David Bruce: The Funniest People in Neighborhoods — Proposals, Public Speaking, Sex, Siblings

Proposals

• Apparently, the Orange Bowl Marathon in Miami, Florida, is a very romantic race to run. In 1980, Ken Gomberg and Debra Faillace were running together when Mr. Gomberg proposed to her at the 25-mile mark. In 1981, Bob Godwin and Ann Conlin were running together when Mr. Godwin proposed to her at the 18-mile mark. Both couples ended up crossing the finish line while holding hands.

• The parents of choreographer Agnes George de Mille were Anna George and William de Mille. When Anna was 11 years old, and William was 12 years old, Anna asked him to marry her. He declined. But by the time Anna was 20 and William was 21, he had reconsidered his decision and proposed to her.

• When Walter Prude proposed to Agnes de Mille, choreographer of Oklahoma! and Rodeo: The Courting at Burnt Ranch, she started crying. He asked, “In God’s name, what’s the matter? Surely this is not the first time someone’s asked you?” Still crying, she replied, “No, but it’s the first time I’ve said yes.”

Public Speaking

• Conductor Walter Damrosch became a radio celebrity when he hosted a program that brought classical music to youngsters. One day, he spoke at a children’s school assembly. He was not introduced ahead of his address to the children, but as soon as he began speaking, the children recognized his voice and shouted, “It’s Papa Damrosch! It’s Papa Damrosch!”

• Of course, President Lyndon B. Johnson was often introduced with many compliments and rhetorical flourishes. On occasions when the flattery was really poured on thick, he would say, “I wish my mother and father might have been here to hear that introduction. My father would have enjoyed it, and my mother would have believed it.”

Sex

• Emily Yoffe wrote the “Dear Prudence” advice column for the online magazine Slate. One of her columns that was more controversial than she had thought it would be gave advice to a young woman who was getting married and who wanted to remain childless. At the end of that column, Ms. Yoffe wrote that perhaps the young woman might want to rethink her decision to remain childless. In response to the criticisms that came pouring in, Ms. Yoffe pointed out that having a child around can be a source of very great pleasure even if it means missing out on such things as seeing new movies in the theater or having sex in the living room. For example, when her daughter was two years old and was being put to bed, she hugged Ms. Yoffe and said, “Mommy, you’re a wonderful husband.” According to Ms. Yoffe, “That was better than any of the movies I hadn’t been to since she was born.” (As for the sex, she and her husband do have sex — but not in the living room.)

• Lefty Gomez was a great pitcher, but as happens to all pitchers who live long enough, his arm eventually went dead on him, and he began working for Wilson Sporting Goods. Once he was watching a Dodger workout, and after Carl Erskine had thrown batting practice, they began to compare notes on their families, with Lefty mentioning that his baby had just turned six months old. Sportswriter Jack Lang overheard this news, and he asked, “Lefty, did I hear you say you have a baby six months old at your age?” Lefty replied, “That was my armthat went dead.”

Siblings

• Edna St. Vincent Millay, often called by the name of Vincent, was the oldest of three daughters. While growing up, they helped their working mother by doing the housekeeping, which they made into a game, singing such songs as the Vincent-written “I’m the Queen of the Dishpans” while washing dishes. They also worked efficiently. For example, when they had to clean a room, Vincent would shout “Corner,” then each sister would run to a corner and start cleaning as quickly as possible, working toward the middle of the room. Then all three sisters would work together to clean the fourth corner.

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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