Hal Draper

Come to Think of It

The “Friend” of the Jackass ...

(19 August 1946)

From Labor Action, Vol. 10 No. 33, 19 August 1946, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

Before I start talking about Blackie the burro again – and you can’t stop me – I want to mention that I met Professor Caspar Nipplenob day before yesterday. Professor Nipplenob – “old Bubbletop” the students used to call him affectionately back at Hogwash U. – knows everything about what happened before Columbus discovered America. Besides that he’s a very liberal soul and reads newspapers too.

So we got talking about the high cost of living and price control, and the professor was saying that Senator Taft is a bad man for wanting to give OPA the business.

“But did you see what Truman did to HIM!” chortled Nipplenob. “That veto message to Congress told them off. Just like Roosevelt – standing up for the people.”

I agreed that Truman was just for bleeding the OPA to death instead of tying a stone around its neck, and that prices had gone up twelve per cent in a month under the bill that Truman did sign, and that Truman’s board was handing out price increases like John D. Rockefeller did with dimes, and so on.

“That’s the trouble with you radicals,” says Professor Nipplenob, “always wanting perfection. You can’t get everything at once, my boy. You must realize that Mr. Truman got as much out of Congress as he could.

“I don’t deny,” he says, “that there is still a great deal to be done. But if we all get behind the good men in Congress and strengthen their hand, the people will defeat the reactionaries.”

That was about as far as I got with Professor Nipplenob, because he talks faster than I do. And besides all his talk of Truman versus Taft reminded me of my favorite jackass, Blackie, which I was talking about last week, and I was afraid he would take it the wrong way if I told him what was on my mind.

Here’s what I mean about Blackie. You know, handling a burro on a pack trip isn’t like saying giddyap to a milk-wagon horse. Last week I revealed how to get the beast started but that’s only the beginning. You’ve got to keep him going when he decides to go on strike. And when there’s a brook to cross you’re more likely to get wet than he is unless you know how.

This maneuver takes two, to break the animal in right. For the first two days my wife marched behind with a long pointed stick. The stick has to be longer than the burro’s hind legs. Any time Blackie took a strike vote, she didn’t actually have to prod him – just move it up close and he’d report for work again.

But that’s only one side of it. If that’s all you did it would be a risky business because Blackie would get moving away from the stick and forget to stop. Then where would you be?

That’s where I came in. I walked at his head with the lead rope in my hand. Not tight, you understand – enough slack so he wouldn’t notice it most of the time but firm enough to ease him in the right direction.

When the Menace with the pointed stick scared him on, I patted him on the head and “saved” him from the prod by guiding him across the brook or around the windfall or wherever we wanted him to go. He loved me like a brother.

I was the good guy. I fed him dried prunes, delicious cigarette butts, and if he wanted the cellophane wrapper too, I let him have it. Naturally he was grateful.

So that’s how it went – me rubbing him behind the ears, and my wife bringing up the rear making noises like the National Association of Manufacturers.

Obviously there was a great difference between the Friend of the Jackass in front and the Main Danger behind.

Before we were through, we had a no-strike pledge from Blackie. Of course he was half-starved before he got back to the hay in the stables but he had one consolation: that pointed stick never touched him.

I always wondered what we would do if he decided he was fed up with the double play, but the same thought never occurred to him – he wasn’t burro-conscious. So Blackie carried the load and we took it easy.

The next time you get to be President of the United States, remember that a Taft is just as necessary as a Truman for sinking price control with a minimum of ruckus. The people might have gotten madder if our poker player-in-chief had gutted the OPA without being able to use a Man With a Pointed Stick as an excuse.

You’d think even Professor Nipplenob would be able to understand that. The ruling class knew this trick before Columbus discovered America. But the jackasses are still falling for it.

Last updated on 3 April 2020