In 1884 a young man died, and after the funeral his grieving parents decided to
establish a memorial to him. With that in mind they met with Charles Eliot, president of
Harvard University. Eliot received the unpretentious couple into his office and asked what
he could do. After they expressed their desire to fund a memorial, Eliot impatiently said,
"Perhaps you have in mind a scholarship." "We were thinking of something
more substantial than that... perhaps a building," the woman replied. In a
patronizing tone, Eliot brushed aside the idea as being too expensive and the couple
departed. The next year, Eliot learned that this plain pair had gone elsewhere and
established a $26 million memorial named Leland Stanford Junior University, better known
today as Stanford!
Today in the Word, June 11, 1992.
A mule dressed in a tuxedo is still a mule.
When architect Sir Christopher Wren designed the interior of Windsor Town Hall near
London in 1689, he built a ceiling supported by pillars. After city fathers had inspected
the finished building, they decided the ceiling would not stay up and ordered Wren to put
in some more pillars. England's greatest architect didn't think the ceiling needed any
more support, so he pulled a fast one. He added four pillars that did not do anything --
they don't even reach the ceiling. The optical illusion fooled the municipal authorities,
and today the four sham pillars amuse many a tourist.
Nino Lo Bello, European Detours
During one of his political campaigns, a delegation called on Theodore Roosevelt at his
home in Oyster Bay, Long Island. The President met them with his coat off and his sleeves
rolled up. "Ah, gentlemen," he said, "come down to the barn and we will
talk while I do some work." At the barn, Roosevelt picked up a pitchfork and looked
around for the hay. Then he called out, "John, where's all the hay?"
"Sorry, sir," John called down from the hayloft. "I ain't have time to
toss it back down again after you pitched it up while the Iowa folks were here."
& Pieces, November 12, 1992, pp. 19-20.
A Texas rancher driving through Vermont had to stop to let a farmer's cow cross the
road. As the farmer passed in front of the Cadillac convertible, the rancher called out to
him, "How much land you got, partner?"
"Well," the farmer said,
"my land runs all the way down there to them alders along the brook. On the meadow
side, over there, it goes clean up to those larches on the hill."
know," said the rancher, "I got a spread in Texas and I can get in my pickup and
drive all day without reaching any of my boundary lines."
"That so?" said
the farmer. "I had a truck like that once."
The visitor to the zoo noticed one of the keepers sobbing quietly in a corner and on
inquiry was told that the elephant had died. "Fond of him, was he?" the visitor
asked. "It's not that," came the reply. "He's the chap who has to dig the
If you see a man holding a clipboard and looking official, the chances are good that he
is supposed to be doing something menial.
Wayne C. Fields, Jr.