David Bruce: Friends Anecdotes

• Working together, friends Steven Jobs and Stephen Wozniak created Apple Computer. It was Mr. Jobs who came up with the name. He remembered a very happy time he had spent in Oregon picking apples. Mr. Jobs also created the company logo: an apple with a bite taken out of it. Mr. Wozniak was also pretty good at coming up with names. When he went back (after having dropped out earlier, and after having left Apple) to the University of California at Berkeley, the world-famous computer genius was seldom recognized because he used a pseudonym at school: Rocky Raccoon Clark. (“Clark” was the last name of his then-wife: Candy Clark.) “Rocky Raccoon” is the title of a song by the Beatles. The two friends also had other talents. After retiring from Apple Computer, Mr. Wozniak expanded his Los Gatos, California, home. Among other attractions, it has a limestone cave with such attractions as replicas of dinosaur tracks, fossils, cave paintings, rock carvings, and crystal formations. According to Mr. Woziak, “The whole house has to be for kids as well as adults. Kids just love secret places.”

• Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield became friends in the seventh grade while attending Merrick Avenue Junior High School in Merrick, New York. They were slow and chubby and not at all good at sports. Their gym teacher wanted his class to run a mile around a track. All the other boys finished quickly, leaving Ben and Jerry far behind. The gym teacher tried to motivate them by yelling, “Gentlemen, if you don’t run the mile in under seven minutes, you’re going to have to do it again.” Ben was a rebel, and he told the gym teacher, “If I don’t do it under seven minutes the first time, I’m certainlynot going to do it under seven minutes the second time.” Jerry thought that Ben made sense, and he decided that he wanted Ben to be his friend. “This was a guy I wanted to know,” Jerry says. “This was a real thinker.” Later, the two friends became famous for their philanthropy and for their Ben and Jerry’s ice cream.

• At the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, Germany, three men competed for medals in the pole-vault competition. American Earl Meadows won the gold, while two Japanese men, Shuhei Nishida and Sueo Oe, who were close friends, came in second after vaulting the same height. The two friends thought that they had both won silver medals, but late that night Olympic officials for some reason decided to award the silver medal to Mr. Nishida and the bronze medal to Mr. Oe, something the two men learned the following day. Mr. Nishida was not happy with this decision, and back home in Japan the two men had their medals cut in half, then had halves from each medal connected so that each man had a new medal, half of which was silver and half of which was bronze. When this action became known, the new medals received a new name: The Medals of Eternal Friendship.

• Ramones lead singer Joey Ramone was a good guy, but he once got into a fight with his friend the journalist Joan Tarshis that led to both of them throwing things and her calling the police. The police arrived and looked at Joey’s apartment, which was in its usual untidy state. Fifty albums were lying on a floor, and the police noticed a novelty souvenir towel from the Bates Motel (of Psychofame) that looked as if it had blood—dried—on it. The police said, “Wow! You must have had a very big fight. Where does it hurt?” Later, Joan wanted to make up with Joey, so she sent him a hammer and a note that said, “If I ever get out of line again, hit me with this.” Joey immediately called her to joke, “I’m keeping that hammer in a holster for when I’m with you.”

• When he was growing up, John Waters, later known as the Prince of Puke as a result of directing such cult gross-outs as Pink Flamingos, sometimes had scary friends. Two friends were David Lochary (who constantly changed the color of his long hair) and his girlfriend, Roxanne. Roxanne’s extreme fashions terrified Mr. Waters’ mother, but she said about David, “I like David. He’s the only lady you’ve ever brought home.” 

• Elise Reiman was always very friendly with George Balanchine, and when he was married to her friend Maria Tallchief, she saw a lot of him. Later, as a teacher at the School of American Ballet, she saw much less of him, but at least once she was able to let him know how much he meant to her. They had been to a dinner at the home of a friend of hers, and afterward when he was taking her home in a taxi, she kissed him and said, “It’s so wonderful to see you, because I miss you.” She says, “I think it pleased him. I just wanted to let him know that I still adore him.”

• Swedish filmmaker Ingmar Bergman tended to work with the same 18 people over and over, and he always hired a hostess, who brewed coffee and baked pastries and made the set homey. At Cannes, film director David Lean once compared notes with Mr. Bergman, asking him, “How large a crew do you use?” Mr. Bergman answered, “I always work with 18 friends.” Mr. Lean marveled, “That’s funny. I work with 150 enemies.”

• When a few friends of British classical scholar Arthur Verrall moved to a new address — 58 Oakley Street — he had no trouble remembering the number because of a mnemonic device: “The Septuagint minus the Apostles.”

• One of the black characters in Morrie Turner’s Wee Palscomic strip is Randy, who strongly believes in NAACP — Never Abandon an Adolescent Caucasian Pal.


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved


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