David Bruce: Animals Anecdotes

• Comedian Fred Allen knew a small-time vaudevillian who acquired enough money to buy a chicken farm and retire. Unfortunately, the vaudevillian missed the excitement of entertaining people and did not enjoy the lack of excitement of raising chickens. Mr. Allen visited the retired vaudevillian one day and listened to him complain. Around them were dozens of white chickens, each of which had a round red spot on its behind. To Mr. Allen, the sight reminded him of dozens of Japanese flags. The retired vaudevillian explained what had happened. He had been giving the chickens a special feed to make them lay larger eggs. The special feed worked — the chickens had been laying eggs so large that they wrecked the chickens’ egg-laying equipment. The retired vaudevillian complained, “I had to catch every lousy hen and dab her behind with Mercurochrome [a red medicine]!” Speaking of edible birds, a butcher friend of vaudevillian comedian Jack Inglis gave him a plumb turkey in early October to eat for Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, Mr. Inglis’ children enjoyed playing with and chasing the turkey, and in the seven weeks before Thanksgiving, the turkey ran so much that it lost 20 pounds. Mr. Inglis’ fellow comedian and friend Fred Allen wrote, “For their Thanksgiving Day dinner that year, the Inglis family had what looked like a tall sparrow.”

• During the winter of 2011 in the village of Anglesey, North Wales, passersby heard meowing. The meows were coming from a recycling bin, and they were afraid that a cat was trapped inside, so they called emergency services. Unfortunately, no one could get the locks, which had been tampered with, open, even though the fire service, the RSPCA [Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals] and bin operators all tried. Eventually, they transported the bin to specialist engineering firm K Owen in Llanrhyddlad—an 18-mile trip. Almost 24 hours after the meowing was first heard, engineers cut their way with a steel saw into the bin. Kelvin Owen said, “Once we got into the bin, we heard the meow again. It sounded just like a cat, and we all started to carefully search the bags.Then I found a bag of toys and picked out a toy cat.I said, ‘It couldn’t be this, could it?’ It wasn’t making any noise, and I asked if I could cut it open to investigate. As I held it, it went off, ‘Meow, meow.’ Mystery solved! The lads were in stitches, it was such a laugh.” Jasmine Hazelhurst said, “I did feel embarrassed when they pulled out the stuffed cat.But I am also proud at the way everyone rallied around to save the ‘cat.’Local people did so much to save the ‘cat,’ and it shows what community spirit there is.We feared finding a dead cat in the clothes bank, so to find a stuffed toy was a relief.”

• This is a story that TV personality Ed McMahon used to tell. Back in the days of Prohibition, a cub reporter on the New York Tribunewas assigned to write an article about the arrival of the Barnum & Bailey Circus. He got the assignment because the circus would arrive at 4 a.m., and none of the veteran reporters wanted to be up that early. Like many city reporters during Prohibition, this cub reporter drank alcohol at a speakeasy. Although he had to be present at the arrival of the circus at 4 a.m., the reporter did not want to miss out on any drinking time, so he went to the speakeasy as usual and simply did not go home to sleep. At 4 a.m., he left the speakeasy, hailed a taxi, and told the driver, “Drive up Fifth Avenue until you see an elephant.” During Prohibition, when many people ceased to drink moderately and instead drank immoderately as a form of protest, cab drivers sometimes got requests like this. This cab driver figured the passenger simply wanted to go up Fifth Avenue, so he started driving—and he was shocked to see an elephant and the rest of the Barnum & Bailey Circus parading down Fifth Avenue.

• Like other employees, Walt Disney ate at the concession stand at the Disney Studio. One day, he sat at the counter and ordered just a coffee. A stray dog came in with him, without him noticing, and Mary Flanagan, who ran the concession stand, said, “I’ll have to call the guard. I don’t know where this dog came from.” Walt said, “He’s probably hungry. Give him a hamburger.” Mary gave the stray dog a hamburger, and then Walt gave her a dollar to pay his bill. Mary gave him 40 cents change, and Walt yelled, “What kind of price are you charging for coffee, Mary?” She replied, “The coffee’s only a dime, Walt, but the dog was your guest, and that was 50 cents for the hamburger.” Walt laughed. As you would expect, Walt was well loved and had many fans. At the New York World’s Fair, teenaged girls came up to him and asked him for his autograph. He signed a few autographs, and then he gently took a girl’s hands and said, “Look, honey, I’m going to get mobbed. I can’t sign anymore.” She screamed, “He touched me! He touched me!”

• On 11 November 2011, Deputy Ryan Swartz responded to a car-hitting-deer accident on Hellems Road in Dwight Township, Huron County, Michigan. The deer was a small doe, which was not seriously hurt but which was dazed and standing in the middle of the road. Deputy Swartz picked up the small doe and carried it to the side of the road, where it stayed for about 20 minutes before running off into a field.By the way, a writer who calls himself “forcd ind” and posts on a Chevelle Tech blog remembers seeing a deer that was stuck on a fence. He put on gloves and lifted her hind legs over the fence, being very careful to avoid any kicks. He writes that “after she got over, she turned and looked at me, almost like she was thanking me, then w[a]ndered off.”

• “Two kangaroos were talking to each other, and one said, ‘Gee, I hope it doesn’t rain today. I hate it when the children play inside.” — Henny Youngman.

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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