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The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes. 1906.

Finley Peter Dunne (1867–1936)

The City as a Summer Resort

From “Mr. Dooley’s Opinions”

“WHERE’S Dorsey, the plumber, these days?” asked Mr. Hennessy.

“Haven’t ye heerd?” said Mr. Dooley. “Dorsey’s become a counthry squire. He’s landed gintry, like me folks in th’ ol’ dart. He lives out among th’ bur-rds an’ th’ bugs, in a house that looks like a cuckoo clock. In an hour or two ye’ll see him go by to catch the five five. He won’t catch it because there ain’t anny five five. Th’ la-ad that makes up th’ time-table found las’ week that if he didn’t get away earlier he cudden’t take his girl f’r a buggy ride, an’ he’s changed th’ five five to four forty-eight. Dorsey will wait f’r th’ six siven an’ he’ll find that it don’t stop at Paradise Manor, where he lives on Saturdahs an’ Winsdahs except Fridahs in Lent. He’ll get home at ilivin o’clock, an’ if his wife’s f’rgot to lave th’ lanthern in th’ deepo he’ll crawl up to th’ house on his hands an’ knees. I see him las’ night in at th’ dhrug sthore buyin’ ile iv peppermint f’r his face. ‘’Tis a gran’ life in th’ counthry,’ says he, ‘far,’ he says, ‘fr’m th’ madding crowd,’ says he. ‘Ye have no idee,’ he says, ‘how good it makes a man feel,’ he says, ‘to escape th’ dust an’ grime iv th’ city,’ he says, ‘an’ watch th’ squrls at play,’ he says. ‘Whin I walk in me own garden,’ he says, ‘an’ see th’ viggytables comin’ up, I hope, an’ hear me own cow lowin’ at th’ gate iv th’ fence,’ he says, ‘I f’rget,’ he says, ‘that they’se such a thing as a jint to be wiped or a sink to be repaired,’ he says. He had a box iv viggytables an’ a can iv condensed milk undher his arm. ‘Th’ wife is goin’ away nex’ week,’ he says, ‘do ye come out an’ spind a few days with me,’ he says. ‘Not while I have th’ strength to stay here,’ says I. ‘Well,’ he says, ‘maybe,’ he says, ‘I’ll r-run in an’ see ye,’ he says. ‘Is there annything goin’ on at th’ theayters?’ he says.

“I wanst spint a night in th’ counthry, Hinnissy. ’Twas whin Hogan had his villa out near th’ river. ’Twas called a villa to distinguish it fr’m a house. If ’twas a little bigger ’twud be big enough f’r th’ hens, an’ if ’twas a little smaller ’twud be small enough f’r a dog. It looked as if ’twas made with a scroll saw, but Hogan mannyfacthered it himself out iv a design in th’ pa-aper. ‘How to make a country home on wan thousan’ dollars. Puzzle: find th’ money.’ Hogan kidnapped me wan afthernoon an’ took me out there in time to go to bed. He boosted me up a laddher into a bedroom adjinin’ th’ roof. ‘I hope,’ says I, ‘I’m not discommodin’ th’ pigeons,’ I says. ‘There ain’t anny pigeons here,’ says he. ‘What’s that?’ says I. ‘That’s a mosquito,’ says he. ‘I thought ye didn’t have anny here,’ says I. ‘’Tis th’ first wan I’ve seen,’ says he, whackin’ himsilf on th’ back iv th’ neck. ‘I got ye that time, assassin,’ he says, hurlin’ th’ remains to the ground. ‘They on’y come,’ he says, ‘afther a heavy rain or a heavy dhry spell,’ he says, ‘or whin they’se a little rain,’ he says, ‘followed by some dhryness,’ he says. ‘Ye mustn’t mind thim,’ he says. ‘A mosquito on’y lives f’r a day,’ he says. ‘’Tis a short life an’ a merry wan,’ says I. ‘Do they die iv indigisthion?’ I says. So he fell down through th’ thrap-dure an’ left me alone.

“Well, I said me prayers an’ got into bed an’ lay there, thinkin’ iv me past life an’ wondherin’ if th’ house was on fire. ’Twas warrum, Hinnissy. I’ll not deny it. Th’ roof was near enough to me that I cud smell th’ shingles, an’ th’ sun had been rollin’ on it all day long, an’ though it had gone away, it’d left a ray or two to keep th’ place. But I’m a survivor iv th’ gr-reat fire, an’ I often go down to th’ rollin’-mills, an’ besides, mind ye, I’m iv that turn iv mind that whin it’s hot I say ’tis hot an’ lave it go at that. So I whispers to mesilf, ‘I’ll dhrop off,’ I says, ‘into a peaceful slumber,’ I says, ‘like th’ healthy plowboy that I am,’ says I. An’ I counted as far as I knew how an’ conducted a flock ov sheep in a steeplechase, an’ I’d just begun f’r to wondher how th’ las’ thing I thought iv came into me head, whin a dog started to howl in th’ yard. They was a frind iv this dog in th’ nex’ house that answered him an’ they had a long chat. Some other dogs butted in to be companionable. I heerd Hogan rollin’ in bed, an’ thin I heerd him goin’ out to get a dhrink iv wather. He thripped over a chair befure he lighted a match to look at th’ clock. It seemed like an hour befure he got back to bed. Be this time th’ dogs was tired an’ I was thinkin’ I’d take a nap, whin a bunch iv crickets undher me windows begun f’r to discoorse. I’ve heerd iv th’ crickets on th’ hearth, Hinnissy, an I used to think they were all th’ money, but anny time they get on me hearth I buy me a pound iv insect powdher. I’d rather have a pianola on th’ hearth anny day, an’ Gawd save me fr’m that! An’ so ’twas dogs an’ mosquitoes an’ crickets an’ mosquitoes an’ a screech-owl an’ mosquitoes an’ a whip-poor-will an’ mosquitoes an’ cocks beginnin’ to crow at two in th’ mornin’ an’ mosquitoes, so that whin th’ sun bounced up an’ punched me in th’ eye at four I knew what th’ thruth is, that th’ counthry is th’ noisiest place in th’ wurruld. Mind ye, there’s a roar in th’ city, but in th’ counthry th’ noises beats on ye’er ear like carpet-tacks bein’ driven into th’ dhrum. Between th’ chirp iv a cricket an’ th’ chirp iv th’ hammer at th’ mills, I’ll take th’ hammer. I can go to sleep in a boiler shop, but I spint th’ rest iv that night at Hogan’s settin’ in th’ bathtub.

“I saw him in th’ mornin’ at breakfast. We had canned peaches an’ condinsed milk. ‘Ye have ye’er valise,’ says he. ‘Aren’t ye goin’ to stay out?’ ‘I am not,’ says I. ‘Whin th’ first rattler goes by ye’ll see me on th’ platform fleein’ th’ peace an’ quiet iv th’ counthry, f’r th’ turmoil an’ heat,’ I says, ‘an’ food iv a gr-reat city,’ I says. ‘Stay on th’ farm,’ says I. ‘Commune,’ I says, ‘with nature,’ I says. ‘Enjoy,’ I says, ‘th’ simple rustic life iv th’ merry farmer-boy that goes whistlin’ to his wurruk befure breakfast,’ says I. ‘But I must go back,’ I says, ‘to th’ city,’ I says, ‘where there is nawthin’ to eat but what ye want and nawthin’ to dhrink but what ye can buy,’ I says. ‘Where th’ dust is laid be th’ sprinklin’ cart, where th’ ice-man comes reg’lar an’ th’ roof-garden is in bloom an’ ye’re waked not be th’ sun but be th’ milkman,’ I says. ‘I want to be near a doctor whin I’m sick an’ near eatable food whin I’m hungry, an’ where I can put me hand out early in the mornin’ an’ hook in a newspaper,’ says I. ‘Th’ city,’ says I, ‘is th’ on’y summer resort f’r a man that has iver lived in th’ city,’ I says. An’ so I come in.

“’Tis this way, Hinnissy, th’ counthry was all right whin we was young and hearty, befure we become enfeebled with luxuries, d’ye mind. ’Twas all right whin we cud shtand it. But we’re not so shtrong as we was. We’re diff’rent men, Hinnissy. Ye may say, as Hogan does, that we’re ladin’ an artificyal life, but, be Hivins, ye might as well tell me I ought to be paradin’ up an’ down a hillside in a suit iv skins, shootin’ th’ antylope an’ th’ moose, be gorry, an’ livin’ in a cave, as to make me believe I ought to get along without sthreet-cars an’ ilicthric lights an’ illyvators an’ sody-water an’ ice. ‘We ought to live where all th’ good things iv life comes fr’m,’ says Hogan. ‘No,’ says I. ‘Th’ place to live is in where all th’ good things iv life goes to.’ Ivrything that’s worth havin’ goes to th’ city; th’ counthry takes what’s left. Ivrything that’s worth havin’ goes to th’ city an’ is iced. Th’ cream comes in an’ th’ skim milk stays; th’ sun-burnt viggytables is consumed be th’ hearty farmer-boy an’ I go down to Callaghan’s store an’ ate the sunny half iv a peach. Th’ farmer-boy sells what he has f’r money an’ I get the money back whin he comes to town in th’ winther to see the exposition. They give us th’ products iv th’ sile an’ we give thim cottage organs an’ knockout dhrops, an’ they think they’ve broke even. Don’t lave anny wan con-vince ye th’ counthry’s th’ place to live, but don’t spread th’ news yet f’r a while. I’m goin’ to advertise ‘Dooleyville be-th’-River. Within six siconds iv sthreet-cars an’ railway thrains, an’ aisy reach iv th’ theayters an’ ambulances. Spind th’ summer far fr’m th’ busy haunts iv th’ fly an’ th’ bug be th’ side iv th’ purlin’ ice-wagon.’ I’ll do it, I tell ye. I’ll organize excursions an’ I’ll have th’ poor iv th’ counthry in here settin’ on th’ cool steps an’ passin’ th’ can fr’m hand to hand; I’ll take thim to th’ ball-game an’ th’ theayter; I’ll lave thim sleep till breakfast-time an’ I’ll sind thim back to their overcrowded homes to dhream iv th’ happy life in town. I will so.”

“I’m glad to hear ye say that,” said Mr. Hennessy. “I wanted to go out to th’ counthry but I can’t unless I sthrike.”

“That’s why I said it,” replied Mr. Dooley.