Babcock Humor (cont.)

"Mother’s on the Roof . . ."

Babcock Humor

There is a kind of slyness to the humor we Babcocks have. A dryness. Many of our jokes may not be perceived as jokes by outsiders. The typical response to many a Babcock joke is a blank look and a strange look in our direction. As if it wasn’t even worth the effort to say: "Huh!"

Babcock humor is also a way of getting back at the world and of pricking someone else’s self-importance (not always our own). Here’s an illustration.

The world in Waterman, where Otto Babcock settled, was somewhat (hah!) provincial and closed: White, Protestant, Middle-Class. Period.

So when it was discovered that one of the Drehers (my grandmother Sophie’s progenitors) was Jewish. . . . Oh my! It was a bit of an upset. I’m sure many of the adults would have liked to keep that quiet. (I believe this woman was married to a man who fled Germany in order to avoid being drafted. We Babcocks have always had a good survival sense.)

My father, Frank. tells the story of how he and his aunt Grace (Sophie’s sister) competed for who got to tell which relative. As he tells the story I feel his glee in the ability to prick the narrow-mindedness of the world: a kind of oppressed people’s revenge. (If you don’t believe children growing up in the midwest felt oppressed then you didn’t grow up in the midwest.)

So humor is also a corrective. It’s a chance to get people to take themselves a little bit less seriously.

Quintessential Babcock Jokes

These are the jokes that I grew up with. More than grew up with. These are the jokes that were repeated over and over again as part of collective Babcock wisdom, to be shared and passed on to the next generation.

The Essence of Babcock Humor

More Humor & Wisdom

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Copyright © 2003 Michael Babcock