• Yo-Yo Ma started playing music early, but he did not seem to care for the violin. His parents wondered why he didn’t like the violin, and young Yo-Yo told them, “I don’t like the sound violins make — I want a big instrument!” His father took him to an instrument shop, where Yo-Yo found a cello made for children. To try out the cello, Yo-Yo couldn’t sit on a chair — all of them were too big for him. Therefore, he sat on three big telephone books. Of course, he got the cello and became a world-renowned cellist.
• When Ralph Nader and his siblings were growing up, the local library ran into a problem because children were not returning the books they had borrowed. The local McDonald’s started a promotion to get the books back by offering a free hamburger to each child who returned his or her library books. Ralph’s mother, Rose, opposed this promotion. She felt that children ought not to be bribed to do the right thing. Ralph and his siblings returned their library books without getting a free hamburger.
• As a child, Dorothy “Dot” Richardson was a ball of frenetic energy. In the days before laws required small children to ride in car seats, she traveled with her parents from Orlando to California. Because she constantly crawled around in the car, eventually her parents placed her in a box to keep her relatively immobile. According to her mother, “Dorothy never walked as a baby — she ran.” The exercise paid off — Dot won gold medals in women’s softball at the 1996 and 2000 Olympic Games.
• Cheerleaders can be role models for young children. For example, the first graders at a Catholic school idolized the cheerleaders who were in the eighth grade. In fact, at one recess the first graders imitated the older cheerleaders. One first grader led the chants: “Give me a B … give me a Q … give me an R … what’s that spell?” Since none of the first graders knew how to spell yet (and since the letters in fact did not spell a word), one first grader answered, “I don’t know!”
• As a child, Jackie Bouvier spoke the truth. One day, she and Lee, her little sister, got in an elevator, which was operated by a man with some white hair standing straight up from his forehead. Lee said politely to the elevator operator, “You look pretty well today.” But Jackie said, “That’s not true, Lee. You know very well he looks like a chicken.” Later, she became famous as Jackie Kennedy Onassis, a woman who closely observed the rules of etiquette.
• Francis Crick was born on June 8, 1916. Shortly afterward, his sister carried him — at the request of their mother — up to the roof of their home. Why? This act symbolized that young Francis would someday reach the top — and he did reach the top of his profession. Working together, friends James Watson and Mr. Crick discovered the structure of DNA, for which in 1962 they won a Nobel Prize.
• Comedian Steve Allen and his wife and son were in a limo in Tokyo, Japan, when they were trapped in an anti-American demonstration led by Japanese students who chanted, “Yan-kee, go home.” Mr. Allen’s six-year-old son, Bill, rolled a window down, then began chanting in sync with the Japanese students, “We’re go-ing home Thurs-day. We’re go-ing home Thurs-day.”
• Eric Gregg used to umpire in the Dominican Republic, where the poorer kids made sneaking in an art form. They waited until the national anthem of the Dominican Republic was being played, then swarmed over the fence, because the people standing up made hiding easier and because they knew that the police would not chase them while the national anthem was being played.
• When dancer Ann Miller was only 15 years old — everyone thought she was 18 — she had her first Hollywood date in 1938 when Hermes Pan took her to the Academy Awards. Because she wanted to be sophisticated, she put on lots of makeup, but Mr. Pan looked at her and absolutely refused to take her to the Awards until she washed all that “junk” off her face.
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved
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