“Read in the train “The Shuttle” by Frances Hodgson Burnett. All her books seem to be well written — quite a change from the usual railroad literature.”

Friends For Sure

"BELL"y Laughs and Unused Nipples

May 15, 2016

In the NY Public Library Archives, I recently found a letter from the inventor of the telephone to his wife. It’s funny, sweet, and a little odd what he wrote. See for yourself.

Letter from Alexander Graham Bell to his wife Mabel Hubbard Bell, March 8, 1908

“Dear Mabel:

Glad to find your telegram awaiting me here last night. I have been thinking of calling up Mr. Curtiss by telephone and asking him how he gets me by Long Distance without telling him where I am! But on second thoughts I believe it to be better just to pop in upon them at Hammondsport.”

I loved that he was messing with his friend…as it is totally something I would do. I think sometimes we forget that the historically famous were people too, so this was fun for me to read. He then went on about a cottage for a bit and then said:

“Read in the train “The Shuttle” by Frances Hodgson Burnett. All her books seem to be well written — quite a change from the usual railroad literature.”

And then, the VERY NEXT SENTENCE was this:

“Scientific men don’t seem to take much stock in the inheritance of acquired characteristics — and it is certainly astonishing that after generations upon generations of circumcised Jews, they should not be born circumcised.

Disused organs tend to become atrophied in the individual — is not this tendency to become atrophied handed down to the offspring by heredity. I see no other explanation of the numerous atrophied structures possessed by all animals including man. Vestigial structures they are sometimes called — they seem to be useless at all events to the individuals. Why should a male have nipples? What is the significance of the presence in man of muscles to wag the ears and move the scalp? Why should we have a functionless appendix and other organs both external and internal that have no function? The most curious case to my mind is found in the calf. The unborn calf has embryo front teeth in the upper jaw — which never cut the gum and which disappear as the creature grows older. Dissect the upper jaw of a full grown cow and you can find no trace of front teeth not even embryonic in the gum — they have been absorbed.”

Now, is it just me, or did you do a… “What the heck???” when you read that?

I mean no transition from subject to subject, he just jumped straight into this funny, but real quandary (at least to him) about unused organs.

I wonder if his wife was reading this thinking, “There he goes again, talking about male nipples.”

Was this something he talked about often at home? Had they discussed it before and he is just expounding on it? My mind can’t stop wondering!

It got me thinking about conversations I have with my husband and friends. Are we really as random as Alexander Bell seems to be? Probably so. Many times, we speak in fragments because the other person already know what we are talking about, or with inside jokes. Our friends are also famous for inserting random movie lines into daily conversations like ninjas. So, to someone who might overhear our conversation, or read our texts or emails, I am sure we might be questioned and giggled at for sure.

I am so bummed, because I just recently deleted all of my texts from my cellphone to make room for more data. I am sure there was some “RANDOM texting GOLD” in there, but was able to find this recent text with of my friends that might cause questioning if read out of context.

I’m in BLUE:



Do you have a text or note or a remember a voicemail or conversation with someone that makes you wonder if someone had heard or read it they would think you were completely nuts?

Tell us! (It will make us all feel better about our own randomness.)

Totes “Ma Goats” from Your Friends for Sure,

FHB and especially Me