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February 13, 1946

It was reported by Associated Press.

It happened up around Grand Forks, North Dakota . . . back in February 1946 . . . about the 13th, I believe. Anyway . . . an automobile bearing two black-lettered signs was seen on the streets of Grand Forks. Must have been a woman driving . . . because the top sign read JUST DIVORCED . . . and the bottom sign said . . . MAN WANTED!

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About the same time, the Spartans from Wisconsin must have been chuckling about the embarrassed plight of young Everett Soper. This, too, comes from Associated Press.

Everett Soper, it seems, got back from the European theatre and was duly discharged at Port Sheridan and then thought it would be a great stunt to walk in on his parents and surprise them. So . . . he got to Sparta in the late hours of night, used the old house key he’d never let get away from him and let himself in. Then he dashed into the bedroom and yelled, “SURPRISE!”

. . . There was just one little flaw in the plan of the operation. The people in the bed not only were not Mr. and Mrs. Soper . . . but were, in fact, Mr. and Mrs. Arnold Luke . . . no kin to the Sopers.

What had happened was that the Sopers had moved out; the Lukes had moved in and Everett had moved on from the base to which his parents’ last few letters had been addressed. The surprise was, so to speak, on the other foot!

. . . Like the yarn they used to tell about Noah Webster who, as you know, compiled dictionaries and was very fastidious about the pure meanings of words.

Mrs. Webster is alleged to have walked in on him one day and found his secretary sitting on his lap!

“Noah,” she is supposed to have said, “I’m surprised!”

To which the great Lexicographer replied with a nice sense of propriety . . . “No, no, my dear. You are ASTONISHED. I am surprised.”

Well . . . surprised or astonished . . . as long as you’re stealthy . . . in the middle of the night! It was a tough break for young Everett. I wonder what Mrs. Emily Post prescribes for a situation like that.

Then there’s this one about Dr. C. P. Clark of Estervile, Iowa. When Dr. Clark was a student he was taught what his professional obligations would be in an emergency. Through the years, Dr. Clark made it a point whenever he saw a crowd gather, to hurry over and lend the hand required in his Hippocratic Oath. One day he was riding along in his car, when he saw a crowd. He stopped, grabbed his little black bag and hurried over. What he found was that a house was being auctioned.

Dr. Clark who always knows just what to do in a crowd . . . promptly bought the house!