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A Turner Bugler, 2004

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The Barleycorn Boys Campaigner’s Corner


Or Period Parlor Tricks to Complement One’s First-Person

by (Bvt. Sgt.) Pvt. Mike Palada

For those readers of this esteemed publication who are of a more light-hearted or even deviant nature, take heed; this installment is especially for you. However, before I may turn to the contents of said installment, it should be noted that the Barleycorn Boys, et. al., neither hereby approve nor condone the following suggestions, rather they are offered for your amusement and entertainment only. Those who find themselves on the short-end of the stick after physically interpreting the following suggestions do so at their own asinine risk and accord. In short, some may say “too late,” this writer is not responsible for enemies you make while performing the following period parlor tricks:

Peterson’s Magazine, July 1862. p. 76-The Double Meaning-“Place a glace of any liquor upon the table, put a hat over it , and say ‘I will engage to drink the liquor under that hat, and yet I’ll not touch the hat.’ You then get under the table, and after giving three knocks, you make a noise with your mouth as if you were swallowing the liquor. Then, getting from under the table, you say, ‘Now gentlemen, be pleased to look.’ Some one, eager to see if you have drunk the liquor, will raise up the hat, when you instantly take the glass, and drink the contents, saying, ‘Gentlemen, I have fulfilled my promise, You are all witnesses that I did not touch the hat.'”

For those of you that are not accustomed to imbibing in the rare old mountain dew, do not fret, as the following case may fancy you. Take warning, however, as fleet-of-foot is strongly recommended for those foolish enough to attempt this parlor trick to play on that certain fair lady:

The following is excerpted from the diary of Miss Jane Hamilton of Farmerville, NY. “October 3, 1863, Maria had a mean trick played on her [at Mr. Dowles’ apple cut]. One of the boys from Steamburg bet a penny that he could kiss her without touching her. She took the bet, where [upon] he seized her and kissed her. He gave her the penny and thanked her, saying it was well worth the money.”

The third and final trick offered is for those with a penchant for sadistic cruelty. Let us again return to Peterson’s Magazine:

Peterson’s Magazine, July, 1862. p.76-Quite Tired Out-“You undertake to make a person so tired by attempting to carry a small stick out of the room as to be unable to accomplish it, although you will add nothing to his burden, nor lay any restraint upon his personal liberty. To perform this manoeuvre, you take up the stick, and cutting off a very small sliver, you direct him to carry it out of the room, and return for more; concluding by telling him, that you mean him to perform as many similar journeys as you can cut pieces off the stick. As this may be made to amount to many thousands, he will of course, gladly give up the undertaking.”

A special thanks is extended to Messrs. R. Schwartz and John Tobey, both of whom posted the above examples on the Authentic Campaigner discussion boards. Questions, comments, concerns? Fan mail, hate mail, something you want to see in a future article? Bend my ear at an event, drop me a line or email it to me at TheBarleycornBoys@military.com. Omnea mea mecum porto. Bully!

This article was originally published in the July-August 2002 issue of The Shrapnel, the newsletter of the Turner Brigade. For information about The Shrapnel, contact Sheila Porter, Editor.