Mr. Jesty and the Auto-Top
by Ellis Parker Butler
One day Little Mamie said to her Mamma. "Mamma, our sedan automobile is very old and looks like double-heck ever since Papa drove it under a tree and ripped the top. We ought to have a new automobile."
"Yes," said Mamie's Mamma. "If you ask me, Mamie, our sedan automobile looks like double-heck and a couple of raspberries ever since your Papa drove it under a tree and ripped the top, the poor old noodle. If your Papa wasn't a poor old noodle he would take this sedan automobile down and trade it in on a nice new sedan automobile."
"Now, there you go again!" said Mamie's dear old Papa. "Always wanting to trade in our sedan automobile on a new sedan automobile. I hear nothing but 'trade in, trade in, trade in' from morning to night."
"My dear old Papa don't want to trade in the double-hecked old sedan automobile, does he, Mamma dear?" said Little Mamie, "My dear old Papa is a fuzzy old stick-in-the-mud, isn't he, Mamma dear?"
"Yes, dalling," said Little Mamie's Mamma, "and I wish to goodness I could trade in your fly-bit Papa for a nice new Papa with at least some hair on the top of his head."
"He's a bum old Papa, isn't he Mamma dear?" said Little Mamie.
"He's a rickety old 1912 model, isn't he, Mamma dear. Blah, you old moth-eaten Papa, you!"
So Little Mamie stuck out her tongue at her dear Papa, and she kicked him in the ankles, and she made a face at him.
"Don't kick your punk old Papa in the shins, Mamie dalling," said Little Mamie's Mamma, "for you will get the toes of your nice white shoes all dirty. But, answering your question, you are right in saying he is a bum old Papa, because if he had a drop of live blood in his body he would scoot right down to the Automobile Shoppe and trade in this putrid old sedan automobile for a nice new sedan automobile, but that is the sort of punk old Papa you've got. If he was worth a rotten potato he would not be balking the Automobile Industry by refusing to acquire a nice new car for his Little Mamie and her poor long-suffering Mamma."
"My Papa is a bald-headed old detriment to the Business Situation, isn't he, Mamma?" said Little Mamie. "He is one of the causes of the Economic Depression, isn't he, Mamma dear? I am going to stick out my tongue at my Papa because he won't buy my dear Mamma a nice new automobile."
"Yes, dalling," said Little Mamie's Mamma, "stick out your tongue at your stingy old Papa."
So Little Mamie stuck out her tongue at her stingy old Papa, but by this time her Papa was quite angry and he said,
"Oh, fiddles!", and stuck out his tongue at Little Mamie.
"The very idea!" said Little Mamie's Mamma. "Sticking out your tongue at an innocent little child, Horace!" because Horace was the name of Little Mamie's Papa. "Really! But if that is how you are going to behave to your dalling child and her Mamma,
I think you might at least take the crumby old sedan automobile around to the auto-top man and have a nice new auto-top put on this aged and decaying sedan automobile."
"It will cost forty dollars, and to heck with it!" exclaimed Little Mamie's Papa. "I see myself paying forty dollars for a new auto-top with even Imitation Scotch the price it is."
So, at these harsh words, the most cruel Little Mamie's Papa had ever spoken to Little Mamie or Little Mamie's Mamma, Little Mamie's Mamma began to cry vigorously, and when Little Mamie saw her mother crying vigorously Little Mamie began to cry vigorously also, and no one can tell what would have come of it, but just then a little Fairy came fluttering down on gauzy wings and whispered in Little Mamie's Papa's ear -- the ear on the left-hand side of his head.
"Don't be a goop, Horace," the little Fairy whispered in Little Mamie's Papa's ear -- his left-hand ear -- "because that auto-top on your sedan automobile does indeed look like the Last Rose of Summer and like Something The Cat Dragged In and like Helen Blazes, and you owe something to the feelings of Little Mamie and Little Mamie's Mamma. If you do not want to trade in your old sedan automobile on a new sedan automobile, and do not want to pay to have a new auto-top put on your old sedan automobile, why don't you get some material and some tacks and some quick-drying glue and put a new auto-top on your old sedan automobile yourself and make everybody happy?"
As soon as Little Mamie's Papa heard the Fairy's words his face brightened instantly and he clapped his hands together and laughed merrily.
"I guess my dear Papa has gone nuts," said Little Mamie, and Little Mamie's Mamma would have said something, too, you can bet, but Little Mamie's Papa was already running out of the yard and he ran down the street until he met a bus, and he jumped on the bus and rode all the long, long, long way downtown until he came to the Automobile Supply Shoppe, and there he bought lots and lots of auto-top material and lots and lots of tacks, and a great big can of quick-drying glue, and a tack-hammer and just lots and lots of things.
As soon as Little Mamie's Papa reached home he went out to the garage and he ripped the old torn auto-top off the sedan automobile and he opened the great,
great big can of quick-drying glue and stood it up on the frame of the sedan automobile top, and he opened
the packages of tacks and put them up on the frame of the sedan automobile top, and he put the yards and yards of auto-top material up on the frame of the sedan automobile top, and then he got a step-ladder and climbed up on the frame of the sedan automobile top himself, because he was going to put a new top on the sedan automobile.
So then Little Mamie's Papa began to unroll the auto-top material and there were yards and yards of it, and he took the quick-drying glue and the tacks down from off the frame of the sedan automobile top, and he stretched the auto-top material this way, and he stretched it that way, and it lapped over on this side and on that side, and it lapped over on this end and that end, and he cut off some here with his pen-knife, and he cut off some there with his pen-knife, and all that afternoon he cut off pieces with his pen-knife, and he became more and more discouraged. But he did not weep.
So the next day Little Mamie's Papa went out to the garage again and he pulled the auto-top material one way and he pulled it another way, and he stretched it and he twisted it and he swore at it but he did not weep, and by the time the beautiful sun set in the west Little Mamie's Papa was as mad as a wet hen, but he did not weep.
So the next morning Little Mamie's Papa went out to the garage and he put the auto-top material to one side and he climbed up on the auto-top frame with the great, great big can of quick-drying glue, because he thought it would be wise to put glue on the ribs of the auto-top frame before he put the auto-top material on them, but all of a sudden, like lightning out of a clear sky, Little Mamie's Papa fell through the auto-top frame onto his neck and the great, great big can of quick-drying glue ran down Little Mamie's Papa's leg and quite instantly glued Little Mamie's Papa to the upholstery inside the sedan automobile.
So, two or three days later, Little Mamie missed her dear old Papa and she looked for him everywhere, saying "Mamma dear, where has my old man got to?", and Little Mamie's Mamma took her hand and they looked everywhere, and by and by Little Mamie and Little Mamie's Mamma discovered Little Mamie's Papa glued to the upholstery inside the sedan automobile.
"Well, indeed! This is a nice way to behave!", cried Little Mamie's Mamma. "Your poor child has been looking for you everywhere and here you are standing on your neck with your feet in the air and never caring a dime whether she is worried or not!"
"I am glued to the upholstery with quick-drying glue." said Little Mamie's Papa. Then he thought awhile and he said, "And a lot you care!"
So Little Mamie's Mamma opened the door of the sedan automobile and she saw that Little Mamie's Papa was indeed glued fast to the upholstery of the sedan automobile.
"Shall I pull him loose, Mamma dear?" asked Little Mamie.
"No, dalling," said Little Mamie's Mamma, "it might tear the upholstery and that would lessen the trade-in value of this disgusting old sedan automobile. Leave dear Papa where he is and get into the front seat and we will drive down and trade in this sedan automobile on a nice new sedan automobile."
"Because now we have got dear old bald-headed Papa just where we want him, haven't we Mamma?", said dear Little Mamie.
So Little Mamie got into the driver's seat, and Little Mamie's Mamma got into the seat beside her, and they drove down to the Automobile Shoppe and tooted their horn and the Automobile Man came out.
"How do, Mister Automobile Man," Little Mamie said. "We want to trade in this nice old sedan automobile on a new sedan automobile. How much will you allow us for it?"
So the Automobile Man looked at the outside of the sedan automobile, and he looked at the motor of the sedan automobile, and then he looked inside the sedan automobile and he saw Little Mamie's Papa glued to the upholstery.
"Does it include anybody that is glued to the upholstery, lady?" he asked.
"Yes, indeed," said Little Mamie's Mamma. "Anything glued to the upholstery goes with it."
So the Automobile Man said "I will allow you one hundred dollars on a trade in, lady."
"Done!" said Little Mamie's Mamma, and Little Mamie and Little Mamie's Mother got out of the sedan automobile and in a few minutes they were driving home in a brand-new nice shiny sedan automobile, and from that minute the Economic Situation in the United States improved, and the Great Depression instantly became a hump, and everybody found jobs at much more than they had ever been paid before, and Prosperity came back to everybody in the world, and the next Tuesday Little Mamie's Mamma married a new Papa for Little Mamie, who had $18,000,000 and hair enough to part.
And everybody was so glad that the Automobile Manufacturers gave Little Mamie's Mamma a medal as big as a dinner plate, and Mr. Mussolini gave Little Mamie a gold cup with her name on it, and King George gave Little Mamie and Little Mamie's Mamma a dried codfish, nicely gilded and with the words, "God Bless Our Home," painted on it. But Little Mamie's mean old stingy Papa got what he deserved. A fat Vegetable Man bought the musty old sedan automobile to peddle vegetables from, and when he saw Little Mamie's Papa glued to the upholstery he said "Sapristi! I no want thees thing-a here!" and he peeled Little Mamie's Papa off the upholstery and threw him away. And that ought to be a lesson to papas everywhere.