• As an Impressionist painter, Claude Monet was obsessed with recreating the effect of light on various objects. In 1890, he began painting a picture of meules — stacks of wheat or oats. The light changed suddenly, so he got another canvas and began painting the effect of that light on the meules. Again, the light changed, and again, he got another canvas and began painting the effect of that new light on the meules. After this experience, he started to always paint on more than one canvas. As the light changed, he switched to a different canvas. This allowed him to keep on working whether the day was sunny or cloudy, and when the day was sunny in the morning and cloudy in the afternoon.
• Before baseball had modern stadiums, some people always watched the games for free by standing in back of the outfield. In Boston in 1884, the club’s owner decided to put up fences to prevent freeloaders from seeing the games; however, many freeloaders simply climbed the telegraph poles and watched the games from their high perch. This made the owner angry, so he waited until the middle of an exciting game, then sent out crews to paint several feet of the telegraph poles — from the ground to the freeloaders. All of the freeloaders ruined their clothing getting down from the telegraph poles.
• During her rule, Queen Mary I of England persecuted the Protestants. Benjamin Franklin’s great-great-grandfather was a Protestant under her rule, but he continued to read the Bible even when doing so was forbidden. He kept the Bible strapped underneath a covered stool, and when he wanted to read it, he stationed one of his children to serve as a lookout, then he turned the stool over. Whenever the child said that an officer of the crown was coming near, Benjamin Franklin’s great-great-grandfather would immediately hide the evidence of his Bible reading by turning the stool right-side up.
• Occasionally an actor forgets his lines. Once an actor was on stage when he forgot his lines while playing a king who was supposed to roar out his orders at another character. Instead of roaring out his orders, he motioned for the other character to come close to him, then whispered to him that he couldn’t remember his part. Then, when the other character walked away from him, the actor said loudly, “Forget nothing that I have told you.” The audience was completely unaware that the actor had forgotten his lines.
• This is an example of underground political humor from the time when Lithuania suffered from Russian rule: A Lithuanian in the days of Communist domination had a never-ending supply of fresh fruits and vegetables. A visitor marveled at this plenitude and asked the Lithuanian how he managed it. “It’s easy,” he said. “I have a parrot which I taught to say pro-Communist slogans. I take the parrot to the market, and when it squawks, ‘Long live Communism,’ everyone throws fruits and vegetables at it.”
• During Prohibition, bootleggers used to smuggle small boatloads of alcohol into the United States. If federal agents were about to apprehend them, the bootleggers would throw the alcohol overboard to get rid of the incriminating evidence. Often, the illegal alcohol was weighted down with salt to sink it. When the salt dissolved long after the federal agents had gone, a small buoy was released to float on the surface of the water and let the bootleggers know exactly where to find the alcohol.
• Heinie Zimmerman, who played third base for the Chicago Cubs early in this century, hated umpires. In 1913, he received an interesting letter in the mail. The letter contained half of a $100 bill and a note saying that he would receive the other half if he would quit verbally abusing umpires for two weeks. Mr. Zimmerman managed to restrain himself, and after the two weeks was up, an umpire gave him the other half of the $100 bill.
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved
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