“Funyuns,” or “Have you heard the one about the country man from Onion Creek … ?”
October 24, 2012 § Leave a comment
The Funyun is a ring-shaped, onion-flavored snack consisting primarily of cornmeal, produced using an extrusion process, usurping the shape and texture of fried onion rings. A salt and onion mix give them their flavor. One of the most disgusting snack foods of modern times, IMHO; YMMV. But each to his or her own.
The Funyun serves, in a round-about way, to introduce today’s subject, the past history of poking fun at the Onion Creek community. Onion Creek rises in far western Hays County and empties into the Colorado River just east of Austin. Today, Onion Creek is an upscale residential community located east of Interstate Highway 35 about six miles south of downtown Austin in south central Travis County dating back to the early 1970s. This area had been settled as early as the 1850s when the Onion Creek Masonic Lodge was chartered, and Onion Creek Cemetery, also known as Boggy Creek Cemetery, dates to the 1880s.
Before there were Aggie jokes, Austinites laughed at Onion Creek jokes. “Countrymen,” as rural folks were referred to by urban sophisticators a century and more ago, were generally the butt of Austin humor, but none more so than those living on Onion Creek back in the 1880s. The reason why is long lost to time, but a month seldom passed without at least one Onion creek joke in the Austin Statesman, Texas Siftings, or any of the other Austin newspapers of the time. The following all date from the period 1881-83.
He Had Just Had One.
“Don’t you want a glass?” asked the man who rents opera glasses at the Austin opera house of a countryman from Onion creek.
“Don’t care if I do take a glass after the show is over, but ain’t thirsty now; just had one.”
Don’t Know Any News – Man Shot Near Austin
“You picked the pecans on Onion creek, you say?” said an Austin reporter yesterday to a young man on a wagon filled with pecans.
“Yes, sir,” he replied, “that’s where they came from.”
“Many up there?”
“Plenty of them.”
“Believe I’ll try a few,” quizzed the reporter, taking a big handful of the pecans.
“I’ll sell you the whole peck for fifty cents,” said the man, with swelling eyes.
“Only want a few. Say, do you know any news?”
“Not a bit, sir; everything is very dull up our way.”
“Don’t you know anything?”
“Well, I believe I heard some news yesterday.”
“What was it,” asked the reporter, cracking a pecan.
“There was a man got 18 buckshot in him where I live.”
“Who shot him?”
“What did you shoot him for?” asked the reporter aghast.
“For stealing some of my pecans out of my wagon,” said the countryman, reaching under the seat for his shotgun.
The reporter hastily replaced the pecans in the wagon, and after calling the countryman “Colonel,” disappeared around the corner. That evening he told his employers that they must insure his life or $50,000, or he would resign.
A New Brand of Smoking Tobacco.
A rough-looking customer from Onion creek came into a tobacco store on Congress Avenue and said he wanted some smoking tobacco.
“What brand do you prefer?” asked the tobacconist.
“I want a package of Emergency.”
“Emergency? I never heard of any such tobacco.”
“All I know,” said the man from the country, “is that Uncle Bill had the toothache last night, and smoked all night, and I asked him which was the best kind of tobacco; and he said no tobacco was equal to the Emergency. So I thought if none of ’em was equal to Emergency, that must be the best the market affords. If you haven’t got the Emergency, I reckon I’ll have to try some other store.”
We do not know how much good or bad the legislature has thus far accomplished. They are still grinding away, but the grinding is like unto the turning of the crank on a peanut roaster. A countryman from Onion creek watched a man who was turning the handle on a peanut roaster steadily for half an hour and then he asked:
When are you going to play a tune?
He had taken the peanut roaster for a hand organ. The legislators are still turning the crank, but we are unable to determine just yet whether it is a hand organ for the amusement of the people or a peanut roaster for their own private profit.
A lad went through the Houston and Texas Central train lately, distributing prize packages of candy, and, on returning to gather them up, found a countryman from Onion creek complacently disposing of the contents of the package that had been dropped upon his seat.
The lad waited and held out his hand for ten cents. The countryman stopped eating long enough to ask what was wanted.
“I want pay for that candy,” said the boy.
“For this candy?” said the countryman. “Why, gol durn yew, didn’t yew heave it into the seat to me?”
“Yes,” answered the boy; “but you must pay for it if you want it.”
The countryman sat in utter astonishment, then slowly opening his mouth, he dropped into the open paper a mouthful of half-masticated fragments, and handed the package back, re marking: “Take yer sugar candy, iffen yew want it; but iffen yew heave it at me again I’ll swallow it hull, by thunder!”
The lad dogged the countryman to Giddings for his ten cents, but didn’t get them. The scene furnished great sport for the passengers.
AUSTIN’S “NATURAL BORN LIARS.”
The Austin correspondent of the Galveston News was looking at a fruit piece in the window of a picture store when he was joined by a bluff old countryman from Onion creek, and a dialogue ensued which is best told in the words of one of the actors:
“Whut is the pitchur worth, Cap’n?” said the rural critic.
“Probably $25,” I answered, “maybe more.”
“Twenny-five dollars! Shore!” said the old man; “I got a barn full of the gin-u-wine fruit, which I’ll sell fer 75 cents a bar’l.”
“Possibly,” I said, “but there are plenty of people in Austin who would not think $25 an exorbitant price for that piece. Indeed, there are several men of this city who own picture galleries which have cost them large fortunes. Governor Pease has, I believe, a gallery of paintings which are valued at something like $5,000, and possibly are worth more,” I replied.
The old man looked hard at me, evidently thinking I was giving him “taffy” of the most extravagant kind. Then he laid his big hand upon my arm and said: “Son, this morning I wuz in a grocery store, and a little bell struck, and a clerk grabbed a little handle and hollered ‘Hello!’ in it, and talked in it, too. When I ast him what he did that fer, he said he was talking to another man in a store a half mile away. I went out and bought my goods of a man I could trust. Now you’re fillin’ me up with a goldurn yarn about pitchurs. Austin has got the all-firedest lot of natural born liars of any town in these diggin’s, and don’t yew fergit it.”
Bull Creekers came in for their own share of ribbing as well.
A Bull Creek girl went into a drug store to buy some taffy-tolu chewing gum. The clerk, trying to be sociable, remarked to her, “It’s a pretty warm day.” “You beecher life,” she explained, “I heered it was 200 degrees below zero.”