A dog’s life — t r e f o l o g y

It was in late-August, the day my sister and I returned home from summer camp and our dog Pepper was not at the door to greet us. *** We called her name, “Pepper!” and we searched around the house, but Pepper was nowhere to be found. ***. That evening, our father told us that while […]

A dog’s life — t r e f o l o g y

David Bruce: The Funniest People in Books — Education


• Helene Hanff, author of 84 Charing Cross Road and The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street, got to college through a fluke. Since she was born in 1915, the Depression was raging when she normally would have gone to college, and her parents simply had no money to send her. However, Temple University was offering scholarships, so Miss Hanff took the scholarship exam and failed spectacularly in the map section of the exam. Here’s what happened. The History exam was in two parts: Part 1 required written answers and Part 2 was a map test (locating countries, etc., on an unmarked map). Since Miss Hanff’s high school History exams had never included map tests, she decided to cram for this part of the test. She got two maps — one of the U.S. and one of Europe — and studied them. Eventually she had them cold, partly by memorizing the color of the countries. Unfortunately, the map on the History test was a black-and-white map of the world, and so Miss Hanff ended up identifying the Pacific Ocean as “Africa.” Fortunately, she aced the written part of the test. Because the examining committee was intrigued by the disparity of the scores on the two parts of her test, they interviewed her, found out what had happened, and allowed her to go to college.

• As a cub steamboat pilot on the Mississippi River, Mark Twain was taught a valuable, but embarrassing, lesson by an experienced pilot, Mr. Bixby. Mr. Bixby asked Mark if he knew enough to take the steamboat across the next crossing. Aware that there was plenty of water in the channel and no chance of running aground, Mark replied that of course he could, since “I couldn’t get bottom there with a church steeple.” Mr. Bixby replied, “You think so, do you?” Something in Mr. Bixby’s voice shook Mark’s confidence, which Mr. Bixby’s leaving Mark alone in the pilothouse did nothing to restore. The crossing did not go smoothly. Mark imagined shallow water and reefs everywhere, and eventually had to be rescued by Mr. Bixby, although there was absolutely no danger of grounding the steamboat. After the ordeal, Mr. Bixby told his protege, “You shouldn’t have allowed me or anybody else to shake your confidence …. Try to remember that. And another thing: when you get into a dangerous place, don’t turn coward. That isn’t going to help matters any.”

• Lorraine Hansberry attended the University of Wisconsin for a while, but dropped out after two years because of a course in Scenic Design. She liked the course, she worked hard in it, and she expected to receive an A. However, when she received her grade report, she discovered that the instructor had given her a failing grade. When she asked why, he explained that a black woman could not succeed in the theater, and he was trying to save her from future disappointment. In 1959, the New York Drama Critics Circle named Ms. Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun the Best Play of the Year.

• When he was a schoolchild, children’s book author Walter Dean Myers had a reputation for fighting teachers because one day, he thought he would entertain his schoolmates by pretending to kick his teacher as they walked on a staircase landing. Unfortunately, his teacher paused just as young Walter launched the kick, and instead of narrowly missing the teacher, as he had intended, Walter kicked him squarely in the buttocks. After class, his teacher walked him home, where he began a conversation with his mother by saying, “Mrs. Myers, I had a little problem with Walter that I think you should know about.”


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved


The Funniest People in Books — Buy:



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Music Recommendation: Lydia Loveless — “Longer”


Music: “Longer” from the album REAL

Artist: Lydia Loveless

Artist Location: Columbus, Ohio

Record Company: Bloodshot Records

Info: “PASTE Magazine calls Lydia Loveless, ‘A master storyteller with a voice that goes down like honey and lyrics that bite like a hangover.’ Blessed with a commanding, blast-it-to-the-back-of-the-room voice, Lydia Loveless has toured with bands such as the Old 97’s, Drive-By Truckers, and Jason Isbell. Her […] album, REAL, was released August 19, 2016 to critical acclaim.”

krotix, a fan, wrote, “Great Country Artists are hard to come by, when you dismiss most of the junk. Lydia fits alongside many of my favorites: Sarah Shook, Paula Frazer, Tift Merritt, Mackenzie Roark. Favorite track: Same To You.”

Price: $1 (USD) for track; $10 (USD) for 10-track album

Genre: Country


Lydia Loveless on Bandcamp




Bloodshot Records