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Categorized | Voices and Views

Roger on Main Street

Bumps on your head

I’ve found myself groping around on my head lately after reading an article about “phrenology.” That’s a word we might not recognize today. In the mid- to late 1800s, however, it was a big deal.

In those days many people were convinced that the shape of the skull, which reflected the shape of the brain, determined character and talents. Reading the bumps on people’s heads was called “phrenology.” (In those days, some scientists were pretty loosey-goosey about evidence.)

Your head bumps supposedly revealed if you were artistic, cheerful, or fearful. Your bumps revealed if you were a fine, upstanding citizen or a criminal.

Seeing profit in this, snake oil salesmen switched their specialties and went around doing “readings.” People were eager to pay to have their heads groped.

Skeptics, of course, spoiled the fun, even before phrenology was discredited by actual scientific evidence. One of those skeptics was Mark Twain. Under an assumed name, Mark Twain visited a phrenology reader and was advised that he had no sense of humor. Another head bump reading—this time as himself, the famous humorist—got him diagnosed as having a fine sense of humor.

The phrenology article made me suspect a couple of things: 1) Snake oil salesmen have switched their specialties again and have gone into politics. 2) Groping my own head suggests that my hair is getting thin on top.

Department of medicine

A man is recovering from surgery when the nurse appears and asks how he’s feeling.

“I’m okay,” says the patient, “but I sure didn’t like those four-letter words the doctor used during surgery.”

“What did he say?” asks the nurse.


Department of religion

A preacher was looking for a used lawnmower. He found one at a yard sale that the owner’s boy, Jim, happened to be manning.

“This mower work, son?” the preacher asked.

“Sure does,” Jim said.  “You have to pull hard on that cord, though.”

The preacher bought the mower. When he got ready to mow, he yanked and pulled and tugged on the cord. No luck. It wouldn’t start.

Back he went to the yard sale place. “You said this would work if I pulled on the cord hard enough,” he complained.

“Well,” Jim said, “maybe I didn’t mention that you need to cuss at it sometimes.”

The preacher was taken aback. “I haven’t done that for many years!” he said.

Jim smiled. “Just keep yanking on that cord, Pastor. It’ll come back to you.”

Department of geriatrics

• These days about half the stuff in my shopping cart says, “For fast relief.”

• Good advice is something a guy gives when he’s too old to set a bad example.

• Don’t let aging get you down.  It’s too hard to get back up.

• Remember: You don’t stop laughing because you grow old, you grow old because you stop laughing.

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