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David Bruce: The Funniest People in Families, Volume 3 — Dance, Daughters, Death


• Buddy and Vilma Ebsen were a famous brother-and-sister dance team during the 1930s. The members of some acts didn’t get along, but they always did. Occasionally, Vilma couldn’t dance as well as she normally did, but afterwards, all Buddy ever said to her was, “Where do you want to go to eat?”


• When Bill Clinton was first running for President, he attended a father-daughter dance at the YWCA in Little Rock, Arkansas. This would have been a good photo-op for political purposes, but Hillary declined to let campaign workers notify the media, saying instead, “No. This is Chelsea’s night.”

• The first song ever sung by Taylor, the daughter of country music superstar Garth Brooks, was his song “Fever.” Well, she kind of sung it. Mr. Brooks says, “She knew one word, and she’d run around naked in the house screaming ‘Fever.’”


• Many parts of Africa were devastated by the AIDS epidemic, killing off the young adults and leaving the children and the elderly behind. In Uganda, many parents who knew that they will die from AIDS left behind memory books so that their children would have something to remember them by. These are small exercise books which contain preprinted prompts, such as “You First Talked When You Were …” and “When You Were Little, You Loved to ….” Parents wrote the answers to these prompts as well as other messages to their children. One parent answered the prompt “I Always Laughed When You …” by telling about how Peter, her young son, was so proud because he was better than his friend in school. His friend was ranked number 1 in class, while Peter was ranked number 35. His mother tried to explain that being ranked number 1 was better than being ranked number 35, but Peter kept on believing that the bigger the number a student was ranked, the better the student was.

• In 1944, Ed McKeever coached the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame; unfortunately, that year, Notre Dame was no match for a strong Army football team, and even more unfortunately, Mr. McKeever’s father was dying. Before the Notre Dame-Army game, Mr. McKeever told his Fighting Irish that his dying father would be in the hospital, listening to the game on the radio. He also told them to play an offensive game, figuring that would be the best way to at least keep the score close. Unfortunately, Notre Dame kept being intercepted, and Army ran up a big lead. Late in the third quarter, with Army piling up the points, the Notre Dame quarterback told his fellow players in a huddle, “Well, it doesn’t matter what play we run now. McKeever’s old man is sure as hell dead by this time.”

• Some of the relatives of science fiction writer Anne McCaffrey had a kind of extrasensory perception — as she herself did. Her Grandmother McElroy once worried about her sister and whether she would like the afterlife, since during life she had not been generous with praise, saying often, “Oh, it’s not so bad.” One night, Grandmother McElroy prayed very hard, and the ghost of her sister appeared to her. Grandmother McElroy asked how she was finding the afterlife. Before disappearing, the ghost said, “Oh, it’s not so bad.”

• Phoebe A. Johnson took her five-year-old daughter to a cemetery, where they saw a man push a rod into the earth, then hang some flowers from the rod. Ms. Johnson’s daughter asked why he had done that. She replied, “He wanted to remember the person who died.” Her daughter then asked, “Will someone do that for me when I die?” After hearing that someone would, the daughter said, “It won’t be fair. All I’ll see is the stick.”

• Addison Mizner once thought about committing suicide in San Francisco over a failed love affair. He got a gun, then rode a streetcar out to Golden Gate Park, where he found an isolated spot. At this time, he remembered that he had a large hole in his underwear. So he returned home to change his underwear, and during the ride back home, he decided that the woman really wasn’t worth committing suicide over.

• Many people feel strongly about movies. When Western film maker John Ford died, some film scholars, including Jim Agnew and Alex Ameripoor, drove to Los Angeles to visit his grave, where they stood and sang, “Shall We Gather at the River,” a song that is often sung in funerals in Western movies.


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved


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