David Bruce: Be a Work of Art — Names, Olympic Games, Physicians, Politics


• When Cassius Clay converted to Islam, he changed his name to Muhammad Ali. His new name means “someone who is worthy of praise.” After taking his new name, Mr. Ali let it be known that he no longer wished to be called by his “slave name” — the name “Clay” had come from the owner of Mr. Ali’s great-grandfather. Some of his opponents in the boxing ring continued to call him Cassius Clay. Mr. Ali responded by hitting them harder.

• A supporter of General Lewis Cass, an ardent Democrat, proposed to name a Western county “Cass” in honor of the General, but one of the opponents of the Democrats moved that the first letter of the name “Cass” be stricken out. However, the General’s supporter replied that it was unusual for a member of Congress to propose that a county be named after himself.

Olympic Games

• Figure skater Paul Wylie was known for a long time as a skater who performed best in practice, but in 1992 he won a silver medal at the Olympic Games. Afterward, reporters asked him if he thought he should have been awarded the gold medal, but Mr. Wylie replied, “How great of a Cinderella story do you guys want?”

• At the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, gymnast Shannon Miller won five medals, all silver or bronze. A reporter asked Ms. Miller if she were willing to trade her five silver and bronze medals for one gold medal. Her response? A very definite no.


• Harold Smithson was a well-loved medical doctor. Sharon Lucas, a Registered Nurse in Minnesota, tells two stories about him: 1) While playing Little League baseball, a boy had suffered a cut that required stitches. He had been given a local anesthetic and was lying on a gurney, and he could not see his arm. Dr. Smithson came in and started talking to him about baseball, and the conversation grew animated. Eventually, the boy asked, “Doctor, aren’t you going to sew up my arm or something?” Dr. Smithson said, “Son, I’ve been sewing it up. In fact, it’s all done as soon as I cut off the end of this thread.” The boy had not felt anything. 2) Some patients are obnoxious, and this patient cursed his nurses while they worked on him in the emergency room. Dr. Smithson appeared and watched quietly, and the obnoxious patient yelled at him, “What the h*ll do you want?” Dr. Smithson replied, “At the moment I’d like to see your rear end leaving the emergency room.” The patient yelled, “You can kiss my *ss.” Dr. Smithson replied, “Son, this is not the time to get romantic.”


• A group of Soviet Communists visited the United States and toured an American car factory which had a parking lot filled with cars. The Communists were informed that the factory belonged to Henry Ford but that the cars in the parking lot were owned by the workers. Later, a group of American Capitalists visited the USSR, where they toured a car factory that had a parking lot with only one car in it. The Capitalists were informed that the factory belonged to the workers but that the car was owned by the factory manager.

• Senator Warren Magnuson, a Democrat from Washington, had the nickname “Maggie.” At a dinner with President Franklin D. Roosevelt, he was referred to as “Maggie” constantly. Winston Churchill asked Senator Magnuson about the nickname, then told him, “Young man, if I were you, I wouldn’t resent it. I really think the reason that I’m Prime Minister of England is I’m known as Winnie in every pub in the country.” After speaking with Sir Winston, Senator Magnuson never worried about his nickname.


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved


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