Funny stories in under 500 words.

Hale Needs a Fire Truck



In 1939, tiny Hale, Connecticut nearly imploded due to its misguided attempt to stage a minstrel show festival.

Like many bad ideas, money spurred the insanity, as the town needed a shiny new fire truck with no funding available to purchase it. Minutes of the town meeting, indicate the following exchanges:

“We need a new fire truck.”

“Then let’s get one.”

‘There is no money in our coffers.”

“So let’s raise the money.”

“How?”

“Let’s stage a minstrel festival, bring in all of the greatest acts in the country and charge people to see this wonderful indigenous American art form.”

“Okay, then all in favor of staging a minstrel festival, say Aye”

“AYE!”

“All those opposed, say Nay.”

“Nay.”

“The ayes prevail, now let’s gobble the cookies Mabel Swing cooked for us!”

Meeting adjourned.

First Selectman Cyrus Bee appointed himself the chair of Talent Procurement, lining up the Christy Minstrels, Gavitt’s Original Ethiopian Serenaders, Kunkel’s Nightingales and the Sable Brothers and Sisters.

Second Selectman August “Gus” Fleezer supervised the construction of the grand minstrel and exposition hall, relying on the generosity of town carpenters and loggers to build it.

Third Selectman Ram Stipulski was responsible for advertising and booze.

Taking on a life of its own, the festival sold out its tickets and Red Man Beer agreed to sponsor the event.

Then the advancing wave of history lapped at our heels, starting with the troublemakers and the pissants, claiming minstrel shows were objectionable.

This we had not thought about.

Outside agitators filed a lawsuit against the Town of Hale, seeking an injunction to stop the staging of this spectacle. At first the citizenry laughed at this attempt to quash our first amendment rights and the judge ruled that nobody, even outside agitators could stop our right to stage a minstrel festival; but then he hit us below the belt, agreeing with the agitators that we did not possess the proper licenses and permits to serve all the booze that we had bought. Plus the agitators picketed the Red Man Beer factory until its owners withdrew their sponsorship of the minstrel festival, changed their name to Red’s Beer and provide 100 cases of ice cold beer to the agitators. The festival promoter stole all of the ticket money that he collected and moved to Argentina.

Stripped of sponsorship, performance fees and unlimited beer, many of the prime acts announced that they were not coming to the festival, although once the town disowned the minstrel concept, Melanie decided to come. Drunk, the outside agitators burned down our monstrosity of a minstrel hall. The town then sued the agitators, and settled with them for enough money to buy that new shiny red fire truck.

This story was written by Don Hubbard.




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