Laughter is a Wonderful Thing

The pictures I attached to the above sticky post of this blog are from my scrapbook of 1964 and 1965, when I worked for the Northwest-Signal newspaper in Napoleon, Ohio — the first time. I also worked at that paper, and several other local ones, during the 1980s and 1990s.

As a nineteen-year-old, I did my first stint with the Signal and had my personal meeting with Joe E. Brown. Yes, that’s his genuine autograph up there, along with a snapshot of the article I wrote from my interview with him in 1965 as he visited his hometown for what became the last time. He died in 1973.

Joe E. had his autobiography (as told to Ralph Hancock), “Laughter is a Wonderful Thing”, published in 1956 when he was 64. He gives his birthdate as July 28, 1892. You may find different facts and dates at Wikipedia, but we’ll stick with the facts and dates from Joe E.’s own words.

As a library worm in elementary school, I read the autobio of Holgate’s most famous son with great interest. I was 10 in 1956 and already knew that I would be interested in writing the rest of my life. By the time Joe E. was 10, he had decided he wanted to be an acrobat, and he was already employed as such with The Five Marvelous Ashtons, a troupe housed at the Valentine Athletic Club of Toledo, Ohio.

I also remember very well as a school kid watching “Elmer the Great”, one of Joe E.’s black and white baseball flicks, on our old console television that sat at the far north end of our spacious living room. The picture was shown on a matinee movie feature program that came on at 4 p.m., an after school treat. Did Joe E. really have a wider than wide, elastically-lipped mouth? Oh, my, yes; and it embarrassed him when he was a youngster, but he grew “accustomed to living with it” he said in his autobio, even to the point of it “bringing me over $300,ooo a year, and the greater reward of millions of laughs”.

That’s quite a payroll for learning to turn lemons into lemonade!

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