A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from August 04, 2009
“Goin’ to hell."/"Get off at Hempstead.” (joke)

An old joke is told about a drunk who got on a train at Houston that was traveling to Austin. The conductor asked for the drunk’s ticket, but he had none. “Where do you think you’re going without a ticket?” the conductor asked. “Goin’ to hell,” the drunk answered. The conductor said that the drunk could get off at Hempstead.

The Texas joke dates in print to 1946. An earlier version of the joke was told about Dodge City, Kansas, in 1936.


Wikipedia: Hempstead, Texas
Hempstead is a city in Waller County, Texas, United States. The community, located at the junctions of U.S. Highway 290, Texas State Highway 6, and Texas State Highway 159, is around fifty miles northwest of Downtown Houston. The population was 4,691 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Waller County.

Google Books
Out of the West:
The beyond the Mississippi states in the making

By Rufus Rockwell Wilson
New York, NY: Wilson-Erickson, Inc.
1936
Pg. 408:
He had none, but, pulling a handful of gold pieces from his pocket, announced between hiccups, that he wanted to go to hell. “Get off at Dodge,” was ...

Google Books
Lillie of Six Shooter Junction:
The Amazing Story of Lillie Drennan and Hempstead, Texas

By Florence Gould Bruce
San Antonio, TX: Naylor Company
1946
Pg. 1:
There is the widely-told tale of the drunk who got on the train at Houston without a ticket. After the train had pulled out, the conductor asked: “Now where do you think you are going without a ticket?”

“I’m jush goin’ to hell,” the drunk replied.
Pg. 2:
“Very well, I’ll let you off at Hempstead,” the conductor told him.

Google Books
The Hermit Philosopher of Liendo
By Ira Kendrick Stephens
Dallas, TX: Southern Methodist University Press
1951
Pg. 178:
“Ticket, please! Give me your ticket!” This roused the drunk, who mumbled, “Ah ain’ got no ticket.” To the conductor’s question, “Where you think you’re goin’ without a ticket?” the drunk replied, “Goin’ t’ hell.” “Well then,” said the conductor, “give me a dollar and get off at Hempstead.”

Google Books
Legendary Ladies of Texas
By Francis Edward Abernathy
Denton, TX: University of North Texas Press
1994
Pg. 104:
A Texas joke concerns a Houston drunk who, once settled in the chair car, was awakened by the conductor who demanded his ticket. “Ain’t got no ticket.” “Where do you think you are going without a ticket?” “Goin’ to Hell.” “Very well. Give me a dollar and get off at Hempstead.”

Google Books
A Twist at the End
By Steven Saylor
New York, NY: St. Martin’s
2000
Pg. 237:
“Drunk gets on the train at Houston, headed for Austin, and falls asleep. First stop out of Houston is Hempstead. Pretty soon the conductor comes through to collect tickets. He wakes up the drunk. The drunk confesses he hasn’t got a ticket. Conductor says, ‘And where do you think you’re going, mister?’ Drunk says, ‘Goin’ to hell, I reckon.’ Conductor says, ‘Well, then, get off at the next stop!’”

Will laughed. “You just made that up!”

“I swear I didn’t. That joke’s as old as I am.”

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (0) Comments • Tuesday, August 04, 2009 • Permalink