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An Exclusive Interview with John Hance, Incredible Teller of Big Whoppers at the Grand Canyon

Jun 252015
 By , June 25, 2015

Have you ever heard the legend of John Hance? You will now.

You’ve heard the tales of Paul Bunyan.

You know the exploits of Pecos Bill.

Maybe you’ve heard of the German Baron Munchhausen.

But have you ever heard the legend of John Hance? You will now:

John HanceThe Humor Times has succeeded in gaining an interview with one of the greats of Grand Canyon history — the unforgettable John Hance, the first white man to live at the Grand Canyon and famous story teller from the late 1800’s.

Numerous difficulties had to be overcome to get this interview including the fact that Mr. Hance has been deceased for almost 100 years. After expending great effort in its accomplishment we take pride in offering to you this engagement with the legendary miner, explorer and tour guide, the one and only John Hance:

Rfreed – Good day, Mr. Hance! It is great that you are able to do this interview with us. Especially since you have been dead for almost 100 years.

John Hance – I’ve always said don’t let being dead stop you from doin’ anything you have a mind to! Yeah, Saint Peter gave me the day off. I’m the official doorman at the Pearly Gates; that’s a definite step up since when I was doin’ it at the Grand Canyon. Nice of him to set me up like that.

Rfreed – Well, that certainly is a positive outlook and a special shout out to St. Peter for being so accommodating. I imagine you had to have a good attitude over your career of being a Confederate soldier, a prisoner of the Yankees, ranch hand, explorer, trail builder, miner, tour guide, and doorman at the best hotel at the Grand Canyon, the El Tovar. Not to mention that you are more famous than anything for your humorous tall stories.

Hance – Yup! Tellin’ big yarns was always a hoot fer me. Did you ever hear about the time the local train ran out of coal? They was almost stopped when I came by and saw what wuz goin’ on. I happened to have my ax with me and ran ahead of them cuttin’ down trees and pushing them up to them on the locomotive that they forced into the boiler. They wuz only goin’ half speed as the trees wuz a bit green, but at least they got to the Canyon by dark! I got a good workout that day!

Rfreed – So I understand that you used to mine asbestos and copper in the Canyon? How did you find them?

Hance – That’s right! The asbestos was easy. I knowed that asbestos was fire proof, so I just burned down a couple of buttes in the Canyon until I found big heaps of asbestos left in the ashes of one. Couldn’t a’ been easier.

Copper wuz a mite more difficult as I had to hook up a battery and electric wires to both ends of a butte and attach a light bulb to them. If the light bulb lit up I knowed that there wuz copper inside the butte!

One time I dugged a mine so deep that suddenly I broke through and saw daylight. I looked out and saw nothin’ but snow and ice all around. When penguins started walking up and gawkin’ at me then I knowed that I done dug too far!

Rfreed – I see that your talent for tall tales hasn’t diminished at all.

Hance – Oh, I had to tone it down a bit. The ‘Big Guy’ upstairs almost got me sent to the other place (Heck) when he heard I was arrivin’ just on the record of my fibs. I told him I was reformed from all that. I can just be thankful He never caught onto me telling that whopper!

Rfreed – I see by one of your photos that you had a taste for squirrels. There is a picture showing you sitting with two of them in your hand.

Hance – Oh yeah! I remember that one! It’s funny, but when I first got here the Canyon wasn’t so big and I used to shoot an Albert squirrel on the South side of it, then run a few minutes over to the other side and git a Kaibab squirrel so I could make a balanced meal out of them. Now the Canyon is so big that it would take days to go over and git a Kaibab.

Rfreed – Um…….are you saying that the Canyon got this big just in the short time between when you arrived at the Canyon and when the rest of the Americans got there?

Hance – Did you notice that too? I thought it wuz a tad peculiar. After a while I learned a good trick to git over to the North Rim real easy. I would lie down on the ground and pretend to be dead. Eventually a condor would come nosin’ around and I would grab his leg with one hand and his tail with the other. He would fly off and I would pull on his tail like a rudder to make him fly towards the North Rim. That trick worked great until they becomes an endangered species and the authorities made me stop.

Rfreed – OK….. Tell me, Mr. Hance, are you really a Colonel as you told everyone you are?

Hance – Well, let’s just say that when you are the only American living at the Grand Canyon you can be a General for all it matters. You is the only one here and it don’t matter. You could call yerself God and no one would know excepts that God Hisself might be around and git a mite riled over the transgression!

Rfreed– Did you come here looking for gold?

Hance – Yup, I did. Found it too.

Rfreed – What? I only heard of you mining copper and asbestos.

Hance – You could say I found where the gold used to be. Remember all those stories of the conquistadors searching for the seven cities of gold of Cibola? It turns out they was true! The Pueblos done had them down in the Canyon, but the Conquistadors got down there and stole it all! There was gold plating all over them cliff dwellings, but the Spanish done took it all off. That’s why they didn’t hang around long. They had got what they come to git already. Now all you sees down there is the mud and stone foundations.

Rfreed – Mr. Hance, what is your favorite big story of all time?

Hance – The one where I convinced people that the Colorado River flows all the way to Mexico.

Rfreed – But that is true- it does flow to Mexico.

Hance – It does? Well then, it would be the one where I says that the Canyon used to be under the bottom of the ocean….

Rfreed – It did! Scientists have proven that!

Hance – They did? Well…….then there is the once about where there was once huge hairy elephants here in the old days….

Rfreed – They’ve found the bones of woolly mammoths in Utah and said that they must have been here in the Canyon too!

Hance – I don’t believe it! I must be losing my touch! It ain’t no fun telling whoppers when they turn out to be true after all! That’ll ruin my reputation!

Rfreed – Here, I can prove all these things to you it on my computer!

Hance – Is that that thing you been tippy typin’ on the whole time?

Rfreed – Yes! It is an electronic machine that you can use to communicate with people all over the world at any time and look up any information you want and transmit photos over.

Hance – Now who it is the one telling the big stories?

Rfreed – It is true! We have all sorts of machines now! We have rockets that can take us into outer space, vehicles that can travel under the sea, televisions that can transfer voices and pictures through the air, telephones whereby we can talk with someone in Timbuktu if we want to!

Hance – (He is silent for a minute, then finally speaks, his voice doubtful) Well fella, it looks like I have to turn my tall tale telling award over to you. You sure do have me beat!

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Roger Freed has a fertile, if somewhat warped, imagination. Read him at your own risk! More laugh gaffes available at Semi-Humorous Humor. For something in a more serious mode get "The Book Of Songs" by Roger Freed from A collection of short stories illustrating the subtle and powerful influence music can have on our minds and our spirits.

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  • Mike Kelly

    Nice interview Roger. Good to see you’re still around bud.