When she was a student nurse, Ethel Gillette went to a hospital for her first clinical. She took care of a patient, and all went until the patient said, “I want my robe, please.” Three robes were hanging in the closet, but the patient said, “No, dear — I want the blue one I had on before my bath. It’s my favorite because it’s the last gift my niece gave me. She was killed in an automobile accident a year ago.” Ms. Gillette thought, and she realized that she had gathered the blue robe along with the bed sheets and she had put everything down a laundry chute. She knew that the bleach used at the hospital would ruin the robe. She said, “Would you excuse me, please?” Then she went to her instructor and asked to take a break. Just by looking at her, her instructor knew that something was wrong, and she asked, “Gillette, what did you do?” Ms. Gillette explained the situation, and her instructor said, “All right — run. Find the nearest stairway and run down to the basement.” It took her a while to find the laundry room, and it was filled with soiled linen, but she realized that it would be impossible to replace the blue robe because of its sentimental value. She kept opening up bags of soiled linen, and each time she opened up five bags of soiled line, she thought to herself, Just five more, and I’ll quit. The 35thbag of soiled linen held the blue robe. She took it back to the patient’s room and laundered it by hand and hung it over a towel rack to dry. She writes, “I went back in [the patient’s room], explained what had happened and we both had a good laugh; hers from amusement, mine from relief.”
When Jon Scieszka, who would later be an author of books for young people, was a kid, he and his older brother Jim often got in trouble. For example, their mother told them not to wrestle in the living room because they would break something. Ignoring her warning, they wrestled in the living room, and they broke the front two legs of the couch. Jon was plenty worried about what would happen when their mother found out, but Jim said, “Don’t worry. I know exactly what to say.” Their mother found out, and she asked them, “What happened to the couch?” Jim replied, “Jon did it.” Jim and Jon shared a bedroom in the basement, which sometimes got cold, so they sometimes used an electric heater. One day they got the idea that they could put out the electric heater the same way that they put out campfires—by peeing on it. The air filled with a nasty odor of fried urine, and they unplugged the heater and opened the windows wide on a freezing day. Jon says, “And whenever our mom asked us about the heater, we said we didn’t really need it anymore.”
Costume designer Edith Head and actress Bette Davis worked together in many films, with good results. Still, mishaps occurred. Fortunately, the mishaps sometimes resulted in improvements to the costumes. For the film All About Eve, Ms. Head designed a dress with a square neckline, but when the dress was finished (the night before the scene was to be shot, due to a tight deadline) and Ms. Davis put it on before filming a scene, the neckline was too big for her. To fix the dress would take time, and that meant that filming the scene had to be delayed. However, Ms. Head told Ms. Davis that she would tell the director, Joe Mankiewicz, what had happened. But Ms. Davis called Ms. Head back before she left the dressing room. Ms. Davis had pulled the neckline of the dress off her shoulders. She asked Ms. Head, “Don’t you like it better like this, anyway?” Ms. Head says, “It looked wonderful, and I could have hugged her. In fact, I think I did.” Ms. Davis’ off-the-shoulder dress is a well-loved movie costume.
Registered nurse Carol F. Cleland ran a student health center at a college, and she often invited an elderly dean — who sometimes expressed concerns about the sexual activity of the students — to visit, but he never did. The college suffered an outbreak of hepatitis, and several students went to the student health center for injections. The elderly dean also let her know that he wanted an injection. Ms. Cleland gave an injection to a male student who was over 6 feet tall and weighed over 200 pounds. However, the student — with his pants still around his ankles — fainted. Ms. Cleland tried to catch him, but he was too heavy, and she fell down with him on top of her. At that moment, the elderly dean walked in.
When Piper Laurie was a young starlet, her studio sent her to many events. She says, “They were breaking me in, getting me used to people staring at me.” One such event was a medical convention, where she was given a bag and told to help herself to the free goodies. She remembers, “They had all of these medical products. I walked around, and there was nothing that really appealed to me until I saw these little packages, which I thought maybe had bubble gum in them. So I just filled my bag with them. They were actually condoms. The publicity guy saw it with a mixture of hilarity and terror—he confiscated them.”
Opera singers sometimes have jokes that they play on stage. While singing opposite Siegfried Jerusalem in a performance of Tristan at Bayreuth, soprano Waltraud Meier shocked conductor Daniel Barenboim by substituting a line from an operetta for a line from Tristan. She says, “I’ve always wanted to sing that—once! It rhymes better!” In addition, Ms. Meier says, Siegfried Jerusalem, who was singing the role of Tristan, sang about spaghetti in the second act. By the way, no critic noticed.
In 1953, Ohio University basketball player Dick Garrison prepared to go into a game and took off his sweat pants, but instead of running onto the court, he ran to the locker room — he had forgotten to put on his trunks.
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved
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