The Dinner Horn

“All members of Paul’s logging crew were very hearty eaters. Eating was a real business to them. When the men came in from their day’s work in the woods, they would rush into the cook shanty in a mad scramble and seat themselves at the tables like a lot of wild men. Their bad table manners didn’t please Paul Bunyan. To bring about a better order of things, he had a big dinner horn made. It was a hundred and thirty feet in diameter at the noisy end. The first time that Joe Muffraw, the cook, blew this horn he held it out straight and knocked down several sections of timber. Some of the men were blown so far away that they did not get back to camp until breakfast time. Some men never returned to camp; they were later located in Nova Scotia.

Paul didn’t like to have his timber ruined. It was money out of his pocket. He told Joe to blow the horn up in the air the next time. Joe followed his orders the next day and the men came running in from the woods. All seemed to work out well. But the next day Paul got complaints from the U.S. Weather Bureau and from shipping companies. Blowing the big dinner horn had caused cyclones, a hurricane and other storms. Paul then decided to junk the horn, and finally sold it to an Eastern railroad whose officers made it into a roof for a Union depot.”

From Brown, Charles E. “The Dinner Horn” in Flapjacks from Paul Bunyan’s Cook Shanty. Wisconsin Folklore Society, 1941.

The chief of the railroad company did not think this was a very good use of the horn. It was very powerful. He could use it for better things. So he had them take it off the roof and give it to him. It took the company’s biggest train to get it to his house. The chief tried blowing it. It knocked over the town. Then the idea came to him. There were many railroads that he didn’t like. He set the horn up on top of his house. When he blew it at another company’s headquarters, there was a hurricane. The headquarters and all the buildings around it fell over. Then he did the same for all the other companies until his was the only one left. “Hurray!” He made lots of money.

Then after some time, the U.S. Army was very interested in the horn. “We’d like to buy your horn,” they said to the chief.

“But I don’t need any more money,” said the chief.

“You love your country, don’t you?” the army asked.

“No,” the chief said. Then the army was bugging him, so he blew the Pentagon down.

Then the congress was very interested in the horn. “We’d like to buy your horn,” they said to the chief.

“But I don’t need any more money,” said the chief.

“You love democracy, don’t you?” the congress asked.

The chief shrugged. Then the congress was bugging him, so he blew the Capitol down.

Then all the people were very interested in the horn. “We’d like you to stop using your horn, please,” they said to the chief.

“But I don’t need any more money,” said the chief.

The people did not understand. The chief yawned through the horn. It blew all the people down.

Then the only people left were Paul Bunyan and the chief. “What did you do?” Paul Bunyan asked when he came out of the forest.

“I blew all the stuff down,” said the chief.

“Why did you do that?” asked Paul Bunyan.

“I don’t know,” said the chief. And then he blew Paul Bunyan down.

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