During one of our visits to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, we were asked to visit an Australian Soldier who was hurt pretty bad. He had been in combat the day before and was angry at what had happened to his body. As we gathered around his room, he told us – in no uncertain terms – that he did NOT want a drawing of him and began to curse at one of the cartoonists when he suspected he hadn’t heard him the first time.
We didn’t know what to do, and no one drew anything. We stumbled through some small talk then Jack Davis, a WWII Navy veteran who was with the group (he is also one of the most famous cartoonists in the world), began to tell a joke in his slow southern drawl. This is the joke:
Two rednecks are out hunting, and as they are walking along they come upon a huge hole in the ground.
They approach it and are amazed by the size of it.
The first hunter says, “Wow, that’s some hole; I can’t even see the bottom. I wonder how deep it is.”
The second hunter says,” I don’t know, let’s throw something down and listen and see how long it takes to hit bottom.”
The first hunter says, “There’s this old automobile transmission here, give me a hand and we’ll throw it in and see”.
So they pick it up and carry it over, count one, and two and three, and throw it in the hole.
They are standing there listening and looking over the edge and they hear a rustling in the brush behind them.
As they turn around they see a goat come crashing through the brush, run up to the hole and with no hesitation, jump in head first.
While they are standing there looking at each other, looking in the hole and trying to figure out what that was all about, an old farmer walks up.
“Say there,” says the farmer, “you fellers didn’t happen to see my goat around here anywhere, did you?”
The first hunter says, ” Funny you should ask, but we were just standing here a minute ago and a goat came running out of the bushes doin’ about a hunert miles an hour and jumped headfirst into this hole here!”
The old farmer said, “That’s impossible, I had him tied to an old transmission!”
There was a stunned silence in the room, then all at once we began to laugh. The Australian did too. Suddenly the ice was broken, conversation and laughter filled the room, and we left him with a batch of cartoons. He expressed his appreciation and gave us a warm send off.
The joke was so bad, and delivered in such extreme conditions, that I often marveled at how Jack knew the timing was right. He didn’t normally tell jokes, so I have to think it was because he knew it was just what the situation needed. Maybe it was his experience in the Pacific, when a little humor could ease the tension of the war, that gave him the idea. I suppose I’ll never know. But on that day, Jack’s lame joke was literally what the doctor ordered.
(This story was inspired by an email sent to be by Bob, a veteran and good friend, containing the same joke I heard that day.)