David Bruce: Crime Anecdotes



By Unidentified. Publisher: Childs & Lehman. https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=47376386

Pioneer preacher Lorenzo Dow was staying at an inn when a man announced that his wallet had been taken from his room. The thief had to be present at the inn since no one had left the inn since the robbed man had arrived. How to catch the thief? Mr. Dow brought a rooster into the inn and set a large black kettle over the rooster, trapping it. He then announced that he would extinguish the lamps and each person present should come forward one at a time and touch the bottom of the kettle—the rooster would crow when the thief touched the kettle. After enough time had passed for each person to touch the kettle, Mr. Dow lit the lamps, then he examined each person’s hands. All but one person had black on their hands from where they had touched the kettle’s bottom—the only person who had been afraid to touch the kettle was the thief.

An innkeeper joined a band of robbers and set up guests to be robbed by telling them at night that a caravan had passed and that they should join it so they would not be robbed. When the guests left the inn in hopes of catching up with the caravan, the robbers fell upon them and took their money and goods. Rabbi Meir was a guest at that inn one night, and the innkeeper woke him up to tell him to catch up with the caravan. However, Rabbi Meir explained that it was night and the night was populated with robbers. The innkeeper insisted that Rabbi Meir would be safe in the caravan, so Rabbi Meir then explained that he could not leave without his brother Ki Tov, adding, “When you find Ki Tov, who is now in the synagogue, I will leave.” The innkeeper went to the synagogue, searching for Ki Tov, while Rabbi Meir stayed in bed and slept. In the morning, when it was light, Rabbi Meir left the inn but met the innkeeper, who complained, “I called all night for your brother, but no one answered.” Rabbi Meir replied, “In the Torah, God calls the light Ki Tov, which means “it is good.” One always finds light in the synagogue, for the Torah is there, and it guides our way. And now that it is morning—and safe—one finds light everywhere.”

In the presence of several dignitaries of the town, a stranger gave Rabbi Michaela Spitzkopf of Roshostadt a large sum of money to keep safe for him because the town had no banks. However, when the stranger wanted his money back, the rabbi said that the stranger had entrusted no money to him. Enraged and shocked, the stranger appealed to the town’s dignitaries, but each of the dignitaries backed up the rabbi and said that the stranger had entrusted no money to the rabbi. Eventually, the stranger despaired and gave up, and then the town dignitaries left. At this time, the rabbi gave the stranger back all his money. Surprised but happy, the stranger asked the rabbi why he had earlier said that the stranger had entrusted no money to him. Rabbi Michaela replied, “I wanted you to see what kind of dignitaries this town has, so that you can be on your guard against them.”

In Concord, New Hampshire, the family of Sandy Halotte became the victims of a crime when their jack-o’-lantern was stolen from their front porch the week before Halloween. Her daughters—ages 5 and 8—took the theft hard, and they cried. However, the thief did not remain a thief long. Apparently, the theft stirred up a long-forgotten memory in him because the next day the Halotte family found the jack-o’-lantern back on their porch, along with this note: “Sorry, I forgot. It happened to me when I was 3, and I cried my brains out. I’m really sorry.” (We cannot applaud the thief for taking the jack-o’-lantern, but we can applaud the thief for returning it,)

Fashion maven Janet Charlton opened a clothing store—where she gleefully tormented shoplifters. Whenever she caught a shoplifter, she would handcuff the guilty person to the desk in her office, then ask the guilty person for twice what the shoplifted item was worth. If the guilty person did not have the money, she would allow the guilty person one telephone call to contact someone who would bring over the money. If the guilty person was not able to call someone who would bring over the money, she would call the police, and when the police took the guilty person away, she would yell at the guilty person in the street: “CRIME DOESN’T PAY!”

The theft of office and other supplies is a major problem for many companies. In the early days of Walt Disney Studios, Bob Beemiller was visited in his studio office at the end of the day by fellow employees John Sibley and Jack Kinney. As Mr. Beemiller prepared to leave, he stuffed his pockets with art and office supplies: animation paper, erasers, pushpins, and pencils. Mr. Sibley asked what he was doing, and Mr. Beemiller explained that he was getting ready to do another job later that day for a friend—a religious film.

Muhammad Ali signed autographs for a long time one day, and later he discovered that someone had picked his pocket—someone had taken $5,000 from his coat pocket. His manager lamented the loss, but Mr. Ali was philosophical about it, saying, “I don’t care about that money. The person who stole it probably needed it for their rent or to feed their children. That money will help someone, and that makes me feel good.”

New York Yankee pitcher Lefty Gomez once played with a first baseman who seemed about to be thrown in jail for income-tax evasion. When Lefty was asked how he felt playing with someone who might in jail by the time the next game started, he replied, “Well, it’ll be an awfully long throw for the shortstop.”

When Valerie Solanis shot Andy Warhol, he collapsed onto the floor, bleeding profusely. Factory regular Billy Name got to him first, and Mr. Warhol told him, “Don’t … don’t … don’t make me laugh. It hurts too much.”



Charles Hamilton Sorley: “Route March”

All the hills and vales along
Earth is bursting into song,
And the singers are the chaps
Who are going to die perhaps.
     O sing, marching men,
     Till the valleys ring again.
     Give your gladness to earth’s keeping,
     So be glad, when you are sleeping.

Cast away regret and rue,
Think what you are marching to,
Little live, great pass.
Jesus Christ and Barabbas
Were found the same day.
This died, that, went his way.
     So sing with joyful breath.
     For why, you are going to death.
     Teeming earth will surely store
     All the gladness that you pour.

Earth that never doubts nor fears
Earth that knows of death, not tears,
Earth that bore with joyful ease
Hemlock for Socrates,
Earth that blossomed and was glad
‘Neath the cross that Christ had,
Shall rejoice and blossom too
When the bullet reaches you.
     Wherefore, men marching
     On the road to death, sing!
     Pour gladness on earth’s head,
     So be merry, so be dead.

From the hills and valleys earth
Shouts back the sound of mirth,
Tramp of feet and lilt of song
Ringing all the road along.
All the music of their going,
Ringing swinging glad song-throwing,
Earth will echo still, when foot
Lies numb and voice mute.
     On marching men, on
     To the gates of death with song.
     Sow your gladness for earth’s reaping,
     So you may be glad though sleeping.
     Strew your gladness on earth’s bed,
     So be merry, so be dead.


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Arthur Guiterman: “On The Vanity Of Earthly Greatness” (YouTube)



On the Vanity of Earthly Greatness


The tusks that clashed in mighty brawls

Of mastodons, are billiard balls.

The sword of Charlemagne the Just

Is Ferric Oxide, known as rust. 

The grizzly bear, whose potent hug,

Was feared by all, is now a rug.

Great Caesar’s bust is on the shelf,

And I don’t feel so well myself.


Written by Arthur Guiterman


Read by Jean Aked


A.E. Housman: Terence, This is Stupid Stuff




‘Terence, this is stupid stuff:

You eat your victuals fast enough;

There’s nothing much amiss, ’tis clear,

To see the rate you drink your beer.

But oh, good Lord, the verse you make,

It gives a chap the belly-ache.

The cow, the old cow, she is dead;

It sleeps well, the hornéd head:

We poor lads, ’tis our turn now

To hear such tunes as killed the cow.

Pretty friendship ’tis to rhyme

Your friends to death before their time

Moping melancholy mad:

Come, pipe a tune to dance to, lad.’


Why, if ’tis dancing you would be,

There’s brisker pipes than poetry.

Say, for what were hop-yards meant,

Or why was Burton built on Trent?

Oh many a peer of England brews

Livelier liquor than the Muse,

And malt does more than Milton can

To justify God’s ways to man.

Ale, man, ale’s the stuff to drink

For fellows whom it hurts to think:

Look into the pewter pot

To see the world as the world’s not.

And faith, ’tis pleasant till ’tis past:

The mischief is that ’twill not last.

Oh I have been to Ludlow fair

And left my necktie God knows where,

And carried halfway home, or near,

Pints and quarts of Ludlow beer:

Then the world seemed none so bad,

And I myself a sterling lad;

And down in lovely muck I’ve lain,

Happy till I woke again.

Then I saw the morning sky:

Heigho, the tale was all a lie;

The world, it was the old world yet,

I was I, my things were wet,

And nothing now remained to do

But begin the game anew.

Therefore, since the world has still

Much good, but much less good than ill,

And while the sun and moon endure

Luck’s a chance, but trouble’s sure,

I’d face it as a wise man would,

And train for ill and not for good.

’Tis true, the stuff I bring for sale

Is not so brisk a brew as ale:

Out of a stem that scored the hand

I wrung it in a weary land.

But take it: if the smack is sour

The better for the embittered hour;

It will do good to heart and head

When your soul is in my soul’s stead;

And I will friend you, if I may,

In the dark and cloudy day.


There was a king reigned in the East:

There, when kings will sit to feast,

They get their fill before they think

With poisoned meat and poisoned drink.

He gathered all that sprang to birth

From the many-venomed earth;

First a little, thence to more,

He sampled all her killing store;

And easy, smiling, seasoned sound,

Sate the king when healths went round.

They put arsenic in his meat

And stared aghast to watch him eat;

They poured strychnine in his cup

And shook to see him drink it up:

They shook, they stared as white’s their shirt:

Them it was their poison hurt.

— I tell the tale that I heard told.

Mithridates, he died old.


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