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As It Was: Powerful Fireplace Draft Sucks in Preacher’s Toupee

A contract mail carrier for 39 years beginning in 1898, Hathaway Jones, dreamed up some really tall tales as he traveled alone through Southern Oregon’s rugged Rogue River Canyon.

Historian Stephen Dow Beckham’s preface to the book titled Tall Tales from Rogue River: The Yarns of Hathaway Jones said it contained “the tales of a colorful character who was proud of his reputation as the biggest liar in the country.”

One story told how Hathaway built a fireplace with a chimney draft so powerful that when the flue and the cabin’s front porch were both open, the draft sucked in wood stacked on the porch.

Once his wife held a tea on the porch for a new preacher with a reputation as a ladies’ man. The women were “goggle eyed and listening to every word,” Jones said, so he sneaked into the cabin through the back door and opened the chimney flue.

“The draft sucked the toupee right off ... the preacher’s head,” Jones said, adding, “The ladies all put their hands over their mouths and he got up and left. He moved the next day and never came back.”

Source: Jones, Hathaway. Tall Tales from Rogue River: The Yarns of Hathaway Jones (Northwest Reprints). Corvallis, Ore.: Oregon State University Press, 1991. Web. 14 Sept. 2015. .

Kernan Turner is the Southern Oregon Historical Society’s volunteer editor and coordinator of the As It Was series broadcast daily by Jefferson Public Radio. A University of Oregon journalism graduate, Turner was a reporter for the Coos Bay World and managing editor of the Democrat-Herald in Albany before joining the Associated Press in Portland in 1967. Turner spent 35 years with the AP before retiring in Ashland.