Therefore, I went Googling for a couple of hours. And this is what I discovered. The folk story about Newton may not be purely a myth. Sir Isaac was chatting with one of his biographers, William Stukelyey, in 1726. In fact, this conversation took place less than a year before he died in 1727. In his conversation with his biographer, he looked back to 1666 when he had penned his theory/law of universal gravity. In their conversation, Newton tells the story about how 60-years prior an apple fell in his backyard spurring his work on gravity. Stukelyey wrote: "It was occasioned by the fall of an apple, as he sat in contemplative mood. Why should that apple always descend perpendicularly to the ground, thought he to himself. Why should it not go sideways or upwards, but constantly to the earth's centre." Therefore, there is some evidence that the fabled falling fruit and Newton might in fact be true.
Interestingly, in the following year, 1727, Voltaire also wrote of the falling fruit: "Sir Isaac Newton walking in his gardens had the first thought of his system of gravitation, upon seeing an apple falling from a tree."
As I was about to close my Googling search, I happened to come across auf Deutsch, "Der Apfel f§llt nicht weit vom Stamm." For those of you who don't read or speak Hochdeutsch, it means: "The apple does not fall far from the tree." Hieronymus Megiserus compiled a number of proverbs in a book entitled: Paroemiologia polyglottos, which was published in 1605-over a half century before Newton and his apple incident. Megiserus quotes a Turkish proverb: "Iemisch agatsdan irak dushmas" which has precisely the same words as German saying. So at first blush the Turks invented the saying not Newton or some Germans. Nevertheless, after spending even more time, it seems that a German used that adage in 1582 in a book. The author was Johann Fischart and the book was entitled: Geschichtsklitterung (Historical Misrepresentation).
Regardless of the genesis of the falling apple not falling far from the tree, it is true. There have been times that I have questioned that concept while growing up in Merchantville and Pennsauken, NJ. I had been born during WWII and during the remainder of that decade, my other two brothers joined me.
The three of us while growing up used to laugh at our father. Thirty years after coming back from the South Pacific during WWII, he was still wearing some of his army clothes that he was issued during the war...coats, hats, and shoes. We found that strange habit amusing. Granted our ethnic background was Scottish, but that degree of frugality was a bit much even for Scottish-Americans.
My middle brother, Ken, once saluted my father when he was reading the marching orders for our Saturday work detail. My father was drafted just after WWII began and by the end of the war had made his way up to become a major. He was totally left brain and did everything by the book. My little brother's salute did not go over well with my father. He worked hard during the war and worked hard after the war. He also wanted his children to follow his lead without comedic salutes from my 5-year old brother.
Reflecting upon growing up in the 40s, it is interesting that I find myself replicating my father's behaviors. For example, 40-years ago, I bought two belts in Princeton, NJ. The buckles are both interesting and dear to me. I have replaced the leather belt several times. However, those two belts are still my favorites and each is worn quite regularly.
My frugality is not limited to belt buckles but to about everything else. I have a sweatshirt from the University of Chicago that is nearly 30-years old. My wife has attempted to throw it out several times. I have gotten another identical one about 10-years ago. In fact, Ann tried to replace both of them last Christmas, but that style had been discontinued. So she bought two of the newer styles, which surely will outlive me by several decades.
I have some ties, shirts, and shoes that go back 20-years. It isn't limited to clothing; I have 3-traveling mugs that I use daily. One of them goes back 20-years and the other at least a dozen.
I still have and use it all the time a key-chain that my father gave me over 30-years ago. It is a round brass disc the size of a silver dollar. On the brass disc is written-Deposit Box 25, Bank of Switzerland. It was given to me as a Christmas or birthday gift at least 3-decades ago. Therefore, Romney and I have something in common...Swiss banking privileges. The only difference between Romney and me is that attached to the key chain gift was a note from my father. He said that I was responsible for the filling of the deposit box; he merely was giving me the brass disc for the box.
The apple doesn't fall far from the tree is a truism probably for most of us...especially me. In my case, it often is the basis of much teasing from my wife and family.
However, in varying degrees, aren't we all alike? Don't we all have behaviors, ideas, attitudes, that tend to run in our family? Haven't you heard or haven't you said, "You are just like your dad or your mother?" It isn't surprising due to our inherited human genome and living with our parents while growing up. We get genetically much of our physical characteristics as well as much of our psychological characteristics from our parents. In addition, growing up with parents or family members, we tend to do as they have done...generally.
It is interesting that George Romney lived during the same time period as my father. Equally interestingly, his children parallel me and my siblings' lifespan also. Someone, who was writing a biography of the senior Romney, asked him for a copy of the previous tax return. Romney's response was interesting; he didn't see any purpose in doing so. This is from the biography: "Release of the document, while it might serve a political purpose, would not prove very much. One year could be a fluke, perhaps done for show, and what mattered in personal finance was how a man conducted himself over the long haul."
However, the biographer gets a call by from the senior Romney the next day. This is what the biographer wrote: "...I was not prepared for the move that it eventually led him to make: He ordered up all the Form 1040's that he and Mrs. Romney had filed over the past twelve years-including those profitable ones from when he saved the American Motors Company from bankruptcy and became a millionaire on the company's stock options."
That is an interesting parallel with my father. Both of those men were straight arrows when it came to ethics. They both worked hard and paid their taxes. In George's case, he often paid as much as 50% of his income in taxes...and never complained.
It is strange that with that type of tree Mitt Romney's apples are falling galaxies away from it. Now, there are some possible reasons for this ethical disconnect. The two that I can think of are that Newton, the Turks, and Germans were wrong about where apples fall, or the other possibility is that junior Mitt is hiding something.
You can decide. George Romney decided years ago.
However, back to the apple falling from the tree, here are several photos proving that I didn't fall far from the tree. By the way, my dad and I never hid our wealth in the Cayman Islands. Here are some photos of my wealth to prove it.
Visit the Stupid is As Stupid Does page to read more about this topic.