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Found this amusing story in the July 29, 1933 edition of the weekly magazine sold at the Century of Progress expo.

Mystic Numbers of the Magic Mountain

What number did the attendant shout when you slid down the spiral slide of the Magic Mountain on the Enchanted Isle?

Better try to remember. Did he yell "Twelve," or "Fourteen" or "Eighteen" or "Forty-nine" or what?

You may not have thought it was important at the time, just some system of counting the number of sliders. Nay, friend, that isn't the half of it.

The number is yelled by the starter at the top to the stopper at the bottom of the slide. It is the stopper's duty to catch the person who lands, if he or she needs catching. Nobody likes to emerge from the slide in an unbecoming bunch, and the stopper sees to it that nobody does.

So the numbers that the starter yells are a tip-off. "Twelve" means that the onrushing customer is a lady who is far from being emaciated. Better give her a hand at the exit. "Sixteen" is even worse yet. It means the lady is positively fat, and for heaven's sake don't let her land hard, be there to catch her.

"Seven" means a very young child, who may come out a trifle bewildered. "Fourteen" is a man with glasses, and "Eighteen" is an elderly person, and if you imagine no elderly person would be shooting down the kids' slide in the Magic Mountain than you just don't know what the Enchanted Island atmosphere does to elderly persons.

"Eleven" means a very pretty young girl. We don't know just exactly why the starter wishes to tell the stopper that a very pretty young girl is coming down the slide.

"Forty-nine" is a very useful number. Let us explain delicately. On some of the warmer days, a good many of the young things don't dress up as though it were wintertime, don't you know?So it is up to the stopper to act promptly and set the young lady on her feet with great dispatch.

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Reminds me of the various versions of "The Prison Joke" in John Barth's Tidewater Tales.


(I prefer the alternate punchline. When the new guy wonders why the prisoners burst out laughing, his cell mate wipes the tears of mirth from his eyes and says, "We never heard that one before!")

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