When I was a kid, I saw a live country music show at an amusement park in Oklahoma. Near the end of the show, a woman walked onto the stage (more about the stage in a moment) and said with a big smile and whooping voice, “How-deee!” And the audience said it back to her, which made me jump a little.

She was wearing a fancy, hoop-skirt dress (more about the dress when I tell about the stage) and a straw hat with flowers on it. There was something dangling from the hat. It took me several minutes to realize that it was a price tag.

I was embarrassed for her. She had a price tag dangling from the brim of her hat and didn’t realize it. I hoped someone would point it out to her so she could remove it, but nobody did.

The woman told funny stories about people in her hometown. She also talked about herself.

“A feller told me I looked like a breath of spring. Well, he didn’t use them exact words. He said I look like the end of a hard winter.”

“Another feller said to me, he said, you look like you washed your face real good . . . . but forgot to iron it.”


I thought she looked lovely. However, what she said and the way she said it made everyone laugh, so I did, too.

The stage was not large, only about 15 feet wide and 10 feet deep, with a curtained door at the back where the entertainers entered and left. And it wasn’t very high—only about four feet. The audience was seated on the ground, almost right up to the stage. At one point, she stood at the edge of the stage and began telling a story. As she spoke, she started rocking forward and back. This caused her dress to swing forward and back like a bell. When the dress swung forward, everyone, particularly those close to the stage, could see what she had on under it: a pair of fancy, old-fashioned bloomers.

She continued her story, and every time her dress swung forward exposing her bloomers, people would laugh. I laughed, too, though I wasn’t sure I was supposed to.

Several times, she paused to say, “What’s so funny?” She would then continue her story and her rocking motion.

Finally, she stopped rocking, looked up and all around, then said in a perplexed manner, “What are you folks laughing at? Can y’all see something that I can’t see?” This got a huge laugh.

I suddenly realized that the price tag on her hat was there on purpose. It was meant to be a joke, just like her bloomers were a joke. It was several years before I learned that the woman’s name was Minnie Pearl.

One of the joys of living in the Internet age is how easy it is to find videos of Minnie Pearl making audiences laugh with her gentle, home-spun humor. And when she says, “How-deee!” I can’t help but say howdy back.

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