David Bruce: The Funniest People in Families, Volume 2 — Death, Easter, Education

Death

• After comedian Lou Costello’s son accidentally drowned in a swimming pool, Mr. Costello ordered a bracelet to be made that bore his son’s name, then he had the bracelet welded to his wrist. When Mr. Costello died, he was buried wearing that bracelet.

Easter

• Joanne Hinch of Woodland Hills, California, had taught her children the traditional Easter greeting “He is risen!” and the traditional reply “He is risen, indeed!” On Easter morning, they wanted to surprise their father with this greeting, but three-year-old Dan forgot the words and greeted his father by saying, “Daddy, God’s back!”

Education

• Wavy Gravy (aka Hugh Romney) is a wonderful human being and a wonderful teacher. At his Camp Winnarainbow, the rule is, “If you got ’em, brush ’em” (teeth, that is). Wavy Gravy himself has only six teeth left—and lots of false teeth that are colored like a rainbow. At camp orientation, Wavy Gravy stands on stage in the darkness, with only a spotlight on his mouth. He then tells the horrific story of how he lost his teeth (mainly through neglect), leaving out no detail. Finally, at the end of his story, he yanks out his false teeth, opening his mouth wide to reveal his few remaining stumps of real teeth. Every year after camp is over, he receives letters like this from parents: “I don’t know what you did to our little Billy but he has been home only a month and he has already worn out three brand-new toothbrushes.”

• Comedian Jay Leno attended Emerson College, where he was a mediocre student at best. However, one semester he surprised his parents by getting straight A’s. This is what happened: For one semester only, Emerson College implemented a “progressive” idea—it let students grade themselves. Mr. Leno recognized an opportunity when he saw it, and he put himself on the dean’s list. The next semester, Emerson College changed back to its old system of grading, and Mr. Leno received his usual D’s and F’s. His father asked, “WHAT THE HELL DID YOU DO?”—and Mr. Leno said that his courses were harder this semester than last semester.

• Geneticist Barbara McClintock knew how to concentrate on important things. While attending Cornell University, she took a biology exam for which she was very well prepared. She whizzed through the questions, finished the exam very early, then noticed that she hadn’t written her name on her exam. Unfortunately, she couldn’t remember her name and she was too embarrassed to ask anyone what her name was. After waiting 20 minutes, she remembered her name, wrote it on the exam, and handed the exam in. For this exam, she had concentrated so hard on the important things that she had forgotten a relatively unimportant thing.

• While attending Ohio State University, R.L. Stine, writer of hundreds of comedy and horror books for children, decided to run a not-at-all-serious campaign for the Student Senate presidency even though he was a senior and would be graduating. According to Mr. Stine, students expect the Student Senate to do absolutely nothing anyway, and since he was graduating and would not be around, he was in a better position than anyone else to deliver what the students expected—nothing at all. The campaign failed to get him elected, although he did receive 1,163 write-in votes—Ohio State officials refused to let his name appear on the ballot.

• As a youngster, athlete Jim Thorpe frequently ran away from his boarding school, which taught the ways of white people and ignored Native American culture. However, his father valued education and each time his son ran away, he made him return to the school. Once, after Jim had run away, his father took him back to the school. Jim went in the front door and out the back door. By taking shortcuts home, he managed to reduce the 23-mile journey to 18 miles, and he managed to walk home faster than his father was able to drive his horses and wagon home. When his father reached home, Jim was waiting for him.

• When author Michael Thomas Ford was in high school, one of his teachers tried to teach students how difficult it is to care for an infant by having each student carry around a raw egg for a week. At night, the egg could be refrigerated, but at all other times, it had to be in the care of the student, or the student had to find a “babysitter” for it. This may not have been a good idea. Early in the week, a few students accidentally dropped their eggs, resulting in a failing grade. Because they didn’t want to be the only failing students, they started to deliberately trip other students and commit “eggicide.”

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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