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.

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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