David Bruce: Resist Psychic Death — Good Deeds, Grandparents, Halloween

Good Deeds

• In Beverly Cleary’s novel Ramona Quimby, Age 8, the Quimby family eats in a restaurant and an elderly gentleman compliments them by saying that they look like a “happy family,” and then without their knowledge he pays for their meal. Something similar happened to Ms. Cleary in real life. She and her family were eating in a Mexican restaurant, and when it was time to pay the bill, they discovered that an elderly gentleman had already paid their bill because they were “such a nice family.”

• While making a recording, Enrico Caruso was not satisfied with his singing of “Cujus Amimam” from Rossini’s Stabat Mater, so he sang it over and over until he was satisfied. After the recording was finally finished, he removed a pearl stickpin from his tie and gave the stickpin to the exhausted trumpet player, saying, “You merit reward. In the end I thought you also would crack.”

• Pope John XXIII was working late one night when he remembered that some guards had been posted outside his door to protect him. He opened his door and sent the guards home, saying, “It would be better for you both to be home in bed. Better to go to sleep. You don’t need to watch over me — I’m protected by the Holy Spirit.”

Grandparents

• Peg Bracken’s grandfather was a kindly man. For one thing, he was a generous tooth fairy, giving 50 cents for a tooth when 50 cents was worth something. He also wrapped the 50-cent piece in a note with invisible writing; the note contained a tooth joke such as this one: “How do you say farewell to a tooth? Bye, Cuspid.” He was sympathetic when Peg volunteered to give a speech when she was in the 7thgrade, only to discover that she was unable to write and deliver a good speech. In fact, she was so miserable about giving her speech that she vomited in front of him the day before she had to give the speech. He asked her to pray, and the next morning lots of snow had fallen — but not enough to result in her being unable to give the speech. Peg and her grandfather went out to the barn so she could practice her speech, and frost covered everything, including the keyhole. When her grandfather got out his key to unlock the door to the barn, he suggested to Peg that she lick the frost off the keyhole. The frost was pretty, and her family sometimes made delicious ice cream from snow, so Peg tried to lick off the frost, but her tongue froze to the keyhole. Trying to get her tongue loose, she yanked her head back and tore some skin from her tongue. Eventually, with the help of some warm water, she got loose, but her tongue became so swollen that she could not talk and therefore could not give her speech. Peg sometimes wonders if her grandfather knew what would happen when she tried to lick the frost from the keyhole. By the way, many years later Peg was supposed to introduce someone on a public occasion, but because of stage fright she froze at the podium, was unable to speak, and had to be led gently away.

Halloween

• Not everyone understands kids. For example, in Beverly Hills the actor Robert Young, star of the TV series Father Knows Bestand Marcus Welby, M.D., used to give trick-or-treating kids on Halloween autographed photographs of himself — and no candy. One of the trick-or-treating kids was Marlo Thomas, future star of TV’s That Girl. She says that the kids knew exactly how to respond to being deprived of candy — they soaped Mr. Young’s windows.

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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