Get off my lawn

posted Sep 18, 2017, 3:10 PM by Viktor Zólyomi
`Get off my lawn' as one might expect, is a phrase prevalent in similar context as `make like a tree,' and not just because of their direct relation to plant life. The main difference between them is that `make like a tree and leaf' is universally applicable wherever one might be, while `get off my lawn' is almost always used in gardens. One might think that the go to expression for telling a trespasser to leave your yard has been around since gardens were invented, but in reality the phrase was born in the 19th century.

A man named Buck Howell operated a farm in the town of Black Lake. He cultivated a variety of vegetables, and took great pride in his work. One day in the year 1868, he found his neighbor, Benjamin Henderson, knee deep in dirt in the middle of his cabbage patch. When he asked Mister Henderson for an explanation, his neighbor said that his wedding ring had slipped off his finger when he was working in his own garden, and it flew over the fence.

Buck Howell quietly swept his gaze over his carrot patch and his flower bed which spanned the ten or so yards between the cabbage patch and the fence. He counted the trampled flowers and dislodged carrots, then shook his head, and said to his neighbor, `get off my lawn.'

Mister Henderson insisted that he absolutely had to find the ring, otherwise, his wife would divorce him. In response, Buck Howell simply folded his arms and repeated his request. When his neighbor refused to budge and continued to rummage around in the cabbage patch, he turned away and walked into the house.

According to the memoirs of Benjamin Henderson, the distressed neighbor was at first afraid that Buck Howell would come back with a shotgun. Instead, he came out of the house wearing thick gloves and a beekeeper helmet. Relieved that Mister Howell would simply get on with his chores and leave him be after all, he went back to looking for his ring. That was until Buck Howell came back carrying one of his beehives.

`I told you to get off my lawn, neighbor,' Mister Howell said, and then simply dropped the hive into the cabbage patch.

The memoirs of Mister Henderson write in excruciating detail about how difficult and humiliating it was for him to have to eat through a straw after that day, and how grateful he was for his good fortune in that the bees did not destroy his eyes.

Despite the lack of witnesses and the utter difficulty Benjamin Henderson faced in trying to speak, news of the incident spread like wildfire and it wasn't long before everyone in Black Lake knew not to mess with Buck Howell's bees, the true deterring power behind the words `get off my lawn.' And while most of the world is unaware of the true and horrible origins of this expression, the people of Black Lake keep the legend alive by always using the expression in its extended form: `get off my lawn, lest the bees eat your face.'

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