Sunday, February 24, 2008

Huck Finn utilizes an Idaho potato for counterfeiting

I’m beginning my eleventh read of Huck Finn, much like I vowed to myself, back in ‘78 at Flint Hill –that I would read it every few years for the rest of my life.

Perhaps, I should include that on future resumes; I have not completed college, but I have read Huck Finn eleven times. Here is today’s feature from Chapter IV:

"Miss Watson's helper, Jim, had a hair-ball as big as your fist, which had
been took out of the fourth stomach of an ox, and he used to do magic
with it. He said there was a spirit inside of it, and it knowed
So I went to him that night and told him pap was here again,
for I found his tracks in the snow. What I wanted to know was, what he
was going to do, and was he going to stay? Jim got out his hair-ball and
said something over it, and then he held it up and dropped it on the
floor. It fell pretty solid, and only rolled about an inch. Jim tried
it again, and then another time, and it acted just the same. Jim got
down on his knees, and put his ear against it and listened. But it
warn't no use; he said it wouldn't talk.

He said sometimes it wouldn't
talk without money
. I told him I had an old slick counterfeit quarter
that warn't no good because the brass showed through the silver a little,
and it wouldn't pass nohow, even if the brass didn't show, because it was
so slick it felt greasy, and so that would tell on it every time. (I
reckoned I wouldn't say nothing about the dollar I got from the judge.) I
said it was pretty bad money, but maybe the hair-ball would take it,
because maybe it wouldn't know the difference. Jim smelt it and bit it
and rubbed it, and said he would manage so the hair-ball would think it
was good. He said he would split open a raw Idaho potato and stick the
quarter in between and keep it there all night, and next morning you
couldn't see no brass, and it wouldn't feel greasy no more, and so
anybody in town would take it in a minute, let alone a hair-ball. Well,
I knowed a Idaho Potato would do that before, but I had forgot it."

Soonafter reading this I drove down Broadford Rd. to Valley Market to purchase an Idaho potato. During the purchase, I mentioned this passage to the clerk. She mentioned that she, too, had heard this about Idaho Potatoes, but had also ‘disremembered’ it!

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