Friday, May 26, 2006

Prince Albert in a Can

I'm showing my age here, but you once could buy tobacco for cigarettes that your rolled by hand and one of the most popular brands was Prince Albert. You could get the tobacco in a small cotton pouch with draw strings or you could get it in a colorful red can that was flat and had a flip top. I guess it was so that you could put the can in your pocket and roll you up a cig anytime you liked. I never smoked a cigarette in my life and I only mention this because of a childhood phone prank that we used to play.
Long before caller ID and other modern gadgets, kids used to have great fun doing phone pranks.
"Hello Ma'm, is your refrigerator running?" The woman on the other end would say "well yes." Then we'd say "well you better go catch it before it runs away." Then we'd hang up the phone and laugh until we cried.
Joe called Albritton's store in Old Dora and asked "Do you have Prince Albert in a can?" "Yes, Mr. Albritton said proudly." "Well you better you better let him out before he smothers to death." Again we'd be on the floor rolling.
Someone got the bright idea to play one on Mrs. Hodges. She lived across the gravel road next to the Parkers. It was in the summer time and everyone kept their doors open to keep the house cool. When Mrs. Hodges answered the phone another one of my friends said "Mrs. Hodges I'm with the phone company and we just added about ten feet to your phone line and we'll need you to pull the slack through the wall." Her phone sat right next to the front door and we could see her standing there. She laid the phone down and took hold of the phone cord with both hands pulled it right out of the wall. The next thing we heard was dial tone as her phone connection went dead. We laughed harder than ever....we thought we were sooooo clever but our phone was near our front door too and as fate would have it, she heard us laughing. The next thing we heard was the slap of her screen door closing and she came storming across the road toward our house. The laughter evaporated quickly. She started calling my mother's name when she got to the road...Elwanda....Elwanda.....I need to talk to you. We headed out of the house quickly and passed my mother coming in the back door. She'd been out washing clothes on the back porch and hanging them out to dry on the clothes line in the back yard.
Mrs. Hodges stated her case quickly because it wasn't but a few minutes I could hear my mother calling my name. I knew what was coming and I knew it would not be nearly as much fun as we'd had on the phone. Not only did I get my legs striped with a keen hickory switch, but I was also Mrs. Hodges' personal slave the rest of the summer. I weeded her flower bed, painted her porch, walked to Dora to get her some bread and a million other tasks.
I paid for the prank all summer.
I've heard it said that "fun ain't cheap." That is true, but I still get a smile on my face when I think back to those days and those corny phone pranks.


  1. When I was in college in Oklahoma, a bunch of us would pool our money and buy a large can of Prince Albert pipe tobacco, then roll it into cigarettes. Much cheaper than buying cigarettes, but much stronger tasting.
    And yes, I remember all those "tricks" we tried to play on people; most of them knew the joke and so didn't bite. But thanks for the memories of days long gone by.
    By the way, my blog is at if you're interested.

  2. Anonymous2:52 PM

    Ricky, you little devil! I'll just bet that you were the one who used to call my arthritic aunt. (by marriage, no real relation)
    The caller would ask for Arthur. I thought it was so funny because I never liked that old woman!


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