Mail Tribune 100, April 1, 1922
April 1, 1922
Barnum declared a fool was born every minute, and he made a fortune out of that assumption. Lincoln said you couldn’t fool all the people all the time, but he admitted you could fool some of the people all the time, and all the people some of the time — which amounts to quite a foolish total.
Therefore, only a fool should be surprised to find that no person is fool proof all the time. He may put on a cap and bells at the most unexpected moment, and then take it off and never put it on again.
There was Uncle Dan for example. He was the leading citizen of Elmira, Wisconsin. He owned a the mill, ran the general store, and was not only a pillar, but the entire foundation of the Bethel Church. (Yes, that was the way Deacon Dunbar painted it over the entrance door, a dash of such emphatic righteousness!)
And then at the ripe old age of 73 Uncle Dan met a couple of spruce looking strangers who drove over from Milwaukee and secured an option of his place at a figure about twice its worth. In the course of the dickering, one of the strangers introduced a simple little game of cards.
Now Uncle Dan believed card playing wicked, that is the conventional game with 52 cards, but this was very different — only three cards were used, and he had the most amazing luck at it. In half an hour he had over $200. But one of the players suggested that this was a mere pittance compared to what Uncle Dan could win if had some ready cash. It might well go to 4 or 5 figures.
So Elmiras’ leading citizen accepted the invitation to go to the bank at Elkhorn and draw out $6,000, which is considerable money today and was much more back in 1889. En route home Uncle Dan suddenly found himself splashing about in a marsh with his $6,000 beating a cloud of dust, behind a three-minute trotter in the general direction of Milwaukee.
What a sensation! Anyone might expect Deacon Dunbar to fall for a game to Three Card monte, of Jess Wilkinson, but Uncle Dan! Who would have believed it. The last man in the world.
Yes, Uncle Dan was the last man in the world to play the fool. But he did. While that make it practically unanimous, we can think of no particular application for this tale which, of course, is the excuse for the title.
— Alissa Corman; email@example.com