The Remus Reid Story
By David Emery
Netlore Archive: Viral message euphemistically summarizes the life and times of 'Remus Reid,' allegedly the great-great uncle of U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid... and a train-robbing horse thief to boot!
Description: Viral joke
Circulating since: Jan. 2009 (this version)
Status: False (see details below)
Email contributed by an AOL user, Jan. 9, 2008:
FW: This is how Political Spin is done in DC
Analysis: This may come as a shock and a disappointment to some (while others will be shocked that anyone could possibly be shocked), but none of the above is true. It's an old joke, as a matter of fact, a bit of homespun political satire that has been circulating in various forms since 2000.
The image is actually a historical photo of the hanging of a New Mexico outlaw named Black Jack Ketchum in 1901.
The punchline ("Remus passed away during an important civic function held in his honor when the platform on which he was standing collapsed" i.e, he was hanged) was borrowed from an even older joke that made the rounds in genealogical circles in the mid-1980s. Here's a variant published in Fonda Baselt's The Sunny Side of Genealogy in 1988:
A family historian who was writing his family history was dismayed to find that an ancestor had been publicly hanged. In a moment of inspiration he wrote, "He died during a public ceremony, when the platform upon which he was standing collapsed beneath him."The joke first emerged in a political context when some anonymous wag invented a character named "Remus Rodham" to lampoon Hillary Rodham Clinton's family tree. The rest is history....
• The Remus Rodham Story
• The Chadsworth Gore Story
• The Chadsworth Bush Story
• The Remus Cheney Story
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Last updated: 01/10/09