The most famous painting in the world is perhaps Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. After he died, it became the possession of King Francis I of France. French royalty owned the painting for centuries, although they didn’t always choose to hang it in a place modern art lovers would consider appropriate. For a while, the Mona Lisa was displayed in the royal bathroom!
When he was a Captain, British Admiral Sir Raymond Lygo was asked to be an after-dinner speaker for the Rotarians. During the dinner, the head Rotarian asked Sir Raymond’s wife how long the speech would be and was shocked to hear that it would be 45 minutes. After the dinner, he announced to the diners, “Owing to the fact that the Captain’s speech will last for 45 minutes, I can allow you only five minutes to relieve yourselves.” Following the rush of the audience for the bathrooms and their return to the dining hall, the speech went well.
In 1960, Nan Robertson of the New York Times got a scoop when she interviewed Jackie Kennedy, wife of Presidential candidate John F. Kennedy. Getting the scoop was easy. Jackie walked into the bathroom of the Commodore Hotel in New York, and Ms. Robertson followed her, leaving behind several frustrated male reporters. In the bathroom, Ms. Robertson asked about rumors that Jackie had spent $30,000 on a clothing shopping spree. Jackie responded, “I couldn’t possibly spend that much on clothes unless I wore sable underwear.”
Researchers on Antarctica sometimes have to work without privacy. While working in the Dry Valleys for a few days, Rebecca L. Johnson and the men she was working with used a portable toilet called a “dunny” — a little red box equipped with a foam seat. Due to the landscape and to the lack of shelters, the dunny was placed out in the open, and its users had absolutely no privacy. Ms. Johnson says, “It’s amazing how quickly you can get used to something when you have no other options.”
When professional baseball player Jackie Robinson was competing in the Negro Leagues, he and his team traveled through the segregated South, where blacks were not allowed to use the restrooms in gas stations. Once, Mr. Robinson ordered the gas station attendant to stop putting gasoline into the team bus, then he explained that if he and the other black players couldn’t use the restroom, they weren’t going to buy 100 gallons of gasoline at the gas station. They were allowed to use the restroom.
Young gymnasts tend to look out for each other. At a gymnastics dormitory in the late 1970s, some young gymnasts would sneak away on Saturday afternoons to go to a Burger King for junk food favorites such as a double cheeseburger, fries, and shake. Young gymnast Jackie Cassello said, “If a dorm parent notices that a couple of kids are missing, we’ll stick up for them. We’ll say they’re in the bathroom.”
The worst job author Gary Paulsen ever had was replacing septic tanks while working for a septic tank company. Because he was new at the company, he had the worst job — emptying the sewage from the old tanks. Sometimes, Mr. Paulsen would be shoveling when a homeowner flushed the toilet and unintentionally gave him a shower of sewage — Mr. Paulsen’s fellow employees thought this was hilarious.
At the request of physicist Albert Einstein, the International Rescue Committee was founded to 1933 to help refugees. IRC caseworker Lang Ngan helps refugees arriving in New York City. In her job, she helps families learn all about life in the United States and has taught them such things as how to ride the subway, how to open savings and checking accounts at a bank, and even how to flush a toilet.
While on tour in Manchester in the 1950s, the London Philharmonic Orchestra played in an orchestra pit that was so small that the musicians were forced to open the door under the stage so they would have room for the overflow. On stage, Radames called, “Aïda, where art thou?” Immediately afterward, from the door under the stage was heard the loud flushing of a toilet.
Vaudeville comedian Ted Healy came on stage just after a bear act left. Unfortunately, the smallest bear had left a dropping as it exited, and the amused audience members were calling for the return of the bear act. Mr. Healy looked at the dropping, then he told the audience, “If that’s the kind of crap you want, I’ll do it myself.”
The Globe, which presented plays by its part-owner William Shakespeare, lacked bathrooms. Outside the theater, by the banks of the Thames, stood a row of outhouses. Inside the theater, some patrons may have used slop buckets to relieve themselves during the three hours or so it took to watch a play.
After a performance by stand-up comedian Joe Bolster, a woman who had been in the audience came up to him and said, “You were so funny, I pissed my pants.” She then opened her coat to show that she was drenched to her knees. Mr. Bolster replied, “I’m glad you didn’t shit — and thanks for coming.”
Players in the All American Girls Professional Baseball League during the 1940s and 1950s were required to wear feminine attire while appearing in public. For example, a player might wear pants while traveling on the team bus, but if she got off the bus to go to the bathroom, she had to put on a skirt.
Standup comedians quickly learn that the best way to meet a particular woman they see in the audience is to stand near the women’s restroom. Sooner or later, the woman they want to meet will use the facilities. In fact, that is how Jay Leno met his wife, Mavis.
Famous violinist Szymon Goldberg had some unusual talents. Once, he was disturbed during a concert by some background noise, so he stopped playing and requested a wrench. He went backstage, fixed a continuously running toilet, then resumed playing.
At the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival, Portajohns are known as Portajanes.
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved
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