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 September 29, 2007
“Remember Noah and the ark, when it rained 40 days and 40 nights?” (Texas weather joke)

Texas has plenty of jokes about the lack of rain in some parts of the state. The “Noah and the flood” joke is popular on the internet and has been told about other states (California, New Mexico) as well as Texas. The joke has been cited in print since at least 1953.


1 February 1953, Oakland (CA) Tribune, Parade, pg. 3:
...BAD Weather
kind of humor...about dust and debt
By Dean Chenoweth and Elmer Kelton
Noah’s Ark, when it rained for 40 days and 40 nights? Well, sir, we got an inch and a half that time.
(...)
THE AUTHORS: Dean Chenoweth is editor of the San Angelo (Texas) Standard-Times. Elmer Kelton, the paper’s livestock editor, writes a column, “Top of the Windmill,” in which these stories first appeared.

2 July 1956, Edwardsville (IL) Intelligencer, pg. 4, col. 5:
A visitor to New Mexico was talking to a sun-browned native, and commented on the lack of rain.
Tourist—Doesn’t it ever rain here?
Native—Mister, do you remember the story of Noah and the ark and how it rained for 40 days and 40 nights?
Tourist—Sure I do.
Native (drawling)—Well, we got half an inch that time.

31 July 1957, Titusville (PA) Herald, “Try and Stop Me” by Bennett Cerf, pg. 4, col. 4:
AT THE EDGE of the Mojave Desert, an overheated tourist, mopping his brow, asked a native, “Doesn’t it ever rain around here?”

The native replied, “Remember when Noah took out his Ark, and it rained 40 days and 40 nights?” “So what?” said the tourist. “Well,” concluded the native, “We got about a half an inch that time.”

Google Groups: alt.gossip.celebrities
Newsgroups: alt.gossip.celebrities
From: (-=JR=-)
Date: 1998/07/28
Subject: Heat Humour - Texas style

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP)—Texans long ago realized that since they couldn’t do anything about the blistering heat, they may as well joke about it.

Humorists Cactus Pryor and Boyce House, folklorist J. Frank Dobie and writers Alex Sweet, Wallace O. Chariton and others have kept alive the humor of a hot, dry, unforgiving Texas.

No one knows any longer where most of the tall tales originated, but they live on, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram noted.

The stories bear retelling in the current heat wave—on Tuesday, temperatures in north Texas reached triple digits for the 23rd consecutive day.

During a particularly dry spell, legend has it, a sad Texan once prayed, “I wish it would rain—not so much for me, I’ve seen it—but for my 7-year-old.’’

Some responses to heat gleaned from Texas folklore:

-- It was so dry that the trees were whistlin’ for the dogs.
-- It was so dry that the cows were giving evaporated milk.

A visitor to Texas once asked, ``Does it ever rain out here?’’
“Yes, it does,’’ a rancher replied. ``Do you remember that part in the Bible when it rained for 40 days and 40 nights?’’
“Yes, I’m familiar with Noah’s flood,’’ the visitor said.
“Well,’’ the rancher said, ``we got two and a half inches during that spell.’’

Elmer Kelton wrote in ``The Time It Never Rained,’’ a novel about the 1950s drought: “During the long Texas drought of the 1950s a joke—probably already as old as the state—was told again and again about a man who bet several of his friends that it never would rain again, and collected from two of them.’’

Google Groups: bit.listserv.wx-chase
Newsgroups: bit.listserv.wx-chase
From: gilbert l sebenste
Date: 1998/10/01
Subject: [HUMOR] You know you’re in Texas when…

A visitor to Texas once asked, “Does it ever rain out here?” A rancher quickly answered, “Yes, it does.  Do you remember that part in the Bible where it rained for forty days and forty nights?” The visitor replied, “Yes, I’m familiar with Noah’s flood.” “Well,” the rancher puffed up, “we got ‘bout two and a half inches during that spell!”

Google Groups: 3do.bad-attitude
Newsgroups: 3do.bad-attitude
From: “Orange”
Date: 2000/07/23
Subject: TEXAS

“IT’S SO DRY IN TEXAS THAT...”
The cows are giving evaporated milk.
The trees are whistling for the dogs.
A sad Texan once prayed, “I wish it would rain—not so much for me, cuz I’ve seen it—but for my 7-year-old.”
A visitor to Texas once asked, “Does it ever rain out here?” A rancher quickly answered “Yes, it does. Do you remember that part in the Bible where it rained for 40 days and 40 nights?” The visitor replied, “Yes, I’m familiar with Noah’s flood.” “Well,” the rancher puffed up, we got about two and a half inches of that.”

Google Books
Kinky Friedman’s Guide to Texas Etiquette:
Or How to Get to Heaven Or Hell Without Going Through Dallas-Fort Worth

By Kinky Friedman
New York, NY: Perennial
2003
Pg. 141:
A visitor to Texas once asked, “Does it ever rain out here?” A rancher answered, “Yes, it does. Do you remember that part in the Bible where it rained for forty days and forty nights?” The visitor said “Noah’s flood, yes.” “Well,” the rancher replied, “we got about two and half inches out of that.”

Alter Ego Maniacs
Monday, May 22, 2006
The ultimate “You Know You’re from Texas if ....” list!
(...)
119. A visitor to Texas once asked, “Does it ever rain out here?” A rancher quickly answered “Yes, it does. Do you remember that part in the Bible where it rained for 40 days and 40 nights?"The visitor replied, “Yes, I’m familiar with Noah’s flood.” “Well,” the rancher puffed up, we got ‘bout two and a half inches of that.”

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (0) Comments • Saturday, September 29, 2007 • Permalink