David Bruce: The Funniest People in Relationships — Fathers, Father’s Day, Food, Friends

Fathers

• When Frank DeCaro, Jr., was born, his father did what he was supposed to and stayed in the hospital waiting room. However, although Frank, Jr., was born at 8 a.m., his father didn’t learn about it until five hours later because the physician forgot to tell him.

• When artist Louise Bourgeois was growing up, her father had a bad temper. At family dinners, her father always had a stack of cheap saucers by his side. That way, if he ever got angry, he could break a saucer instead of yelling at one of his children.

• The English can be reserved. After English contralto Kathleen Ferrier had made a major stir in the world of opera, Bruno Walter congratulated her elderly father on Ms. Ferrier’s success. Old Mr. Ferrier replied, “Yes, Kath’s not doing too badly.”

• When Groucho Marx got married for the third time, he sent his son this telegram: “If you’ve heard about this, please refund the price of this telegram. Love from us both.”

• When Jack Benny was young, his father gave him two gifts: a violin, in case he had any musical talent, and a monkey wrench, in case he didn’t have any musical talent.

• Isaac Newton’s father was illiterate. When he made out a will leaving his property, Woolsthorpe Manor, to his wife, he signed the will with an X.

Father’s Day

• Scaredy Kate is the pet cat of children’s book illustrator Dyanne DiSalvo-Ryan. One Father’s Day, Scaredy Kate gave birth to five kittens by the athletic shoes sitting in a corner of Dyanne’s husband’s closet. They named the five Father’s Day gifts Adidas, Converse, Etonic, Nike, and Reebok.

Food

• When he was a child, the mother of young-adult book author Walter Dean Myers set up a tab for him at the local grocer’s — whenever young Walter was hungry, he could buy food and she would pay for it later. Walter, however, used the tab to buy chocolate, and soon all the neighborhood children knew that he could get “free” chocolate at the grocer’s. As you would expect, Walter ordered lots and lots of chocolate, and after his mother had spoken sharply to him and to the grocer, he didn’t have a tab anymore.

• Marilyn Hall’s mother-in-law once gave a dinner party for which the main course was a whole poached salmon. She instructed her new, foreign maid to bring in the salmon at a certain time “with a little parsley in the mouth.” The maid did as she was told, but the dinner guests were very surprised when she brought in the salmon — the maid had parsley in her mouth.

• Penn Jillette of Penn and Teller is still close to his old high-school teacher, Beverly C. Lucey. She remembers Penn and his friends sitting in the cafeteria eating their lunches — on the floor. This freaked out the vice principal, who wanted the students to sit in regular chairs at regular tables. Therefore, he ordered them to stand up. They did. Then he ordered them, “Sit down!” They did — back on the floor.

• Irwin Shaw’s son was raised in Paris and so was very sophisticated. After his first day in kindergarten, his nurse took him to a restaurant and asked what he wanted to order. He replied, “I’ll have a dozen oysters and a glass of white wine.”

Friends

• When children’s picture book creator Ezra Jack Keats was taking classes at the Art Students League, his best friend, Martin Pope, was taking science classes in college. Often, they would meet and have long discussions. Mr. Keats would walk Mr. Pope home, but since their discussion wasn’t finished, they would turn around and Mr. Pope would walk Mr. Keats home. Because their discussion still wasn’t finished, they would turn around again. Finally, they would say goodbye midway between their homes.

• A group of musical performers partied together, and guitarist Hermann Leeb said to composer Frank Martin, “What a pity that there isn’t any music that we could all play together!” The next morning, Mr. Martin called all the friends and asked them to come to his home. He had stayed up and written a piece for his friends and him to play together. “Berceuse” was written for piano four-hands, played by Madeleine Lipatti and Mr. Martin; guitar, played by Mr. Leeb; and voice, sung by the tenor Hugues Cuenod.

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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