• James M. Barrie, author of Peter Pan, loved children. He sometimes used to go on walks with young children and find a peapod in a hollow tree. He would tell the children that the peapod contained a letter written by a fairy and when he opened the peapod, sure enough, he found a tiny letter that he read to the children.
• Mary Cassatt loved to paint children, but sometimes they did not want to be her models. One of her nephews, Gardner, Jr., appeared in her painting, Boy in a Sailor Suit, but at one point he grew tired of posing and spat in her face. The boy’s mother locked him in a closet as punishment, but Mary bought him a box of chocolates.
• One Sunday, Virginia K. Barnes sat behind the pastor’s wife and son. Before the sermon, the son asked his mother if he could be excused to go to the nursery, but his mother said that he was six years old and too old to go to the nursery. The son protested, “But, Mom, I heard it [the sermon] last night and it’s a long one.”
• As a youngster, Buster Keaton was thrown about on stage by his vaudevillian parents. In real life, he was also thrown about. When he was three years old, a cyclone picked him up — sucking him right out of a hotel window — whirled him around for a little while, then deposited him safely on the ground.
• Clifford Goldsmith was the original author of The Aldrich Family, a radio program about the troubles of teenager Henry Aldrich. Mr. Goldsmith frequently used the antics of his own children in his plots for the program, and he claimed to worry that his own children might sue him for plagiarism.
• J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter books, enjoyed the TV cartoon series Animaniacs. When her daughter Jessica was small, Ms. Rowling asked her to wake her up when Animaniacs came on early Saturday morning. Jessica did so by gleefully jumping up and down on her mother’s bed.
• As a child, Amy Tan, author of The Joy Luck Club, wanted to fit in with the children in her neighborhood, so for a week she wore a clothespin on her nose as she slept in an attempt to make it look more American and less Chinese. The only thing that happened was that her nose got sore.
• When she was two years old, J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter books, got a baby sister: Dianne. Her parents gave J.K. some Play-Doh while they took care of Dianne. J.K. did exactly what any typical two-year-old would do when given some Play-Doh — she ate it.
• When Walter and Jamie Tevis moved to New Haven, Connecticut, a four-year-old girl came over to talk to them. Mr. Tevis asked, “Little girl, would your mother want you to be visiting strangers?” The little girl answered, “You’re not strangers. I know you now.”
• Opera singer Leo Slezak and his wife were very conscientious about the health of their children. Whenever the Slezak family ate in restaurants, the parents ordered boiling hot water and washed all the silverware before allowing their children to eat.
• George Inness, an important American landscape artist, was totally devoted to his work. One day, a visitor asked him how many children he and his wife, Lizzie, had, and Mr. Inness didn’t know! He replied, “Lizzie will be here soon. She knows.”
• Theodore Roosevelt’s daughter, Alice, was a terror. When her father was the President of the United States, little Alice enjoyed telling visitors to the White House that her father beat his children each and every day. (She was lying.)
• Dorothy Hamill’s autobiography, On and Off the Ice, contains some photographs her parents took of her when she was a baby and when she was a very young girl. The photographs are labeled, “Early publicity shots.”
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved
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