A few samples: 1) The father of Boston Celtics great Bill Russell didn’t want money from his son, even though Bill was making good money as a star for the Boston Celtics. Whenever Bill wanted to give him money, he would say, “I got a job. I got my own d*mn money.” Bill would then say, “But that’s a terrible job. You work in a foundry. All your pants have holes in them from the sparks. There’s dust and metal particles in the air. And you’re by furnaces and then you go outside and it’s freezing. It’s terrible.” Bill’s father would reply, “I can’t quit this job.” Then he would explain why he couldn’t quit: “Listen, son. I’ve given these people thirty-five of the best years of my life. Now, I’ll give them a few of the bad ones!” Even though Bill’s father never would take money from him, Bill figured out a way to give him a new car. He simply paid for the car and told the dealership where to deliver it. When the brand-new car was delivered, Bill’s father cried. A little later, he called Bill to say, “I’m really p*ssed off at you.” Bill asked, “Why?” His father explained, “Because I just got the first speeding ticket of my life!” 2) Australian Murray Rose and Japanese Tsuyoshi Yamanaka were teammates together at USC, but they swam against each other at the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne, Australia. Although a Japanese team was competing in Australia, World War II had been over for only 11 years, and many people remembered when Australians were worried about being invaded by the Japanese during the war. Mr. Rose and Mr. Yamanaka competed in the 1,500-meter freestyle, and despite a strong finish by Mr. Yamanaka, Mr. Rose won by two meters. The two men then embraced each other in the water, resulting in a photograph that was widely reproduced in Australia and elsewhere. One of the captions in Australia said, “The war is finally over.” 3) Groucho Marx once made a hole-in-one while playing golf. Because he was a celebrity, the newspapers made a big deal out of it, and the "Boston Globe" ran a visual aid of three photographs—one of Groucho, and two others of Bobby Jones and Walter Hagen, both big golf stars of the day. Appearing alongside the three photographs was the headline “Groucho joins the immortals.” The next day, Groucho played golf again, but this time several members of the media followed him. Because of all the attention, his golf game suffered and Groucho was many, many strokes above par. The next day the "Boston Globe" ran roughly the same visual aid, but a blank space appeared where Groucho’s photograph had been. This time the headline was “Groucho leaves the immortals.” 3)
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About the Author
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 buy one copy of this eBook [whichever one you buy] and give copies to all students forever. I also give permission to the state of Texas (and all other states) to buy one copy of this eBook and give copies to all students forever. I also give permission to all teachers to buy one copy of this eBook and give copies 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.”
I also write collections of anecdotes; most of the anecdotes are funny or at least interesting, while some provoke thinking.
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David Bruce is a retired anecdote columnist at "The Athens News" in Athens, Ohio. He has also retired from teaching English at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio.