Archive for June, 2008

At Fort Screven Marshall was put in charge of Civilian Conservation Corps which proposed to employ thousands of idle young men in planting trees and saving marginal land from floods and erosion The Army’s role was to mobilize, organize and administer a civilian force.
On being promoted as a colonel he took up the command of Fort Moultree where his work with the CCC continued. He used to visit various camps, helping the commanders to whom this was a new kind of assignment involving a variety of human problems. It became his practice to descend upon a camp about dawn, make a rapid physical survey, talk to some trainees and some officers, and then write detailed comments for the company commander.
At one camp his early morning call found the commander and another office still asleep. After rousing them with appropriate remarks he went on to the supply room, where an embarassed lieutenant at work in his underclothes sprang to attention and apologized for his undress. The colonel broke into one of his rare smiles,”you may not be in proper uniform,”he said,”but you are the only officer I found working here.”

One of his engaging and enduring impact he had on all who came across him was his sure human touch. He seemed to know what to do whatever circumstances that could be. He was Brigadier General when he took over the Vancouver Barracks, Washington. The son of a sergeant on the base, who had polio in infancy needed help badly. No military hospital was prepared to take him so the chaplain approached the Shriner’s Hospital in Seattle. There they were willing to help but the waiting list was too long. The chaplain asked Marshall if he would write a letter but he refused. Besides he did not allow the chaplain to write any letter. Before a baffled chaplain could recover his composure the general with a smile said,”I am going there myself.”

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A Love Poem to my wife

Three Little Words

There was something determined
So it seemed,
Between living and dreaming
Of man’s estate;
That I knew was written
To the measured beats
Of an angelic Hymnal :
I Love Thee
The words were emblazon’d
Among stars.
Love, you were the blessed,
The Queen of the Day
Surrounded by bridesmaids
And I swept you off.

Past the threshold we crossed
Never to part, we said.
Yes, the vows we exchanged
Were all determined
And writ from above.
The simple words : I love Thee.
For three words we run
The gauntlet of days:
Among unpaid bills and bruit
Of the marketplace
The simple words like,
‘You are fired!’ may cut
But these are not determined
Or laid with the finality
As Love: the key
To a man’s estate.



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Arturo Rubinstein in order to pracise for a concert instructed his butler Francois not to let in any caller; he was to tell the caller that he was not at home. When the telephone rang Francois dutifully answered the woman at the other end as was instructed with the crashing chords of the maestro coming from the next room.
“Out?” she asked with disbelief,”I can hear him playing!” ”Not at all madam,”the butler was quite clear,”it is merely I, dusting the keys.”(Ack: Jack Lait Jr.-Brooklyn Eagle)
Ralph Waldo Emerson was well versed in philosophy, poetry and many other disciplines that the label of savant adequately expresses him, was however at a loss in leading a female calf into the barn. His son Edward once went to his help and he grabbed the animal by the ear while his father pushed from behind. While they were stumped an Irish servant girl came to their rescue. With an amused glance at the perspiring philosopher she thrust a finger into the calf’s mouth and the animal enticed by this maternal imitation dutifully followed her into the barn.
After cleaning himself up he paid a tribute to the servant girl in his journal thus:’I like people who can do things.’ (Ack: Philip Russel-The Wisest American)
George Nathaniel Curzon(1859-1925)
Curzon who was the Viceroy of India was a hard task master and no servants lasted long in his household. One fellow served Curzon in the capacity of a butler for years and he also one day decided he had had enough. He gave notice and the great man asked him if he could recommend a successor.”There are,” he replied wearily,”only two who could take my place-one is Jesus Christ, I am the other.”
Alexandre Dumas occasionally lost patience with his servant who was not respectful always. Once after he had ignored an order Dumas cried out,”My God are you mad or am I?”
“Ah sir,”replied the servant,”surely you would not hire a servant who is mad!”

Sir William S.Gilbert(1836-1911)liberettist,wit
A lady of ample girth once was the guest of Gilbert of Gilbert and Sullivan fame; during the rehearsal he was urgently called to backstage and when he came back he found his guest missing. He asked the stage-hand who stood nearby if he knew whare she might be.
“Oh,”answered the stage-hand pointing,”she is round behind.”
“I asked you,”replied a waspish Gilbert,”for her geography, not her description.”
Soon after the death of a well known composer, someone who did not keep up with the news asked Sir Gilbert what that particular composer was doing. Gilbert said that he was doing nothing.”Surely he is composing?”the fellow persisted.
“On the contrary,”commented the wit,”he is decomposing.”

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Marx Brothers

Groucho Marx:
The comic actor had to pull strings in the right places to gain a membership in the Friars Club in Hollywood. After becoming a member he promptly resigned, explaining,”I do not care to belong to a club that accepts people like me as members.’
During the darkest days of rationing Oscar Levant, the pianist flew into Los Angeles at the end of a gruelling concert tour. In a burst of cameraderie Groucho said: “Oscar, you look tired. Why don’t you come to my house for dinner? I have got the most wonderful cook in town; I’v saved a steak 4 inches thick and we have a dessert that is out of this world.” Oscar sighed gratefully, ”What is your address?” he asked. “Wouldn’t you like to know?” replied Groucho as he walked away.
The show must go on
After a fan had said how pleased he was to meet Groucho the irrepressible comic actor commented to the audience thus, “I have known him for years and I can tell you it is no pleasure.”
*   When the one acted the role of a school teacher confessed she was ‘approaching forty’, the master with painted moustache and lecherous eyes queried,”from which direction?”
*  In ‘Horse Feathers’,a foolhardy actor broke into Groucho’s office to declaim,”Jennings has been waiting for an hour and is waxing wroth!”
“Tell Roth to wax Jennings for a change,”said the master idly.

* One of his monologue from Animal Crackers goes thus: Once I went big game hunting in Africa. What an active life we led! Up at six,breakfast at six fifteen back in bed by six thirty. One day I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got into my pajamas I’ll never know. It was hard to get his tusks off. In Alabama the tuscaloosa.”

•    When a member of the House of Representatives said he earned his living in Congress Groucho asked,”How long have been incongrous?”
•    In I’ll Say She Does, a classic scene has Chico Marx interrupting Groucho who as Napoleon is wooing Josephine. He announces,”Emperor, the garbage man is here.”Groucho replies,”Tell him we don’t want any.”
Later trumpets sound in the distance playing, ‘the Marseillaise.’
Groucho rises solemnly to comment,”Our national anthem-
The Mayonnaise! Ah, well the army must be dressing.”
•    To one who said he was going to wire his father Groucho enquired,”What is the matter? Can’t he stand by himself?”
During a play Groucho interrupted a scene by stepping out to the footlights to enquire,”Is there a doctor in the house?’
When one answered his call he asked,”If you are a doctor, why aren’t you at the hospital making your patients miserable, instead of wasting your time here with that blonde?”
While interviewing contestants for his radio show one of the candidates developed mike fright, unable to utter a word which prompted the comic to ad—lib thus,”Either this man is dead or my watch has stopped.”
To an actress who tried to flatter him by cooing,’you are a man after my own heart he said with a leer,”That’s not what I am after…’
His advice to an aspiring stage actress went thus,”My advice to you and all struggling actresses is this:”If you keep struggling you won’t get into trouble. And if you don’t get into trouble you’ll never be much of an actress.”

To ask him a direct question was to put one’s sanity in his hands. A fan once accosted him on the street  pestering him with adulation until Groucho said,”I never forget a face, but in your case I’ll be glad to make an exception.”
Chico Marx
After a run of bad luck at poker Chico Marx wrote to a playing card manufacturer:’Gentlemen, Are you still manufacturing aces and kings?’
2. As Chico tackled a French menu, the head waiter bowed, and asked politely:”What’s your pleasure?”
“Girls,”replied Chico,”What’s yours?”

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Tristan Bernard, the wit

After much persuasion from his well wishers and a fellow playwright Maurice Sonray he put in an application for admission to Academie Française which he later withdrew remarking,’the costume costs too much; I will wait until someone dies who is my size.’
His utter disregard for money once invited criticism
from his lawyer who told him that he had to cut down his expenses.”Ah monsieur,”Bernard commented,”I have enough annoyances without taking on privations.”
In order to settle his debts he had to close his account with the Banque de Paris, which he did; while on his way out he looked at the armed guard stationed at the entrance and said,”Thank you my friend. You can go home now.”

He was a soft touch and there was an old clochard who stationed himself at his doorstep who always could expect something from him. Once in early July seeing him in his accustomed spot Tristan handed him a sizable bank-note, saying “I’m leaving tomorrow for Normandy. Here’s two months in advance. You have a right to your holiday too.”
‘One talks about the illusions of those who love,’he wrote,’but would do better to talk about the blindness of those who don’t love.’
‘I’ll never grow into second childhood,’he remarked once,’I’ve never emerged from the first.’

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After the First World War Marshall a temporary colonel was chosen as the aide to Pershing a job which he held for 5 years.Not longer after Pershing became the Chief of Staff he proposed a change in the procedure of the war department which General March, his predecessor with whom he was not in good terms- had initiated. The proposal went to Marshall for comment. Marshall wrote his disapproval in a memorandum, and sent to Pershing. Shortly thereafter he was summoned. “I don’t take this at all,”Pershing said. So Marshall wrote a fresh resume which also did not please the general. After a couple of fruitless revisions Pershing wanted it to be done in his way. Marshall stood his ground. “Now general, he said,just because you hate his guts you are setting yourself up.” He pointed that General Harbord who  hated General March as well as he was waiting for him to make a mistake.
Pershing thought it over and finally said, ”Well have it your own way.” Marshall knew not only when but how to stand his ground for what he believed as right.
After the death of his first wife, he took up the post of assistant command at Fort Benning which was the training ground for Army’s fighting branch. There he realized the greater need of the hour was simplicity in the techniques of troop leading.
The students there had to write a monograph on some aspect of military history. It had been always a time consuming and nerve racking exercise which Marshall made it harder. Instead of turning a verbal report he required that the student deliver it orally in a class lecture limited to twenty minutes. Once the class protested it as an impossible task to cover in so short a period allotted for it, he deliverd on the spot a lecture outlining the Civil War in five minutes.
By the time Marshall left Benning in 1932 the Great Depression had thrown at least 12 million people into unemployment. It was the time FDR brought fresh hope to the nation with his New Deal. He had declared ‘bank holiday’ in an effort to stop the mounting toll of bank failures.
While waiting in Union Station for his train back to Savannah Marshall discovered a bewildered old couple who were holding tickets to Oklahoma but owing to the bank holiday they had been unable to cash a check to buy food on the way. Marshall had been in the same predicament a few hours before and had managed to borrow five dollars from a fellow officer. Most of that he turned over to the couple.

compiler: benny

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Monk Anselmo was a young man who idled his time since his skills were not much appreciated in the court of King Pipin the Hot. He ruled  the Kingdom of Blissfully Ignorant. King Pepin barely learnt to read or write and yet he had great ambitions. Having heard of the great library of Alexandria he enquired discreetly with Monk Cuthbert if he would have some greatness rubbed into him if he also had a library. Monk Cuthbert nodded. The king was interested. The monk suggested the name of Anselmo for the purpose.
Thus Anselmo entered the services of the king as a librarian.
His task? To set up a library. He started from the scratch writing everything down. The king had given him a free hand and so he could write whatever he thought was worth noting down. Months and years went by and Monk Anselmo set up a library. The king twice came around to see the work in progress and said, “ Ooh”. Before he went for a war he told that the library was all his in case he didn’t come back.
The king died in a war and Monk Anselmo was left with a library. As he left for the town Pie In-The Skye he called on Monk Cuthbert who wanted to read a sample of his work.
Monk Cuthbert was aghast. The book was full of egregious blunders. Anselmo defended that the king was satisfied with his work. The old monk said, “ Still your work must be set against Truth. Your scholarship can it hold against those who are your peers?”
How we delineate truth may pass for truth among those who are like King Pepin. But Truth like Monk Cuthbert is the arbiter. It is to Truth we should address all our actions. Truth of Action.

* If we study history we see who gets to the top.  Those who lie and cheat seem to get what they want. In 2000 we saw how George Bush got elected. Did God put him there as he seems to have said in public? For all that did his success make any headway with policies he set in motion? Whatever he touched didn’t it turn into failure? In my view America will have a great cleaning up act in their hands for the next 30 years  or so.  Truth may be silenced but It has its own way of undoing the actions of the unjust and fools.

Let me define a fool.
A fool is one who misses the opportunity to do the right thing when opportunity is given. And such an opportunity comes perhaps once in a lifetime. Instead the foolish think of it in terms of dollars and cents.


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We are more likely to be impressed by force of events than think a little deeper past them. What is the  significance of any event? Events constantly happen. Unless we have taken time out to look at them objectively and think well  we are likely to be carried with the flow of events. Every event must leave its own impression within. The present credit crunch and inflation are all cumulative effect of events that are taking place in different parts of the globe. Events loom larger before us since we are affected by them. But can any event be separated from Truth? No it cannot be.

A leaf has a form and also specific function as part of a plant or a tree. It may be fragile yet it can show its material nature that time may not erase. If it were not so will we be able to study the vegetation of some 66 million years old from fossilised leaves? Time covers them in dust which when settled,-and it is a continuous process, it is sediment and the minerals that they carry contribute their own impress into rocks.
Into this natural and continuous process a decomposing matter no more than a leaf leaves its mark.
To cite another example scientists drill polar caps for samples and they can understand the atmospheric conditions prevailed at the time corresponding to the sample under study.
By the same token our actions transacted in a material universe, at any point of time and place are written down with reference to Truth. Where,  one might ask. For instance a child who grows up in an atmosphere of constant bickering and domestic violence is condemned to repeat the same later on, unless he learns to grow past his bad experience to be a responsible adult. Truth of Action is freedom to work with the force of any event to one’s advantage.

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Tristan Bernard(1866-1947)
Novelist,playwright and wit
Bernard hated the effort of working on his charming comedies. One evening before turning in for the night, resolved to start work early the following day he told his maid, ”Elisa, wake me at seven. If by eight o’clock I am not up, do not disturb me before me noon.”
Tristan Bernard’s works despite his difficulty in getting around to write them proved amazingly succesfull. French As He Is Spoken was a terrific hit. He had one flop and during its brief run he replied thus to a friend who wished to receive a free seat,”We give away entire rows only.”
‘Pascal got rid of his headaches by working out geometry problems,’he noted once,’but I got rid of geometry problems by pretending to have a headache.’

‘It is not difficult to be witty if one is malicious,’was one of his bon mots. He never took himself seriously; neither could he be malicious. Even when he was once hit by a workman on the street his annoyance was over the ponderous grandfather’s clock which knocked him down. Dusting himself he asked helpfully, ”Why don’t you wear a wristwatch like everybody else?”
Once in a restaurant when his soup was served he told his waiter that he was sorry but could not eat it. The waiter took it away and brought another kind; Bernard said he was sorry but he could not eat that either. At this the propreitor came hurriedly to his side, protesting that no customer had ever complained about their soups before.
“I am sure they are delicious,”Bernard agreed,”but I haven’t got a spoon.”

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