Congressional Jokester

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In three years of reading contemporary media stories on Emmett Wilson and his career, all of it is serious. Sometimes it is interesting, but humorous? Not really.

I don’t doubt that Emmett had a sense of humor; but, because he had such a serious job, and was reported to have such a serious, retiring demeanor, the idea of Emmett yukking it up in public, and playing jokes on someone for the fun of it, didn’t seem like something he did on a regular basis. At least, not for public consumption.

Image of Fred C. Kelly from the Library of Congress. Some of his correspondence is digitized here. Source: LOC

Image of Fred C. Kelly from the Library of Congress. Some of his correspondence is digitized here. Source: LOC

Well, surprise, I’ve found several examples of jokes that he told to national syndicated reporter Fred C. Kelly, reported in Kelly’s column, while Emmett was a U.S. Congressman in Washington.

Kelly was an interesting fellow — he’s best known as the official biographer of the Wright Brothers — but his news column, “Statesmen, Real and Near,” was the first syndicated Washington, D.C. news column. Kelly was not just your average reporter, therefore; he was an important person to talk to, and Emmett knew that.

So, in honor of April Fool’s Day, I present one of Kelly’s columns featuring a joke told by Emmett:

Source: The Daily Northwestern, Oskosh, Wisconsin, May 28, 1914

Source: The Daily Northwestern, Oskosh, Wisconsin, May 28, 1914

What I find interesting is that during Emmett’s entire tenure as a U.S. Congressman, he was not quoted on any issue of importance by national reporters; but, his jokes were picked up for syndication.

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