David Bruce: The Funniest People in Neighborhoods — Siblings, Trailblazers, Valentine’s Day, War

Siblings

• The large family of Frank B. Gilbreth, Jr., and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey lived in the early part of the 20thcentury. When the Gilbreth family liked someone and wanted him to become a relative through marriage, the young Gilbreths acted strangely. When Anne was being courted by a young doctor, her siblings found lots of reasons to leave her and Doctor Bob alone together and to turn out the lights of the room the young people were sitting in. Anne worried that her young beau might get the idea that her siblings had behaved that way with every boy she had ever known.

• Many people think of the 1970s situation comedy The Brady Bunch as being very unrealistic and very different from the real world, but series creator Sherwood Schwartz points out that most of the episodes were based on things that happened in his family as he was growing up. In fact, he says that some of the episodes were “almost word for word” based on real life. Whenever someone tells Mr. Schwartz that families aren’t like the Brady Bunch, he replies, “Maybe your family wasn’t.”

Trailblazers

• Roberta Gibb (Bingay) was the first woman to successfully run and complete the Boston Marathon, but she had to run it in disguise — dressed as a man — because women were not allowed to run the Boston Marathon in 1966. Of course, some men running close to her discovered that she was a woman — and they supported her. Ms. Gibb remembers that they told her, “Gee, I wish my girlfriend would run.” In 1983, she ran the Boston Marathon again — but this time she ran it legally as an honored trailblazer for women runners.

• After aviator Amelia Earhart had set a record for women’s long-distance flying, she received an effusive telegram: “Welcome, thrice welcome, Grand Lady of the Air, crowned glory of earth’s womanhood!” The telegram amused Ms. Earhart, who gave it to her secretary and said, “Show this to G.P. [George Putnam, her husband], so he may appreciate me!”

Valentine’s Day

• Cameron Kelly wanted to use a novel way of proposing to his girlfriend, Angie Kreimer, so he wrote a 113-page marriage proposal, published it at <lulu.com>, using the title 50 Reasons Why You Should Marry Me … And 51 Reasons Why I Should Marry You, and gave her a copy as a Valentine’s Day gift. In the proposal, she read reasons why she should marry him, including “I’m going to look like Sean Connery when I’m 65” and “You don’t even have to change your initials.” What was her one-word answer to the 113-page marriage proposal? It was Yes!

• French-cooking expert Julia Child and her husband seldom got their Christmas cards done in time to mail, so instead of Christmas cards they would send Valentine’s Day cards to their friends. One card shows the happy couple taking a bubble bath together.

War

• Elizabeth, the late Queen Mother, believed in sharing the pain and keeping a stiff upper lip when necessary. During World War II, she did not send her daughters — Elizabeth and Margaret — to the relative safety of the English countryside or to another country. Instead, she kept them in London even while the Nazis were dropping bombs frequently on the city and killing civilians. In addition, due to shortages the members of the royal family bathed in only four inches of water during the worst parts of the war. The Queen Mother even used tape on the bathtub to let her daughters know to what height they could fill the bathtub.

• The grandfather of Meg Cabot, author of the best-selling Princess Diaries books, fought during World War II. He was a young soldier who was shot quickly after arriving in France. This sounds like bad news, but the result turned out to be good for him. Soon after he was shot, the other soldiers in his platoon raided the wine cellar of an abandoned farmhouse. Unfortunately, German soldiers had poisoned all of the bottles of wine, and so all the soldiers in the platoon died. According to Meg’s grandfather, “Even being shot in the butt can have a silver lining.” Meg’s grandfather is the model for Princess Mia’s grandfather on her father’s side.

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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