David Bruce: The Funniest People in Families, Volume 3 — Activism

Activism

• In 2007, Eileen Daffern was 93 years old, but that did not stop her from being an activist, especially when it came to resisting nuclear weapons. She says, “The great challenge is to make people realize the power they have to change the world. It can be changed, you know.” She is healthy for her age, she inherited good genes from her parents, and she takes pride in her appearance. When her mother was 90 years old, Eileen saw her looking at her appearance in the mirror. Eileen says, “Her gestures were those of a young girl preening herself. … I, too, look in the mirror.” In fact, when she sees photographs that make her look “too ancient,” she gleefully destroys them.

• In 1999, Duke University was not known for tolerance of homosexuality; instead, homosexuality was virtually invisible on campus. This bothered Lucas Schaefer, Leila Nesson Wolfrum, and a few of their friends, and they decided to take action. Figuring that the problem was not outright discrimination against gays and lesbians, but rather a refusal to acknowledge their existence, they designed and ordered a T-shirt that bore the message “gay? fine by me.” Soon, lots of people were wearing these T-shirts, thus acknowledging both that homosexuals exist and that lots of people were OK with that fact.

• In 1912, Margaret Higgins Sanger wrote about such topics as conception and sexually transmitted diseases in a series of articles titled “What Every Girl Should Know.” These articles were published in the radical newspaper The Call. Unfortunately, the United States Postal Service confiscated the issue of The Call that included the article on sexually transmitted diseases. The next issue of The Call included another article on “What Every Girl Should Know.” However, the text of that article stated, “NOTHING, by order of the Post-Office Department.”

• In 1982, Howard Zinn, the author of A People’s History of the United States, and his wife were marching in a huge anti-nuclear protest in New York. The scene, of course, was very crowded and very confusing. While marching in the protest, Mr. and Mrs. Zinn looked up and saw that the banner they were marching under bore this message: “Lesbians From Hoboken Against Nuclear War.” They laughed.

• In 1968, the New York Radical Women protested the Miss America pageant because they regarded it as being sexist. The activists filled a trash can with objects that they believed oppressed women, including bras, girdles, stiletto heels, and tweezers, and they chose — and put a crown on — their own, alternative Miss America: a live sheep.

Advertising

• Great advertising slogans appear in ordinary life, if only someone is around to recognize them. Here are three examples, all from the first half of the 20th century. The first example: A sign painter was working on a billboard advertising Camels cigarettes when a man bummed a cigarette from him. The sign painter smoked Camels cigarettes, and so he gave one to the man, who enthusiastically proclaimed, “I’d walk a mile for a Camel.” The sign painter liked what he heard and passed it on to his boss, saying that it might be a great slogan to use on a billboard.

The second example: J.W. Packard founded the company that manufactured the Packard automobile. A man once wrote him, asking him to provide proof that the car was dependable. Mr. Packard wrote the man a letter and gave him the name and address of a man in his area who owned a Packard. The letter included a sentence that became a famous advertising slogan: “Ask the man who owns one.”

The third example: Harry and David Rosenberg grew pears in Oregon and hired an advertising company that created much new business for them. In fact, business was so good that the advertising company suggested to David that he and Harry buy a full-page ad in Fortune magazine. David thought for a moment and said, “Imagine Harry and me advertising our pears in Fortune!” As you would by now expect, that sentence became the headline of the full-page advertisement in Fortune.

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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