David Bruce: Money Anecdotes

• Syndicated columnist Marc Dion (the Mike Royko of today, aka the best columnist today) is good with money, normally saving almost 30 percent of his salary. He does the very good thing of saving right away, instead of waiting until the end of the month to save, because at the end of the month no money is left over to save. Basically, he gets his paycheck, then he pays his bills, puts money into savings, and sticks the rest of his money in his pocket. As long as he has money in his pocket, he spends. When the money in his pocket runs out, he stops spending until his next paycheck. I get the feeling that he eats roast beef just after he gets paid and sometimes he eats bologna just before he gets paid. He says, “I can read my bankbook like some people read a novel. In fact, when one of my banks stopped using bankbooks, I moved my account. I like to see myself saving money.” He also remembers the example of his father, and emulates him. When Marc had knee surgery and had to live for a while on disability pay (60 percent of his normal salary), he stopped drinking. He remembers the uncertain economic times his family went through for a while when he was a small child. He says, “My dad bounced from job to job for a while. When he lost a job, he would take his last drink on the day he got laid off and his next drink when he got a new job. ‘I’m not buying a drink with my unemployment check,’ he used to say. ‘What do I look like, a bum?’”

• Tenor Enrico Caruso made thousands of dollars each time he sang in an opera, and he was a talented caricaturist. One day, he and his wife, Dorothy, were walking along a street when he saw one of his caricatures — it depicted President Woodrow Wilson — in a store window. The price was not listed, so she asked his wife to go inside and inquire how much it cost. She did and found out that the price was $75, a good amount of money at the time. The price pleased Mr. Caruso, who joked, “Ah! Better we stop singing and draw!” Each week Mr. Caruso sent one of his caricatures to an illustrated Italian weekly titled La Folliathat was published in New York by Marziale Sisca, one of Mr. Caruso’s close friends. Mr. Sisca offered a lot of money to Mr. Caruso for these caricatures, but Mr. Caruso turned down the money, saying, “You are my friend. From friends I take no money. My work is singing. For that I accept payment. My caricatures are for my own pleasure, to give pleasure to others. Them I draw for nothing.” On a transatlantic liner, he once was busy drawing a caricature of himself when a fellow passenger — a stranger — asked what he was drawing. Mr. Caruso replied, “A caricature of Caruso.” The stranger exclaimed, “But that’s yourself!” Mr. Caruso joked, “No. You see, Caruso and I look almost exactly alike. All I have to do, when I want to draw Caruso, is to do a drawing of myself.”

• What Isaac Asimov most enjoyed in life was writing. Once Barbara Walters interviewed him, and she asked him off-camera what he liked to do other than write. But for Mr. Asimov, what he enjoyed most was writing and he did not greatly enjoy anything else. Finally, Ms. Walters asked him, “What if the doctors told you that you had only six months to live? What would you do then?” Mr. Asimov replied, “Type faster.” Of course, Mr. Asimov made a great deal of money from his writing, although most writers don’t. He was in a taxi once with a driver who asked what he did for a living. Ms. Asimov replied that he was a writer. The taxi driver told him, “I once wanted to be a writer, but I never got around to it.” Mr. Asimov replied, “Just as well. You can’t make a living as a writer.” The taxi driver replied, “Isaac Asimov does.”

• On 1 September 2011 during the San Francisco49er preseason game with the San Diego Chargers in Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, California, Club-level server and mother of four Heather Allison tripped and dropped approximately $1,000 — $170 in tips, and approximately $830 that was supposed to go to the concession. The money went everywhere, including over the railing into the lower Field section. Ms. Allison said, “All my customers began screaming over the railing to the people below, ‘That’s the servers’ money.’” People everywhere began collecting the money for her. In approximately 10 minutes, a security officer brought her a bunch of money. She said, “It was all there. Chargers fans are amazing. We’re like a family.”

• At the sale of the pictures that belonged to Henri Rouart, a journalist asked artist Edgar Degas, “Do you know how much your picture of two dancers at the bar, with a watering can, just sold for?” Mr. Degas replied, “No, I don’t.” The journalist told him the very high figure: 475,000 francs! Mr. Degas admitted, “That isa nice price.” The journalist then asked, “Don’t you think it outrageous that this picture will never bring you more than the five hundred francs you were paid for it?” Mr. Degas replied, “Monsieur, I am like the racehorse that wins the Grand Prize: I am satisfied with my ration of oats.”

• Conductor Karl Böhm noticed that in the foyer of the National Theatre in Munich, Germany, the musicians used to spit whenever they passed the bust of former General Music Director Herman Zumpe. He asked why they did that, and a musician replied, “It’s been passed on from generation to generation, this spitting.” They explained that musicians who had previously served there had petitioned the King for a raise in salary; however, Zumpe had commented, “I am against the raise; it’s better to hunt with hungry hounds!” Thereafter, musicians spat first in his presence and later in the presence of his bust.

• “Honesty is the best policy — when there is money in it.” — Mark Twain.

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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