The temperature in Detroit was 98 degrees and rising on July 8, 1946, when the Goldberg brothers — Lowell, Norman, Hiram, and Maxwell — walked into Henry Ford’s office and sweet-talked his secretary into telling him that four gentlemen were there with the most exciting innovation in the auto industry since the electric starter.
Ford was curious and invited them into his office. They asked him to come out to the parking lot where their car was parked.
They asked him to get into the car, where the temperature was 120 degrees. Then they turned on the air conditioner and cooled the car off.
Ford was very excited and offered the Goldbergs $3,000,000 for the patent. The brothers replied that they would settle for $2,000,000, but they wanted a label that said “The Goldberg Air Conditioner” on the dashboard of every car in which it was installed.
Now old man Ford was proud of the Ford name, and he didn’t want the Goldbergs’ name on his cars. So they haggled back and forth, until the brothers finally agreed that Ford could use just their first names on the label.
That is why, to this day, the control on every Ford air conditioner says Lo, Norm, Hi, and Max.
A Scotsman named Angus painted houses for a living. Because he was a penny pincher, he often thinned down his paint with water to make it go a wee bit farther. He got away with this until the day he painted the house of Brother McTavish, who was an elder in the Presbyterian church.
Just when Angus had almost finished the job, suddenly there was a loud clap of thunder and rain began pouring down, washing all the watered-down paint from the house. Then a bolt of lightning struck the ladder where Angus was standing and knocked him to the ground.
Angus knew this was a judgment from the Almighty, and he fell to his knees and cried out, “Forgive me, Lord! What should I do?” And from the thunder came a mighty voice saying, “Repaint! Repaint! And thin no more!”
Cartoons for literature lovers from John Atkinson.
Everyone knows about William Tell’s accomplishments as an archer. However, historians have recently learned that in addition to archery, Tell also excelled at bowling, a sport he participated in regularly with his wife and children. Sadly, all the league records have been lost, so we’ll never know for whom the Tells bowled.
This story originally appeared in The New Yorker on July 25, 1994.
How I Met My Wife
by Jack Winter
It had been a rough day, so when I walked into the party I was very chalant, despite my efforts to appear gruntled and consolate.
I was furling my wieldy umbrella for the coat check when I saw her standing alone in a corner. She was a descript person, a woman in a state of total array. Her hair was kempt, her clothing shevelled, and she moved in a gainly way.
I wanted desperately to meet her, but I knew I’d have to make bones about it, since I was travelling cognito. Beknowst to me, the hostess, whom I could see both hide and hair of, was very proper, so it would be skin off my nose if anything bad happened. And even though I had only swerving loyalty to her, my manners couldn’t be peccable. Only toward and heard-of behavior would do.
Fortunately, the embarrassment that my maculate appearance might cause was evitable. There were two ways about it, but the chances that someone as flappable as I would be ept enough to become persona grata or a sung hero were slim. I was, after all, something to sneeze at, someone you could easily hold a candle to, someone who usually aroused bridled passion. So I decided not to risk it. But then, all at once, for some apparent reason, she looked in my direction and smiled in a way that I could make head or tails of.
I was plussed. It was concerting to see that she was communicado, and it nerved me that she was interested in a pareil like me, sight seen. Normally, I had a domitable spirit, but, being corrigible, I felt capacitated—as if this were something I was great shakes at—and forgot that I had succeeded in situations like this only a told number of times. So, after a terminable delay, I acted with mitigated gall and made my way through the ruly crowd with strong givings.
Nevertheless, since this was all new hat to me and I had not time to prepare a promptu speech, I was petuous. Wanting to make only called-for remarks, I started talking about the hors d’oeuvres, trying to abuse her of the notion that I was sipid, and perhaps even bunk a few myths about myself.
She responded well, and I was mayed that she considered me a savoury character who was up to some good. She told me who she was. “What a perfect nomer,” I said, advertently. The conversation became more and more choate, and we spoke at length to much avail. But I was defatigable, so I had to leave at a godly hour. I asked if she wanted to come with me. To my delight, she was committal. We left the party together and have been together ever since. I have given her my love, and she has requited it.