• In 1978, running back Preston Pearson and his Dallas Cowboys lost in the Super Bowl to the Pittsburgh Steelers. As it happened, Mr. Pearson and his wife lived in Pittsburgh, and he gave his check for playing in the Super Bowl to his wife to deposit in a Pittsburgh bank. The bank teller looked at the size of the check, then told Mrs. Pearson that she was entitled to a free gift, although she might not want it. She didn’t. The free gift was a recording of the Pittsburgh Steelers fight song.
• Spanish painter Francisco Goya could be both generous and shrewd with his money. When his brother wanted to borrow money from him, Mr. Goya recognized that often relatives are very slow in repaying money borrowed from other family members. Therefore, Mr. Goya gave the money to a friend and told him to lend it to his brother without telling his brother the true source of the money.
• When movie critic Roger Ebert was a child, he met J.C. Penney, the founder of the famous department store. Mr. Penney, then an old man, gave young Roger a penny and some financial advice — if you want dimes and dollars to take care of themselves, you need to take care of pennies and nickels. Roger saved ten cents, then he went to see a movie for nine cents. This left a penny, which he promptly invested in an all-day sucker.
• When Olympic gold medal-winning gymnast Kerri Strug was in the fourth grade, she spent six months working on a science project: a biosphere in a large aquarium. Unfortunately, when her brother drove her and her science project to school, he had to hit his brakes to avoid a collision with another car. The aquarium shattered, destroying six months of work, with dirt, water, frogs, and fish scattered everywhere. Fortunately, her mother was able to bring Kerri another aquarium, and they put the science project back together. However, Kerri told her mother, “This is the worst day of my life.” Her mother then said something wise and wonderful: “I’ll be happy if this is your worst day.” (For the worst day, it wasn’t so bad — Kerri’s science project won second prize.)
• Soprano Beverly Sills stopped singing and taking voice lessons after giving birth to two children with handicaps. Muffy, her daughter, was a happy child, but she suffered from deafness. Peter, her son, suffered from mental retardation. Ms. Sills devoted much time to her children, but eventually her husband thought that it would be best if she did more than look after and help their children. Therefore, for her 33rd birthday, he gave her 52 round-trip airplane tickets between Boston, where they lived, and New York, where Estelle Liebling, her voice teacher, lived. Ms. Sills began taking voice lessons again, and she began singing in public again.
• Children’s book writer Phyllis Reynolds Naylor grew up during the Depression, when money was hard to come by. Entering kindergarten, she had only two dresses: one with red checks and one with blue checks. Her mother told her that if she alternated the dresses, wearing one the first day and the other the second day and so on, then everyone would think that she had more dresses than she really had. This made young Phyllis think how clever her mother was.
• Nancy Stanford sat in a rocking chair to read a story to a group of first graders who sat at her feet. As she read the story, she felt a small hand rub her ankle, then her calf. Rather than disturb story time, she decided to continue reading the story to its end, then reprimand the child rubbing her leg. At the end of the story, she looked down, and a little boy told her, “Your leg feels just like my mother’s.” She did not reprimand the child.
• Ezra Stone played the part of teenager Harry Aldrich on The Aldrich Family radio program. Following World War II, because space was lacking, he shared his dressing room with singer Jo Stafford. One day, his mother came to visit and was surprised to find his dressing room closet filled with frilly feminine garments. Mr. Stone, a happily married man, had to convince his mother that he was not keeping a mistress on the side.
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved
The Funniest People in Neighborhoods — Buy