David Bruce: The Funniest People in Families, Volume 2 — Animals, Birth

Animals

• When Sue Pirtle was growing up in the small town of Stonewall, Oklahoma, residents treated Everett Shaw with a great deal of respect because he was a world champion steer roper. One woman marveled, “Isn’t it nice—a small town of only 300 like ours can produce a world champion!” Mr. Pirtle gave young Sue her first Shetland pony and soon, with lots of help from Mr. Shaw and another friend named Terry Allison, Sue became the town’s second world champion. In 1974 and 1976, Ms. Pirtle earned the Girls’ Rodeo Association title of All-Around Champion Cowgirl.

• Wilson Mizner was an unruly youth, so his family decided to send him to Santa Clara College, which had a reputation for straightening out upper-class delinquents. The “college” even had half-starved, ferocious dogs roaming the grounds at night to keep the youths from slipping away for some fun. Young Wilson got even with the authorities by tying a sirloin steak to the fire bell rope. In their attempts to eat the steak, the dogs kept jumping up and ringing the fire bell all night.

• Poet Nikki Giovanni’s father once had some bushes trimmed, and the trimming destroyed some birds’ nests. When Ms. Giovanni’s young son, Thomas, found some dead baby birds lying on the ground, he became very angry with his grandfather. Ms. Giovanni says that her father had never apologized to anyone in his entire life, but after thinking for a while, he apologized to his grandson.

• Actor Vincent Price’s dog, Joe, was once accused of running in front of a bicycle and causing an accident that broke the cyclist’s collarbone. In the resulting trial, Mr. Price and Joe were forced to appear in court. At one point in the proceedings, an X-ray of the cyclist’s broken collarbone was shown and Joe stood up and begged for food. (By the way, the jury found Joe innocent.)

• When country comedian Jerry Clower was a boy, his family owned a bulldog named Mike. This bulldog looked out for the children of the family, and whenever Jerry’s mother wanted to spank him, first she had to lock up the bulldog, because if she didn’t, as soon as she started to spank Jerry, it would bite her.

• When she was young, track and field star Florence Griffith Joyner owned a pet five-foot-long boa constrictor named Brandy. Whenever Brandy shed her skin, Florence kept it and painted it various colors. One day, Florence took her snake to the mall, but she had to take it home because shoppers were scared of it.

• In Paris, ballerina Suzanne Farrell and her choreographer husband, Paul Mejia, went to a fancy restaurant, where the maitre d’ offered to look after their dog for them. After the meal was over, they discovered that their dog had been fed a meal on a silver platter and the meal was charged to them!

• Dogs can be mischievous pets. When Albert E. Kahn was in the home of Soviet ballerina Galina Ulanova, her dog, which she had named Bolshoi, ate part of the skirt of Tamara Mamedova, who was too busy translating to notice the dog’s meal.

• Ballerina Yvette Chauviré, a favorite of the 1950s Paris Opéra, collected swans. They were tributes to her wonderful performances as the dying swan. Unfortunately, many of the swans were chipped—her cats did not respect her collection.

• Susan Butcher, a four-time winner of the 1,049-mile-long Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Alaska, had a dog named Crackers, so whenever he sired a new litter of puppies, she gave the puppies the names of various kinds of crackers.

Birth

• Senator Chauncey Depew once made fun of President William Taft’s obesity by looking at his waistline, then saying, “I hope, if it is a girl, Mr. Taft will name it for his charming wife.” President Taft overheard him and replied, “If it is a girl, I shall, of course, name it for my lovely helpmate of many years. And if it is a boy, I shall claim the father’s prerogative and name it Junior. But if, as I suspect, it is only a bag of wind, I shall name it Chauncey Depew.”

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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