Waupaca man’s family quip wins annual contest
By Robert Cloud
A Rural man’s wisecrack about his marriage won the 2015 Burlington Liars Club’s World Champion Lie Contest.
“I grew up in a family with 16 children,” according to Gene O’Brien. “I never got to sleep alone until I got married!”
O’Brien grew up with 15 siblings on a farm in the Manawa area. So his champion fib is partially true.
Married to his wife, Jeanne O’Brien, , O’Brien said he has been sharing that one-liner for nearly half a century
“I’ve been saying that statement since right after I was married,” O’Brien said. “She’s been putting up with me for nearly 50 years, so I think I can get away with it.”
A retired building contractor, O’Brien lives in the unincorporated village of Rural, south of Waupaca.
O’Brien said his friend, Daryl Lockwood, won the Burlington Liars Club contest in 2013.
“He’s been telling me to submit that line to the contest for years,” O’Brien said. “Then, he submitted it for me.”
Lockwood’s winning whopper from two years ago was, “My new health insurance plan contained so many clauses that Santa is considering suing for defamation of character.”
Neil Everts, of New London, took second place in the liars contest. His submission read, “It has been so dry here that the river is only running every other day.”
“I’m the president of the Burlington Liars Club and the president of the Burlington Historical Society. If you can believe that,” said Dennis Tully.
Tully said the Burlington Liars Club dates back to 1929 when a local reporter needed to submit copy to newspapers in Milwaukee and Chicago during the holidays. Since there was no crime or fires to report, he made up a story about a fibbing contest.
Although the accounts vary, the contest’s judges were lawyers and reporters because they were experts at lying. They met at the police station.
First place in the imaginary first contest reportedly went to the town’s police chief when he said he could not compete because he never told a lie. The judges knew better.
To the reporter’s surprise, his story made its way into newspapers across the country.
When asked for a photo of the winner, the reporter brought several other Burlington residents, including the police chief and the mayor, in on his hoax. The Burlington Liars Club was then formed.
Over the years, the club has been receiving hundreds of lies, whoppers and fibs annually.
“Once we got about 320 entries. It must have been an election year,” Tully said.
The winning entry in 1962 came from Walter Lewis, of Williamsport, Ohio: “It was so dry here this year that when my canary wanted a drink, I had to pull up the well and run it through the wringer.”
“We were so poor in our youth that our parents couldn’t afford window shopping,” according to Robert E. Regent, of Milwaukee, who won the contest in 1974.
In 2009, Larry Legro, of Sun Prairie, submitted the winning entry with this topical line: “I just realized how bad the economy really is. I recently bought a new toaster oven and as a complimentary gift, I was given a bank.”
Tully said the deadline to enter a lie into the contest is the week before Christmas.
There is no entry fee. However, it costs $1 to join the club.
Go to www.burlingtonliarsclub.com for more information.