David Bruce: The Funniest People in Families — Weddings, Work

Weddings

• Some early preachers knew exactly how to get paid well for officiating at a wedding. When the groom asked how much the officiating cost, the preacher would say, “I don’t make a charge, but I allow the groom to measure his generosity by the estimate he puts on his bride. When I marry such a fine-looking couple as you are, I always get five or ten dollars. But when I marry an indifferent-looking couple, I don’t expect more than two or three dollars.” The groom would almost always pay at least five dollars — which was real money at that time.

• Peter Bruegel enjoyed painting peasants. He and a friend named Hans Franckert used to dress in peasant clothing, then go as uninvited guests to peasant weddings. If a member of the groom’s family asked who they were, they said that they were members of the bride’s family. If a member of the bride’s family asked who they were, they said that they were members of the groom’s family.

• “Judge” Roy Bean married many couples in the American frontier. When he officiated at a wedding, his closing words were usually, “I, Roy Bean, Law West of the Pecos, by the authority vested in me by the constitution and laws of the State of Texas, do hereby pronounce you man and wife. And may God have mercy on your souls!”

Work

• As a child, comedian Bob Hope sold newspapers in Cleveland, Ohio. One day, a man bought a newspaper from him, but young Bob didn’t have change. Bob didn’t want to get change because he would lose business and not sell as many newspapers due to the time lost in getting change, so he told the man to pay him the next day. However, the man insisted, “No! Go get change!” Bob did, and when he returned with the change, the man told him, “See, you lost business because you didn’t have change. The way to run a business is to always be ready and always deal in cash and have ready change and don’t give credit.” The man giving Bob that advice was at the time the world’s richest man: John D. Rockefeller, Sr.

• On Nantucket Island long ago used to live a man named Benny Cleveland, who made a living doing odd jobs. Many of the men on the island spent a lot of time at sea, and Mr. Cleveland was very useful to their wives. Among his many jobs was to sleep over at women’s houses if they were pregnant or if they were ill. That way, he made them feel safer and he was right there in case of an emergency. Because everyone knew that Mr. Cleveland was harmless, his sleeping over was never regarded as scandalous. One day, Mr. Cleveland decided that he wanted more of this type of work, so he took out this ad in a newspaper: “Women slept with, twenty-five cents a night. Nervous women, fifteen cents extra.”

• For a while, architect Julia Morgan worked for John Galen Howard, but she was determined to leave his employ and open her own office, especially after she learned that Mr. Howard was telling people that she was a wonderful architect and he had to pay her nearly nothing — because she was a woman. After she quit, he became her enemy, and for 25 years he kept her from getting commissions to design buildings at the University of California, of whose building projects he was the supervising architect. In her 47-year career, Ms. Morgan found work anyway, and her name is on over 700 buildings.

• Madeleine L’Engle, author of A Wrinkle in Time, was a good mother, but not necessarily a good baker. When her children asked her to bake a cake for a school bake sale, she did, but the cake was lopsided. Therefore, she sent a note to the school, asking, “Is there anything else I could do, more in line with my talents? Is there a play we could help with, or anything like that?” The following week, she and her husband, a professional actor, found themselves in charge of directing the school Christmas pageant.

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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I would like to see my retellings of classic literature used in schools, so I give permission to the country of Finland (and all other countries) to give copies of my eBooks to all students and citizens forever. I also give permission to the state of Texas (and all other states) to give copies of my eBooks to all students forever. I also give permission to all teachers to give copies of my eBooks to all students forever.

Teachers need not actually teach my retellings. Teachers are welcome to give students copies of my eBooks as background material. For example, if they are teaching Homer’s “Iliad” and “Odyssey,” teachers are welcome to give students copies of my “Virgil’s ‘Aeneid’: A Retelling in Prose” and tell students, “Here’s another ancient epic you may want to read in your spare time.”

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