My sister and I thought our dad was the funnniest man on earth, and he never once wore a fright wig or a big spherical red nose. But his sense of humor was bright and bold, and he had the rare gift of being able to laugh right along with us without self-consciousness, even if we happened to be Eating Out which was not an everyday occurrence in our young lives. People would stare at us and most of them couldn’t help smiling just to see a family having so much fun. I suppose it’s appropriate that a whole lot of the best tidbits he handed us were about food.

Of course, we truly believed that he made up all the funny things he was always saying.It wasn’t until I was all grown up that I finally realized he was, much of the time, just sharing what he’d picked up along the way. It didn’t matter, anyway. My sisty ugler and I laughed ourselves to tears over and over at the same old jokes and the same crazy couplets. We still find ourselves occasionally thinking of one of his bright sayings at exactly the same moment and we break into laughter remembering him and the joy he gave us.

Some of our favorites (I’d give credit but I have no idea where the originals came from, if not from Dad, and most of them have a little of him twined in there somewhere, anyway):

Broccoli, though not exoccoli, is within an inach of being spinach.

I eat my peas with honey, I’ve done it all my life. They taste a little funny, but it keeps them on the knife.

The woman can’t say five words without going off on a tangerine.

(Yes, there were a lot that didn’t have to do with food, too. I just happen to like these.) 

Probably 99 percent of Dad’s jokes came from the pen of Ogden Nash or one of the other witty folks who graced our lives in the days when stand-up comedy didn’t require one to blush at every other word and a book could be a best-seller just because it was fun. Now we’ve gotten “sophisticated” and “earthy” and not nearly as funny as we used to be. I guess I’m horribly old-fashioned, because I still prefer the nice, clean slapstick variety that we used to get from Dad. He was an absolute delight; we lost him too soon.

Red Skelton, where are you when we need you?

I’ll see you again, after the commercial.

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