• H. Allen Smith’s father had many, many children. Whenever he wanted to read his newspaper, his numerous small children tearing around the house bothered him. Therefore, he invented a game to keep them quiet. One day he pulled a penny from his pocket, told his children to watch him, then he rubbed the coin on a rug until it shone like new. After that, whenever he wanted some peace and quiet, he would give each of his children a penny and tell them, “Go shine.”
• Aretha Franklin remained unspoiled despite becoming a rhythm and blues superstar with numerous Grammy Awards. She credits her father with ensuring that she did not become spoiled. At home, everyone in her family would be working — vacuuming, washing dishes, etc. — but young Aretha would sometimes stand around, doing nothing. Whenever this happened, her father would tell her, “See if you can find yourself around in that kitchen and introduce yourself to the trash.”
• When Shaquille O’Neal was 13 years old, he stood 6 feet, 6 inches tall and was growing so fast that new clothes became too small for him after only a few weeks. However, his size by itself did not make him a good basketball player. When Shaq was a high-school senior, his father criticized him, saying that he wasn’t playing hard enough. This criticism so motivated Shaq that in the very next game he scored 52 points.
• When Casey Stengel was a young man, he smashed an inside-the-park home run, but his shoelace came untied as he ran around the bases. The loose shoe made him run awkwardly, and he ended up staggering across home base. In the stands sat his fiancée, Edna Lawson, and her father. Proud of the home run, Ms. Lawson asked her father, “What do you think of my hero now, Pa?” Unimpressed with Casey’s base running, her father replied, “I just hope he lives till the wedding.”
• When Wayne Gretzky was two years old, his father, Walter, started training him to be a hockey star. After buying the smallest hockey stick he could find, he cut it down even more so that Wayne could use it. He even built a hockey rink — complete with lights! — in the backyard so that Wayne could practice, even at night. The practice paid off. Mr. Gretzky became perhaps the greatest hockey player ever.
• Comedian Tim Conway’s father pretended that he had very sharp vision. Occasionally while driving, he would say, “Wasn’t that a dime back there?” Then he would stop the car, and he and little Tim would get out, and sure enough, they would find a dime on the street. Not until he was an adult did Tim realize that his father had planted the dime on the street earlier just so he could “see” it later.
• The artist Bela Haas was wealthy, but tight with his money. Once a well-dressed man asked him for some money, saying that he knew that Mr. Haas was rich, but Mr. Haas replied, “My dear sir, I am indeed rich, but I’m not generous and I must tell you that as my money is the only thing I have to remember my late-lamented father by, I can never part with it.”
• While Groucho Marx’s son, Arthur, was in the Navy, Groucho visited him. Arthur helped him with the luggage, and with both his hands filled with luggage, he suddenly saw an admiral, who obviously expected to be saluted. Groucho came to the rescue. He saluted the admiral, then pointed to Arthur and explained, “He pays me to do his saluting for him.”
• The father of Sid Fleischman, author of the McBroom comedy series of children’s books, owned a taxicab. One day, he discovered that if he hit a pothole, the meter would jump ahead, thus increasing the fare the passenger had to pay. After making this discovery, he learned the location of every pothole in the city.
• Jay Leno’s father didn’t understand the importance of major celebrities maintaining some form of privacy. Whenever he learned that someone was a big fan of Jay, he would give the fan Jay’s private telephone number and say, “Call him up! He’d love to hear from you!”
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved
The Funniest People in Relationships — Buy