Norris Chambers Old Timer's Tales


by Norris Chambers

         An interesting episode occurred in our little circle of workers while we were consuming the contents of our nose bags. A nice looking cat joined
the circle and quietly stood by for a hand out. Several of the diners pinched off a little of a delicacy and presented it to the visitor. 
            One member of the lunch circle bunch was petting the cat and listening to the contented purr. He announced to the group that he would bet all takers that he could make the cat chew on an onion. This didn’t sound like an easy task and two of the diners offered to bet a dollar. A dollar was considered a lot of money in those days, but it sounded so easy to win they thought it was worth the risk.
 The cat feeding expert pulled a small onion from his sack and held it in front of the cat’s nose. The cat turned its head and showed no interest in it. The two bettors smiled. This was going to be an easy win.
 But things began to change when the cat feeder took the end of the cat’s tail between his thumb and forefinger and began to press it gently. At the same time he held the onion in front of the cat’s mouth and continued to increase the pressure on the tip of the tail. As the pressure increased the cat suddenly began to chew on the onion and continued to do so until the expert released the pressure on the tail. He then picked up a small stick and held in front of the cat and again pressed the tip of the tail. Again the cat started chewing.
And another bet was lost because the one betting picked another man’s trick to bet on. I learned something about a cat that I didn’t know as a result of this bet. Since then I have tried the procedure on several cats and all have responded in the same way. When the tip of the tail is pinched the cat will start chewing lightly on whatever is held close to the mouth. It may be possible that some cats, or some breed of cat, will not respond, but I have not heard of a failure. 
Try this on your favorite cat sometime. I’ll bet the cat will start chewing on what is in front of its mouth. Just be sure your fingers are out of reach.
I do not condone betting on tricks, but I have seen many bets made and many lost because the person betting was greedy and looking for easy money. Usually, if a person is familiar enough with his subject to invite all bets, he knows what he is doing. So don’t be tempted to go for the easy money just because it looks like a sure win. 
On another day, in the same circle of diners, the circle made this comment: “I’ll bet anyone here that a penny match box does not have the word ‘match’ or ‘matches’ printed on it.”  Every man’s ears perked up a little and three men offered to bet a dollar that it did. This bet looked like easy money during a period when any kind of money was hard to get. He quickly called the bet and asked if anyone had a penny match box. Several smokers pulled a box out of a shirt picked and held them up for the gambler to see. The word “MATCHES” was printed across the top of the lid. The three bettors held out their hand for their winnings. 
         The gambler reached for one of the boxes, held it up and slid the box out of the lid.
         “You will notice,” He said, “that there is no printing on the box. The printing is all on the lid. I will take the dollars, please!” There was considerable complaining of fraud and cheating and a serious discussion about whether the box and lid were separate items or if both constituted just one box. A fight almost began, but the majority ruled that the three had been victims of another man’s trick. The gambler collected his bet and matter was closed.
          I suppose you have already detected the moral to this tale: never bet on the other man’s tricks!


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