David Bruce: The Funniest People in Families — Grandparents, Halloween, Husbands and Wives

Grandparents

• When Ralph Bunche, the first African American to win the Nobel Peace Prize, became valedictorian of his high school in 1922, the principal attempted to compliment him to his grandmother by saying that he never thought of Ralph as a Negro. Ralph’s grandmother firmly stated, “He is a Negro — and proud of it.”

• Frank DeCaro, the author of A Boy Named Phyllis, had a grandmother who liked to read trashy novels such as Valley of the Dolls and Airport while sitting under a hairdryer. Just to keep her family guessing, however, she occasionally varied her reading matter with a book such as Saints to Know and Love.

• Jayree, one of Jerry Clower’s grandsons, came to visit his grandparents for a while, and Homerline, his grandmother, told him a couple of times to pick up his toys. Jayree ignored her for a while, then he put his hands on his hips and asked Mr. Clower, “Grandaddy, how have you lived with her all these years?”

• Famed conductor Arturo Toscanini asked his granddaughter Sonia Horowitz, whose father was the famed pianist Vladimir Horowitz, whether she would prefer to be a conductor like her grandfather or a pianist like her father. She answered, “A conductor — because it’s a lot easier.”

• When television talk-show host David Letterman was a small child, his grandfather used to take him out to hunt for watermelons. They were always careful to sneak up on the watermelons, because if a watermelon knows you are coming, it will run away.

Halloween

• When ballerina Darci Kistler was five years old, a neighbor gave her a Halloween costume — a pink tutu. Because she knew that she wanted to learn to dance (even at age three, she was cutting photographs of ballerinas out of magazines), she wore the tutu around the house after Halloween as a hint for her mother to sign her up for dance lessons. The hint worked.

Husbands and Wives

• Just after the end of World War II, while country comedian Archie Campbell was still an enlisted man in the United States Navy, he hadn’t seen his wife for a long time, so he asked Lieutenant Sam Bailey if a way could be arranged for him to see her. Therefore, Lieutenant Bailey asked Mr. Campbell to take an apparatus to Florida to have it repaired — of course, Mr. Campbell had his wife meet him in Florida. At the repair shop, Mr. Campbell asked how long it would take to have the apparatus repaired, and the technician assured him that it would be repaired by the very next day. This was bad news for Mr. Campbell and his wife, so he explained the situation to the technician, saying, “I haven’t seen my wife in over a year. Take longer than that.” The technician replied, “In that case, it will take at least a week.”

• As a world-class track athlete, Thelma Wright competed away from home, meaning long separations from her husband, Lee. And even when her husband was nearby, practices, competitions, and media interviews sometimes kept her from seeing him. At the 1972 Olympic Games, many fans asked for her autograph and gave her pieces of papers to sign. While she was surrounded by autograph-seeking fans one day, someone gave her a crumpled piece of paper. She looked up to see who had given her the paper — it was her husband, who said, “Hi, I just wanted to say hello.”

• Hugh Downs and his wife were in Washington, D.C. While Mr. Downs’ wife was in the shower, he received a telephone call saying that their flight to New York had been cancelled because of bad weather. However, after making a telephone call, he discovered that a train would be leaving soon for New York. So he quickly packed all of his and his wife’s clothing and had it sent to the train station. Just then, his wife came into the bedroom with a towel wrapped around her. “Dear,” she said, “would you please hand me my green dress?”

• A housewife once bought some guest towels for a party. She hung them up in the bathroom, but being afraid that her husband would use the towels before the party started, she hung a sign on them: “If you use these towels, I’ll kill you.” Then she went around the house, making other preparations. The party seemed to go well, but when it was over, she noticed that none of the guests had used the guest towels — she had forgotten to take down the sign.

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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