• Geraldine Farrar’s autobiography titled Such Sweet Compulsion begins, “I died in the beginning of the year 1923.” No, Ms. Farrar did not die then, either emotionally or physically. Her mother died then, and Ms. Farrar wrote her autobiography using both her own voice and that of her mother, who she believed had gone on to a higher plane of existence.
• In her book Mark Twain in Nevada, Effie Mona Mack wrote about the cheapness of life in the frontier. In 1863, a man who was shot and died in Virginia City, Nevada, remained under a billiards table from 4 a.m. until noon while frontiersmen continued to shoot billiards above him. The coroner was too busy to come and take away the corpse.
• In Highgate Cemetery in London, many tourists visit the grave of Elizabeth Eleanor Siddal, who was the wife and model of the painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti. When she died in 1862, Rossetti buried some poems with her. However, in 1869, he reconsidered and had her grave dug up so he could retrieve the poems.
• On his deathbed, irreverent playwright Brendan Behan was taken care of by a nun. With his last words, he thanked her, then added, “May you be the mother of a bishop.”
• A young Broadway columnist for the New York World-Telegram didn’t like the way his column was being edited, so he went to see the copy editor, a Mr. Doyle, and said, “I’m damn well fed up with the way you’ve been trimming my stuff. After all, this is Broadway stuff I’m writing. You don’t know anything about Broadway. You never get around the hot spots. You’re not qualified to pass judgment on Broadway topics. Now admit it, Mr. Doyle.” Mr. Doyle replied, “You’re right. I’m just a country boy. I don’t know a thing about Broadway and the night spots. I never been in one of them nightclubs. I don’t see Times Square once a year. I’m a country boy, brought up on a farm, spent most of my life on a farm, and consequently there’s only one thing I know. I know horse sh*t when I see it.”
• Gertrude Stein was known for her odd style of writing, which provoked this parody in a rejection slip from editor A.J. Fifield: “I am only one, only one, only one. Only one being, one at the same time. Not two, not three, only one. Only one life to live, only sixty minutes in one hour. Only one pair of eyes. Only one brain. Only one being. Being only one, having only one pair of eyes, having only one time, having only one life, I cannot read your MS three or four times. Not even one time. Only one look, only one look is enough. Hardly one copy would sell here. Hardly one. Hardly one.”
• A woman sent editor Walter H. Page a story to read, but he sent it back to her saying that it was not suitable for publication in his magazine. The woman then wrote him, saying that he had not read the story because she had glued the corners of a couple of pages together and when the story came back to her, those corners were still glued together. Mr. Page replied to the woman: “Madam, when I get an egg for breakfast, I do not need to eat the whole of it to see that it is bad.”
• At a New England Yearly Meeting of Quakers, they debated about the wording of the Discipline. Some people thought that a certain paragraph should perhaps be deleted or altered. One man, however, objected, saying, “I should be sorry to see that paragraph left out, or even changed. Those words seem almost sacred to me.” Rufus Jones spoke up and said, “Nothing very sacred about that — I wrote it myself.”
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved
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