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Entry from August 29, 2011
“Bet that it would never rain again” (Texas weather joke)

A joke from the drought of the 1950s (cited in print since at least 1953 in Reader’s Digest) has it that a man bet his neighbors that it would never rain again. After a few years, he was paid off by all but one neighbor, who was still wavering.

The joke was mentioned in the pages and in the title of Elmer Kelton’s book, The Time It Never Rained (1973, 2008).


Google Books
The Reader’s Digest
Volume 62
1953
Pg. 72:
A Sonora sheepman told a friend he had bet four men $10 each that it never would rain again. “That’s the most foolish bet I ever heard of,” said the friend. “I wouldn’t say so,” replied the sheepman. “Three of ‘em have already paid me off.”

5 October 1956, Abilene (TX) Reporter-News, “Turn Your Back and They Let Those Clouds Go Coasting By,” pg. 2B, col. 2:
We aren’t like that brother who bet three of his neighbors that it never would rain again. He swears two of the fellows have already paid off, and the third is wavering.

9 August 1962, Belton (TX) Journal, pg. 1, col. 1:
One local wit said he had made ten bets that it would never rain again in Bell County. Sounds like a ridiculous bet, but he says five people have already paid him off.

Google Books
The Time It Never Rained
By Elmer Kelton
New York, NY: Forge
2008
(Originally published Garden City, NY: Doubleday 1973—ed.)
Pg. VII:
DURING THE LONG TEXAS DROUTH 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 would never rain again, and collected from two of them.
Pg. 186:
“Charlie, I was just tellin’ the boys here that I’ve made a bet with several people that it never will rain again in this country.”
Charlie shook his head. “That’s a silly bet.”
“I don’t know. Two of them have already paid me off.”

Corpus Christi (TX) Caller Times
Where are the rainmakers when you need them?
By Murphy Givens
Posted August 24, 2011 at 3:03 a.m.
CORPUS CHRISTI — This year’s drought has been called the worst in Texas history, worse than the terrible drought of the 1950s which San Angelo’s Elmer Kelton wrote about in “The Time It Never Rained.” The title came from a joke. A West Texas rancher bet three friends it would never rain again. After six years of dry, searing heat, he collected from two of them.

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (0) Comments • Monday, August 29, 2011 • Permalink