David Bruce: The Funniest People in Neighborhoods — Gifts, Good Deeds

Gifts

• Dr. Barry Herman, a school principal in New Haven, Connecticut, once bought candy for an ill teacher, then presented it to her, saying, “Something sweet for a sweet person.” Unfortunately, he had bought the candy at random, not bothering to read the label, which said, “Sour balls.”

Good Deeds

• Meredith Mendelson went to sea with Ocean Classroom when she was in high school. She worked hard both mentally and physically — going to sleep was no problem because she was so tired. One of the highlights of the trip was seeing a pod of humpback whales circling their ship. Unfortunately, this peaceful, quiet scene was ruined when several whale-watching boats came out from shore carrying tourists who wanted to see the whales. Their oohs, aahs, and other noises drove the whales away, as did their motors and diesel fuel. The tourists ruined the intimacy of the encounter with the whales for the sailors of Ocean Classroom. By the way, sometimes whales become entangled in nets and flotation devices left behind by fishermen, leading to death. In 2005 in Gordon’s Bag, South Africa, police diver Eben Lourens cut away most of the ropes entangling a southern right whale. National Sea Rescue Institute Gordon’s Bay Station Commander Stuart Burgess said, “We slowly approached [the whale] until we were about 30m away and then cut the engines. The whale swam up and gently bumped our rescue boat. At that point we got good visuals of the problem.” He added, “We could see the ropes and buoys entangled around the tail and the pieces trailing behind her.” Mr. Lourens was deployed ahead of the whale, and as the whale swam past him, he grabbed onto the fishing net and started cutting the ropes. He cut away most of the ropes and all of the flotation devices. Mr. Stuart said, “Although there is still some rope attached to the whale, we were unable to do more and we suspect that the remaining rope will fall free as it untangles.” Mr. Lourens said, “It’s not something I’d done before, so the adrenalin was pumping through me. But it was very satisfying afterwards.” After the rescue, the whale was swimming much more easily. Mr. Burgess said that commercial crayfishers often left their nets behind: “We find them all the time. In one afternoon recently we found four of them.” The nets are hazardous not only for whales, he said, but also for boats — especially at night. Freeing a whale can be very dangerous — even deadly — work. Nan Rice of the Save the Whales Campaign said, “It is very dangerous to attempt such a thing without the proper equipment and tools. The public must take note and not try and do this by themselves. You cannot swim up to a whale and try to cut it loose. It is extremely dangerous.” In New Zealand, a diver was killed during an attempted whale rescue, she said: “The whale slammed its tail down on top of him, and he was gone. I feel that human lives are just as valuable as those of animals, and I don’t think it is right to risk one for the other.”

• Civilians suffer during war, including the American Civil War. A hungry Virginian woman appeared at the Union camp of General Newton M. Curtis, asking for help. However, she was required to take an oath of allegiance to the Union cause before receiving food or other help. This she declined to do because both her husband and her son were fighting for the Confederate cause. Rather than letting her depart without help, General Curtis gave her money from his own pocket so she could buy food and other necessities.

• In July 1863, a 16-year-old Confederate woman named Cornelia Barrett did a remarkable good deed for a dying Yankee soldier. He requested that she write a letter for him to his fiancée. He also requested that she send his fiancée a lock of his hair and his gold ring. She did as he asked, and a few months later she received a letter from the soldier’s sweetheart, thanking her for her kindness.

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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