People with Handicaps
• Despite being paralyzed as a result of a stroke, Jean-Dominique Bauby, a French journalist, wrote a 130-page book in his head. Using left-eye blinks, he dictated the book to copywriter Claude Mendibil. Mr. Bauby blinked once for yes, twice for no, as Ms. Mendibil recited (or pointed on a screen to) the letters of the French language in the order of the frequency of their use. At first, Mr. Bauby communicated one-half page a day, but later, as the two got used to their communication system, he communicated as much as three pages a day. Mr. Bauby died just days after the book, which was titled The Diving Bell and the Butterfly: A Memoir of Life in Death, was published.
• A touring company in New Zealand once ran into a problem with their train schedule. In order to reach their train on time to get to their next performance, they needed to cut the epilogue to George Bernard Shaw’s Saint Joan. Because Mr. Shaw was strict about such things, they wired him for permission to cut his play. Mr. Shaw wired back, “PERMISSION GRANTED TO CUT EPILOGUE PROVIDED YOU PERFORM IT ON THE TRAIN.”
• In London, an English actor felt that he was making a notable success in one of the roles in Peter Pan, so he went to the playwright, James M. Barrie, to ask that he be featured in the handbills advertising the play. The actor wanted the handbills to separate his name from the names of the “lesser” actors with the word “AND.” Mr. Barrie asked, “AND? Why not BUT?”
• Producing a festival of Shakespeare plays causes an incredible amount of work. During the stress-filled preparations for the annual Shakespeare Festival at Stratford-on-Avon, actress Constance Benson once saw an Irish property man punching a bust of William Shakespeare while muttering, “I’ll learn ye to write plays!”
• America’s first African-American poet was Phillis Wheatley, whose Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral was published in 1773. Born in Africa, most likely in Senegambia, she was taken by slave traders to Boston, Massachusetts, when she was only eight years old. The slave ship that took her to America was named the Phillis, and she got her first name from the name of the ship. Her last name came from the last name of her owners, John and Susanna Wheatley. Although she was a slave for much of her early life, things got better for Phillis Wheatley. After growing up and gaining an education, she had the opportunity to dine with the family of Timothy Fitch, the slave merchant whose ship had brought her to America. The daughters of the Fitch family worried about sitting down and talking to a black person, but when they met Ms. Wheatley, she charmed them. In addition, after the publication of Ms. Wheatley’s book, her owners freed her.
• While children’s mystery writer Joan Lowery Nixon was attending Hollywood High, Pearl Harbor was bombed. Lots of soldiers were in Los Angeles, and city authorities begged families to entertain the servicemen. Ms. Nixon’s parents responded by often inviting servicemen who visited their church to also visit their home. Soon, Ms. Nixon began to write letters to many of the servicemen who visited her family. Other girls at her school were doing the same thing. Once in a while, Ms. Nixon would write a poem — something light and romantic that would let a serviceman know that he was being missed. She would let her friends copy the poem to put in their letters, and the friends of her friends would copy the poem to put in their letters, and suddenly Ms. Nixon found that she was writing for a large audience.
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved
The Funniest People in Books, Volume 2 — Buy
The Funniest People in Books, Volume 2 — Kindle
The Funniest People in Books, Volume 2 — Apple
The Funniest People in Books, Volume 2 — Barnes and Noble
The Funniest People in Books, Volume 2 — Kobo
The Funniest People in Books, Volume 2 — Smashwords: Many Formats, Including PDF