’t so hot. Once back in Hickory, it got so hot the ranchers was a brandin’ their cattle by backin’ ’em into a chain-link fence!
Harry: So now we’re all agreed?
Laverne: No! I don’t like this. No good ever come from lyin.’ In fact, I am reminded of the time Old Man Hogan tried to pass hisself off as a high school cheerleader. And loooord when he did a cartwheel in that little skirt, I mean….
Harry and Maxine: Laverne!
Laverne tries to keep her divorce a secret.
Harry: Laverne, this happens to people all the time. Please trust me, this is nothing to be ashamed of.
Laverne: It is back in Hickory. Why when Camilla Belle Singleton’s husband left her she went out and give herself one of them mohawk haircuts.
Laverne: ‘Cause when you see an 80-year-old piano teacher with a mohawk, the first thing you ask ain’t “How’s Phil?”
Laverne: Don’t worry now, these blind people can be very resourceful. We had one back in Hickory. His name was Dooley Tippet. Took an ol’ bloodhound, turned him into a good guide dog. Things worked out real well ’til one day ‘at dog spotted him a rabbit tearin’ into the woods and took Dooley on the ride o’ his life!
Laverne: Tuesday was the saddest day in the history of Hickory, Arkansas. Uncle Walter died. He was loved by all.
Harry: Oh Laverne, I’m sorry to hear that.
Laverne: He weighed 672 pounds.
Harry: That’s big!
Laverne: One night I watched Unlce Walter eat an entire sack o’ potatoes, a couple o’ gallons of pork n’ beans, and a half dozen loaves o’ stale sourdough bread Louise Pritchard had brung back from San Fransisco where she was visitin’ her homosexual nephew Clifford.
Harry: You’re kidding me!
Laverne: I swear to ya, she visits him once a year. He works in a nightclub where he dresses up like Joan Rivers.
Laverne: You know, this reminds me of the time back home when ol’ Tater Norton gave up his job at the dairy to make a livin’ as a one-man band. He bought himself a big bass drum, a tuba, a warshboard, a couple o’ cymbals and a real fancy synthesizer. Now what he neglected to take into account is he couldn’t learn to play these instruments simply by eatin’ sheet music.
Harry: Laverne, what does this got to do with anything?
Laverne: Nothin,’ but as long as both of us are runnin’ off at the mouth, I figured at least one of us ought to be entertainin.’
Reporter: So you’ve worked for Dr. Weston for six years. How would you rate him as a doctor?
Laverne: Well, lemme put it this way. Back in Hickory, Arkansas, we had this doctor named Toby Reynolds. Now we used to call him Dr. Reynolds…for reasons too complex to go into right here…but since he was the only guy with a medical degree for 200 miles, he was our “everything” doctor. He’d take out your tonsils, run out to your barn, deliver your prize calf, come back in, take out your impacted wisdom tooth without so much as stoppin’ to rest, chat or warsh his hands in between.
Reporter: The country doctor. So how does Dr. Weston compare to your Dr. Reynolds?
Laverne: Oh, no contest. He’s a whole lot better than Dr. Reynolds.
Laverne: Oh, yeah! It’s kinda hard to overlook that “not warshin’ his hands” thing.
Laverne: Anyway, Greevy Morlock is a fella back home, best dream interpreter they is. Now it was Greevy figured out that Maralee Jenkins’s dream was a premonition that her prize pig would meet with an accident. Two days later that pig was struck by lightenin’ and died.
Laverne: Yeah. Now naturally, some people said it was just a coincidence. Others said it was bound to happen the way Maralee kept a lightnin’ rod strapped to the animal. But I say Greevy Morlock is one of the wisest men ever lived, a true genious.
Barbara: So can we call him?
Laverne: No, he’s not reachable. He’s outta town a-competin’ in the annual Spit For Distance Contest.
Harry: Crutches? What happened?
Laverne: Well, sprained ankle. Kind of an interestin’ story.
Maxine: All right, let’s get it over with.
Laverne: Well, as you know, I was back in Arkansas testifyin’ against the notorious Hickory Mob. It was so excitin.’ I ain’t never been in a courtroom before. Why, they had this reporter there, boy was she fast!
Harry: Laverne come on, how did you sprain your ankle?
Laverne: All right. So anyway, after the trial was over, I was home with Mama, and we was watchin’ TV, tryin’ to get a glimpse of me on the news. And we had three VCRs hooked up, you know to send copies to the relatives, plus a video camera pointed at me to catch my reaction…
Maxine: Laverne please, your ankle?
Laverne: All right, all right. So all of a sudden the reception goes out so I had to climb on the roof and reconnect the antenna.
Harry: You slipped off the roof.
Laverne: ‘Course not! I could climb a roof before I learned to walk! Had to! Now that’s another story…
Maxine: Laverne please, would you cut the nonsense and just give us the end of the story?
Laverne: Ok….That’s how I sprained my ankle.
Laverne: They law I swan!
Maxine: I’ll take your word for it.
Laverne: Mama packed these preserves in my hometown paper, and lord there is a scandal in Hickory! Bobby Fishkelly done caught his wife Donella out behind the barn belly to belly with another man.
Maxine: Get off the bus!
Laverne: It says here Bobby grabbed his 12-guage and chased the feller up a weeping willow. Bobby’s huntin’ dogs kept him treed for three days and three nights.
Maxine: Raises some interesting hygiene questions.
Laverne: Oh, listen to this, “Sheriff Tyler rescued the man who was wearing nothing but a contrite expression and one sock. Hickory citizens were shocked to learn that he was none other than…continued on page 8.” Where’s page 8? Oh lordy, she didn’t pack page 8! I’m gonna go call her!
Maxine: Ask her where he was wearing that sock!
Harry: Charley, you just can’t eat everything you see.
Laverne: Sorta reminds me of the Thurman Nugget story.
Maxine: You wanna get this one, Harry?
Harry: It’s my turn again. All right, Laverne, do tell. What happened to ol’ Thurman Nugget?
Laverne: Well, back in Hickory, Thurman was known as the human vacuum. He’d eat anything…plants, trees, beer bottles. Once he even ate a Buick Skylark piece by piece just to win a bet.
Maxine: What did he win?
Laverne: A Buick Skylark! He was on that Hickory game show It’s Yours If You Can Eat It!
Laverne: Well, if I’d said he ate a sandwic,h it wouldn’t have been much of a story now would it?
Laverne: Nick and I met on the night of a full moon.
Harry: That could’ve happened anytime.
Laverne: Not really. If the moon hadn’t a-been full, Nick wouldn’t a-been starin’ at it. And if he hadn’t a-been starin’ at it, he wouldn’t a-crashed his pickup into the tree in our frontyard. And if he hadn’t a-crashed into the tree, my Daddy, who was on the top limb pickin’ apples at the time, wouldn’t a-got so ticked off. And I wouldn’t a-wound up havin’ to pick buckshots from Nick’s more intimate parts. And I can tell you for a fact that, if that hadn’t a-happened, we wouldn’t be married today!
Laverne: I got some packin’ to do if I’m gonna spend Christmas back home in Hickory. God, I’m lookin’ forward to that.
Harry: I’m guessing colorful.
Laverne: Oh pretty much your traditional Christmas. Women in the kitchen chit-chattin, huddled around a turkey, decidin’ which one gets to wring its little neck. Usually the honor goes to the eldest, which is kind of a pity since it often takes ’em four or five tries. Then ya got your men folk off to the parlor smokin, chewin’ tobacco, while the youngins run around dodgin’ spit.
Harry: Well, that’s pretty much like what we’ve got planned.
Laverne: Then round about midnight the house falls silent, and the kids perk up, and we hear the sound of footsteps on the roof. It’s ol’ Tater Norton.
Harry: Dressed up as Santa, huh?
Laverne: No, just up there countin’ shingles again. But I should mention that Santa thing to him. At least one night a year, he wouldn’t be the town nut.
Laverne: I haven’t seen this many flowers since Velma Tucker died!
Harry: She must’ve been very popular.
Laverne: Noooo, she just died in a flower shop.
Laverne: Not that I’m too superstitious, Doctor, but back in Hickory we had a man I swear come back from the dead. Orville Fetch. He was the local brain surgeon. He went out a-ridin’ one night, and his horse got spooked and run off. And poor Orville wandered aimlessly for days tryin’ to find his way home. They say he died out there. And to this day when you’re out there on a moonlit night, people swear you can still hear the plaintive cries of the Horseless Headman.
Not exactly a story, but read what happens when a member of a rival family from Arkansas visits the clinic and reignites a centuries old feud with Laverne.
Laverne: Is that South in your mouth? Oh, I should’a know’d it! Where you from?
Duncan: Oh, just an itty-bitty town in Arkansas called Hatipatchi.
Duncan: Beg pardon?
Laverne: I’m from Hickory!
Maxine: Oh, god, there’s two of them.
Laverne: This may come as a shock to you, Dr. Douglas, but there’s a whole state full of us.
Maxine: Well hush my mouth and call me “Catfish.”
Duncan: Are you from the South, Catfish?
Laverne: This fine Southern gentleman happens to hail from the town of Hatipatchi. Now in Arkansas, Hickory and Hatipatchi are known as Siamese twin cities. Would you like to hear why?
Laverne: It’s because we are joined at Waldo’s Combination Snake Zoo and Dinner Theater.
Duncan: Half of it’s in Hickory. The other half’s in Hatipatchi. People come from all over the world to enjoy the reptiles and to see our annual production of Macbeth.
Laverne: Oh, I been so busy yackin,’ I neglected to introduce myself. Laverne Todd.
Duncan: Pleasure, ma’am. Duncan Malloy the fourth.
Laverne: Hold on. Was your great-great-granddaddy Duncan Malloy the first?
Duncan: Yeah. How’d you know?
Laverne: My married name is Todd. My family name is Higby!
Duncan: Higby! You’re a Higby? [To Maxine] Don’t let her hurt me!
Maxine: Why would she want to hurt you?
Laverne: Let me explain somethin’ to you, Doctor. The Higbys and the Malloys have been feudin’ for over a hundred year.
Duncan: They started it!
Laverne: Says you!
Duncan: See how she twists things! [Runs out.]
Laverne: You get back in here so I can smack you!
Maxine: Laverne, you scared the little man half to death.
Laverne: You don’t know what these Malloys are capable of. They sneak in your house at night while you’re asleep and rearrange all your furniture!
Maxine: Doesn’t sound so bad.
Laverne: I ain’t finished. Then before ya wake up, they sneak back in and put it all back exactly the way it was so you never knew they was there!
Maxine: Laverne, why are you so afraid of that little man?
Laverne: Doctor, we are talkin’ about generations of abuse. This feud goes back to 1899, when my Great-great-granddaddy Higby told his favorite joke to Duncan Malloy the first, and ol’ Duncan just stood there and had the gawl not to laugh.
Maxine: And I thought it might be over something silly.
Laverne: You wanna hear the joke?
Laverne: Okay. Seems this couple was on the way to the chapel to get married. They get struck by a bolt of lightenin.’ They get up to Heaven, and the man says to the Lord, “We’s about to get married. Can we get hitched here in Heaven?” And the Lord says, “Well, I’d like to oblige ya, but they’s a little problem. We ain’t got no preachers up here!” [Starts laughing.]
Maxine: So why doesn’t God just marry them?
Laverne: That’s just what Old Man Malloy said!
Also not exactly a story, but read what happens when two Hickory citizens present opposing viewpoints on an important Hickory issue on which Laverne must cast the deciding vote.
Laverne: They’re debatin’ whether or not to put in Hickory’s first traffic light at the busiest intersection in town.
Harry: Well, if a traffic light is such a big deal, why don’t they just go with a stop sign?
Laverne: Oh, no way, we’re not gonna make that mistake again! We had a four-way stop, but everybody was so polite. “You go first. No you go first.” Hell, traffic was backed up all the way from Hickory to Dickory, Doc!
Laverne: Sam, I understand you’re a-goin’ first.
Sam: I’m here to speak in favor of the traffic light. For years, many of us have viewed the intersection in question as a dangerous traffic hazard. Last week, our fears were realized when Fyla Williams’s poultry truck overturned. It was only by the grace of God those chickens were not killed and were able to make it safely to the slaughter house. Now I’m not big on progress. I’m not sayin’ we have to turn our town into Syracuse or somethin.’ I’m just sayin’ we need this traffic light! Thank you.
Laverne: Powerful! Powerful stuff, Sam. Thank you! You ready?
Lurlene: Yes, I am. My name is Lurlene Moss, and I represent the committee against the traffic light. [Clears throat and takes out her notes.] We don’t need it. Thank you.
Laverne: Lurlene, that was so movin’!