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David Bruce: Letters Stories


Jerry Clower

Country comedian Jerry Clower gets a lot of fan mail. Looking through a stack of mail one time, he came across a letter that had his own return address on it. He opened it, saw that it was from his daughter Sue, and read, “Dear Mother and Daddy, thank you for being such fine Christian parents. You show me how I ought to act. Love, Sue.”

On July 18, 1989, Rebecca Schaeffer, an actress on the television sitcom My Sister Sam, was murdered by a stalker. The prosecutor of the case was Marcia Clark, who kept in close contact with Ms. Schaeffer’s family. Just before the case went to trial, she wrote a long letter to Ms. Schaeffer’s mother, Danna, who said later, “It was a letter on a yellow legal pad, just about how personally connected she felt to Rebecca. That’s how she approached the case. She made us feel that she was working on our personal behalf.” The stalker was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole.

Comedian Lisa Geduldig is both Jewish and a lesbian. For her, family interaction is important. Sometimes, while doing her act she reads a letter from her parents. In it, they express sympathy about a recent breakup of her romantic relationship — and they try to set her up with a nice Jewish woman. However, to be honest, her parents didn’t write the letter. Ms. Geduldig grew tired of receiving emotionless letters from her parents, so whenever she writes them, she also writes the reply she would like to receive from them. She sends them the emotion-filled reply along with her letter and asks them to sign it and mail it back to her.

Even as a young woman, American poet Emily Dickinson suffered from a lack of privacy in her own home. For example, her father made her read any letters she received out loud. After receiving a letter from her brother, she wrote him back about reading his letter out loud to the family. First, she had gone through the letter and self-censored it, marking through the places she didn’t want to read out loud, then with her heart beating wildly, she read the letter to her family, pretending that she had not self-censored it, and her heart didn’t stop beating wildly until she had finished reading the letter.

In 1961, nine years after E.B. White had published Charlotte’s Web, a young reader wrote him to ask why he hadn’t written another children’s book since then. Mr. White was feeling testy that day, and he complained that he would have more time to write children’s books if only children would stop writing him letters. However, this doesn’t mean that Mr. White disliked children. Sometimes, they sent him awards and certificates, and Mr. White treasured these.

Playing at the Master’s Tournament is the dream of all golf players. After playing at the 1995 Master’s — his first — Tiger Woods sent this note to the Master’s officials: “Please accept my sincere thanks for providing me the opportunity to experience the most wonderful week of my life. It was fantasy land and Disney World wrapped into one. … it was here that I left my youth behind and became a man.”

For a while, writer Agatha Christie was very unhappy with the book jackets of her mysteries — some even gave away the solution! She forcibly let her publisher know that she did not want the book jackets to give away the solution to the mystery, or even to reveal the plot or depict any of her characters. After receiving a few strongly worded letters, her publisher did as she wished.

At one time, men’s gymnastics was not highly regarded in the United States. In 1964, the best men’s gymnast in the U.S., Rusty Mitchell, wrote a letter to The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, asking to be a guest on the show and offering to perform a double back flip on stage. In reply, he received a rejection letter from an associate producer.

Professional golfer Jimmy Demaret used to receive letters from people asking him to help them with their golf games. One letter said, “Jimmy, I’m busting my driver down the middle on every hole and I’m hitting my three wood 245 yards with about an eight-yard fade. What should I do?” Mr. Demaret wrote back, “Turn pro!”

After Julie Foudy won an Olympic gold medal as a member of the United States women’s national soccer team, she became a celebrity. One young girl wrote her, “I hope this is Julie Foudy the soccer player. You are my hero. Finally, I have a role model. If it wasn’t for you I’d probably have to play golf. I hate golf.”

John Waters is the filmmaker who made the infamous Pink Flamingoes, as well as several other films that celebrate trash. Once, he received a letter from a teenager who wrote him, “I’m in high school and I make films like you do. How come I get sent to the school psychiatrist and you get sent to Europe?”

Some celebrities are good sports. Gay author Michael Thomas Ford wrote a book titled Alec Baldwin Doesn’t Love Me: And Other Trials from My Queer Life. Far from being outraged, heterosexual actor Alec Baldwin sent Mr. Ford a very nice letter saying that he had enjoyed reading the book.

During World War II, Spike Milligan had a torrid affair with a W.A.A.F. Corporal named Bette. After he was shipped to fight overseas, she wrote him red-hot letters. To raise money, Mr. Mulligan used to auction them off to the lechers in his outfit.

James McNeill Whistler used drawings of a butterfly to adorn his letters. Whenever he wrote a biting comment in a letter, he would also put in a drawing of a butterfly — but he would give the tail end of the butterfly a stinger.

Carol Burnett seems so down to earth that it is difficult to think of her as the big Hollywood star she is. She sometimes receives letters that say such things as, “Dear Carol, I know this sounds crazy, but I really admire you.”


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved


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Robert Graves: Escape

August 6, 1916.—Officer previously reported died of wounds, now reported wounded: Graves, Captain R., Royal Welch Fusiliers.)

…but I was dead, an hour or more.
I woke when I’d already passed the door
That Cerberus guards, and half-way down the road
To Lethe, as an old Greek signpost showed.
Above me, on my stretcher swinging by,
I saw new stars in the subterrene sky:
A Cross, a Rose in bloom, a Cage with bars,
And a barbed Arrow feathered in fine stars.
I felt the vapours of forgetfulness
Float in my nostrils. Oh, may Heaven bless
Dear Lady Proserpine, who saw me wake,
And, stooping over me, for Henna’s sake
Cleared my poor buzzing head and sent me back
Breathless, with leaping heart along the track.
After me roared and clattered angry hosts
Of demons, heroes, and policeman-ghosts.
“Life! life! I can’t be dead! I won’t be dead!
Damned if I’ll die for any one!” I said….

Cerberus stands and grins above me now,
Wearing three heads—lion, and lynx, and sow.
“Quick, a revolver! But my Webley’s gone,
Stolen!… No bombs … no knife…. The crowd swarms on,
Bellows, hurls stones…. Not even a honeyed sop…
Nothing…. Good Cerberus!… Good dog!… but stop!
Stay!… A great luminous thought … I do believe
There’s still some morphia that I bought on leave.”
Then swiftly Cerberus’ wide mouths I cram
With army biscuit smeared with ration jam;

And sleep lurks in the luscious plum and apple.
He crunches, swallows, stiffens, seems to grapple
With the all-powerful poppy … then a snore,
A crash; the beast blocks up the corridor
With monstrous hairy carcase, red and dun—
Too late! for I’ve sped through.
O Life! O Sun!


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Alfred, Lord Tennyson: The Eagle

He clasps the crag with crooked hands;

Close to the sun in lonely lands,

Ringed with the azure world, he stands.

The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls;

He watches from his mountain walls,

And like a thunderbolt he falls.





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