• As an elite figure skater, Sarah Hughes had the opportunity to compete in other countries while taking Spanish in high school. When she learned that she would compete in Mexico, she was excited about practicing her Spanish on the Mexicans. It didn’t work out the way she expected, though, because the Mexicans were even more excited about practicing their English on Sarah.
• Early in his career, Russian bass Feodor Chaliapine once knew an Italian ballerina named Tornaghi who danced in his country but was homesick for Italy. To comfort her, he used to say all the Italian words he knew at that time: allegro andante religioso moderato.” (Later, he married her.)
• Sid Fleischman, author of the McBroom comedy series of children’s books, is a very good writer — so are many of the children who write him letters. In his autobiography, The Abracadabra Kid, Mr. Fleischman includes brief selections from some of the letters that children have written him. A few examples: “Dear Sid Fleischman, I have read Mr. Mysterious & Company. It is the second best book I ever read.” “Dear Sid, I think for a man you write pretty good books.” “Sorry I can’t talk long, but I’m planning to write to the president.”
• Composer Franz Joseph Haydn married a woman who was difficult to get along with, and he was happy when his work took him away from her for long periods of time. During one occasion when Mr. Haydn was long away from his wife, a visitor asked him about several unopened letters piled up on his desk. Mr. Haydn replied, “They’re from my wife. We write to each other every month, but I don’t bother to open her letters, and I’m sure she doesn’t open mine.”
• Amelia Earhart flew airplanes at a time when that was dangerous; therefore, at various times in her life, such as immediately before attempting to become the first woman passenger to fly across the Atlantic Ocean, she wrote “popping-off” letters to her family and friends. These were letters that would be delivered to her family and friends if she died in the attempt to set a new record.
• The Wee Pals comic strip features a rainbow of children of all races, both genders, and a few handicaps. Because of the black children in the comic strip, people sometimes wrote the strip’s creator, Morrie Turner, to ask if he really knew any black people. He would write back, “Only my mother and father, my wife, and my son.”
• While working at Marvel Comics, Stan Lee wrote a “Soapbox” column. Of course, he received many, many letters asking many, many questions. One of his favorite letters asked him, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
• As a Methodist preacher in Texas, Edwin Porter attended the Annual Conference every year. This was a big deal because at it he would find out to which church he would be assigned for the following year. A Porter family tradition was to take along one of the children to the Annual Conference when he or she reached the age of 11. Alyene Porter, the youngest daughter, wondered why this great privilege was given at the age of 11, instead of some other age. Brother Hugh speculated it was because at age 11 the children’s understanding was more developed, but brother Paul Candler came up with a different reason: “It was the last year we could ride the train for half fare.”
• When telephone psychic Dougall Fraser was working for the Psychic Friends Network, a woman who called herself Champagne called him every morning at 11 a.m. to ask such questions as “When is my husband getting out of jail?” and “When am I getting my welfare check?” Finally, Mr. Fraser could stand it no longer and told her, “Champagne, the next time you want to call me, I want you to take $50, open a window, and throw it out. Because that’s what you’re doing every day. It is a complete waste of your money.” She slammed down the telephone receiver and never called him again.
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved
The Funniest People in Neighborhoods — Buy