The Moss Man:
When I was living in Astoria, Queens, New York City, my next-door neighbor told of a man who lived in a rooming house in Manhattan and never came out of his room. Once in a rare while the man would open his door and a hunchbacked fellow would bring this recluse food and other items. It was at one of these moments that my acquaintance garnered the information for this tale. The man was in that dwelling for such a long period of time that there was moss growing on the walls of his room. Even more amazingly, there was moss growing on the man himself. Green colored with bloodshot red eyes from his isolation he was a person destroyed. It never fails to amaze me how pride can ruin a person.
My Uncle Sol told me this story years ago. During World War II an MP had busted several GI's and a WAC (Women's Army Corps) for going outside the 50 or 75 mile limit on their leave pass from a base in New Jersey to New York City. The MP was called "Sergeant York". He was ironically nicknamed for the World War I hero from Tennessee who single-handedly captured over 100 German prisoners. Fast forward to the end of the war. This MP had apparently taken out a rather large life insurance policy on himself. He was on a train and it crashed. In the midst of the confusion, the MP exchanged his army uniform for the garb of a dead victim. He tried to claim his own life insurance policy while posing as a surviving relative. He got caught with his hand in the proverbial cookie jar when someone recognized him as "Sergeant York" for being such an extreme hard case years earlier. In the immortal words of Arnold Schwarzenegger: "Isn't this what they call poetic justice?"
Buck "Elmer Fudd" Showalter:
Buck Showalter was the manager for the New York Yankees around the time of the strike ridden World Series less season of 1994. Things were going badly for the team on the field at the time. The Yanks were playing the Oakland A's in Oakland, California, and there was a controversial call at first base involving a Yankee base runner. Showalter got into an extremely heated argument over the call (over what I couldn't remember) with probably the first base umpire. This scene is not too uncommon in baseball play. One of the San Francisco Chronicle sportswriters described Showalter's reaction in one of the greatest satirical needlings I ever heard or read. I can't remember the name of the sportswriter but he or she deserves great credit for their wit: "Showalter's face turned a startleling shade of crimson, like Elmer Fudd going ballistic after another of Bug's gags."
How slugs mate:
Slugs, which are in the same family as snails and clams mate in a most unusual way. A mated pair gets together and sequentially climb a tree. One of the slugs suspends itself from a branch with a goopy appendage. The other slug climbs down the appendage and intertwines itself with the first slug just like a strand of rope. Since they are androgynous creatures the slugs impregnate each other. When they are finished, the slug without the branch appendage climbs down the tree. The remaining slug then falls off the tree. This story was featured on a nature program. It nearly heads the list on my 'truth is stranger than fiction' division.
The Jelly bread salute and Zipper:
My stepfather Sam is a veteran of World War II. He served in an artillery unit of an infantry division in North Africa, and Italy. One day he was shining his shoes and eating a jelly bread sandwich at the same time. General Mark Clark was driven by jeep into the area where Sam's unit was stationed. Rather than brain himself with the shoe brush, Sam saluted the General and ended up with a face full of jelly bread. General Clark rolled over laughing.
Zipper was a cute little dog that Sam adopted while, I believe, in Italy. Curly haired and snow white, he looked like a child's stuffed animal. I know this because Sam had a photo where he posed with Zipper. Sam told me Zipper was killed after he grew up and ran off with a pack of dogs in war torn Italy. It's just of those sad war tales. I realize millions of people died in the war so why get misty eyed over a dog? Like concentric circles in a pond, its effects are tragic on all levels.
Winston Churchill versus Lady Astor:
Lady Astor and Winston Churchill didn't get along very well. One time Lady Astor went up to Winston Churchill at a social gathering and said, "Sir Winston, if you were my husband I'd poison your coffee." To which Mr. Churchill replied, "Madame, if you were my wife I'd drink it."
Mr. Limpet and Ladyfish:
Just a secret of my heart that I think I pushed away the one who would have been the true love of my life. I didn't give her a chance when the opportunity arose. Just a cold shoulder such that I couldn't even find it within myself to find out her name. She struck up a conversation with me as I waited for the 'M' car in San Francisco at the cross streets of San Jose and Geneva. The date was September 7, 1999 (the date had other significance for me which I won't get into at this time). She told me she was from North Carolina. She was slim, about 5'4" tall, wearing shorts and a tank top. She had a pixie type haircut with dark red hair and soft features. I've regretted that day since. I hope with all my being that I quickly find her again so that I might establish the friendship I never let happen. The cartoon movie that came out in the Sixties "The Incredible Mr. Limpet" has come to my mind many times in regard to this missed opportunity. After being transformed into a fish Mr. Limpet becomes a war hero and finds the love of his life: Ladyfish. Since I don't know her real name I've given that girl from North Carolina the name Ladyfish. The name aptly describes what I believe this girl is like: loving and warm, just like the cartoon character Ladyfish.
Brittany down on the farm:
When I was 14 years old, I went with my family to a dairy farm in upstate New York. We stayed for about 2 weeks. There was a couple from France visiting as well. We all conversed regularly and I found out that the French natives were from Brittany. I mentioned to the couple that Mr. Cosquer, my high school French language teacher, was also from Brittany. I mentioned my teacher's name and they exclaimed "Armand?" It turns out they were old friends. It really is a small world.
Rowena the Lizard:
Perhaps the funniest birthday card I ever saw. The card shows a large green Iguana with cherry red lipstick on. The caption reads Rowena the Lizard wants to give you a big birthday kiss. When you open the card it reads: "...But don't worry, she'll wipe off all the bug arms and legs off her mouth first."
"Doctor" Dizzy Dean:
My favorite baseball anecdote. In 1934, the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Detroit Tigers 4 out of 7 games to win the World Series. In one of the games, the star pitcher for the Cardinals, Dizzy Dean was beaned (hit on the head) while running from 1st to 2nd base. They x-rayed him just to make sure no damage was sustained. The press interviewed him the next day, which they loved to do since he was a real character (as were many of the 1934 Cardinals). Diz was quoted as saying: "They took an x-ray of my head and found nothing."