• The 1930s were the age of the joke letter. When Joe Bryan, aka author J. Bryan III, and his wife had their first son in 1936, they asked Arthur H. Samuels, a magazine editor, to become the child’s godfather. Mr. Samuels accepted, and he wrote a letter to the child, saying how delighted he was to become his godfather, because he had always admired the child’s mother and had always found her very attractive and he felt very close to her, especially now. In fact, he wrote that since the child would no doubt grow up to be a man of the world he did not mind revealing that their relationship was not really that of godfather and godchild, but was indeed very much closer. Mr. Bryan and his wife never showed the letter to their parents, being afraid that they would not understand that it was a joke, but they saved the letter and gave it to their son when he came of age.
• Briefly, comedian Jay Leno was a member of the Boy Scouts. His scoutmaster was determined to get parents involved in the organization, although many of them did not want to get involved. The scoutmaster even gave Jay’s father a bunch of merit badges and asked for help in administering tests and giving the merit badges out to the scouts. Reluctant to be involved, Jay’s father asked the scouts, “What kind of tree is that over there?” Because apples were hanging from the tree’s branches, they quickly identified the tree, and Jay’s father started handing five or six merit badges to each scout—including merit badges that had nothing to do with tree identification. When the scoutmaster saw the merit badges being worn by the scouts, he angrily started ripping them off the scouts’ uniforms. Shortly thereafter, Jay stopped being a scout.
• Christian writer Dale Hanson Bourke once attended a meeting at which a man received a note and left. He was gone for some time, and because his scheduled presentation was important, little was accomplished at the meeting while he was gone. At first, Ms. Bourke was impatient, but then she learned the reason for the man’s absence. A friend of the man told her, “He … uh … had a little personal problem. His daughter bit another child, and he had to go down to the day-care center and take her home.”
• When the Cincinnati Reds traded Ken Griffey, Sr., to the New York Yankees, his family stayed in Cincinnati while he moved to New York. However, his son, Ken Griffey, Jr., stayed in touch with him by telephone. Sometimes, young Ken made a mistake in a baseball game and called his father to talk about it. Sometimes, his father would fly him to New York, teach him what he needed to learn about baseball, then fly him back to Cincinnati.
• Figure skater Peggy Fleming’s father knew how to handle teenage smoking. When she was a young teenager, Peggy got hold of a pack of cigarettes and lit one up in the garage. Her father walked into the garage, saw her smoking, and said, “Hmm, you’re smoking? Great. I feel like smoking, too. Why don’t we smoke together?” They ended up smoking the whole pack of cigarettes together. Young Peggy got sick, and she never smoked again.
• When Steven Spielberg was a boy, his father didn’t want him to watch too much TV. To determine whether Steven was watching TV, his father used to place a hair over the power switch of the family TV, but Steven knew about the hair, and he would remove it, watch TV, then carefully replace the hair so his father wouldn’t know that he had been watching TV.
• Band director Trey Reely studied trumpet as a child, but in the eighth grade he felt that he was too busy to take lessons. His father, however, convinced him to take a lesson every two weeks. This worked out well. Trey studied enough that he didn’t forget everything he knew, and eventually he started taking lessons his usual once a week.
• Hiram P. Thorpe, the father of athlete Jim Thorpe, was called “Big Hiram,” and his strength was immense. Once, father and young son went hunting together. They didn’t have enough horses to carry all the deer they killed, so Big Hiram put a buck deer over each of his shoulders, and he carried the two deer twenty miles to their home.
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved
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