Printer Friendly

There are no ordinary men in Iowa.

In the old days it was so healthful in Iowa that the only way they could start a graveyard was to shoot a man. Even so, they sometimes had to carry him over the state line into Missouri or Nebraska to make sure. And it is a well-known fact in all the best Iowa histories that the California Indians used to retire to Iowa to spend their old age until the white man and the California Chamber of Commerce taught them different.

The reason, of course, was the climate. The Iowa climate isn't what it used to be, but it never has been an ordinary man's weather. When an Iowan decides that he is merely ordinary, he slinks away to California or worse. If he stays in Iowa, you may be sure that there is something extraordinary about him that he will confess bashfully if you prod him. He will confess that he raises the world's tallest corn or the world's fattest hogs, or that he is cousin to Grandpa Hopewell, of Guthrie County, who flew the world's only flying tractor. But the most extraordinary example of what that Iowa climate can do for a man was Antipher Jones.

Antipher lived in Des Moines when there were still board sidewalks and wooden Indians. I saw him often. I would stand outside Kenneberry's and listen to the men confessing bashfully how extraordinary everything in Iowa is. I was too young to follow them into Kenneberry's. But through the swinging door I could see them talking confidentially, with their feet on a shiny brass rail. Then they would throw back their heads and laugh and slap their knees and come back outside for a breath of the wonderful Iowa air. I always wondered what they confessed inside, beacuse what they confessed outside was wonderful enough.

The first afternoon anyone paid much attention to Antipher--there is a move under way now to call it Antipher Day--a pudgy steamboat captain from Saint Louis had monopolized the conversation. He confessed how unusual the state of Missouri is. He said the Missouri River is so full of snags that the catfish rub off all their scales when they swim in it. He said the trick of piloting a boat in the Missouri is to know when to stay with the snags in the river and when it is easier just to sail across dry land.

He rolled on. Whenever anyone got him stranded on a sand bar, he backed up and went into Kenneberry's and came out full of new facts.

Dan Dayton interrupted him once. Dan was secretary of the Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Des Moines Committee, and his job was to know more remarkable things about Iowa than anyone knew about Missouri. So he confessed about Pee Wee Barnes, of Oskaloosa, who was so tough he could blister a bull's heel by squinting at it. But the steamboat man looked shocked at the idea that anyone might believe a story like that and went back to his favorite subject.

The longer he talked, the glummer his audience got--Dan Dayton and the editor of the Des Moines Register and Henry Kenneberry and the sheriff. I could see that their sense of truthfulness was being offended by all this talk about Missouri. And finally the editor could stand it no longer.

"Enough!" he boomed. He was built like a howitzer and fired deep, reverberating bursts. "I would have you know, sir," he boomed, "that we Iowans are proudest of two things--our reputation for truthfulness and our men! The first of these needs no discussion!"

There was a brief, tense pause.

"As for the second," said the editor, "I will confess that the Iowa climate does something to men who live here."

"It certainly does," said the Missourian.

"It certainly does!" said the editor.

"You don't say," said the Missourian.

"I certainly do!" said the editor, and the two of them stood there with jaws stuck out and noses pointing like bird dogs.

"Sir," said the editor, "we have no ordinary men in Iowa. For example," he said, looking around, "that young man just coming out of the office there, that humble-looking young man, happens to be the world's greatest moosecaller."

"That," said the Missourian, "I would have to see." I was surprised too. The man coming out of the newspaper office was the printer's devil. "That," said the Missourian, "I would have to be shown."

"The young man is doubtless very busy," said the editor. The Missourian snickered nastily. "But perhaps we can borrow a moment of his time," the editor added. I had never heard him talk that way about his devil.

"Jones!" the editor called. "Jones!"

"Supername," commented the Missourian.

The young man spun like a spring and came trotting up Locust Street. When he saw all of us staring at him, he almost fell over a dog, dodged, bumped into a lamppost, said, "Pardon me," brushed against the dog again, said, "Pardon me" again, lost his balance and sat down on the sidewalk. He stared, red-faced, up at us, and we stared down at him. "Did you call, sir?" he said to the editor.

The editor wiped his forehead. "This man," he said, "is from Missouri. I have said to him that, of course, we have no ordinary people in Iowa. Everyone is distinguished for something or other. If he isn't he doesn't stay long," he said severely. "Now, I have admitted that you are the world's greatest moosecaller."

Jones gurgled slightly.

"Ask him how many wings a moose has," suggested the Missourian.

"Now, you remember," said the editor, "what we were talking about--"

"Oh, but, sir," said Jones, "that story--"

"Ahem!" said the editor. "Just tell this man you experience."

"Oh," said Jones, appearing to think deeply. "Oh," and "Well."

"Yes?" boomed the editor.

"I hate to confess this," said Jones, "but it is true that I am a great moosecaller."

Dan Dayton grabbed the young man's hand. "This is very interesting," he said. "Let me help you up."

"I suppose I shall have to confess," Antipher said. "The first time I ever worried about my moosecalling was in Chicago. Buy you aren't interested in this, are you?" he apologized.

"Oh, indeed we are," said Dan Dayton.

"I was waiting for a train. A pretty girl ran up and said, 'Mr. Jones--it is Mr. Jones, isn't it, the world's greatest moosecaller?' she asked. I had to confess it, and she wanted me to give one moosecall. Just one. I shouldn't have, but I did. Well, just as my train started to pull out, I looked behind. And would you believe it?" he asked modestly.

"A fine piece of factual reporting," boomed the editor.

"There was a moose walking through the station," said Antipher. "Must have come clear from Wisconsin. It saw me and began to follow the train. Well, that moose followed all the way to Arizona. When it started, it was a regular king-size moose and must have weighed a ton. The farther it went the more it ran itself down. When we got to Kansas City it wasn't any bigger than a steer. When we crossed the New Mexico border, it was only about the size of a coyote. When we got into Arizona, it was so small an armadillo reached out and swallowed it."

I didn't know Antipher had been to Arizona.

There was a mixture of cheers and laughter. "Now, in Missouri--" the steamboat man began, but the editor and Dan Dayton clapped each other on the back, and the sheriff said, "Tell us more!" and they all went into Kenneberry's without a backward glance at the poor Missourian, who, after a while, sailed off alone down the street, glowing and unhappy, like an empty showboat.

Later I heard the editor talking about the incident. "I don't know whether I should have done that," he said. "I might regret it." He never said a truer word.

He had a quarter column left in his next issue and retold the story under the head IOWA VINDICATED AGAIN! And then occurred one of those coincidences that make history. I believe it was Thomas Jefferson who said, "You can make a country's laws if I can meke its coincidences." Something like that. By coincidence, the Matthew Arnold Sisterhood of the Episcopla church had no speaker that week, and one lady suggested they get that interesting Mr. Jones who was written up in the Register. The editor promised, with a twinkle in his eye, to intercede for them. Jones was a very busy man, the editor said.

The Register carried nearly a column on that speech. Antipher had confessed that once he had wanted to be a Wagnerian tenor. He had saved his money and gone away to study grand opera. But he was not appreciated. He cut himself to one meal a day. When his money ran out, he stopped eating and took lessons on credit. When his credit was used up, he stayed home and practiced. His rent was overdue. His landlady turned off the heat. It was a very sad story and brought tears to the eyes of all the ladies of the sisterhood.

That was how he found out he was a moosecaller. When he was about to die in his cold little room, he opened his window and sand one farewell song to the world. It was by Wagner, he said, from Trannhauser. Up until that time he had always practiced with windows closed, by request. But as the farewell song groaned out beautifully on the night air, a moose appeared and stuck its head in the window. With great presence of mind he slammed the window before the moose got its head out. A quarter of the moose paid the rent, another quarter the music lessons, and he lived on moose steaks and moose cutlets. He thought it was an act of God.

But later, when he was walking through the park and singing Wagner to himself, another moose appeared. He began to realize that something somewhat more than an act of God was involved, made a deal with a meat market, and after that he had plenty of money to study opera. But no opera house would give him a chance. They were afraid that when he sang Wagner a herd of moose might answer, and the public would get the wrong idea of opera. There is something very moosey about grand opera, anyway, he explained. He realized it had to be music or moose. And so he renounced moosecalling. While he waited for operatic recognition, meanwhile, he was trying to make a poor but honest living in journalism. It was very sad.

That was Antipher's speech as the Register reported it. It didn't seem very important at the time. Neither, I suppose, did the creation of Eve when the world was doing so well without her.

A few days later, Antipher asked for an hour off, so he could go to tea at the home of one of the Episcopalian ladies. The editor roared like a fieldpiece and then said wait a minute--wasn't it true that she had just subscribed for the paper? Jones said that in fact they had 27 new subscriptions that week, mostly from Episcopalian ladies.

Within two months he had spoken to every women's club in Des Moines and drunk tea from practically every set of Haviland china in central Iowa. He developed a soulful look that swooned his audiences. In every speech he would remember a few more facts, and each performance was a little sadder and nobler. When he finished, there was always a great wiping of eyes and a burst of invitations to tea.

"Your boy is getting to be quite a speaker," chuckled Dan Dayton one day. "He even uses gestures now."

His voice was deepening, too, and he was learning how to use orators' phrases like "the flowing banks of the rolling Mississippi."

"He isn't in the office two hours a day any more," said the editor. "But if I don't publish a story on one of his speeches, I get 40 complaints."

"It's wonderful," said Dan. "Terrific! Greatest thing ever happened to Des Moines. I'm arranging national publicity. Worth a dozen conventions."

"I think you're going to be sorry," said the editor.

There was an article in the Wildlife Journal--Volume 20, Number 13--and the Associated Press carried a long story about Antipher, including his account of the Grand Leap of the Mosse up Niagara. The AP carefully checked details before publication, as usual; in fact, the story was held up a day while the New York office made sure whether Niagara Falls was 166 or 167 feet high. The Hearst papers sent a photographer, and Arthur Brisbane wrote an editorial calling Antipher "the modest master of the moose mode." Many people think that was the best thing Brisbane eve wrote.

By this time the editor was noticing a pleasant tinkle from the cash drawer. He took that as a mandate from the people to raise the subscription price and ad rate. And when the rival paper began to make eyes at Jones, the editor roared till windows shook in the state-house a mile away. Antipher found that the noise affected him less than it used to. He said a few oratorical phrases with gestures. Next day the Register announced in 14-point boldface that Antipher Jones was its new music critic. This was in line with the Register's policy of giving the people of Iowa the best in everything, the paper said. There was no music in Des Moines to cover anyway, and Antipher still had to sweep out the shop, but he got enough money to buy a new checked suit with peaked lapels. He also grew a pair of blond handlebar mustaches. They were twisted and waxed, and went well with long sweeping gestures.

About this time two things came to Antipher--a girl and THE IDEA.

First thing the editor knew about the girl was when he asked his daughter Ellen who was with her in the parlor.

"Antipher," she said. She had eyes like saucers of coffee, and $10,000 in her own name.

"Jones?" bellowed the editor. "For the love of God, girl," he said, "where did you meet up with him?"

"At Girls' Friendly Society," said Ellen. "He spoke so beautifully about his opera career."

"Do you girls have to be that friendly?" groaned the editor. "Look, Ellen," he said, "I started all this--"

"Yes," she said sweetly, "Andy is very grateful to you."

"But I thought you were trying to decide between a chamber of commerce secretary and a steamboat captain," said the editor.

"That was B.A.," she said. "Before Antipher. Now don't make too much noise. We're going to sing some Wagner."

Soon the tinkle of Ellen's piano was wafted over the house, accompanied by certain moosey sounds which could have been intended either to call Valkyries or scare them away. Thereafter, the nights were full of music in the editor's house, and the editor would fold his paper like the Arabs and as silently steal away to Kenneberry's.

There he would usually find Dan Dayton and the Missouri steamboat captain with dispositions at half-mast.

"Is someone stealing your girl?" the editor would inquire innocently of the captain.

"That's beside the point," the Missourian would say.

"Our chamber of commerce secretary, a man named Dayton, informs me that Jones is the greatest thing ever happened to Des Moines. Worth a dozen conventions," the editor would chuckle.

"Brrfsk!" Dayton would remark.

For a while the steamboat captain would sit on Ellen's sofa one night and talk to her about Missouri, and Dan Dayton the next night to talk about the future of Iowa, and Antipher the third night. But soon Antipher was coming two nights out of three, and Ellen bought the entire music of the opera Siegfried.

Shortly thereafter the editor had to give Jones ten dollars more a week, so that he could take Ellen out in the style to which the was accustomed.

There is some doubt as to how THE IDEA originated, but according to the best information I can get, it came out of some serious eating at an Episcopal ladies' fried-chicken supper. Dan Dayton asked the persons at his table what they thought Iowa needed most.

"A good five-cent cigar?" said the editor.

"A new administration?" suggested Ellen.

"Ellen!" thundered the editor.

"But you've often said so," she argued.

"That was before the last election," he said.

It seemed the answer Dan had in mind was that Iowa needed some big meeting, some festival, that would get the New York papers interested and give Des Moines publicity. And he suggested, with a malicious little twinkle in his eye, that Antipher might be persuaded to give a public demonstration of moosecalling and call in a few moose from Canada or Missesota.

"Magnificent!" thundered the editor confidentially. "We have the world's best climate, the world's tallest corn, the world's most truthful men! And what kind of wild game do we have? Rabbits! Of course, they're the world's best rabbits!" he added.

"I've got a hundred dollars that says he can't call in anything bigger than a rabbit," said the steamboat captain, who was a Missouri Episcopalian on chicken-supper night. An Iowa Episcopalian indignantly matched his bet, and before anything could be done about it, Moose Day had been set for July 15, and the preacher was holding stakes on enough bets to build a church. That's how it happened.

Next day the editor asked Antipher, "How are you doing to get out of this one?"

"I don't know what you mean," said Antipher. But he left the broom on the editor's desk and hung the mail in the closet.

"You and your ideas," the editor said to Dan Dayton. "What is going to happen to us if 50,000 people come in here expecting to see a show, and there isn't any?"

"You and your paper started this!" said Dan.

Visitors began to pour into Des Moines to see Antipher. One of them was a representative of Reuters, the British news service. Jones received him with becoming dignity. He confessed that his moosecalling did have international implications. As a matter of fact, he said, he had once been called to England professionally, to test the current theory that the Loch Ness monster was really a moose. He called all day. Moose came from Scotland, the Lofoten Islands and the London zoo, and moose heads fell off half the walls in England, but neither moose nor monster came out of the Loch.

He introduced the Reuters man to the editor. "It must be a privilege to be associated with Mr. Jones' paper," the visitor said. "I congratulate you people on the opportunity of learning from Mr. Jones." For the first time in 40 years, the editor was completely speechless.

When a delegation came from the Smithsonian Institution, Antipher was just sweeping out the editor's office. With commendable pressure of mind, he sat down at the editor's desk and began twisting his mustaches. The editor came in later and sat in the shop biting his nails. Then he saw a great light and went fishing. Thereafter, he was usually gone in the afternoon, and Antipher moved into the big office by a kind of unspoken agreement.

The Smithsonian men reported at length their interview with Antipher. That particular number of their Proceedings is out of print, but it said that Antipher discussed quite frankly the nature of his moose call. He said that all moosecalling is related to music. In his early studies of the subject, he found that moose like concert music better than popular stuff, and care more for Wagnerian opera than any other music.

"There seems to be a genuinely moosey quality about Wagner," he said. "Nothing affects moose quite like the love duet from Tristan."

"I often suspected that," said one of the scientists.

"Yes," said Antipher, "so I created my call by a process you might describe in laboratory terms as distilling Wagner. The result was like a combination of a French horn and the moo of a cow. That was irresistible."

"I wish we could hear it," said one of the Smithsonian men.

"So do I," said Antipher. "But confidentially," he almost whispered, "I haven't been able to trust myself within a hundred miles of a moose for a number of years. If I could only be sure of restraining myself," he said. "If I could only be sure I wouldn't give a moose call. I don't know what will happen when I give the call on our Moose Day," he said. "The moose haven't heard me for a long time. They're pretty anxious. They're probably lined up on the Minnesota border now, listening. Listening," he said impressively.

The papers were full of Moose Day. M Day, they began to call it. Railroads started two months in advance to advertise excursions to Des Moines.

Antipher came down to Kenneberry's now only on nights when Ellen had to go to Girls' Friendly or the Matthew Arnold Sisterhood. He used to stand bashfully on the outside of the circle and listen to the men of experience confessing great things about Iowa. Now he stood in the center, and men of experience listened to him. He would twist his mustaches, and twirl his walking stick, and use gestures. Sometimes he boomed almost like the editor.

"I can't figure out why he doesn't seem to be worried," said Dan Dayton.

"I can't figure out why we aren't worried more than we are," said the editor.

The Missouri steamboat captain sailed confidently back and forth between the hotel and Kenneberry's.

One day the Chicago Tribute ran a big picture of Antipher looking moosily at Ellen. The underline read, "HE CALLS, SHE ANSWERS. Antipher Jones, noted moosecaller, admitted today he had found the girl of his dreams."

The editor stomped home, practically leaving footprints in the sidewalk.

"See here, Ellen!" he roared. "I've investigated this fellow's record before he came here!"

"Now, daddy," she said sweetly, laying a finger on his lips, "I don't care about Andy's past. His present and his future are what concerns me."

"If you are worried about his future, you'd better get him to call off this nonsense on Moose Day," spluttered the editor.

"But, daddy, I thought you wanted moose in Iowa," she said. "Why, your last editorial--"

The editor sailed out, firing right and left broadsides at random.

About that time the first sour notes began to appear in the papers. The California and Florida press were skeptical. That was understandable. But Minnesota caused the real trouble. Minnesota said that any passage of moose from Minnesota into Iowa would be interstate commerce, and if the Interstate Commerce commission didn't take action, they would post the militia on the state's southern border to keep Minnesota moose at home. They said some pretty nasty things. The editor talked right back to them. He said that if the people of Minnesota knew the different between a good and a bad state, they would come right along with the moose. He also said that he didn't see how the border guard could tell the difference between moose and Minnesotans anyway.

The governor came to see Dan and the editor. He said that he had a rather large wager with the governor of Missouri, who thought the moosecalling was a hoax. Apparently what the governor of North Carolina said to the governor of South Carolina was nothing compared to what the governor of Iowa said to the governor of Missouri. The governor explained he just wanted to be sure there was no funny stuff, inasmuch as there were state prisons for numerous offenses with long, legal names.

"What was that man's name who invented a mechanical monster that destroyed him?" asked Dan. "Was it Frankenburg?"

"Goldenstein," said the editor.

"There's one thing," said Dan, "we can always go to California if we have to."

"If worst comes to worst," said the editor.

A week before M Day, Henry Kenneberry put in three branch emporiums. A large covered-wagon train came in from Dakota, and the oxen grazed peacefully beside the Raccoon River. A trainload of Californians slunk shamefacedly into town and tried to pass themselves off as Coloradans. Same way with the special train from Florida--they said they were Georgians. There were top hats from the East and coonskins from the North. But the biggest excitement was when a heavyset Irishman climbed off the Rock Island, and someone yelled, "It's John L. Sullivan!"

Antipher looked like a pale copy of the face that stared at him from the New York Times, the Chicago Inter Ocean, the Denver Post, the sides of covered wagons and billboards. He looked pale, but not scared. Whenever he walked through the streets, you could tell where he was by the roar of the crowd. It was like a big football game. People would listen and say, "He's a-heading down Locust Street to Kenneberry's."

"You know, he almost has me believing he can do it!" boomed the editor privately.

"Maybe he can," said Dan Dayton. "I never saw anyone act more confident. Maybe we're missing something mighty good."

But they both came and asked me to make reservations for them on the night train westbound, on M Day. "An emergency may require me to be elsewhere," explained the editor. "I may have to address the Ad Club of San Francisco," said Dan. They said they were too busy to go to the station, and I should just put the reservations in my name. I was pretty sore. I though that wasn't showing the proper faith in Antipher. But they slipped me five dollars, and that made me feel better. And then Ellen came to me, and smiled sweetly, and asked me to get a reservation for her too. On second thought, she said, she had better have two reservations. I could said. Her aunt was sick, she said.

I began to wonder whether maybe I was missing something. But I heard Antipher accept an invitation to tea the week after M Day, and after that I stopped worrying.

The night before M Day, Des Moines heaved a citywide sigh and sank into a troubled sleep, in rented beds, on floors, in parks and tepees. Occasionally a war whoop spilt the night, more often from the direction of Kenneberry's than from the Indian settlement. Sometimes a fire bell spread its velvet softness on the air, but inasmuch as no fires were seen, it was suggested that the engines were being pulled by nightmares. The city heaved another sigh and woke up the next morning with bags under its eyes and a taste for black coffee.

M Day ceremonies were at high noon. It seemed no higher than other noons, but that is what the Register called it. By nine o'clock people had begun to stream toward the meadows they now call the fair-grounds. By noon, the crowd seemed to stretch from one horizon to the other.

I pushed through the crowd to the platform. The band played the Iowa Corn Song, and everybody sang the new words: "Best state in the land! Moose on every hand!"

The governor and the editor and Dan Dayton and John L. Sullivan and several others came out on the platform. Everybody clapped. Then Antipher came out, and the crowd opened their mouths and roared like an avalanche. Antipher bowed and bowed. Like an opera singer.

Dan Dayton looked pretty worried. He looked as though he had just found out that Cedar Rapids was growing faster than Des Moines. The editor looked bad too. The happiest-looking man on the platform was the steamboat captain. He was representing the governor of Missouri. Antipher was as white as the little clouds that kept floating down out of Dakota--not scared, just white. He sat there calm as an icebox while the governor orated and the editor boomed and John L. Sullivan was introduced and Dan Dayton read a lot of inspirational clippings about the economic superiority of the Iowa climate. The crowd shuffled on its feet and buzzed impatiently until the governor introduced Antipher. Then there was a silence like night on the prairie.

I think I've never been as proud of the wonderful Iowa climate and what it could do for a man as I was that minute, when Antipher held up his hand and cut off the voices like grass with a scythe.

Then Antipher gave the call. I had thought it would be louder. It was like a French horn or a tired old cow or an opera. He cleared his throat and gave another call. The crowd relaxed and the band played, and everybody looked toward the northern horizon and began to bet how long it would take the first moose to get to Des Moines. The best mathematicians figured that an average moose could make about four miles an hour. Pheraps a moose answering one of Antipher's calls might make five miles. Supposing the nearest moose were lined up on the Minnesota border waiting, and that they took ten minutes off for meals, then they would get to Des Moines sometime the next day. Some people said ten minutes for lunch wasn't enough, and that moose ate seven meals a day. The bets ranged all the way from early morning to late afternoon. But still people kept watching the horizon, because they weren't quite sure just how fast a moose might travel when Antipher called it.

The band played again, and the editor boomed briefly about the virtues of the Iowa climate and explained that naturally the Iowa people would probably see the moose first because the climate encouraged eaglelike eyesight. Then Henry Kenneberry yelled, "I see 'em!" Now, as far as I could judge, Henry was in a condition to see elephants just as readily as moose. But a funny thing happened. Somebody else from Iowa said, "I see 'em too." And the California people, not to be outseen, yelled, "There they are!" And Florida people yelled, too, eager to show that they could see as well as anybody else, and the whole crowd yelled--everybody, as far as I could see, except the Missouri steamboat captain and me, and I give you my word of honor I couldn't see a thing coming.

And then the steamboat captain said, "By the Big Dipper, which is much, much brighter in Missouri, I really do see one!"

That was the last straw. I understood then that I was not a worthy Iowan and had better go to California or farther. Then I looked where the Missouri steamboat man was looking, and there was a little black speck coming down the northwest horizon. It seemed to be coming out of Des Moines rather than out of Canada, but it was coming with a funnel of dust behind it. It looked as though it had antlers as high as a man on horseback. And then I saw that it was a man on horseback.

It was little Thinkle Peep Thorkelson, who ran the telegraph wire for the Register. He was riding hot for leather, and the crowd scattered when he came. He rode right to the platform. He was called Thinkle Peep because he had trouble talking. This time he was winded and blowing, so he could hardly tell what he had to tell.

"A stold grike," he sputtered. He popped like Chinese firecrackers. "Fransancisco, San Cranfrisco. A jip. A ship." Then the editor took him by the shoulders and shook the words right out of him, and as the news dropped, the first circle of people picked it up and tossed it back over their shoulders. "The ship Excelsior landed today in San Francisco," the first row said. "Big gold strike in the Klondike. Everybody on board's rich." And the second row said. "Free wampum. Let's go." Yes, that was July 15, 1897.

The crowd began to fray out at the edges like an old tablecloth. But the editor made an announcement. Under the circumstances, he said, sounding sad and noble, it would be unthinkable and inhuman to drain all this food supply out of Canada and starve the prospectors in the Yukon. Besides, certain interested people would doubtless be in a hurry to join the movement north. Therefore, he said, they had better call the proceedings off.

That seemed to be all right with the crowd, and Dan Dayton led a cheer, but Antipher stood up and made long, sweeping, indignant gestures. He said that they were forgetting the hordes of moose even then plunging southward in answer to his call. And furthermore, he said, like any other artist, he had a pride in his handiwork and didn't want it interfered with.

The editor sat down in a corner and held his head. Three strong men seemed to be restraining Dan Dayton from leaping on someone on the platform. The crowd buzzed and chattered.

Then Ellen whispered sweetly in Antipher's ear. She even used a few gestures. Antipher got up and cleared his throat and said that some new facts had been brought to his attention, and if this mighty crowd was willing, he would show them something never before given in public. He would give his reverse moose call, and send all these moose back where they came from. After all, he said, the wonderful Iowa climate was wonderful enough even without moose.

The crowd cheered and clapped. Antipher gave his call. It sounded exactly like the other calls. Then everybody hurried back under a cloud of dust toward Des Moines. That was the real begining of the gold rush. Many of those people didn't stop until they got to the Klondike.

Everybody seemed to be happy, even the steamboat captain, who said, just before he started for Seattle, that next to the Missouri the Yukon was the snaggiest river on earth, and they would need good Missouri pilots. Don Dayton rode his horse right into the railroad station, and when I last heared of him he was secretary of the Greater Klondike Committee, with headquarters at Dawson, where they have the world's healthiest mosquitoes. Ellen and Antipher started West with Ellen's bank account. You've heard the story, of course, that Antipher kept the sourdoughs in the Klondike alive for two winters by furnishing them moose meat. Other people say that when the radio started, Antipher was the first crooner; his moose call would be wondrful for that. As for the editor, he sold out and later the paper went to Gardner Cowles and Harvey Ingham. The people who couldn't get on the train started racing their horses and comparing homemade shawls, and that's how the Iowa State Fair began.

In northern Iowa today people will show you a long line of low hills. The textbooks call them glacial moraines, but Iowans know different. Those hills were made when the moose stuck in their hoofs to stop quick when Antipher Jones gave his reverse moose call. That's how close Iowa came to being full of moose today.

Some people say the editor knew about the gold strike all the time and saved the news for M Day. Others say that Canada cooked it up to keep Canadaian moose at home. But my guess is that Mother Nature got a little jealous of Antipher and wanted to show that she could do a little calling herself.
COPYRIGHT 1985 Saturday Evening Post Society
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1985 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:short story
Author:Schramm, Wilbur
Publication:Saturday Evening Post
Date:Apr 1, 1985
Words:5941
Previous Article:Bill Cosby: the doctor is in.
Next Article:Meet Wilbur Schramm.
Topics:


Related Articles
Meet Wilbur Schramm.
Person to Person Publishing Presents Author Roger Polt's 'Crackers For Your Soup!'.
Trickle-down McCarthyism.
Mr Ordinary looks back on his life.
Reader's poem.
Quiblets (book review).
Midwestern boy.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2016 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters