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Natty Bumppo, euchre spruiker

Spruiker: a person who harangues prospective customers.
The Macquarie Book of Australian Slang.

Quirky Kentucky counsel, Natty Bumppo, loves playing euchre after church on Sundays. He's a world authority on that once-popular card game, and has written a book on it. "Euchre is a poor man's bridge," Natty declares. "Bridge is for discerners. Chess is for discerners. Euchre is for drunken slobs who think they know what they are doing."

Here's how he promotes the book on his website:

Attention: Aussies! Brits! Canadians! Kiwis!

Now you, too, can afford
The Columbus Book of Euchre - ISBN 0960489460

The first book published on this exciting card game since 1905: The rules according to Hoyle, the rules according to Columbus (Indiana), rules for two-handed euchre, rules for euchre solitaire, ploys and axioms. Donít sit between the markers, donít trump your partnerís ace, and donít order up anything you canít catch!

90 pages, 19 full color illustrations

The book is published by Borf Books. Natty's second wife (he's had five wives, but divorced only four) invented the name BORF, a word which, copied by a graffitist, now decorates or disfigures countless buildings and sidewalks in the national capital, Washington DC.

"My lovely ex-second wife invented the word Borf in 1976," he told us by email. "She just made the word up on the spur of the moment, when challenged by her 10-year-old daughter."

Natty is an offbeat Brownsville attorney who used to be called John Dean, until another young lawyer with that name achieved notoriety in the Watergate presidential scandal.

So he changed his own name to Nathaniel John Balthazar Bumppo, and has relished using it ever since. He says he discovered it in a reference to one of novelist James Fenimore Cooper's native American characters in Garry Wills' book Nixon Agonistes.

In 1975, he wrote a hilarious article, Why I'd Rather Be Natty Bumppo Than John Dean (Wouldn't Everybody?) which Esquire Magazine published in June of that year.

Kentucky's John Dean (born 1940), was a reporter on the Terre Haute Star, 1960; Associated Press, 1962-1963; Indianapolis Star, 1963-1967 ("first beard in city room, 1967"); Detroit News, 1969, and a copy editor on the Indianapolis Star, 1967; Chicago Sun-Times, 1967-1968, 1969-1974; San Francisco Examiner, 1968; Detroit Free Press, 1969.

He worked as a bartender at the Golden Horse Shoe saloon, Oakland, California, in 1968, a Candygram delivery man for Western Union, San Francisco, on Valentine's Day, 1969, and a mail order minister of the Universal Life Church (bonded to perform marriages) in 1974.

Then, seeking a new career, he studied law and later established his practice in Brownsville. He also runs Borf Books, and compiles an irreverent weekly Internet newsletter called Tabloid Headlines.

On Sunday mornings (and sometimes on Sunday afternoons "for devout churchgoers") Natty conducts online euchre lessons. And just after church on Sunday, he presides over a Weekly World News Round Table at Borf Books' office.

A recent issue of his Tabloid Headlines newsletter said "Guest speakers lined up for meetings in the near future include Debra Lafave and John Fitzgibbons, her attorney (we tried to get her 14-year-old boy friend, but he's been grounded), and -- Karl Rove!"

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Story first posted October 2005

Copyright © 2005

Eric Shackle

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