David Bruce: Alcohol Anecdotes


Oskar Schindler (Wiki Commons; Public Domain)

Oskar Schindler saved over 1,000 Jews from the Holocaust. He hired Jews to work in his factories, assuring the Nazis that the Jews were skilled workers, although they often were not, and he paid the Nazis a fee for the use of the Jews’ labor. In addition, he paid bribes as necessary to keep the Nazis from sending his workers to the death camps. Sometimes, Nazi inspectors came to his factory to see the work of the “skilled” Jews. Whenever that happened, Mr. Schindler got the Nazis drunk so they wouldn’t inspect the work too closely.

When children’s mystery writer Joan Lowery Nixon was young, her parents moved the family to a new house, very close to the house owned by W.C. Fields. Being both observant and curious, Ms. Nixon noticed that a closet in her new home was unusual in that it could be locked from the inside. She investigated, using a measuring tape, and discovered that the closet was in front of another, hidden space. Her mother would not let her investigate further, but after Mr. Fields died, Ms. Nixon toured his house in the presence of a real estate agent, who showed her a hidden room that he had. That room was used to hide liquor during Prohibition. Both houses—that of Mr. Fields and that of Ms. Nixon’s family—had been built during Prohibition.

Dodgers president Branch Rickey used to talk to all the Dodgers once in a while, even the minor leaguers. One thing he stressed in his talks with the players was the importance of leading a good, morally pure life. One day, he talked to Chuck Connors, a minor-league Dodger first baseman. He asked Chuck, “Son, do you smoke?” Chuck answered, “No, sir, Mr. Rickey.” He then asked, “Chuck, do you run around with fast women?” Chuck answered, “No, sir.” Next, Mr. Rickey asked, “Do you drink hard liquor?” This time Chuck answered, “Mr. Rickey, if I have to drink to play for you, I want to be traded.” (And yes, this is the Chuck Connors who later starred in the TV series The Rifleman.)

Marshall Grant was a member of the group Johnny Cash and the Tennessee Two (later, Tennessee Three). Although Mr. Cash abused drugs and alcohol, Mr. Grant never did. In his closet is a suit that he has owned for over 50 years. It was a present from his mother, who said, “Every one of my boys who can make it to 21 without a taste of alcohol, I’ll get them a suit of clothes.” Mr. Grant made it to 21 without tasting alcohol, and beyond. He points out, “I’m 78 years old and strong as a bull. I don’t know the taste of beer, wine, or whiskey. I’ve never taken an illegal pill, never smoked a cigarette, and as of this past November [2006], I’ve been married for 60 years. That’s not too bad.”

Comedian Bill Hicks used to do a lot of drugs, especially alcohol. Fortunately, after going on a late-night drug binge, then doing a radio show at 7 in the morning—during which he was funny although his heart was pounding instead of beating—he decided that he needed help. Mr. Hicks asked a friend who was currently peaceful although he had formerly been wild and crazy, “Are you going to one of those AA meetings today?” The friend replied, “I’ve been waiting three years for you to say that. There’s a meeting in 15 minutes. Let’s go.”

Golfer Peter Jacobsen’s voice was used in the game Golden Tee Golf, which was very popular in bars. One day, Mr. Jacobsen’s two daughters, Kristen and Amy, were in a bar. Both were college students, both were underage, and both were using fake IDs to buy alcohol. Suddenly, they heard their father’s voice saying, “It’s great to be here.” “Oh, my God!” Amy said. “Kristen, Dad’s here!” Both daughters ducked under the bar table, hoping that their father had not seen them, then discovered that they were sitting next to a Golden Tee Golf game.

Conductor Luigi Mancinelli, a conductor at the Metropolitan Opera in the early 20th century, used to dine often at a restaurant and order a $5 bottle of Italian wine (quite expensive at the time), which was brought to him by his favorite waiter. One evening, his favorite waiter was ill and at home, so Mr. Mancinelli ordered his favorite bottle of wine from a new waiter. He was shocked to learn that his favorite wine cost only $1.50 per bottle—his favorite waiter had been deliberately overcharging him for months.

Some teenage boys walked into a library, and one of the boys told the librarian about a student group holding an event, then requested a donation. The boy had made the student group sound so wonderful that the librarian gave him the donation he had requested. After the boy and his friends left, the librarian discovered that she had made a donation to a kegger beer party.

Dodger pitcher Preacher Roe drank too much one night, and when the designated driver dropped him off at his home, Preacher was singing as loudly as he could. The next day, he told the designated driver that he was surprised that his wife had woken up when he came home—after all, he had remembered to take off his shoes before coming into his house.

Before they were married, Fred and Joanne Rogers (TV’s Mister Rogers) went to many dances and parties, and they once won a bottle of champagne for their costumes when they went as Raggedy Ann and Andy. Because they were teetotalers, they did not drink it, but instead went around pouring it at various tables for their friends.

Mid-1950s Metropolitan Opera baritone Frank Guarrera grew up in Philadelphia with parents who had emigrated from Italy. His parents continued their wine-making in Philadelphia, and little Frank sometimes went to school with his hands stained red from the grapes used for wine.

The Russian Prince Orloff discovered an interesting way of getting out of the military. He entered a drinking contest with another man, drank 112 glasses of Cointreau to his opponent’s 80, went into a seizure, and was promptly relieved of his military duty.


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved


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