David Bruce: The Funniest People in Families, Volume 3 — Problem-Solving, Religion, Sports

Problem-Solving

• People who work with patients who have dementia need to be problem-solvers. One patient who suffered from dementia often asked the workers at the nursing home where he lived, “What time does the train leave for Boise? I need to go home to Boise.” Reasoning with the man did not work — it just made him angry enough to throw things. However, one housekeeper told the man, “Jim, there is no train coming today, but you can stay at our hotel.” This answer kept the man calm, although he continued to ask occasionally about the train.

• Two friends went traveling in a trailer to spend a weekend fishing. They drove to the lake, camped out, then realized that they had forgotten to bring an alarm clock so that they could get up at dawn to start their fishing early. No problem. They tossed a couple of pieces of bread on the roof of the trailer, and at dawn they were awakened by the beaks of birds tapping on the roof of the trailer while they pecked at the bread.

• Jacques Offenbach, a composer noted for his overtures, sometimes forgot to button the fly of his pants. This happened so often in public places that his wife devised a code to let him know secretly that he had done it again. Whenever she began to talk about “Monsieur Durand,” Mr. Offenbach would excuse himself, leave the room and button his fly.

• Teachers sometimes have to be quick-witted. Librarian Sue Pattillo once witnessed a teacher in a library showing a young girl the fine points of a religious reference book. As the teacher turned a page, she found a condom in the book. Quickly, the teacher put the condom in her pocket as she continued to tell the young girl about the book.

Religion

• Bob Hope was not a Catholic, but his wife, Dolores, was a devout Catholic. One day, two of their young children, Nora and Kelly, talked about religion. Kelly asked Nora, who was the youngest in the family, “Is everybody in our family Catholic?” Nora replied, “Everybody but daddy. He’s a comedian.” According to Mr. Hope, with comments like that his daughter “could have been one of my writers.”

• One frontier preacher worked hard six days a weeks, but every Saturday he went fishing. A member of the preacher’s congregation felt that fishing was “idleness,” and so he told the preacher that Satan certainly didn’t take any time off from his work. “That’s true,” replied the preacher, “but I’m not following Satan’s example.”

• As a very young girl, modern dance pioneer May O’Donnell found confessing her sins a “trial.” The problem was not that she had horrible sins to confess. Instead, the problem was that she couldn’t think of any sins she needed to confess — so she used to make up sins to confess to the priest.

• Fred Astaire occasionally went to church with his mother. Whenever George Roosevelt, a friend of his, was taking up the collection, he used to tease him by tying a string to the dollar bill he was donating, put it in the collection plate, then yank it out again.

Sports

• Les Charles, one of the co-creators of the TV sitcom Cheers, played football in high school. Unfortunately, his team was not very good, and when he was a sophomore, his team lost every game it played, including a 75-0 loss against the team that became state champions that year. Members of the team were definitely embarrassed by their record. Today, Mr. Charles says, “When we’d see kids from other schools, we’d turn our letter sweaters inside out.”

• In the late 1960s, John Somogyi scored 3,310 career points while playing basketball for Saint Peter’s High School in New Brunswick, New Jersey. In 1992, his 24-year-old record was broken by a player who wore Mr. Somogyi’s uniform number — 24 — and who scored 3,899 career points. He wasn’t upset that his record had been broken; after all, the record breaker was Kristen Somogyi, his own daughter.

• During a Little League game, a baseball came ice skater Peggy Fleming’s way, so she picked it up and fired it over to the first-base coach. Her son was properly impressed: “Wow, Mom — you don’t throw like a girl.” The comment made Ms. Fleming proud, but she adds, “If anyone but my son made such a patronizing remark, I wouldn’t feel quite so warm and proud about it.”

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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