21-Sentence Salute to Folksy Byways

by K.M. Zahrt


Recently, I picked up the October issue of The Believerand I kid you not, I was thinking, What I like about The Believer is that I can always count on it to introduce me to new ideas that I never fathomed. So, you can only imagine my surprise when I saw the comment on the “Dear the Believer” page from Charlie Crespo, a Floridian: “The Believer often runs articles that introduce me to topics and stories I never would have found on my own[…] Keep up the good work! I look forward to reading more issues in the years to come.” Isn’t it funny that, no matter how much we value ourselves as individuals, we are really tracking larger trends in cultural experience, ideology, and references. Twenty years from now, once History has a chance to sort out all of those major trends and stamp them forever into the e-textbooks of our children, all of us will point to the pictures (probably chosen by some Google algorithm or the company’s more modern equivalent) and say, “I remember that.” And, “I had one of those.”

Nevertheless, in this issue of The Believer, it was announced that Jack Pendarvis is retiring from his column “Musin’s and Thinkin’s: A Monthly Stroll Down Folksy Byways.” Although I would like to congratulate Pendarvis on a job well done, I will thoroughly miss his column. To recognize and honor such an occasion, I would like to offer this 21-sentence salute to his work:

  1. “Granddad and I had a long conversation, and in many respects he was no help at all” (77th Issue, January 2011).
  2. “I’ll have you know I was mighty proud of that harmonica” (78th Issue, February 2011).
  3. “There was a time when folktales were handed down from generation to generation, like heart disease” (79th Issue, March/April 2011).
  4. “When you come right down to it, everything used to be better” (80th Issue, May 2011).
  5. “Despite what certain doomsayers might insist, the digital age has not ‘squeezed out’ our desire to hug.” (81st Issue, June 2011).
  6. “‘You never know until you try.’ That now-famous phrase, which I came up with, first occurred to me when I had my head stuck in a mossy crevice, where I was accosted by a number of jocular, red-eyed creatures of surprising persistence” (83rd Issue, September 2011).
  7. “I cashed the check and used the paper money to stuff our mattress” (84th Issue, October 2011).
  8. “Brother Milt cried out in awe, removed his pants, and scampered away into the darkness” (85th Issue, November/December 2011).
  9. “Yes, the cone of the common pine may be easy on the eye, but it is also a handy way to teach our modern youth of today about seriousness, chastity, and responsibility” (87th Issue, February 2012).
  10. “I can’t help but wonder what some of you modern guys and gals would think if I told you that back when I was a child, my favorite toy was a stick” (88th Issue, March/April 2012).
  11. “When is a nugget of homespun wisdom too personal to use as material?” (89th Issue, May 2012).
  12. “The inevitable quilting and whittling contests, well-catered and organized by angry townspeople, resulted in numerous deaths” (90th Issue, June 2012).
  13. “Sometimes as I sit on the porch swing and puff away on my trusty corncob pipe as eventide comes rolling in, I start to wonder whether eventide is a word and, if so, what it means, and whether I’m having some kind of stroke” (91st Issue, July/August 2012).
  14. “I don’t want to be a fancy fellow with his head on Mount Rushmore” (92nd Issue, September 2012).
  15. “Proud mamas and papas have seen to it, and rightfully so, that the ‘social networks’ of today are abuzz with the peanut-butter-smeared antics of our nation’s greatest national resource. No, not moss” (93rd Issue, October 2012).
  16. “The fashionable young ‘gentleman caller’ would not dream of appearing without a camellia bud in his lapel” (94th Issue, November/December 2012).
  17. “Just last week I was at the home of some acquaintances who positively spoil their three-year-old child, dressing him in the finest dungarees and feeding him from the table” (96th Issue, February 2013).
  18. “Every columnist needs a sideline to fall back on, and it is no secret that I make a little extra pocket money in lumberjack contests” (97th Issue, March/April 2013).
  19. “I don’t usually ask you to dig down in your pockets. But without your support for my foundation I am just thinking of as I type this, there is a very real chance that A Love Song for Bobby Long will disappear into obscurity, much like the culture it celebrates” (98th Issue, May 2013).
  20. “And I guess all the other bees probably got together and murdered that one bee” (101st Issue, September 2013).
  21. “I have to admit I look forward to getting my hands dirty again. In fact, the first thing I’m going to do is find a big pile of dirt and just run my hands through it” (102nd Issue, October 2013).

Thank you, Jack Pendarvis.

p.s. If you’re like me and can’t think of a 21-anything salute without thinking of Home Improvement‘s “Tool Time,” follow this link to get your fix.


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