Posts Tagged ‘The Legend of Joe’s Thumb’

I have no idea if the story I’m about to tell you is true or not. It was told to me years ago, and I have zero clue regarding names or other pertinent details. Perhaps somebody will recognize the story and help me clarify. Hell, it could be an urban legend for all I know. That said, it’s simply too good not to share. Believe it or not, it’s the story of a little boy’s thumb . . .

Not Joe’s thumb.

As the story goes, back in the late 60’s a little 8-year old boy in Bainbridge named Joe had an ugly accident and lost his thumb. It may have had something to do with sharpening lawnmower blades, though I can’t be sure. In any event, he was rushed to the local physician, a gentlemen named Doc Cutright (this I know is true – we had an elderly doctor in our town with the awesomely appropriate name of Cutright).  Long story short, Joe’s thumb couldn’t be reattached and somehow ended up in a jar of formaldehyde in the good doctor’s office. I guess he kept that sort of stuff, and I know not why. However, it’s important to note that young Joe nor his parents had any idea the thumb had been preserved for posterity.

Anyway, a couple of years later Joe moved away to parts unknown but his thumb remained, forgotten by the thumbless kid and the mists of time.

Well, not quite.

Years after, Dr. Cutright passed away and an auction was held to sell of various pieces of furniture, glassware, physician equipment . . . and apparently various body parts in jars. On a whim, or perhaps because he had a weird sense of humor or was maybe just a sick mofo, a former classmate of Joe’s named Tim bought his thumb. I believe the asking price was $5.00 but was negotiated down to $3.00. How do you put a value on a human body part anyway? But that’s neither here nor there. In the end the thumb was put on a shelf in Tim’s basement bar as a curiosity piece. If you didn’t know, disconnected human thumbs are great conversation starters.

While that’s interesting enough in itself, our story doesn’t end there. In fact, this is where our story begins . . .

Decades later, Joe returned to our small town, if only briefly. We have a yearly festival that a lot of people come back for, and this is why Joe was in town. Keep in mind this was 30-years after the 8-year old Joe had become separated from his thumb. As he was walking down the sidewalk with his wife, he heard his name being called . . .

“Joe! Hey Joe!”

It was Tim, across the street.

Joe: “Hey! Timmy! What’s up?”

Tim: “Dude! I have your thumb!”

Joe, nothing registering: “Uh, wh-u-u-u-t?”


Well, there’s something you don’t hear everyday.

It was then that Joe walked across the street and heard the story of how Tim had, in fact, come into possession of Joe’s long lost thumb. This was, as you might imagine, quite the surprise since Joe had no idea it was still in existence and intact.

As the story goes, Joe then walked over to Tim’s house to be reunited with his 35-year old, but actually 8-year old, thumb. Incidentally, you can say that last sentence the other way around and it will still make sense.

So Joe arrives at the house and is handed the jar with his thumb in it. Think about this, if you will, for just a second. Here is Joe, looking at his little thumb that was last in action way back in 1968. It was his thumb from when he was 8-years old. How surreal must this have been?

I can’t begin to fathom how that must have felt.

So there you have it. The Legend of Joe’s Thumb. Can I verify the details? I cannot. Did this actually happen in Bainbridge, Ohio? No idea.

But is it one helluva story?

Oh, yeah.

Note: Just a heads-up here. While looking for a photo to accompany this story, I typed “amputated thumb” into Google Images and hit the search button. Don’t ever do that.