Jokes from the early 1900s


Lawyer: “When I was a boy my highest ambition was to be a pirate.”

Client: “You’re in luck. It isn’t every man who can realise the dreams of his youth.”

* * *


Elder sister: “Oh, you fancy yourself very wise, I dare say; but I could give you a wrinkle or two.”

Younger sister: “No doubt-and never miss them.”

* * *


The boy who had “made good” in town asked his old mother to come to London. He gave the old lady the[Pg 305] best room in the hotel-one with a private bath adjoining. The next morning the boy asked:

“Did you have a good night’s rest?”

“Well, no, I didn’t,” she replied. “The room was all right, and the bed was pretty. But I couldn’t sleep very much, for I was afraid someone would want to take a bath, and the only way to it was through my room!”

* * *


The shaded lights, music in the distance, sweet perfumes from the costly flowers about them-everything was just right for a proposal, and Timkins decided to chance his luck. She was pretty, which was good, and also, he believed, an heiress, which was better.

“Are you not afraid that someone will marry you for your money?” he asked gently.

“Oh! dear, no,” smiled the girl. “Such an idea never entered my head!”

“Ah! Miss Liscombe,” he sighed, “in your sweet innocence you do not dream how coldly, cruelly mercenary some men are!”

“Perhaps I don’t,” replied the girl calmly.

“I would not for a moment have such a terrible fate befall you,” he said passionately. “You are too good-too beautiful. The man who wins you should love you for yourself alone.”

“He’ll have to,” the girl remarked. “It’s my cousin Jennie who has the money-not I. You seem to have got us mixed. I haven’t a penny myself.”

[Pg 306]

“Oh-er!” stammered the young man, “what pleasant weather we are having, aren’t we?”

* * *


The best man noticed that one of the wedding guests, a gloomy-looking young man, did not seem to be enjoying himself. He was wandering about as though he had lost his last friend. The best man took it upon himself to cheer him up.

“Er-have you kissed the bride?” he asked by way of introduction.

“Not lately,” replied the gloomy one, with a faraway expression.

* * *

“Why did you take Meyerbeer off the dinner card?”

“People kept thinking it was something to drink.”

* * *

A well-known admiral-a stickler for uniform-stopped opposite a very portly sailor whose medal-ribbon was an inch or so too low down. Fixing the man with his eye, the admiral asked: “Did you get that medal for eating, my man?” On the man replying “No, sir,” the admiral rapped out: “Then why the deuce do you wear it on your stomach?”

* * *

First Little Girl: What’s your last name, Annie?

Second Little Girl: Don’t know yet; I ain’t married.

* * *

Kloseman: I didn’t see you in church last Sunday.

Keen: Don’t doubt it. I took up the collection.

[Pg 307]

* * *

A Southern family had a coal-black cook named Sarah, and when her husband was killed in an accident Sarah appeared on the day of the funeral dressed in a sable outfit except in one respect. “Why, Sarah,” said her mistress, “what made you get white gloves?” Sarah drew herself up and said in tones of dignity, “Don’t you s’pose I wants dem niggahs to see dat I’se got on gloves?”

* * *

Dad (sternly): Where were you last night?

Son: Oh, just riding around with some of the boys.

Dad: Well, tell ’em not to leave their hairpins in the car.

* * *

Said the guest, upon approaching his host’s home in the suburb, “Ah, there are some of your family on the veranda. The girl in short dresses is your daughter, the young man in riding breeches is your son, and the woman in the teagown is your charming wife.” Said the host: “No, you are all wrong. The girl in the short dresses is my grandmother, the young fellow in riding breeches is my wife, and the woman in the teagown is my ten-year-old daughter, who likes to dress up in her great-grandmother’s dresses.”

* * *

A bumptious young American farmer went to England to learn his business, but where he went he pretended that it was far easier to teach the farmers than to learn anything from them. “I’ve got an idea,” he said one day to a grizzled old Northumbrian agriculturist, “for a new kind of fertilizer which will be ten thousand times as effective as any that has ever been[Pg 308] tried. Condensed fertilizer-that’s what it is. Enough for an acre of ground would go in one of my waistcoat pockets.” “I don’t doubt it, young gentleman,” said the veteran of the soil. “What is more, you’ll be able to put the crop into the other waistcoat pocket.”

* * *

Weary Willie slouched into the pawnshop. “How much will you give me for this overcoat?” he asked, producing a faded but neatly mended garment. Isaac looked at it critically. “Four dollars,” he said.

“Why,” cried Weary Willie, “that coat’s worth ten dollars if it’s worth a penny.'”

“I wouldn’t give you ten dollars for two like that,” sniffed Isaac. “Four dollars or nothing.”

“Are you sure that’s all it’s worth?” asked Weary Willie.

“Four dollars,” repeated Isaac.

“Well, here’s yer four dollars,” said Weary Willie. “This overcoat was hangin’ outside yer shop, and I was wonderin’ how much it was really worth.”

* * *


“I’m not quite sure about your washing-machine. Will you demonstrate it again?”

“No, madam. We only do one week’s washing.”

* * *


Mrs. de Vere: “I suppose now that you have been abroad, you have your own views of foreign life!”

[Pg 309]

* * *

Mrs. Profiteer: “No, we ain’t got no views. We didn’t take no camera; it’s so common.”

* * *


Proprietor: “What made that customer walk out? Did you offend him?”

Assistant: “I don’t know. He said he wanted a hat to suit his head and I showed him a soft hat.”

* * *


Old Job: “The best way to get the most out of life is to fall in love with a great problem or a beautiful woman!”

Old Steve: “Why not choose the latter and get both?”

* * *

He (just introduced): What a very homely person that gentleman near the piano is, Mrs. Black!

She: Isn’t he? That is Mr. Black.

He: How true it is, Mrs. Black, that the homely men always get the prettiest wives!

* * *

A customer entered the small-town barber shop. “How soon can you cut my hair?” he asked of the proprietor, who was seated in an easy chair, perusing the pages of a novel.

“Bill,” said the barber, addressing his errand boy, “run over and tell the editor if he’s done editin’ the paper I’d like my scissors.”

[Pg 310]

* * *

Pompous Publisher (to aspiring novice in literature): I have been reading your manuscript, my dear lady, and there is much in it, I think-ahem!-very good. But there are parts somewhat vague. Now, you should always write so that the most ignorant can understand.

Youthful Authoress (wishing to show herself most ready to accept advice): Oh, yes, I’m sure. But, tell me, which are the parts that have given you trouble?

* * *


First Stenog. (reading): “Think of those Spaniards going 3,000 miles on a galleon!”

Second Stenog.: “Aw, forget it. Yuh can’t believe all yuh hear about them foreign cars.”

* * *

A group of tourists were looking over the inferno of Vesuvius in full eruption. “Ain’t this just like hell?” ejaculated a Yank.

“Ah, zese Americans,” exclaimed a Frenchman, “where have zey not been?”

* * *

“Lay down, pup. Lay down. That’s a good doggie. Lay down, I tell you.”

“Mister, you’ll have to say, ‘Lie down,’ he’s a Boston terrier.”

* * *

Lady: Well, what do you want?

Tramp: Leddy, believe me, I’m no ordinary beggar. I was at the front–

Lady (with interest): Really–

[Pg 311]

Tramp: Yes, ma’am; but I couldn’t make anybody hear, so I came round to the back.

* * *

“The doctor has ordered her to the seashore. Now they’re having a consultation.”

“Of doctors?”

“Of dressmakers.”

* * *

“You discharged your office boy?”

“Yes,” said Dr. Dubwaite. “He never did anything but stand around and look wise.”

“I guess you’ve seen the last of him.”

“I don’t know about that. He may turn up here some day as an efficiency expert.”

* * *

“But why don’t you think he will propose soon?”

“Well, he gave me a box of stationery yesterday with my initials on it-such a lot, so I know it’s all over between us.”

* * *


Mother: “Hush! You two children are always quarrelling. Why can’t you agree once in a while?”

Georgia: “We do agree, mamma. Edith wants the largest apple and so do I.”

* * *

She: Jack is in love with you.

Her: Nonsense!

She: That’s what I said when I heard it.

Her: How dared you!

[Pg 312]

* * *

Professor (endeavoring to impress on class the definition of cynic): Young man, what would you call a man who pretends to know everything?

Senior: A professor!

* * *

A young lady who was inspecting bicycles, said to the clerk:

“What’s the name of this wheel?”

“That is the Belvedere,” answered the salesman.

He was rewarded by a stony glance and the icy question:

“Can you recommend the Belva?”

* * *

“What this country needs is more production.”

“What this country needs,” replied Farmer Corntassel, with a slight trace of irritation, “is less talk about what it needs and more enthusiasm about deliverin’ the goods.”

* * *


“Is this stuff guaranteed to make a rabbit slap a bulldog in the face?”

“My dear sir,” said the bootlegger, with a pained expression. “This stuff will make a tenant snap his fingers under his landlord’s nose.”

* * *

“If a man has a beautiful stenographer, do you suppose that will cause him to take more interest in his business?” asked Mr. Piglatch.

“I don’t know whether he will take more interest in[Pg 313] his business,” said Mr. Peckton, thoughtfully, “but his wife will.”

* * *


A tramp entered a baker’s, shivering piteously.

“A loaf, please, mum,” he said, placing the money on the counter. The woman gave him one. As he took it, he said with shaking voice:

“Where’s the nearest hospital, mum, please?”

“The nearest hospital!” she ejaculated.

“Yes, mum, I’m feeling bad. I believe I’m sickening for something; the scarlet fever, I think.”

“What!” she shrieked. “Get out of my shop.”

He turned to obey.

“Here, take your money back,” she said. He did so; and, offering the bread, said humbly:

“You’ll take yer loaf, won’t yer, mum?”

“Get out of my shop.”

He crawled out, and with bowed head went around the corner. Presently, another mountain of misery joined him.

“Well, Bill?” he said.

“Right oh! ‘Enery,” came the answer. “It worked a treat. Now you do it fer a bit o’ bacon, and then we can have lunch.”

* * *


Nurse: “You were very naughty in church, Guy. Do you know where little boys and girls go to who don’t put their pennies in the collection box?”

Guy: “Yes, nurse; to the pictures.”

[Pg 314]

* * *


The druggist danced and chortled till the bottles danced on the shelves.

“What’s up?” asked the soda clerk. “Have you been taking something?”

“No. But do you remember when our water pipes were frozen last winter?”

“Yes, but what-”

“Well, the plumber who fixed them has just come in to have a prescription filled.”

* * *


A wealthy gentleman has a brother who is hard of hearing, while he himself is remarkable for having a very prominent nose.

Once, this gentleman dined at a friend’s house, where he sat between two young ladies who talked to him very loudly, rather to his annoyance.

Finally one of them shouted a commonplace remark and then said in an ordinary tone to the other:

“Did you ever see such an ugly nose?”

“Pardon me, ladies,” said the gentleman. “It is my brother who is deaf.”

* * *

A candidate for Congress from a certain Western state was never shy about telling the voters why they should send him to Washington. “I am a practical farmer,” he said, boastfully, at one meeting. “I can plow, reap, milk cows, shoe a horse-in fact, I should like you to tell me one thing about a farm which I can[Pg 315] not do.” Then, in the impressive silence, a voice asked from the back of the hall: “Can you lay an egg?”

* * *

Doctor: “You are a great deal better this morning, I see. You followed my directions, and that prescription did the business-what, you haven’t taken any of it?”

Patient: “No; it says on the label, ‘Keep the bottle tightly corked.'”

* * *

“And about the salary?” said the movie star.

“Well,” said the manager, “suppose we call it $5,000 a week.”

“All right.”

“Of course, you understand that the $5,000 is merely what we call it-you will get $500.”

* * *

Prospective Employer: I suppose you have some experience of live stock?

Applicant for Post: Well, I ain’t ever looked after ‘orses, nor milked cows, and never ‘andled poultry; but I’ve bred canaries.

* * *

A Scotchman had been presented with a pint flask of rare old Scotch whiskey. He was walking briskly along the road toward home, when along came a Ford which he did not sidestep quite in time. It threw him down and hurt his leg quite badly. He got up and limped down the road. Suddenly he noticed that something warm and wet was trickling down his leg.

“Oh, Lord,” he groaned, “I hope that’s blood!”

[Pg 316]

* * *

Mr. Graham: “Do you know, Miss F., if I had my way, I’d put every woman in jail!”

Miss F.: “Why, Mr. Graham, I’m surprised. I didn’t know you felt that way about us! What sort of a nation do you think this would be, if you put all the women in jail?”

Mr. Graham: “Stag-nation, of course!”

* * *


Sister: “Hubby received an anonymous letter this morning informing him of something I did before we were married.”

Brother: “Well, the best thing you can do is to confess.”

Sister: “I know it, but he won’t let me read the letter and I don’t know what to confess.”

* * *

“I’d like to see the man who could persuade me to promise to love, honour and obey him,” said Miss Wellontheway.

“I don’t blame you,” remarked the newly-made bride.

* * *

“Huh! Yuh talks ’bout sassiety like yuh knows so much ’bout it. Niggah, I bet dey don’ eben have evenin’ dresses whah yuh come frum.”

“Zat so? Dey’s doin’ well to have evenin’s whah yuh come frum.”

* * *

Second-story Worker: “Hullo, Bill, I see you got a new overcoat. What did it cost you?”

[Pg 317]

Burglar: “Six months. I never wears cheap clothes!”

* * *

The sweet young thing was being shown through the boiler shop.

“What’s that thing?” she asked, pointing with a dainty parasol.

“That’s an engine boiler,” said the guide.

“And why do they boil engines?” she inquired.

“To make the engine tender,” replied the resourceful guide.

* * *

He was a Scot, with the usual characteristics of his race. Wishing to know his fate, he telegraphed a proposal of marriage to the girl of his choice. After waiting all day at the telegraph office he received the affirmative answer late at night.

“Well, if I were you,” said the operator, “I’d think twice before I married the girl who kept me waiting for an answer so long.”

“Na, Na?” said the Scot. “The girl for me is the girl who waits for the night rates.”

* * *


Wifey: “Henry, do you think me an angel?”

Hubby: “Why, certainly, my dear. I’m very enthusiastic. I think all women are angels!”

“You needn’t be so enthusiastic as all that!”

[Pg 318]

* * *


Dobb: “What’s that piece of cord tied around your finger for?”

Botham: “My wife put it there to remind me to post her letter.”

“And did you post it?”

“No; she forgot to give it to me!”

* * *


A certain country vicar who used to distribute books to his parishioners as reading material, one day, deciding to surprise them, gave them each a Bible neatly wrapped up in brown paper. A few days later he called round on each of his flock, and the first place he called at was the village butcher’s.

“Well, Mr. Simson,” he said, “how did you like that little book I gave you the other day?”

Simson was rather taken aback at the query, for, truth to tell, the little book still remained in its brown paper wrapping somewhere under the counter.

“Splendid!” lied Simson bravely, “but,” he added, in a burst of confidence, “it ended like they all end.”

“Oh!” exclaimed the vicar, “in what way?”

And Simson, thinking he was on safe ground, replied, “Why, they lived happy ever after.”

* * *

“Your wife looks stunning to-night. Her gown is a poem.”

“What do you mean, poem?” replied the struggling author. “That gown is two poems and a short story.”

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