Dr. Rodney T. Hard

Ernest and Anne Hard.

 ERNEST HARD HUMOR

I went to the annual three day Hort. Soc. meeting in Kingston today.  A Professor speaking said he was invited to address a group of students.  Three other Profs had turned down the invite.  When he came into the room to speak he noticed a broken window pane had a felt hat pushed into the opening.  After the speech the student leader, somewhat flustered told him, “You’re not like the felt hat, Professor.  You’re like a real pane.”

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One noon hour over there I walked into to a bookstore.  I saw a book there entitled, “How to Clip Your Own Poodle” by Ernest H. Hart.  Looks like I came very close to being an author.

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Sterling was telling about his aunts liking to argue.  He says they were at his aunt's house in New Jersey and were arguing about the layout of rooms upstairs.   Sterling offered to go upstairs and check for them but they said no, they'd rather argue about it.

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Bill tells a story of a young man taking a physical for induction into the army.  At the end of the day his test was not finished and he was told to bring in a specimen of urine the next morning.  Not favoring induction, he begged urine from his grandfather and his sister to mix with his own.   Seeing a bitch taking a leak he secured some urine there.  He presented the composite sample and after lengthy testing, a doctor told him, "Your grandfather has gall bladder trouble, your sister is pregnant, the dog is in heat, and you're in the army."

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Sunday night there is a cantata in the church by the combined Reformed and Methodist choirs directed by our minister's wife.  I told your ma I wanted to go and see the babes sing.  She said she would sing for me.  She would put on a cheesecloth gown and stand in front of a strong light.  I asked her what she would sing and she said, "Does it matter?"

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Theodore,  John,  Donald,  Jerome
      Lincoln,  Mary,  Jane,  Judy
Eight of the ten children of Ernest and Anne Hard.

Bill Fraumfelder was a Professor of Romance Languages at Bard and an elder at our church.  He left in 1954 and spent most of 15 years in Argentina and Spain.  Now he’s back at Bard.  He said his family and a small group of Americans were going to celebrate Thanksgiving together and wondered where they could get a turkey.  A Spanish woman was eager to help them and set out for the Turkish Embassy.  They had to head her off. 

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Here we are at the end of 1957, fat and foolish, both nationally and personally.  I was just thinking this family has an income in cash and value of services of $100 a week.   What we spend for insurance and church has some value.  The rest I would say melts.   I believe your ma says about $30 goes into groceries.  I curse that car but your ma says she’d go whacky without it and now she has some regularly recurring babysitting jobs that almost require its services.  I suppose you have to pay for civilization.  They say women are always a force for progress adopting all the new gadgets expensive though they may be.  I favor Thoreau’s Simplicity, Simplicity, Simplicity!  Maybe that’s retreating into one’s shell from one point of view.  Jane says my voting for simplicity just cloaks my own inadequacy.  She doesn’t approve of controlling lights by screwing bulbs in and out.  Remember the Vermonter who offset the slope of his floor by sawing off chair legs to make the seats level?

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I recall talking to Charleen about your mother’s accident but I have no recollection of any unusual state of mind. Except for some unfortunate misreading of the first X-rays I thought that the case and care was being taken care of in the best possible manner. While I’ve heard that Charleen is gifted with ESP I think I possibly told her I was “Pretty good” and she thought that meant not so good.  I’ve adopted a “Pretty good” answer from the belief that the septuagenarians are rarely “Fine, thanks”.  I have only an occasional slight arthritic shoulder.  It looks now as though the line of inevitable decay will be forgetfulness.  I am absent-minded.  A couple times I’ve forgotten what I was talking about. My father was that way.  When he was about 73 he would forget whether he had or had not fed the horses.  He would go and feed them and they do pretty well.  Then when he couldn’t remember feeding then he got so he’d think he had fed them.  And they got so they didn’t look so good.  My aunt said that that year he had the longest legged pigs she had ever seen.  Maybe from running around looking for something to eat.

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Mary Anne helped me plow garden by driving tractor, and one time as I was picking up trash she was demonstrating to Michael Durning.  She drove the front wheel up onto my right hind foot and stopped.  I was glad I had Al's lightest tractor afterward but at the moment I spoke tersely and earnestly to her.  So she backed off.  When Mike wanted to drive, I pondered for perhaps 5/10 of a second and came up with a definite answer. 

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Doug's family ate supper with us up there.  Doug is now an engineer and works at a desk days.  Doesn't care too much for it.  I forgot to ask if there was a raise connected with it.  He has a hair cut somewhat like Napoleon had in one of his pictures -- kind of short and straggly but pointed toward the front.  He says that's so he can rub his head without messing up his hair.  I told him if he's going for that Napoleon stuff he should ditch the sport shirt and put on a jacket so he can put his hand into the buttoned front right above his paunch and look thoughtful.

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Lincoln said he had a girl at Bard whose parents couldn't stand each other unless they were drunk.  Said they'd get up in the morning and drink and fight for a couple hours till they got high and then were all right for the rest of the day.  I asked Lincoln if he got mixed up with the dumb girls so much because it was a relief from the scintillating celebrations he encountered at home.  Strangely enough he took the question seriously and said he thought maybe it was because he thought smart people were hard to get along with.

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Grandpa Ernest Hard on the far right of the picture with many members of family at the old farm house in Red Hook, New York.

Grandpa Ernest Hard being funny wearing a literal stovepipe hat.

​My grandfather, Ernest Hard, regularly wrote long letters to his ten children, the oldest of which was my father, Theodore Hard.  My brother, Sterling, and his daughter, Anastasia, have been wonderful about collecting these letters, transcribing them, and getting them disbursed to the rest of us to enjoy.   The letters were written in microscopic handwriting from the very top left of the paper to the very bottom right of the letter.  Every inch of the paper was used without any margins showing.  His humor is often dry, but refreshing.  I have compiled paragraphs with snippets of humor and historical insight from various letters for the entertainment of friends and relatives.  Relatives who have not seen the letters can contact me about acquiring them.  - Dr. Rodney T. Hard

Around the table at Red Hook with Sterling Hard and son Michael, Charleen, Grandpa Ernest Hard, and Grandma Anne Hard.

Note above date.  It marks end of deer season.  Now maybe Don will work.  No deer were gathered by this family but I guess the season was successful for us in that Don got through it without entering jail, what with hunting with a gun on a bow hunting license etc., etc.  He had two good shots at a buck but missed on account of having John's unfamiliar double barrel.  There were other hunters nearby and maybe he was lucky.  He stayed out of school today so will probably have some penalty meted out tomorrow.  Where doe (sic) he get this law breaking tendency?

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Donald and I have a new riddle.  A boy was in the kitchen surreptitiously eating something behind the door.  What was he eating?  The answer is corn syrup.  Donald supplied the corn part of it.

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They tell me Sid Delanoy was holding forth at the Sage House on the trials of a paratrooper.  How they had to jump out at 400 feet with a 180 lb pack on their back, land, and walk off with it.  He didn't tell how they got their feet up out of the ground.

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