University Press of Kansas Logo

Tough Daisies

Kansas Humor from "The Lane County Bachelor" to Bob Dole

C. Robert Haywood

288 pages, 42 photographs and cartoons, 6 x 9
Cloth ISBN 978-0-7006-0732-7, $22.50

Book Cover ImageHurrah for Lane County, the land of the free,
The home of the grasshopper, bed bug and flea.
I'll sing loud its praises and tell of its fame,
While starving to death on a government claim.

--"The Lane County Bachelor"

"Dole was born in Kansas, raised in Kansas, educated at the University of Kansas. Prior to World War II, he was a premedical student. He fought in Italy, where he suffered a serious head injury. Then he went into politics."--Senator Robert Dole

By reputation, Kansas isn't the funniest place on earth. But it has it's share of humor. It can boast of politicians who taunted puritan farmers with "raise less corn and more hell," a gubernatorial candidate whose claim to fame was perfecting and marketing a goat-gland transplant for men desperate to restore their sexual vigor, and a legendary attorney general who covertly flew the friendly skies of Kansas in hot pursuit of illegal liquor consumption on passenger planes.

In Tough Daisies, Robert Haywood reveals the lighter side of a state that's too often pegged a collection of sober-minded moralists struggling to find Utopia among the stars. He explores what has passed for humor in good times and bad and divulges what makes Kansans laugh. Both the subject of laughter (the inspiration) and the humorist (the inspired) are featured in this serious study (most of the time) of a funny subject.

An annotated sampler of jokes, stories, cartoons, and poems, this book illustrates what Kansans have chuckled and chortled at from settlement days to the present. Especially rich veins of humor are found in the frontier experience, the Great Depression, Populism, and politics. Investigating an array of rib-tickling facets of Kansas life, Haywood also illuminates the wit, sarcasm, and satire generated by grasshoppers, flat land, farmers and their daughters, war, bootleggers, school teachers, preachers, droughts, tornadoes--and Toto too.

"Kansans have endured because of their humor, and Bob Haywood captures this often ignored side of their state in this delightful book. He chronicles Kansas humor from frontier days, when people struggling to survive made fun about it, to modern times when Kansans joke about keeping what passes for civilization at arm's length. This is must reading!"--David Dary, author of True Tales of Old-Time Kansas and More True Tales of Old-Time Kansas

"Until now no one has attempted to come to grips with this bundle of contradictions known as Kansas through an analysis of what makes us laugh-or causes others to laugh at us. Like the Kansas character itself, Kansas humor tends to be understated and self-deprecating, but insightful and resilient."--Jim Hoy, coauthor of Plains Folk: A Commonplace of the Great Plains

C. ROBERT HAYWOOD, a third-generation Kansan, is professor of history emeritus at Washburn University. He is author of several books including Victorian West: Class and Culture in Kansas Cattle Towns and Trails South: Wagon-Road Economy in the Dodge City-Panhandle Region.

Facebook button