Uncle Joe and Joe Btfsplk

Do you remember that name. I mean Joe Btffplk. Everyone knows an Uncle Joe or has an Uncle Joe.

Joe Btfsplk was the funny looking little man with the black cloud that  always hovered above his head in Al Capp's "Lil Abner" comic strip. I grew up reading Lil Abner and always pronounced the name "Bitsefpolk" and never bothered to really wonder how it was pronounced.  Now with "Google" I can almost interview Al Capp himself and find out how Btfsplk really is pronounced and so I did.

"Al, I have aways wondered how you pronounced the guy with black cloud's name?"

"Well, Old Grizz, "Btfsplk" is a rude sound that resembles a 'raspberry or Bronx cheeer'".
Capp closed his lips, stuck out his tongue and then blew air, creating a sound we call a "raspberry or Bronx Cheer and in the process spit all over me.

Whenever  Joe Btfsplk arrived something bad happened to someone, but not him.  As a young boy I was sure that my Uncle Joe had Joe Btfsplk sitting on his shoulder wherever he went.

Uncle Joe was just a poor man trying to raise a family but somewhere along the line someone or something attached a cord from Uncle Joe to Joe Btfplk and that bad luck bad cloud.

The first time the bad luck cloud of  Joe Btfsplk rained down on Uncle Joe was during the depression when a coal mine caved in on him. The mine was just a small two-man operation the he and my dad owned.  They dug the coal to trade for food.  Luckily they were able to dig him out and he only had a broken leg.

The second round of bad luck came when his wife, Delsa, left him and ran off with a traveling salesman.  She also left him with two boys and one girl to raise by hisself.

The third round of bad lick arrived when a huge saw blade at the lumber mill broke free and cut right up through his left arm leaving him only partial use that arm for the rest of his life.

After the saw blade incident and thirty something operations, Joe took his crippled arm and learned how to weld. He opened a welding shop in the small town where he lived and eked out a meager living for him and his kids.

Uncle Joe loved to deer hunt and wasn't always respectful of the tagging law. He believed the deer were there to kill and eat. When he needed meat, he shot himself a deer. My dad would go hunting with him every deer season and when I got old enough I went with them.

One year, Uncle Joe shot a nice big buck with a nice big trophy rack. He and my dad dressed it out and had it hanging in a tree when the local game warden came around. He went over to the buck, grabbed the antlers and tilted it's head and and the following conversation went something like...

Game Warden, "Nice buck...nice rack...who shot it"?

Uncle Joe, "I did."

Warden, "Where's the tag?"

Uncle Joe, "Don't have one."

Warden, "I'll have to confiscate the deer and issue you a ticket."

Uncle Joe, "Touch that deer and I'll blow your goddamn head off and you can take your ticket and shove it up your *%#*(>."

They locked eyes, the warden shrugged, got back into his truck and drove away.

Uncle Joe said some pretty bad words about the warden as a man. It went something like, "Chicken *#$#  S O B ain't got the balls to do anything about it. Then he took out his pint of "Everclear" 190 proof corn liquer from his back pocket and toasted his victory. I couldn't prove it, but I'm sure that old Joe Btfsplk drank right along with him. By then, they were friends and the black cloud was no longer raining on Uncle Joe.

                                                                                                   gs batty march/2013

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