Tuesday, January 05, 2021

The Methodist preacher who choked on a gizzard

Henry Gittinger, long-time editor and publisher of The Chariton Leader, was a notable story-teller --- sticking to the facts much of the time, elaborating and inventing at others.

But there's no reason to doubt the veracity of the following, attributed to Wiley M. Householder (1856-1931) and published under a "What Others are Saying" header in The Leader of Jan. 26, 1911.

Mr. Householder (left), veteran Chariton city clerk and water works superintendent at the time of his retirement in 1929, was a native of Knox County, Illinois, so that locality would have been the setting for the story. His parents, Daniel and Ruth Ann (Knable) Householder, moved from Illinois to Chariton during 1875, accompanied by Wiley, then 19. Here's the story:


When I was a small lad, my father's home was a stopping place for Methodist preachers. They always found a welcome there --- and unstinted entertainment. We of the younger generation looked forward to the time when the preacher came with great expectation because that meant biscuits and chicken not only to him but us.

At one time there was a very quaint old man who rode the circuit and who had a fondness for gizzards, not that his digestion was bad, but his taster was gauged that way. I didn't like him so well as I did some of the other preachers as he somewhat came into competition with myself and got all the gizzards at the first sitting while I was waiting for my turn.

One day a hunk of gizzard lodged just below the base of his tongue and refused to either move forward or retreat. I can see the grimaces of this pious old face to this day in his evident suffering.

He tried to cough it up, but it was fast. Then he strained the muscles of his neck, but the gizzard seemed to be a fixture. His exertions almost caused a panic but he continued to heave and the gizzard remained at rest. I commenced to believe, and even hope, that the time had about come when I would have undisputed right of the gizzard commodity as my competitor was in the last throes of death and that another soul would soon wing its flight to the realms of eternal bliss.

But I reckoned not with my hosts. He removed himself to the back of the house and there began the campaign anew. His heavings and coughings sounded like bursts of dynamite and his eyes bugged out on his face like brilliant stars in the firmament. Finally, he returned to the table bearing the offending gizzard in his hand, exhibiting it with the remark:

"This is but another instance where my life has been miraculously spared for some most holy purpose," but I noticed that he never ventured after his favorite meat anymore without first assuring himself of its tender sympathy for his lack of masticating facilities.

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