• When he was 21, Luigi (Eugene Facciuto) was paralyzed in a car accident. Physicians told him that he would never walk again, but all he could think about was dancing again. An operation on his eyes, which was necessary because the car accident had crushed his head, left him permanently cross-eyed. However, he kept hearing a voice that told him, “Never stop moving, kid. If you stop moving, you’re dead. Don’t ever stop moving.” Through ballet lessons, he was able to rehabilitate himself, and he ended up dancing alongside people such as Gene Kelly. However, he was forced to become a jazz dancer rather than a ballet dancer because his crossed eyes made it impossible for him to perform pirouettes — he couldn’t spot. He once auditioned for Lucia Chase and all went well until she asked him to perform some turns in the air. Because of his crossed eyes, he couldn’t. He remembers hearing Ms. Chase say, “I thought they said he could dance.” As a jazz dancer, he performed with Judy Garland, Leslie Caron, Cyd Charisse, Donald O’Connor, and Vera Ellen. Luigi’s most important motto throughout his life has been this: “Never stop moving.”
• In April of 1960, a blizzard hit Cincinnati. Young Suzanne Farrell and her mother still made it to an audition for the National Ballet of Canada. However, a chilly journey that lasted over three hours and left no time for Suzanne to warm up took its toll on her and she did not dance well. Still, she says, she danced nowhere near as badly as the National Ballet of Canada told her mother she did. Suzanne says, “I was absolutely crushed. I was ready to give up ballet at fourteen. Then I thought it over, and decided, well, I didn’t like that company very much anyway.” The very next month New York City Ballet dancer Diana Adams discovered her, and Suzanne received a Ford Foundation Scholarship to study at the School of American Ballet. Of course, Suzanne became a superstar of ballet. By the way, in 1961 a representative of the National Ballet of Canada saw Suzanne taking class and said, “Should you decide to join us ….” Suzanne did not let the representative finish: “Sorry, I have something better to do.”
• When Laura Ingalls Wilder, author of Little House on the Prairie, and her husband first arrived at their Rocky Ridge Farm in Missouri, they stayed in a log cabin that had a fireplace but no windows. When they needed more light, they simply knocked out some of the chinking between logs — this let in more light, but it also let in the wind and rain. Later, they built a much nicer house to live in. And while living in Burr Oak, Iowa, she was excited when she found a bullet hole in a door of the hotel where she and her family were living. A husband had gotten drunk, and being angry at his wife, he had tried to shoot her. The wife slammed the door behind her and got away safely.
• As an adult, E.B. White wrote Charlotte’s Web and Stuart Little. When he was a little boy attending his first day of kindergarten, he was annoyed by a little girl who wanted to hold his hand. By the way, as a famous author, Mr. White was often asked to make speeches, but he suffered from stage fright, so he used to decline these invitations by writing, “I am incapable of making a speech.” Also by the way, while working at The New Yorker, Mr. White declined to come in for regular hours, although he did turn in his work on time. In fact, he once set off for a vacation in Maine — without first informing The New Yorker.
• J.R.R. Tolkien was grading a stack of examination papers at Oxford University when he came across an exam that hadn’t been completed. In the empty space at the bottom of the exam, he wrote, “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.” Later, Mr. Tolkien said, “Names always generate a story in my mind: eventually I thought I’d better find out what hobbits are like.” This single sentence at the bottom of an unfinished exam led to Tolkien’s books The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved
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