The Story of the Lewis and Clark Expedition

(Why we celebrate the 4th of July.)

Last week, I was talking to a couple of people about the Fourth of July celebrations. One of them, a young kid, asked why we celebrate July 4th. The other man said something about a signing of a Declaration of Independence (whatever that is) and our country’s freedom. Well, I stopped him right then and there and prevented the eight-year-old from getting confused for the rest of his life.

“What on earth are you talking about?” I asked.

The man looked at me in surprise and started to stammer something.

“Kid, don’t listen to a word he says,” I said. “Come over here with me and I’ll tell you the real reason we celebrate the fourth.” The kid came willingly. He knew he could trust me to get the story right, because I had also told him all about Robin Hood and Sir Launcelot.

***

It all started with the Lewis E. Anne Purchase, which, as I’m sure you know, was President Lincoln’s purchase of all the territory east of the Mississippi from the Eskimos. Lincoln had the person who had managed the purchase, Lewis, and another man, Clark Gable, head an expedition that would explore the new territory and see if it was the big, beautiful lagoon the President had wanted, or just more useless land.

Now, Lewis knew absolutely nothing about exploring, so he decided to hire people that did. He drove his rusty Ford into town and parked in front of the local Boy Scout barracks. (In those days, kids were a lot more serious about Boy Scouting.)

Lewis found the lieutenant and asked if he could hire a Boy Scout troop to help him explore the new territory. “Are you attempting to bribe a military officer?” the lieutenant said, glaring.

“No, no, no,” Lewis said quickly. “I just need someone who can help me explore the new territory that the President bought from the Eskimos.”

“Oh, is that all? Well, I think I can give you a troop of scouts.” The lieutenant blew on a whistle and forty Boy Scouts piled out of the barracks. Each of them was clad in a tan uniform and had a huge pack on his back. They, of course, were not armed with rifles (honestly, they were just kids); instead they carried big bazookas.

The lieutenant told them that they had to help Lewis and Clark explore the new territory, and all of them piled into Lewis’s ford. They drove east along the highway until they crossed the Mississippi, then they split up. Half of the troop went with Lewis to explore the peninsula to the south, while the other half went with Clark to the north.

***

Lewis and his men (er, boys, actually) traveled by railroad to the peninsula and started exploring. One day, they found a huge cave with a sign over it that read: “Disney World.” They walked in and looked around. A man was sitting at a desk puzzling over some papers. They walked over.

“Hi,” said Lewis. “Who are you?”

The man looked up. “Who am I, who am I, WHO AM I?!”

“Oh,” said Lewis, “well if you don’t know either, then we’ll just leave.” He turned to go.

“Hey, wait,” the man said. Lewis turned back. “I’m Mr. Disney. I’m trying to figure out how to convert all the great stories into cheesy reproductions that are pathetic compared to the originals, so I can make a lot of money.”

Lewis scratched his head. “How would writing cheesy reproductions get you a lot of money?”

“Beats me, but they sell like crazy. Almost every little child likes my story of the little mermaid that has a happy ending.”

“Whoa, whoa, whoa! You’re telling me that you wrote a story of the little mermaid with a happy ending? Sorry, fellah, but I’m going to have to arrest you. The President doesn’t want people like you populating his new land.”

“What? Us Eskimos don’t have a president.”

Lewis was shocked (probably because of the electric wire that was lying on the ground). “OW! You mean to tell me that your government didn’t tell you that they sold all this land to us Americans?”

“Is that what they were trying to say?” said Mr. Disney. “I couldn’t understand a word of that crazy Eskimonian dialect.”

“I thought you were an Eskimo.”

“So what? Just because I’m an Eskimo doesn’t mean I should understand the language. Take the English for example. They claim to use English as their language, but none of them can speak it.”

Well, after this, Lewis decided that he should return to the President and convince him to resell the land he had just purchased. He was certain that Lincoln wouldn’t want a land populated by people who couldn’t even speak their own language. (He apparently didn’t notice that Mr. Disney could speak his language, which would be better than him just being able to speak in Eskimo).

***

The kid looked at me with a strange expression. “Are you sure that’s what really happened?” he said.

“Well, why shouldn’t it be?” I asked him. “Anyway, that’s not the whole of it. Clark Gable, as I said, was exploring up north…”

***

Clark was going a lot slower than Lewis had, because he was actually making maps. After several years of traveling around without a razor, he attempted to get back to the President and report his findings. Unfortunately, his beard had grown to extreme lengths and was caught up in all sorts of trees and bushes.

“Go on without me,” Clark said to his troop of Boy Scouts.

“No,” one of them said. “We’d never leave you behind.”

“Why not?” said another. “He’s always shouting orders about like a mad man and eating all of the good food.” So, the Boy Scouts left Clark behind and carried the big pile of maps into the President’s office and said that Clark had been attacked by a giant bear that had swallowed him whole.

The President said: “Let me look at those maps. Hmm… That doesn’t look like such a bad place after all. It’s too bad I sold it all back to the Eskimos, and for half the price I paid, too.”

Lewis, you see, had returned before the Boy Scouts and had gotten Lincoln to sell the land. Later, historians discovered that the whole thing had been a ploy by the Eskimos to get a little extra money.

***

The little boy gave me another strange look. (I think he needs a chiropractor). “But then how did the Americans claim the land east of the Mississippi? After all, we’re living on it right now.”

I chuckled at the boys lack of knowledge. “Honestly, don’t you know that we’re not really Americans, since we live in Illinios? We’re Eskimos!”

Just then, the boy’s mother came up. “Hey, guess what, Mom,” the boy said. “Chickenfoot here has been giving me a history lesson. Now history is my favorite topic!” The boy walked away with his mother, explaining everything that I had told him. Strangely, I’ve never seen that boy since. I guess he’s just too busy with school and all. I did meet his mother the other day, but she seemed to just not recognize me. Weird, huh?

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Published in: on July 11, 2007 at 9:44 AM  Comments (3)  

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I really like your story. I think you’re a good writer. I wish you good luck with your future stories.

  2. I have not laughed like this in a while. Excellent telling of a terrific story! You’ve got a knack, my dear. Keep it up, and I’ll definitely keep reading. 🙂

    Your mother should be proud.

  3. I’ve been reading your stories and I just love how you bring the present into the past….or is it visa versa? 😕

    Anyway they are great fun to read and now only need illustrations to make them complete. 😆


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