• William R. Braddock, Esq., of Medford, New Jersey, was a Quaker and he disliked swearing. While he was writing a deed for two men, they began to argue, and as they argued, they swore at each other. Mr. Braddock told the men that he did not permit swearing in his establishment, and for a while the two men stopped swearing. But again they began to argue, and again they began to swear. Mr. Braddock stopped writing the deed, told his daughter to open the door, then he grabbed each man by the back of the neck and hurled them both into the street. The two men had not had time to get their hats, so they hired a neighborhood boy to go back and pick up their hats for them.
• When comedian Kate Clinton was a teacher of “at-risk” children, a nun came in to observe her class. Ms. Clinton knew the nun was going to observe her, so she alerted all her students to come to class on time — especially one student who was notorious for his tardiness. The student stayed up late the night before to watch a baseball game, forgot about the nun, came to class tardy as usual, and said, “The f—ing Yankees suck.” Then he noticed the nun and looked at Ms. Clinton, who told him, “Steve, you need to apologize to the class for what you said.” Steve said, “I’m sorry I said ‘suck.’ Twice.”
• In the Old North cemetery in Portsmouth, New Hampshire is a headstone for “Benjamin M. Burnham, Originator of the Trite Swearing.” Before he died in 1855, Mr. Burnham was famous for his anti-swearing pledge and for advocating the substitution of innocuous words for swear words. For example, if you were to hit your thumb with a hammer, Mr. Burnham would want you to say something like, “Oh, peanut butter fudge” instead of what I would say.
• Lord Phillimore (1845-1929) once tried a man who was accused of murdering his wife. Lord Phillimore asked him, “Did you say to your wife, ‘If you bloody well don’t take care you will repent of it’?” The defendant replied that he couldn’t have said that because he didn’t use that particular word. Lord Phillimore asked, “I suppose it is the word beginning with ‘b’ that you do not use.” The man replied, “Oh, no! I do use that word. It’s the word ‘repent’ which I don’t use.”
• Radio commentator Al Johnson was broadcasting a description of several wrestling matches when one of the wrestlers was thrown out of the ring and landed in his lap. Mr. Johnson said, “Get the hell off me, you son-of-a-bitch!” Then he remembered he was broadcasting live on the radio, so he added, “Please watch your language here, sir. We’re doing a radio broadcast.”
• As a young man, Jerome K. Jerome (1859-1927) acted in England. He and the other actors tended to swear, and in an attempt to break the habit, they decided to fine themselves a penny for each swear word they uttered. Unfortunately, they were forced to stop the attempt against swearing — within two hours, Mr. Jerome and the other actors were broke.
• The parents of a student at Sidcot School became upset and complained, saying that a teacher had cursed at their son when he had lost a wallet. The Head of the school investigated the matter and discovered that lost property was turned over to a teacher named Helen Hunt. When the boy reported losing his wallet, he had been told, “Go to Helen Hunt for it.”
• Red Skelton may have used blue humor in his private life, but in vaudeville and on TV his comic material was kept scrupulously clean. When Mr. Skelton was in Nashville, he was asked why there were no four-letter words in his performances. Mr. Skelton replied, “Why should people pay me to say words they can read for free on the bathroom wall?”
• Asa Branson, who originally hailed from Salem, New Jersey, but then moved to Flushing, Ohio, was an elderly Quaker who was hard of hearing and who therefore carried an ear trumpet. Some young men once tried to shock him by shouting profanity into his ear trumpet, but Mr. Branson responded by going to the nearby village pump and washing his ear trumpet.
• The American baritone Lawrence Tibbett once played the title role in the opera Don Juan de Mañara, with British baritone Dennis Noble playing Don Juan’s illegitimate son, Don José. Mr. Tibbett saw Mr. Noble in a cafe and called out to him, “This is a damn fine opera, Denny — I call you a bastard three times in the first act!”
• Theater director Tyrone Guthrie could be outspoken. Once, several VIPs tried to attend a first rehearsal in America, arriving at the theater and taking seats. Mr. Guthrie walked over to them and said, “Distinguished guests, we are now going to get to work, so will you kindly f**k off.”
• Irish playwright Brendan Behan often used the word “bejaysus” in conversation, causing many people to think he was being blasphemous. A man once asked Mr. Behan’s friend Liam Dwyer about this practice, and Mr. Dwyer replied, “It’s His friends who know Him by His first name.”
• Andrew “Andra’” Kirkaldy, a caddy at the Royal and Ancient Golf Club at St. Andrews in Scotland, was known for his swearing. Once, a local reporter asked him about a proposal to ban swearing on the golf course, and Andra’ replied, “Quite right, the damned thing should be stamped out.”
• Boxer Sonny Tufts once complained about the newspaper media on a live radio program. He said, “I don’t give a godd*mn what newspaper people write about me. … I’m awfully sorry about my language. … Really, I’m godd*mned sorry.”
• Thomas Beecham once conducted in a building in Lancaster, England, in which this sign was hung: “It is strictly forbidden to use in this building the words Hell, Damn, and other Biblical Expressions.”
• Black comedian Richard Pryor had a unique way of handling hecklers during his performances. He simply looked at them and said, “F**k you.”
• “Keep using my name in vain, I’ll make rush hour longer.” — God.
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved
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