``I'm so old that when I order a three-minute egg here [at the Friars Club], they make me pay up front.'' Henny Youngman (Take My Wife...Please!: My Life and Laughs, 1972) is now 86 and still ``the King of the One-Liners,'' as he was dubbed by Walter Winchell (uh, some time ago). ``I don't have any enemies—I've outlived them all...Take my life, please. It's all been a big mistake. Even at 86, I still don't know what the hell happened.'' Now that Sadie, his wife of 57 years, is gone, Youngman is ready to tell stories he couldn't before. Born in London, he was raised in Brooklyn: ``I knew I was born to the stage when my first-grade teacher picked up my option for 26 weeks.'' His father was an opera buff, hounded him to practice his violin. His first job was fiddling to silent films in his uncle Morris's movie house—no pay, but he was fired anyway. For quick cash, he fiddled on the Staten Island ferry, began cribbing jokes from vaudeville comics. After forming his own band, he became a tummler (noisy emcee, gagster, scenic designer, electrician, busboy, schmoozer who danced and flirted with unattractive women) on the borscht belt in the Catskills: ``You schticked just to survive.'' Soon he found himself befriended by Milton Berle and doing insult humor to gangsters in speak-easies (``This place was so rough the hatcheck girl's name was Rocco''). Among his more dismal tales is one about mobster Waxey Gordon asking Youngman to hold his automatic pistol, then following a waitress into the Lido Venice's kitchen and raping her on the floor. Always a bum to his mother-in-law, Youngman went on to perfect the mother-in-law joke: ``I just got back from a pleasure trip. I drove my mother-in-law to the airport.'' No match for George Burns but socko about the laws of comedy and show-biz. Nice for shut-ins. (Eight pages of b&w photographs- -not seen.)
Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.
Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").
This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)