David Bruce: Resist Psychic Death — Signs, Thanksgiving, Travel, War

Signs

• As a sometimes traveler, Peg Bracken occasionally ran across interesting signs. In Manhattan, she saw trashcans bearing this sign: LITTERING IS FILTHY AND SELFISH SO DON’T DO IT. And she once saw a shop that displayed this sign: SHOPLIFTERS WILL BE HAPPILY BEATEN TO A PULP. By the way, when Peg was a kid, her mother found this note in her pocket (and saved it and showed it to her when Peg was an adult): LUCILE IS A DOP.

• Composer Johannes Brahms had a big ego. While walking with his friend George Henschel, he saw a building bearing a commemorative plaque. Mr. Brahms said to Mr. Henschel, “The day after I die, they’ll put up a sign on my house, too.” Mr. Henschel joked, “Of course they will. It’ll say, ‘House to Rent.’”

Thanksgiving

• When Sarah Dash was in the 2ndor 3rdgrade, she sang for the first time in front of people: a Thanksgiving song. She had been ordered not to scratch, but little Sarah was itchy, so before singing, she told her audience, “They told me not to scratch, but before I start to sing, I’m gonna scratch.” Her audience laughed, and she says, “I’ve been a clown ever since.” Later, she sang in the group LaBelle.

Travel

• Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach was on an airplane about to depart when an airline representative announced that two people with medical emergencies needed to be on the airplane. The airline representative then asked if anyone would voluntarily give up their seats and take a later flight: “Is there anyone here who is willing to extend themselves to help out these people?” Immediately, Rabbi Shlomo said, “I’m ready!” He said this even though he was probably more booked and busier than anyone else on the flight.

• On a British airplane about to take off, a steward announced, “Passengers are warned to keep their safety belts fastened throughout the flight until otherwise advised, as the trip is likely to be bumpy.” A worried elderly woman asked, “Is it going to be very bumpy?” The steward — who was very dignified — replied, “Madam, I said bumpy, not very bumpy.”

War

• At the 1936 Olympics, Jesse Owens failed twice to qualify for the finals in the long jump. He should have qualified easily, but he was now in the position of not making the finals if he were to fault one more time. Fortunately, his German competitor, Lutz Long, helped him by advising him by start his jump about a foot before the fault line — that way, he would not fault and should easily qualify. The advice worked, and Mr. Owens made the finals, where he and Mr. Long competed for the gold medal, with Mr. Owens finally winning while Mr. Long won the silver medal. The two men became friends, and they stayed friends, although Mr. Long fought for the Germans in World War II. On a battlefield, Mr. Long wrote Mr. Owens, “I hope we can always remain best of friends despite the differences between our countries.” Not long after, Mr. Long died in battle. After the war was over, Mr. Long’s son, 22-year-old Peter, wrote Mr. Owens to ask him to be his best man at his wedding: “Even though my father can’t be here to be my best man, I know who he would want in his place. He would want you to take his place. And I do, too.” Mr. Owens flew to Germany, and was Peter’s best man.

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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