David Bruce: Be a Work of Art — Church, Class, Clothing, Class

Church

• Calvin Coolidge attended church alone one Sunday. When he returned home, his wife asked him what the preacher had spoken about in his sermon. “Sin,” Coolidge replied. Next his wife asked, “What did he have to say about it?” Coolidge answered, “He was against it.”

Class

• During World War II, American heavyweight champion Joe Louis predicted that the Allies would win. Why? Because, he said, we are on the side of God. This is an improvement on the opinion of people who believed that we would win because God is on our side. Mr. Louis showed a lot of class throughout his career. A reporter once heard a couple of residents of Harlem talking. One said, “If we had more Negroes like Joe Louis, things would be better for us.” The other replied, “True, but if we had more white folks like Joe, things would be better still.”

• Believe it or not, at the 1991 World Figure Skating Championships, figure skater Midori Ito jumped right out of the skating rink. She fumbled for a moment with a TV camera, then went back out onto the ice and skated as if nothing unusual had occurred.

Clothing

• Golfer Walter Hagen had a reputation for partying. According to legend, he sometimes showed up at tee time in a wrinkled tuxedo because he had been partying all night and didn’t have time to change. The truth is quite different. Mr. Hagen was often seen at parties with a glass in his hand, but when he had to play in a tournament the next day, he tossed the drink into a potted plant, then went home to get a good night’s sleep. His tuxedo got wrinkled because he ordered his chauffeur to roll it into a ball and throw it against the car until it was wrinkled enough to carry on the legend.

• Back in the 1970s, when Mary Bacon was riding professionally in horse races, the flower print of her underwear could be seen through her jockey outfit’s white bottoms. She used to tell the other jockeys, “At least I give you something to look at when I’m in the lead.”

• Noël Coward showed up for a dinner party wearing white tie and tails, only to discover that the other guests were wearing casual clothing. He apologized, “So sorry for being improperly dressed.”

• Tennis star Arthur Ashe could afford to wear very expensive clothing, but his favorite piece of clothing was a simple T-shirt bearing this slogan: “A citizen of the world.”

Class

• Oscar Wilde once went into a florist shop and asked that the flowers in the window be removed. The florist replied, “With pleasure, sir. How many would you like to have?” Mr. Wilde replied, “Oh, I don’t want any, thank you. I only asked to have them removed from the window because I thought that they looked tired.” By the way, Mr. Wilde once said about an actress who had married a fool: “She thought that, because he was stupid, he would be kindly, when, of course, kindliness requires imagination and intellect.”

• When George S. and Beatrice Kaufman celebrated their fifth anniversary — the wooden one — critic Alexander Woollcott sent them this telegram: “I have been looking around for an appropriate wooden gift and am pleased hereby to present you with Elsi Ferguson’s performance in her new play.”

• David Garrick, the famous 18th-century actor, believed in using his entire body while playing a part. He once criticized the French actor P. L. D. Preville after appearing on stage with him in a drunk scene — he said that although most of Mr. Preville’s body was drunk, his legs were not!

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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