• “Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple. Dr. Suess

Wednesday, June 30, 2010


Salt Lake City
24 July 1965
Lybbert Family Reunion

I transcribed an old cassette some time ago. I share, in part, some amusements of a time and pattern of life that seems no longer a significant part of our society.

Unknown speaker possibly Darnell Hatch,

“… we have met here as a family group … this has been a great experience for all of us. We have [many older family members] here … and it has been a marvelous occasion. Tonight we decided that we would record some of these experiences that we have had. We’ve got Victor [Hatch] here and his talents. We’d like to record some of those. Probably in 20 years from now we wouldn’t have these recordings.”

Victor Hatch is the brother of Chloe Hatch, my paternal grandmother. His was married to Susan Lybbert and they lived in Cardston, Alberta, Canada.

Our family often visited ‘Uncle Vic and Aunt Susan’. Aunt Susan had beautiful extensive flower gardens and was constantly sending home a start of something with mom. Walking with them carefully about the yard was always allowed [ask me sometime about things that aren't allowed when you go Sunday visiting] and there I learned many plant names and what their leaves and flowers looked like. It seemed she always had another plant to show mom.

The best thing about visiting them was that invariably she would make or bring out some peanut brittle or stretch candy. No one made peanut brittle like Aunt Susan! No one made stretch candy as light or fluffy and melt-in-your mouth as Susan Hatch!

There was never enough to go around enough times to 11 kids!

She tried and tried to teach us how to make it but somehow ours never tasted quite like hers or got the requisite ‘air’ to be light or fluffy. I suspect we just didn’t have the tenacity and persistence to actually stretch it enough – that didn’t matter though – anything with sugar in it or on it always got eaten and was never thrown away.

Uncle Vic had a small ordinary muslin bag hung on the back of their front door. It was only about 2 or 3 inches square. After company was nicely settled and politely visiting in a boring way he could sometimes be persuaded to get his bag. He would warn you that it was a bag of laughs and you would not be able to remain serious or sober. Aunt Susan did not feel it was appropriate for the Sabbath and so, as far as I know, he never opened it during a Sunday visit – or at least not without her face sternly reprimanding him for doing so.

He made a big show of shaking the bag and peeking in it and then he would tell you that before he dared open it he would need to tell you about laughin’.

He would then recite the poem transcribed below. At some point near the end of the poem he would push the on switch in his bag and a torrent of all kinds of mechanical 'canned' laughter would fill the room. Invariably every person in the room would be laughing until tears ran down their faces – except Aunt Susan. Although she must have heard the gag over and over and over even she would be smiling with a bit of laughing thrown in – I think she laughed at everyone that got so silly at his pranks.
At the Lybbert Reunion he began his recitations with a poem about two frogs (one persistent frog that doesn’t give up and the other that quits) that he said was: “ one of the first ones I ever learned when I was a little boy...”

He then recited two more poems before a female voice is heard speaking (I think it is Aunt Susan). She says, “Grandpa Hatch was one like Victor to memorize. And in his 89th year – before he died – he was 89 years old and would have been 90 in another month, but the 3 weeks left (the 3 weeks he was with us) he memorized pieces every day and he’d spend lots of time repeating his pieces that he had memorized to the children, that one month.”

Victor then recited Betsy and the Bear and two more poems. Of course his ‘Laughin’ recitation is last and he can be heard laughing it up on the tape as he pulls off a typical performance that gets most of the group that is listening doing exactly what he is reciting about - and he ‘leaves them laughing.’ I found a version of two of the poems on line and welcome any known links to this poem/recitation. I found a line quoted from it attributed to Josh Billings (pen name) but did not find the poem itself. This recitation was always shared with descriptive laughing in appropriate places – anywhere he could insert some, point at someone laughing in the audience and mimic them, or just bust out with his own genuine rolling laugh.


Laughin’ is the sensation of feeling good all over and showing it principally in one spot. It is the next best thing to the 10 commandments. It is the fireworks of the soul.

Laughing is just as natural to come to the surface as a rat is to come out of his hole if he wants to. Ya can’t keep it back be swallering [enacted] anymore than you can the hiccups. HIC!!

When a man can’t laugh there’s some mistake made in putting him together and if he won’t laugh he needs just as much keeping away from as a bear trap when it’s set.

There’s some folks that laugh too much for their own good or anybody else’s. They laugh like a barrel of new cider with the tap pulled out – a perfect stream. Now, this is a great waste of natural juice.
There’s other folks don’t laugh enough to give themselves vent. They’re like a barrel of new cider too; that was bunged up -they’re like as to spring a hoop and leak away all on the sly. Now there’s neither of these two ways right and they never ought to be a patented.

Genuine laughing is the vent of the soul; the nostrils of the heart, and just as necessary for health and happiness as spring weather is for trout.

There’s one kind of a laugh that I always did recommend. It looks out of the eyes first with a merry twinkle before it creeps off to the dimples of the cheeks and writhes right around the nose in whirlpools for a while; then it lights up the whole face like the mellow bloom of a damask rose; then it swings off into the air with a peal as clear and happy as a dinner bell; then it goes back on golden tiptoe like an angel out on an errand and lies down in the bed of violets in the heart where it came from.

There’s another kind of a laugh that nobody can withstand. It’s as honest and as noisy as a district school let out to play. (By now he seemed to have himself laughing uncontrollably while trying to say his piece and that just made it all the more funny). It shakes a man from his toes to his temples. It done movincates him and comes – it gets to rippling through him! It lifts him off his chair like feathers and lets him fall back again like lead. It goes all through him like a pick pocket and leaves him just as limp and as crazy as if he’d been in a Russian bath all day and forgot to be took out.

In conclusion I say, “laugh every good chance you get – but don’t laugh if you don’t feel like it.” [and he would speak the last half of the line with a completely serious face without any trace of the hilarity that immediately preceded it in the first half of that line. He would finish out the rest of the poem mimicking laughs from audience members that had laughed like his recitation describes and even calling out a name and pointing to someone with dyed hair that was laughing – or not – but they always were so he’d just pick on the one that could make it the funniest.] When you do laugh open your mouth wide enough so that it can get through without squeakin’. Throw your head back like you was gonna get shaved, hold onto your dyed hair with both hands, and laugh until your soul is thoroughly rested.