Speaking of a rather egotistical young man, Henry said he would like to buy him for what he was worth and sell him for what he thought he was worth.
Of a child who takes more food on his plate than he will eat, “His eyes are bigger than his stomach.”
Two horsemen were riding their horses in thick brush and trees. The lead man caught hold of a limb of a tree and held on to it as long as he could, then let go. It knocked the other fellow off his horse and also wounded his pride. When he complained, the first man said, “Imagine what it would have done to you if I had not held on as long as I did.”
When one of the neighbors complimented his friend about how fat his horses were, the friend replied, “Yes, they sure are, and I can’t understand it. All I ever feed them is straw and that ain’t half threshed.”
There was a farmer who declared that a cedar post would last 100 years in the ground. Said his father had tried it many a time.
And there was the woman who said she had some stockings which had lasted her twenty years. Every other year she put new feet in them and the opposite years new legs.
One boy is a boy; two boys are half a boy; and three boys are no boy at all.
A group going out camping persuaded one of its members to do the cooking. He consented with the understanding that anyone who complained about the food would take his place as cook. His first batch of biscuits were pretty bad. A member of the group exclaimed, “These biscuits are burned black on the outside, and are dough in the middle.” Then he remembered the cooking arrangement, and quickly added, “But it’s just the way I like ‘em.”
A father sent his two sons out to hoe in the garden. Presently he came out to inspect the work. “Who hoed this row?” he asked, as if displeased. The older boy replied, “Joe did.” “And who hoed this one?” the father asked. Again the reply, “Joe did.” After asking the same question and getting the same reply two or three times more, he said, “It looks to me like Joe has done his share. He can come into the house and you can do some hoeing now.”
When one of the men working in a scraping circle with horses and scrapers was reprimanded for being so slow and holding up all the others, he answered, ‘What do you mean being slow. Why I’ve been leading this circle all day.’”
When some of the children were racing around in the camp he used the term, “like a flea in a hot skillet.” And of a boy making too much noise, yelling, etc., he said, “He is as holler as a gunnysack.”
Jim Hansen was greatly amused when Henry Tanner, after killing and dressing a rabbit and frying it for dinner, called to Roy to come and “wrap yourself around this rabbit.”
To illustrate the danger of being in bad company, he told of the dog who was whipped by his master for being with some dogs who got into trouble. When the dog objected to the whipping because he had not actually done anything wrong, the master said, “No, maybe not, but you were out with the crowd that did.”
Arthur calls our attention to a few of his “proverbs.” “One hour in the morning is worth two at night.” (The Tanners were early risers.) “Never leave till tomorrow what you can do today.” “A wise man takes his coat on a fair day.” “If you can’t say something good about someone, don’t say anything.” “If a man brings you a tale he is sure to take one back.”
Ida remembers someone knocking at the door. Father answered it and asked, “What can we do for you?” “Oh nothing,” the person replied. “Well,” asked father, “what did you bring to put it in?”
Donnette remembers quite a number of his quips and stories. Of a girl with lots of her legs showing, “She has more legs than grace.” Of a girl with very short dresses, “She needs a little molasses (or honey) to coax her skirts down.”
A certain family had moved into our town and one of the large boys was telling a group about how many places he had been and what he had done. Father listened for awhile and then said, “Young man, how old are you anyway? I’ve counted up sixty-five years of things you have done already.”
Father used to sleep sitting in a chair and Roy or George would ask him questions like “Pa, can I ride Old Snip?” And when he would nod his head, they would say he was giving his assent.
Probably the best known story about Henry M. Tanner is about his refusal to swear regardless of the provocation. After chasing a horse and trying to get it out of the garden until his patience was worn pretty thin, he remarked, as the horse finally gave up and came into the corral, “You blossom!”
When one of the boys reported that a neighbor had said to tell “Old man Tanner to go to hell,” he replied, “You tell her I won’t.”
Henry was fascinated with Julius Wetzler, a Jewish merchant in Holbrook. Wetzler said, “If a man tries to give you something, look out for him.”
A man advertised for a driver for his carriage. When he interviewed the applicants he asked the first man how close he could drive the carriage to the edge of a cliff without danger of going over. “Perhaps a foot,” he replied. Turning to the second applicant he put the same question and received the answer, “Three inches.” The third applicant, not to be outdone, answered that he could drive with half the tire over the edge with perfect safety. There was still a fourth applicant and when he was asked the question he replied that he would stay as far away from the edge as possible. He got the job. (Henry Tanner particularly liked this story. He did not like flirting with danger whether physical or moral.)
Probably compiled by George S. Tanner. From the Brigham Young University Harold B. Lee Library Americana — Mormon Collection.
Photo of the dam from Cameron Udall, St. Johns. Images of America. Charleston, S.C.: Arcadia Pub, 2008, p 55.