David Bruce Anecdotes
• As a child, future heavyweight champion Joe Louis sometimes fought other children in the streets. His mother wanted him to stay busy and stay out of trouble, so she bought him a violin and made him take violin lessons, something for which he had no aptitude. Of course, many of the people around him teased him about the violin. One day, Golden Gloves champion Thurston McKinney invited him to spar for a few rounds. At first, Mr. McKinney was able to hit Mr. Louis at will, but Mr. Louis got mad and hit Mr. McKinney — hard. Mr. McKinnon shook it off, then advised Mr. Louis, “Man, throw that violin away!” Mr. Louis did get rid of the violin. Another kid teased him once too often about it, so he broke it over the kid’s head.
• At age six, Lucrezia Bori, who later sang at the Metropolitan Opera, made her debut singing on a public stage. Even at that young age, she had a sense of authority. The conductor started the music before young Lucrezia was ready to sing, so she walked to the edge of the stage and told him, “Stop! Begin again!” He did, and now that she was ready, young Lucrezia sang.
• Even when she was a young girl, Johanna Hurwitz wanted to be a writer. One of her favorite books was Johanna Spyri’s Heidi. She used to put something over part of the cover of the book so that “Johanna” was visible and “Spyri” was hidden. That way, she could see her first name on the cover of a book, and she could dream about what it would be like to see both of her names on the cover of a book. Of course, Ms. Hurwitz’s dream did come true and she did get to see both of her names on the covers of some books because she became the writer of such children’s books as Aldo Applesauce and Russell Sprouts.
• Nicolas Cage’s name at birth was Nicolas Coppola, but he changed it when he became an actor because when he went to a casting office the people auditioning him wanted to talk about such films as The Godfather and Apocalypse Now, which had been made by his famous uncle, Francis Ford Coppola. By the time they had finished talking about his famous uncle and the audition started, Mr. Cage had forgotten his lines. By the way, Mr. Cage’s son is named Kal-El — which is Superman’s birth name.
• Marilyn Monroe’s real name was Norma Jeane Mortensen. When her acting career required a more glamorous name, she chose “Monroe” because it was her grandmother’s last name. Movie producer Ben Lyon chose “Marilyn” because he liked and respected the movie actress Marilyn Miller. Later, when Marilyn Monroe married playwright Arthur Miller, she had the same first and last name as the actress who had been the inspiration for her first name.
• When Florence Bascom studied geology at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, in the 1890s, professors thought that the presence of a woman student in the classroom would be distracting to the male students, so they made her sit behind a screen so the male students couldn’t see her. Ms. Bascom, the first American woman geologist, later became known informally as the “Stone Lady.”
• When Ohio University student Kate Krushinski was in middle school, she had a German teacher whose last name was “Ball.” Of course, in middle school many students call their male teachers “Mister” and address them by their last name. However, the German word for “Mister” is “Herr,” and the German teacher made his students address him by his first name because he did not want them to call him “Herr Ball.”
• Yee Ching Wong was born in China, but when she started attending a Catholic school in Hong Kong, the nuns asked her father to choose a new English name for her. He looked at several names on a list and chose “Flossie” — the name of a recent typhoon that had struck Hong Kong. As an adult, Flossie Wong-Staal co-discovered the HIV virus, which causes AIDS.
• When he was a child growing up in Scotland, Andrew Carnegie raised rabbits. On Saturdays, he wanted other children in the neighborhood to help him find clover and other food for the rabbits. He got the help he wanted by promising to name baby rabbits after the children who helped him.
• Humorist Ellen Orleans brought a new cat home. She named it Amanda, but it ignores its name and comes only when you call “Kitty, Kitty.” Therefore, its unofficial name is “Amanda Kitty, Kitty.”
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved
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