of Plymouth

The Little

The Pilgrim

Uncle Jabez

PHS 1963



Charles I


This story is from the first issue of The Pilgrim Magazine, which was begun in Boston to focus attention of the imminent Pilgrim Tercentennial in 1920/21. They are obviously about Jabez Corner and Obery Street, but I have no idea who wrote them.

Uncle Jabez is usually in evidence at Guy's about the time the evening papers arrive from Boston, and as that event is also a signal to call the other citizens from their daily installment of contemporary history, the old gentleman is seldom without an appreciative audience.

Guy's, be it known, is the commercial center, the social rendezvous, the afternoon lounge, the branch (unofficial) post office, the dry goods emporium, the delicatessen depot and the local news exchange of the neighborhood. Not does this by any means exhaust its description, for like some of the more pretentious establishments in the greater cities it is the Universal Provider; and it is safe to say that when a customer wants anything from a rare postage stamp to a steam-going yacht, Guy will get it - if it is to be had. Now it may be set down as a fact that there are not wanting hundreds of just such social and commercial centers throughout New England; and it is equally true that Uncle Jabez is a type not unknown in every quiet corner of the same nature in every state. This particular Uncle Jabez, however, has a reputation as a wit and philosopher; and from time to time we hope to record his sayings in the expectation that our readers will contribute something of the same nature to the symposium.

"It allers strikes me somethin' strange," said Uncle Jabez, as he sampled a fine Baldwin from the top of the barrel, "how many of these smart a' oily talkers come 'round to work the coin out of us New England folks."

"What is it now, Uncle Jabez?" asked a customer; "Ubero coffee?"

"Not 'zactly. This time is real estate." As he spoke Uncle Jabez again tasted the Baldwin, and thus keyed the curiosity of his hearers to the point of anxious expectancy. At last, having assured himself that his audience was in a receptive and sympathetic mood, he asked:
"Member that fellow that tried to sell me the patent right for Plymouth county on the new fly trap last year?"

They did; and smiled as they recalled the story. The fly-trap man spent nearly a week and most of his ready cash trying to get Uncle Jabez to invest. Finally, when after a prolonged and eloquent appeal to Uncle Jabez to invest all his spare money in an invention that would enable him to "get rich quick," the agent concluded with: "Now when you see a good thing like this go in - it's the chance of your life."

"Well," said Uncle Jabez, "you certainly do talk well and," examining the model, "it surely does look good - an' as to going in, if I was a fly -."

The agent waited to hear no more. He had wasted a week and his supply of eloquence without result. He looked Uncle Jabez over and then said:

"You're one of them Pilgrim fellows that landed on the rock, ain't you?"

Uncle Jabez mildly admitted his ancestry.

"Huh! Pilgrims! Pilgrims that landed on the rock - well, all I'm sorry for is that the rock didn't land on the Pilgrims."

"These real estate fellows are certainly smart - most as smart as the fly-trap man," went on Uncle Jabez, "and they're working a smart game up Obery Road jest now. Some time ago Aunt Mary Perkins saw a puzzle in one of them New York magazines, and anyone who guessed that puzzle could get free a fine lot down on Long Island. Aunt Mary looked it over. 'Land sakes, that's easy,' she said, and sent the answer to New York. Yesterday a fine appearin' fellow called at the house and introduced himself, saying his name was Quill an' he'd been sent on special from New York to tell Aunt Mary that she'd won the prize an' all she had to pay was ten dollars for the deed. But the agent explained that this wa'nt all. An' as long as he'd come all the way from New York, he was goin' to let a clever, bright woman like Aunt Mary have a better chance.

'This lot you see,' he said, an' he showed it to her on the fine big map, 'ain't as good as it might be. But the lot next to it is worth at least $500. Now you can turn in your lot an' pay me $200 an' you'll have a property that I'll guarantee to sell for for you inside of a year for twice the money! An' you can pay for it $50 down and ten dollars a month.'

Aunt Mary thanked him kindly, but she guessed be well enough satisfied with what the Lord sent and the real estate company gave away an' let it go at that - meanin' she'd hold on to the $200 lot she'd won.

The fellow tried to argue her into his plans, but it wa'n'nt no go. Finally Aunt Mary tried to make a bargain, an' said that while she couldn't see her way clear to put up any money she'd be willin' to trade lots.

The agent thought a bit an' then said he might be willin' to trade if he could see Aunt Mary's lot.
'Well,' said Aunt Mary, 'I guess you can - its near here.'
'Where?' asked the agent.
'In the cemetery!'