David Bruce: The Funniest People in Families — Christmas, Couples, Daughters

Christmas

• When poet Nikki Giovanni was a small child, her parents, Gus and Yolande, didn’t always have the money necessary to buy what their two young daughters wanted. One Christmas, their two daughters wanted bicycles, but Mr. and Mrs. Giovanni could afford to buy them only roller skates. However, they did figure out a way to make them happier about not getting bicycles although other children in the neighborhood had. They told her, “Isn’t it terrible that their parents gave them bicycles when it’s so cold? They won’t be able to ride until spring.”

• When Leo Slezak’s son (Walter) was eight years old, he wrote out a list of presents for Santa Claus to bring to him. However, the governess mentioned to Mr. Slezak that Walter didn’t believe in Santa Claus any more. When Mr. Slezak asked Walter why he had written out a list of presents for Santa Claus, little Walter replied, “I didn’t want to spoil the pleasure for you and Mommy.”

• On Christmas, Pope John XXIII (who was named Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli at his birth) sometimes visited children in a hospital. He once asked a boy what his name was. The boy replied, “Giuseppe.” Not knowing who his visitor was, the boy asked, “What’s your name?” The Pope answered, “Oh, my name is Giuseppe, too, but now everybody calls me John.”

Couples

• In the old days, William Boake wished to court Euphemia Birkett, but her guardian, Catherine Tew, disliked him. One day, Mr. Boake arrived to visit Ms. Birkett, but Ms. Tew made sure that her charge was upstairs and out of sight. Mr. Boake was not to be trifled with, so he ran upstairs, and Ms. Tew tried to stop him by grabbing one of the tails of his coat, only to have the tail tear off in her hand. After he and Ms. Birkett were married, Mr. Boake kept the one-tailed coat as a souvenir of his courtship.

• When Jack Gilford was courting Madeline Lee, he was working at a resort and called her long distance. The telephone operator at the resort listened to all their conversations and found them very entertaining. Once, after a conversation more than usually filled with passion and drama, Mr. Gilford asked the telephone operator, “How much do I owe you?” With a sob in her throat, the telephone operator said, “Never mind. There’s no charge tonight.”

• A missionary couple stayed at the home of an elderly widow. When they went to bed, they discovered that the bedding was very wrinkled and very dirty, but they slept in the bed anyway. The next morning, the widow explained, “For years there have been so many holy people who have slept in that bed that I’ve never been able to [bring myself to] change it.”

• Track superstar Mary Decker frequently wrote an early boyfriend when she was away from him. While in New York, she wrote him four letters in two days and then telephoned him on the third day — she hadn’t received a letter from him yet, and she was worried that something had happened to him.

• A friend of lesbian comedian Judy Carter wore a wedding ring to work. When her co-workers asked what her husband did, she replied, “She works for a pharmacy.”

Daughters

• Rabbi Joseph Telushkin once watched his two daughters playing together nicely, and he commented to a friend named Dennis Prager how much pleasure this sight was giving him. Mr. Prager asked, “Doesn’t it give you more pleasure than if one of your daughters said ‘I love you, Daddy’ but didn’t act nicely to her sister?” Rabbi Telushkin answered, “Of course.” Mr. Prager then said, “I imagine God is the same way. He derives greater pleasure when people are good to each other than when they are ‘good’ to Him but not to each other.”

• When Robin, Bob Dole’s daughter, was young, she was a great fan of a British rock band, so Senator Dole wrote the British embassy to find out if the band could play at his daughter’s high school as a surprise. Unfortunately, he received a reply saying that the Beatles would be too busy to oblige during their first American tour.

• Comic actor Robert Morley once embarrassed his daughter by attempting to surf in Hawaii — he was unable even to mount the surfboard. When his mortified daughter told him, “People were laughing at you,” he was unperturbed and replied, “Usually they have to pay to laugh at me.”

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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