Tallman Clement Carney

"Clem Carney, story teller"



1910 Delaware Federal Census

Saunders, Absolum head m 55 married once   born DE, parents born DE
Saunders, Mary wife f 34 married twice 5 children 3 living born DE, parents born DE
Carney, Tallman C. step-son m 41 married   born DE, parents born DE

Is 'Tallman' a misspelling of Tilghman?



Clem Carney, Story Teller

From C.A. Weslager, "Delaware's Forgotten Folk," pp. 153-155:


Clem is speaking. His worn hat is pushed back on his head and ringlets of gray hair tumble over his forehead. His remarks are addressed to Nate as though the two were standing there alone. Not once does he look up at his audience, although he knows that they are eagerly listening and enjoying every word.

"Nate, you old son of a gun," Clem says with a twinkle in his eye, "I never knowed a bigger liar than you in all my live long days. Everybody knows that I got my faults, but I ain't never told a lie in my life and that's a particular." One of the men winks at another, for this is the signal that Clem is going to tell one of the tall stories for which he is famous. Some of the folks say that Clem reads them in joke books. Others say he makes them up out of his own head. His language is picturesque, and his words drawl out with a suggestion of southern pronunciation.

"I was up to Philly, last week," Clem continues in a slow, matter-of-fact tone, "and I made a visit to a sick feller. He's got a job washin' windows in one of them there big buildin's onto Market Street. He had a little accident, kind o' like, a few days before and is all fret up. He was washin' the windows on the highermost top floor of the buildin' and his belt broke in half and he fell all the way down to the street. Darned if that there buildin' wasn't so high that he had to stop fifteen minutes for dinner on the way down!"

Nate, a tall, Indian-looking man, spits out a sliver of the peach twig he is chewing. "Clem," he drawls, "I'm sure suprised to see you all keyed up about such a triflin' matter. So you think them buildin's in Philly is big. Well, sir, you should a been out to the Rocky Mountains with me and my missus last year." He pauses for a moment as if waiting to be challenged. He knows he has never been further west than Cambridge, Maryland, and his listeners know it, too.

Out there in the Rockies," he continues, "you hear more tell of highness than anywheres else m the world. One of the mountains is so high that they had to put the top on hinge. Yes sir, they had to hinge 'er back to let the sun rise up in the mornin' or else there'd a been no daylight."

It is Clem's turn next, and he sucks at his pipe for a minute before speaking. "Talkin' bout sunshine, Nate," he says, "when I was a boy we had a flock of mosquitoes out at Moore's Corner so thick that they blotted out the sun entire. My father used to shake me up early in the mornin' to get my gun just like as If we was goin' gunnin'. Then I'd go out into the yard and shoot holes in the flock of mosquitoes so the sun could shine through. If I hadn't done it, the crops couldn't a growed and we would all starved to death."

There is loud laughter after this one. Clem leans back on his heels and strikes a match to his pipe. Nate, whose expression hasn't changed, stands up and stretches. "Clem," he says, "you ain't gonna believe this, but I swear it's the gospel truth. Me and Jim Mosley went rock fishin' down to Woodland last week, and there was more fishermen there than fish. A crowd of city men was crowded up on the beach like turkey buzzards after a dead chicken. There was one fish that kept takin' their bait, but nobody could hook him. After dark when the city men went home, Jim and me was the onliest ones left and we agreed to stay until we got that there fish. About midnight I got a bite and it felt like a whale fish pullin' at the line. When I hooked him and got him on the bank, it was only a rock fish about eight inch long. But we figgered he weighed more than fifty pound, he had so many hooks into his belly. We knowed he had too much metal into him for a good meal, so we took him to the junk yard at Dover and sold him for scrap iron."

Clem knocks the ashes from his pipe on his heel. He puts the pipe in his side pocket, a sign that he is ready to make his final thrust. The audience lean forward expectantly because Clem's last story is always the best one.

"About three year ago," he begins. "No," he corrects himself, "it was three year, four month to be exact. I was crabbin' down to Woodland, and got a good haul and was makin' ready to come on home. All of a sudden I looked out over the water and there a comin' was the blackest cloud I ever seen in my whole life. When it got closer, I seen it wasn't a cloud, but the biggest most congregation of mosquitoes that ever jined together, in one bunch. I decided I better get away fast before they et me alive, so I went a flyin'. I didn't think they'd pay me no mind, but the big feller that was leadin' them saw me. He buzzed to the others and they all came after me as mad as bulls.

"I kept a runnin' as fast as I could and made right for the woods. Them bugs kept followin' right after me. Then I seen an old water biler that someone had hauled into the woods for junk, and I crawled inside of her to hide. But those darn mosquitos flew down on the biler after me and began to drill right through the iron. I thought I was dead sure when their drills began to come through on the inside and they was long as pokers and as sharp as needles. Then I got an idea. I reached into my back pocket for a hammer that I had with me, and I started to hit their drills as they came through the biler, and bent them over like nails. By and by I had about a hundred mosquitoes caught by their noses and they was a beatin' their wings so fast it sounded like a northeaster.

"All at once I felt myself goin' up and up. Them there mosquitoes was flappin' their wings so hard they took me, biler and all, right up into the sky. They flew me all over Kent County till they got so tired we all fell down into Garrison's Pond. I swum ashore and got home safe and sound without feelin' the least shacklin'. And right here," he concludes, reaching in his back pocket, "is proof that I'm tellin' the truth. It's the very hammer that saved my life."



Ancestry of son, Clement 'Ted' Carney






"The History and Genealogy of the Mixed-blood
Native American Communities of
and Nearby Areas on the Delmarva Peninsula
and Southern New Jersey"



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