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

Advertising

• When children’s book author/illustrator Tomie dePaola was growing up in the 1940s, Burma Shave signs were popular. These were a series of rhyming signs designed to be read one after another by people riding in a car, and the last sign always said, “BURMA SHAVE.” Usually, the signs were humorous, although some also contained a serious message. One series that young Tomie saw said, “DON’T STICK YOUR ELBOW / OUT SO FAR / IT MIGHT GO HOME / IN ANOTHER CAR / BURMA SHAVE.”

• When Whoopi Goldberg’s daughter gave birth to a girl, Ms. Goldberg knew that the tabloids would be very eager to print photographs of her granddaughter. She wanted the first photographs made available to the public to be tasteful, so when the Gap asked her to do an advertisement, she suggested that they use a photograph of her and her family — her mother, her daughter, and her granddaughter — in the advertisement.

• Clever but misleading (and unethical) product promotion has been with us for a long time. In the 1950s, the makers of Heineken beer wanted to get established in New York City, so they hired a group of 30 college students to go into bars, ask for Heineken, and if it wasn’t available, to leave the bar en masse. Bars quickly stocked Heineken beer.

• Darrell Waltrip is a race-car driver who once was sponsored by a beer company. However, after a mother complained to him that he was giving the message to children that alcohol and driving go together, he quickly changed sponsors. (Now children can learn that driving and laundry detergent — his new sponsor — go together.)

Animals

• Police officers in small towns with little crime sometimes come up with creative ways to keep from being bored. In Fort Fairfield, Maine (population 4,300 at the time of this incident), a police officer discovered a chicken roosting on his police car. The police officer arrested the chicken for such crimes as criminal trespass, criminal mischief, resisting an officer, indecency (the chicken was naked), and littering. On the official crime report, the police officer wrote down the chicken’s name as Cee Little. Later, the police officer explained, “It started out as a joke and shouldn’t have gone as far as it did, but in a town like Fort Fairfield, you have to do something to keep from going crazy.” (The day following the arrest, the chicken was released into the custody of a person who liked to eat eggs.)

• Guardian columnist Michele Hanson called the British Guy Fawkes celebration “dog-breakdownseason” because the fireworks scare her dogs so badly that they are unwilling to relieve themselves outside. In 2007, her dogs cried and whined all Guy Fawkes weekend. They wanted to go outside to relieve themselves, but each time they tried, fireworks would go off and they would run back inside the house. Ms. Hanson complained about “no sleep for me, of course, because of the whining, farting dogs, running up and down the stairs, begging to go to the toilet. Again and again I tottered to the back door, opened it — BANG — they chickened out and stood quivering on the doorstep. All night for three nights. I am a wreck.”

• Helen, the sister of opera singer Mary Garden, was very good with animals. Each morning, she would load a basket up with meat and cheese, then walk down the streets of her village, giving each cat and dog in the village a piece of food. A garage in the village had a ferocious dog fenced up, and Helen was the only person who would approach it. The owner of the garage told her, “Madame, if anybody steals anything from my garage, I’ll know it is you because nobody else in the village could pass that gate and live.”

• Children’s book author Gary Paulsen and his wife, Ruth, once bought a pig to raise for food. Knowing that they intended to butcher it, they didn’t want to get emotionally close to the pig, and so they didn’t name it, but just called it “Pig.” The plan didn’t work. Pig became one of the Paulsens’ many pets, and when Pig died in old age, weighing almost 500 pounds, he died the way a pig would wish to die — with his snout in a feeding trough.

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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