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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review May 11, 2010/ 27 Iyar 5770

Laughter Mom's art

By Tom Purcell




http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | I handed my debit card to the owner of a barbecue restaurant. He saw my name on the card.

"Is your mother's name Elizabeth?" he asked.

When I nodded, he burst out laughing. And then proceeded to confess to a prank, motivated by my mother, that he'd pulled on my family 30 years ago.

My mother, you see, is a little bit "out there." People would refer to her as "eccentric" if she were as wealthy financially as she is wealthy otherwise.

Her greatest wealth is her art of laughter.

She knew laughter's benefits long before scientific studies confirmed them. When she wasn't laughing herself, she was teaching us how.

Most nights after dinner, we sat around the table, relating stories about what we'd done and laughing aloud.

While many parents in our neighborhood went out on Saturday nights, my mother preferred to stay home.

We'd make banana splits and watch "The Carol Burnett Show," and as Tim Conway's old-man routine made me laugh so hard that I'd fall off the couch, she'd watch me, delighted that I was learning her art so well.

She collected friends even more eccentric than she. One lady, Marty, had five children -- my mother had six. Both had been housewives their entire adult lives. Both wanted to try their hand at writing.

My mother soon published a few magazine articles -- Erma Bombeck-style housewife humor. She and Marty wrote a play, "Betty's Attic," that a local theater company performed.

They sold jokes to Phyllis Diller. They were thrilled to see her do their jokes at a live show -- delighted by the laughter their jokes provoked.

The writing never produced much money, though, so my mother concocted another plan to generate extra cash. Did she get a part-time job, like normal moms in our neighborhood?

No, she dressed up like Miss Piggy, Big Bird, Raggedy Ann or Clown Clara and staged children's parties for parents desperate enough to pay her. It was easy for her to bring instant order to a room of 40 kids or more.

She was soon staging three parties every Saturday -- all of them as Clown Clara, to avoid costume changes.

As fate would have it, though -- and I'm not making this up -- a thief dressed as a clown had been robbing area banks.

But she still was surprised when a cop roared into a driveway where she had just pulled in for one of her gigs, jumped out and began barking at her.

It took some time to clear up the confusion -- at one point, the cop thought my mother was in cahoots with the guy who'd hired her to stage his kid's party. But when everybody finally figured out what was going on, she had but one response: a giant burst of laughter.

Which brings us back to the barbecue restaurant.

The fellow who owned the joint had lived in a neighborhood near ours during my mother's Clown Clara period. A teen then, he was friends with my sister Mary.

He and his buddies, aware that my mother dressed as a clown -- everyone in our neighborhood knew about Clown Clara -- could not fend off the temptation to prank-call our home.

Late at night, after sneaking beers in the woods, he'd call our house, disguising his voice as Mickey Mouse.

"Is Clown Clara there?" he'd say, his friends laughing aloud in the background.

It happened 30 years ago -- and he's still laughing about it.

That's my mother: spreading the art of laughter wherever she goes.

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