David Bruce: Mothers Anecdotes

• While running his dog sled team one day, using a wheeled cart instead of a sled because it was spring, children’s book author Gary Paulsen came across a dead ruffled grouse and a nest of her eggs. He took the 14 eggs home and put them in the nest of a banty hen named Hawk. This simple action may have been a mistake, as it brought down what his wife called a “summer of terror” on the Paulsen household. The eggs hatched, and Hawk devoted her life to protecting her chicks. However, ruffled grouse can fly much further than banty hens, which meant that Hawk had to patrol a wide area to protect the young grouse. Hawk therefore sat on top of a woodpile and whenever the grouse were threatened — or Hawk thought they were threatened — she charged down the woodpile and attacked whatever she thought needed attacking. A fox once grabbed a chick and Hawk slammed into the fox so hard that spit flew from the fox’s mouth as it let go of the chick. Unfortunately, Hawk attacked some things that didn’t need to be attacked — such as Mr. Paulsen’s wife, son, cat, and dog. On one occasion, his wife went to get some tomatoes from the garden, and when she returned, the tomatoes were smeared on her shirt — this despite the bicycle helmet she had worn for protection from the attack that she knew was coming. Smeared with tomatoes, she announced to her husband, “The Hawk strikes again.” After the ruffled grouse grew up, Hawk calmed down — but the Paulsen pets were still very careful when they were near her.

• During World War II, German soprano Elizabeth Schumann raised money for the Allies, but her son was a pilot for the Nazis. In 1945, while she was in London, she learned that during the Sicilian campaign her son had lost a leg after his plane was shot down. Being a mother, she wanted to help her son, even if he was on the wrong side in the war, so she tried to enlist the help of a friend in getting a well-made prothesis to her son. The friend — who was bitter because of the many deaths that had occurred due to the Nazi bombing of London — replied that since her son had fought for Hitler, he would not help him. Ms. Schumann never again spoke to the former friend.

• While Tim Conway was appearing on TV in the sitcom McHale’s Navy, his mother called him to say, “You know, one of the Schutt boys is leaving the hardware store. There’s an opening. You know the other boys, so if you could apply for that job, it would probably be to your benefit.” He asked if she wanted him to work in a hardware store instead of on TV. She replied, “Yes — because the hardware store is a much steadier job. At least you know where you’re going to work in the morning and how long you’re going to be there.”

• Adelina Patti’s mother was willing to use underhanded methods to help her to succeed. Once, Ms. Patti was singing with a rival who had shaved her real eyebrows and put on false eyebrows. Ms. Patti’s mother wanted to make the rival look ridiculous, so she began to stare at the rival. Under her breath, the rival asked, “What is the matter?” Ms. Patti’s mother lied, “Your right eyebrow has fallen off!” Immediately, the rival tore off her left eyebrow and for the rest of the act wore only a right eyebrow.

• Ezra Stone played the part of teenager Harry Aldrich on The Aldrich Familyradio program. Following World War II, because space was lacking, he shared his dressing room with singer Jo Stafford. One day, his mother came to visit and was surprised to find his dressing room closet filled with frilly feminine garments. Mr. Stone, a happily married man, had to convince his mother that he was not keeping a mistress on the side.

• When she was a very young gymnast, Tracee Talavera’s worst-scoring event was the vault; however, she did receive five perfect scores of 10 from the judges of this event at the final trials for a United States World Championship team. When Tracee called home with the good news, her astonished mother asked, “Tracee, did the vaulting judges have seeing-eye dogs?”

• As a young, unknown musician in Paris, cellist Pablo Casals made little money, so his mother took on such jobs as sewing to bring in more money. One day, Mr. Casals was saddened to learn that his mother had sold her long, beautiful hair to a wigmaker. However, she said, “It is only hair, and hair grows back.”

• After her first book, The Joy Luck Club, became a runaway success, author Amy Tan was asked what her mother thought of the book. Ms. Tan replied that her mother went into bookstores, looking for her book, and if she didn’t see it, she scolded the bookstore employees.

• If you ever get a chance to see a mother bobcat in a zoo, look at the back of her ears. You will see white spots. The mother bobcat’s kittens see the white spots, which make her more visible and help them to follow closely behind the mother bobcat when necessary.

• Microsoft founder Bill Gates’ mother was a remarkable woman. Mary Gates served on the boards of several big organizations, including United Way and First Interstate Bancorp. When she was a schoolgirl, her friends called her “Giggles.”

• On September 7, 1941, Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s mother died. While going through her possessions, he found a box containing some of his baby toys and some gifts that he had made for her when he was a child. He cried.

• Soprano Rita Hunter’s mother was very proud of her. While Ms. Hunter was singing in Gotterdammerung, her mother turned to a friend and asked, “My God, did I really give birth to that!”

• Amelia Earhart was the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. Her mother, Amy, also made a first — she was the first woman to climb to the top of Pike’s Peak.


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved


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Voltaire’s CANDIDE: Chapter 16. What Happened to Our Two Travelers with Two Girls, Two Monkeys, and the Savages, Called Oreillons

Chapter 16. What Happened to Our Two Travelers with Two Girls, Two Monkeys, and the Savages, Called Oreillons

Candide and his valet had already passed the frontiers before it was known that the German Jesuit was dead. The wary Cacambo had taken care to fill his wallet with bread, chocolate, some ham, some fruit, and a few bottles of wine. They penetrated with their Andalusian horses into a strange country, where they could discover no beaten path. At length a beautiful meadow, intersected with purling rills, opened to their view. Cacambo proposed to his master to take some nourishment, and he set him an example.

“How can you desire me to feast upon ham, when I have killed the Baron’s son and am doomed never more to see the beautiful Cunegund? What will it avail me to prolong a wretched life that must be spent far from her in remorse and despair? And then what will the journal of Trevoux say?” was Candide’s reply.

While he was making these reflections he still continued eating. The sun was now on the point of setting when the ears of our two wanderers were assailed with cries which seemed to be uttered by a female voice. They could not tell whether these were cries of grief or of joy; however, they instantly started up, full of that inquietude and apprehension which a strange place naturally inspires. The cries proceeded from two young women who were tripping disrobed along the mead, while two monkeys followed close at their heels biting at their limbs. Candide was touched with compassion; he had learned to shoot while he was among the Bulgarians, and he could hit a filbert in a hedge without touching a leaf. Accordingly he took up his double-barrelled Spanish gun, pulled the trigger, and laid the two monkeys lifeless on the ground.

“God be praised, my dear Cacambo, I have rescued two poor girls from a most perilous situation; if I have committed a sin in killing an Inquisitor and a Jesuit, I have made ample amends by saving the lives of these two distressed damsels. Who knows but they may be young ladies of a good family, and that the assistance I have been so happy to give them may procure us great advantage in this country?”

He was about to continue when he felt himself struck speechless at seeing the two girls embracing the dead bodies of the monkeys in the tenderest manner, bathing their wounds with their tears, and rending the air with the most doleful lamentations.

“Really,” said he to Cacambo, “I should not have expected to see such a prodigious share of good nature.”

“Master,” replied the knowing valet, “you have made a precious piece of work of it; do you know that you have killed the lovers of these two ladies?”

“Their lovers! Cacambo, you are jesting! It cannot be! I can never believe it.”

“Dear sir,” replied Cacambo, “you are surprised at everything. Why should you think it so strange that there should be a country where monkeys insinuate themselves into the good graces of the ladies? They are the fourth part of a man as I am the fourth part of a Spaniard.”

“Alas!” replied Candide, “I remember to have heard my master Pangloss say that such accidents as these frequently came to pass in former times, and that these commixtures are productive of centaurs, fauns, and satyrs; and that many of the ancients had seen such monsters; but I looked upon the whole as fabulous.”

“Now you are convinced,” said Cacambo, “that it is very true, and you see what use is made of those creatures by persons who have not had a proper education; all I am afraid of is that these same ladies may play us some ugly trick.”

These judicious reflections operated so far on Candide as to make him quit the meadow and strike into a thicket. There he and Cacambo supped, and after heartily cursing the Grand Inquisitor, the Governor of Buenos Ayres, and the Baron, they fell asleep on the ground. When they awoke they were surprised to find that they could not move; the reason was that the Oreillons who inhabit that country, and to whom the ladies had given information of these two strangers, had bound them with cords made of the bark of trees. They saw themselves surrounded by fifty naked Oreillons armed with bows and arrows, clubs, and hatchets of flint; some were making a fire under a large cauldron; and others were preparing spits, crying out one and all, “A Jesuit! a Jesuit! we shall be revenged; we shall have excellent cheer; let us eat this Jesuit; let us eat him up.”

“I told you, master,” cried Cacambo, mournfully, “that these two wenches would play us some scurvy trick.”

Candide, seeing the cauldron and the spits, cried out, “I suppose they are going either to boil or roast us. Ah! what would Pangloss say if he were to see how pure nature is formed? Everything is right; it may be so; but I must confess it is something hard to be bereft of dear Miss Cunegund, and to be spitted like a rabbit by these barbarous Oreillons.”

Cacambo, who never lost his presence of mind in distress, said to the disconsolate Candide, “Do not despair; I understand a little of the jargon of these people; I will speak to them.”

“Ay, pray do,” said Candide, “and be sure you make them sensible of the horrid barbarity of boiling and roasting human creatures, and how little of Christianity there is in such practices.”

“Gentlemen,” said Cacambo, “you think perhaps you are going to feast upon a Jesuit; if so, it is mighty well; nothing can be more agreeable to justice than thus to treat your enemies. Indeed the law of nature teaches us to kill our neighbor, and accordingly we find this practiced all over the world; and if we do not indulge ourselves in eating human flesh, it is because we have much better fare; but for your parts, who have not such resources as we, it is certainly much better judged to feast upon your enemies than to throw their bodies to the fowls of the air; and thus lose all the fruits of your victory.

“But surely, gentlemen, you would not choose to eat your friends. You imagine you are going to roast a Jesuit, whereas my master is your friend, your defender, and you are going to spit the very man who has been destroying your enemies; as to myself, I am your countryman; this gentleman is my master, and so far from being a Jesuit, give me leave to tell you he has very lately killed one of that order, whose spoils he now wears, and which have probably occasioned your mistake. To convince you of the truth of what I say, take the habit he has on and carry it to the first barrier of the Jesuits’ kingdom, and inquire whether my master did not kill one of their officers. There will be little or no time lost by this, and you may still reserve our bodies in your power to feast on if you should find what we have told you to be false. But, on the contrary, if you find it to be true, I am persuaded you are too well acquainted with the principles of the laws of society, humanity, and justice, not to use us courteously, and suffer us to depart unhurt.”

This speech appeared very reasonable to the Oreillons; they deputed two of their people with all expedition to inquire into the truth of this affair, who acquitted themselves of their commission like men of sense, and soon returned with good tidings for our distressed adventurers. Upon this they were loosed, and those who were so lately going to roast and boil them now showed them all sorts of civilities, offered them girls, gave them refreshments, and reconducted them to the confines of their country, crying before them all the way, in token of joy, “He is no Jesuit! he is no Jesuit!”

Candide could not help admiring the cause of his deliverance. “What men! what manners!” cried he. “If I had not fortunately run my sword up to the hilt in the body of Miss Cunegund’s brother, I should have certainly been eaten alive. But, after all, pure nature is an excellent thing; since these people, instead of eating me, showed me a thousand civilities as soon as they knew I was not a Jesuit.”


Source: https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Candide