ENUMERATORS find some remarkable Americans. One man said he remembered George Washington. Another said he was born on Mars, but when pressed for details, said it might have been Kansas.
A woman gave her age as 38 and her son's as 33. In one family each of the three members reported a different spelling of the last name. Each disliked the others' spelling.
Another family raised pigeons, which were allowed the run of the house. One family member was an evangelist, who knelt in prayer while the pigeons flew around the census taker's head.
Some people give enumerators the runaround. A Texas farmer, found riding his tractor, said he had to get the field plowed that day and couldn't stop to be interviewed. The census taker agreed to ask one question each time he passed by. It took five hours.
On an Indian reservation a census taker was asking for the correct birth dates of a family with 23 children. The mother arranged them in a row according to height. Commencing at one end, she gave the ages, about one year apart, until she came to number 10. She was not quite sure until she remembered, "Oh yes, that was the year of the big snow." She had to estimate the next four, but at number 15 the mother said, "Well, I remember this one; it was the year the salmon run in the river was light."
On her way to a farmhouse, one census taker was pinned against a fence by a donkey, until the animal became bored and ambled off. At another farm she was attached by a turkey protecting its turf. Screams and squawking brought the farmer to the interview.
One census taker, warned by a neighbor about the nasty dog next door, gathered his courage and strode up to the house, knocked on the door and was admitted. After completing the interview without event, he told the woman how relieved he was that the reports about her dog were false -- he hadn't even seen it. "Oh," she said, "he only bites people as they re leaving."