Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Auction

A very wealthy man and his only son shared a passion for collecting art.  Together they would travel the world, seeking out the finest treasurers of art: works by Picasso, Van Gogh, Monet, and many others to add to their collection.  The old man, a widower, was very proud that his only child had become an experienced art collector.
When fall approached, war engulfed their nation and the young man was conscripted to serve his country.  After only a few months, his father received a telegram from the Army that his son was wounded in action while trying to drag a fellow soldier to a medic.  The father anxiously waited an update on  news of his son.  Finally word came confirming his worst fears - his son had died from his injuries.  Distraught, the old man entered the holiday season with sadness.  He knew the joy of Christmas would never visit his home again.
On Christmas morning, he awoke to a knock on the door.  As he walked to the door, he passed the masterpieces he and his son collected and they only reminded him that his son would come home no more.  When he opened the door, he was greeted by a young soldier with a large package.  The soldier introduced himself by saying, "I was a friend of your son.  In fact, I was the one he was trying to rescue when he was shot.  May I come?"  

Once seated, the soldier shared how the old man's son always shared with everyone in the unit the love he and his father had for fine art.  "Since I'm an amateur artist," said the soldier, "I have something I would like to give you."
The old man unwrapped the package; it was a water color portrait of his son.  Though not a work of genius by any means, the painting featured his son's face in striking detail.  Overcome with emotion, the old man thanked the young soldier and assured him he would hang this picture above the fireplace.  True to his word, other paintings worth thousands of dollars were moved from above the fireplace just to make room for the painting of his son.  This painting was, without a doubt, the greatest gift the old man had ever received.
As summer arrived the old man passed away and the art world was excited!  With his demise, everyone knew his paintings would now be sold at an auction.  Sure enough, an auction of his estate was announced.  According to his will, all of his art would be auctioned on Christmas Day.
When Christmas Day arrived, art dealers and collectors from around the world gathered at his home.  They gathered to bid on some of the world's most spectacular treasures of art.  At noon, the auctioneer walked forward to begin the auction.  He picked up his gavel to begin the auction with a painting that was not on the auction list.  It was the water color painting of the old man's son.
The room was silent as the auctioneer asked the crowd for an opening bid.  "Who will start the bidding with $1,000?" he asked.  Moments passed and no one spoke.  "Will someone start the bidding at $500?" he asked. 
From the back of the room someone yelled, "Who cares about that painting?  Let's get to the good paintings."

"Who will start the bidding at a $100?" 
"Forget that picture," another yelled." 
"No”, said the auctioneer.  "My instructions are to sell this painting first", the auctioneer replied.  "Now, who will open the bidding with any bid?" he asked again. 
Finally, a  maid who had worked for the family for nearly 20 years spoke.  "Will you take $20 for the painting? That's all I have in my purse."
"We have a bid of $20.  Do I here $25?"  asked the auctioneer.  Silence filled the air!  "Will anyone go higher than $20?" called the auctioneer.

After more moments of silence the auctioneer said, "Going once, going twice ... Gone!"  and his gavel fell. 
Cheers filled the room and someone shouted, "Great.  Now we can get on with the real auction and bid on the true treasures!"

With his gavel laid down, the auctioneer looked at the audience and announced the auction was over.  Everyone in the room was stunned.  "What do you mean, it's over?" someone yelled.  "We didn't come here for a portrait of some kid!  We came here for real works of art.  What about all the other paintings?  There are millions of dollars worth of art work here that we want to buy."

Another yelled, "We demand an explanation!"  The auctioneer replied, "It's simple.  According to the old man's will, whoever took his son's portrait ... got it all." 

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Airplane Flight

Special Note to all Readers:

This was one of the first stories I shared on this blog.  I was asked to re-share it this month because many thought it was appropriate for the upcoming holiday travel season.  I hope it is worth re-sharing. 

John Hollingsworth placed his carry-on luggage in the overhead compartment and sat down in his seat.  He knew it was going to be a long flight and was glad he brought along a book to read between his planned naps.  Just prior to take-off, a group of young soldiers walked down the aisle and sat in the seats surrounding him.  John leaned over and asked a young man across the aisle, "Where are you guys headed?"
"Petawawa.  We'll be training there for a few weeks; then we ship off to Afghanistan after the first of the year."

About an hour into the flight, a flight attendant came on the PA and announced that snack lunches were available for five dollars for anyone who wished to purchase one.  Since the flight would take several hours, John decided to purchase one just to help pass the time.  As he leaned forward to retrieve his wallet from his back pocket, he heard one of the young soldiers in front of him ask his buddy, "Are you going to get a snack lunch?"
"Naw, $5 is a lot of money just for snacks.  I'll wait till we get to the base tonight to eat."
"Yeah, that’s what I think,” said his friend.

John stood up and walked towards the rear of the plane.  When he got to the galley he handed one of the flight attendants a fifty dollar bill and said, "Please give all ten soldiers on board a snack lunch."
She grabbed his arm, squeezed it tight and said, "Thanks.  My son was in the Army; he served in Iraq."

John returned to his seat and began to read his book.  Soon the flight attendant, with ten snack lunches in her arms, began handing out the snack lunches to all the soldiers on board.  Rather than return to the galley, she headed up the aisle.  Several minutes later, the same flight attendant walked up to John, leaned forward and whispered quietly in his ear, "Which would you prefer - beef or chicken?"
What?  "Beef or Chicken?"  Chicken I guess he replied, as he wondered why the heck she wanted to know.  
A few minutes later she returned with a dinner plate from first class.  "This is for you … courtesy of the Captain."

After his meal, John walked to the back of the plane, heading for the restroom.  A man seated near the galley stopped him and said, "I heard what you told the attendant and, with your permission, I'd like to chip in," and he handed John a twenty dollar bill.

Not long after John returned to his seat, the Captain walked down the aisle.  When he arrived at John’s row he stopped, smiled, held out his hand and said, "I wanted to shake your hand, Mr. Hollingsworth."  Quickly John unfastened his seatbelt, stood up and shook the Captain's hand.  With a booming voice, the Captain said, "I was once a military pilot and when I was young, lonely and broke, someone bought me a lunch when I was traveling home for Christmas.  It was an act of kindness I've never forgotten."  Then the Captain placed a folded twenty dollar bill in John's shirt pocket and said, "Put this toward my share."  As the Captain walked away, John was embarrassed as the passengers nearby erupted into a loud applause.

An hour or so later, just to stretch his legs, John walked toward the front of the plane.  A man seated near the magazine rack reached out to shake John's hand.  When he finished shaking John's hand, a twenty dollar bill was neatly folded and left in John's palm.

When the plane finally touched down several hours later, John began to gather his belongings and head for the door.  Waiting just outside the plane's door was an elderly lady obviously well off, and when John stepped through the door, she put something in his shirt pocket, then turned and walked away.  She never said a word. When John looked in his pocket, there was crisp fifty dollar bill.

As he entered the terminal area, John saw all the young soldiers gathering over in one corner of the terminal for their trip to their new base.  John walked over, handed one of them the $110 and said, "It might take you guys some time to reach base tonight and you might get hungry - Merry Christmas!"

Best Wishes for a Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year!

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Seed

A successful businessman decided it was time to retire.  He  needed to pick a successor, someone to take over the business he had built.  Since he built the company, owned the company and controlled the company, he alone was going to choose the person who would replace him as the President and CEO of his company.

He called all the promising executives, old and young, male and female into the board room and said, "I have decided its time to step down and retire."  The executives were all in shock. The President continued.  "Today I am going to give each of you a SEED – a special SEED, a SEED my wife handpicked from our home garden."

"I want each of you to plant the seed, water the seed and care for the seed.  One year from today, we will meet again in this board room to see what you have grown from the seed I have given.  One year from today, I will judge what you bring back and then I will choose the person who will be this company’s next President and CEO."

The executives went home excited to share the news with their spouses and significant others.  The couples went out that night and bought fancy pots, expensive potting soil and special fertilizers.  They eagerly planted their seed and every day, they would water their seed and watch to see if it had grown.  After about two weeks, some of the executives began to talk about the shoots that were sprouting up from their seed.  

One man, Jim, thought he and his wife did everything right but every time he checked his seed, nothing had grown.  Four weeks, five weeks, six weeks went by and still nothing grew.  By now, others at the office were bragging about the amazing growth of their flowers, shrubs and plants.

Six months went by and Jim still didn’t have a plant.  He continued to water and fertilize his seed every day but still no results.  Feeling like a failure, he thought he must have killed the seed.  Embarrassed, he never said a word to his colleagues at work.

Finally, the year passed and all the executives were told to bring their plants to the board room for inspection by the President.  Jim told his wife that he wasn't going to take his empty pot to work but she insisted he be honest and just tell everyone what happened.  Sick to his stomach, Jim knew this was going to be the most embarrassing day in his life, but he also knew it was the right thing to do.
He left the house with his empty pot and walked into the board room.  When he opened the door he was amazed at the variety of plants the other executives brought in. They were so beautiful - different shapes, different sizes and different colors.  Jim briskly walked to the back of the room and quickly put his empty pot on the floor in the corner.
When the President arrived, he greeted everyone as he surveyed the room.  All the while Jim tried to hide in the back of the room. "My, what great plants, shrubs and flowers you all have," said the CEO.  Way in the back of the room he spotted Jim and asked, "Jim where is your plant?" Jim bent down and lifted his small lifeless terra cotta pot. 

The President said, "Jim, bring what you've got to the front and place it here with the rest of the plants."  Jim was terrified.  As he walked to the front of the room, many of his colleagues snickered. 
Jim thought, "Everyone will see I am a failure and maybe the President will fire me." 
When Jim arrived at the front of the room, the CEO asked, "Jim, what happened to your seed?" 
Jim told the President and everyone else in the room the entire story - that he planted the seed, watered the seed, fertilized the seed but nothing happened.  The seed just didn't grow."
"Thank you, Jim," said the President.

The CEO then asked everyone to take a seat.  He then announced,
"As I stated last year, I will appoint one of you the next President and CEO of this company today!"  With that he said, "Behold your new President and Chief Executive Officer," as he pointed to Jim.  Jim could not believe it; the others, all stunned, thought, "How the hell can Jim be the new President of this company?  He couldn't even get one seed to grow."  
"As you recall," said the President, "one year ago today, I gave each of you a seed, a seed I asked you to plant, water and tend.  The seeds I gave you last year were boiled seeds. Seeds I personally boiled in scalding hot water to ensure they were dead – it was impossible for any of them to germinate." 
"All of you, except Jim, brought back beautiful flowers, plants or shrubs.  It’s obvious when you found the seed I gave you would not grow, you substituted mine with another seed.  Jim was the only person with the courage, honesty and character to bring back a pot with the seed I gave him."  
"This company employs hundreds of people and provides products to countless consumers.  This company needs a CEO who will have courage, character and honesty to always do the right things.  Therefore, Jim will be our new President and CEO starting today."

Friday, October 7, 2011

What Goes Around Comes Around

His name was Fleming and he was a poor Scottish farmer. One day while working in his field, he heard a cry for help. He dropped his tools and ran to the nearby bog as fast as he could.

There, stuck up to his waist in black muck, was a terrified boy, screaming and struggling to free himself.  Fleming sprung into action and saved the boy from what could have been a slow and terrifying death.

The next day, a fancy carriage pulled up to the Scotsman's sparse farm.  An elegantly dressed nobleman stepped out and introduced himself as the father of the boy Farmer Fleming saved the day before.

"I want to repay you for saving my son's life," said the nobleman.
"No, I can't accept payment for what I did," the Scottish farmer replied waving off any thought of an offer.  At that moment, Fleming’s son came to the door of the family hovel.

"Is that your son?" the nobleman asked.
"Yes," the farmer replied proudly.
"Then I'll make you a deal.  Let me provide your son with the same level of education as my own son will enjoy.  If your lad is anything like his father, he'll no doubt grow up to be a man we can both be proud of."

Farmer Fleming agreed to this arrangement and his son, as promised, attended the very best schools in England and ultimately graduated from St. Mary's Hospital Medical School in London.  He went on to become known throughout the world as Sir Alexander Fleming, the discoverer of Penicillin.

Unfortunately this story doesn’t end here, for you see years later, the nobleman's son – the boy who got stuck in the bog and was saved by Sir Fleming's father - was stricken with pneumonia and nearly died.  What saved his life this time was a new miracle drug called Penicillin. 

The name of the nobleman who paid for the education of farmer Fleming's son was Lord Randolph Churchill ... His son, the boy who fell in the bog and later nearly died from pneumonia, was Sir Winston Churchill.

Maybe it’s true?  What goes around comes around.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

One Last Night With Jim

When the plane arrived at the airport, the passengers were asked to remain in their seats.  Many looked outside and watched the family and friends gather below as a detachment of Marines climbed into the cargo hold, then offloaded a flag- draped casket.

Later that night Kathy said she did not want to  leave.  She asked the Marine commander if she could sleep next to her husband.

Within seconds several Marines appeared and made a bed for Kathy.  They tucked in her bed sheets just below the edge of the flag.  As she laid on her makeshift bed, Kathy opened her laptop and began to quietly play some songs she had downloaded as she looked at pictures she had saved on her computer.

As she looked at the photos and listened to the music, a Marine walked over and asked if she still wanted them to continue their watch.  Kathy took a deep breath, touched the casket and said, "I think that would be nice.  I think that's what Jim would have wanted."

The Marines stayed that night, all of them.  They took their turns standing watch as Kathy got her wish to spend one last night with Jim.

Semper Fi

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Who Is Your Daddy?

A seminary professor was vacationing with his wife in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, when they stopped at a small country diner for breakfast.   While waiting for their food, they noticed a distinguished looking, white-haired man moving from table to table, visiting with each diner.  The professor leaned over and whispered to his wife, "I hope that guy doesn't come over here."  But sure enough, the white-haired man did come over to their table.

"Where are you folks from?" he asked in a friendly voice.
"Oklahoma," they answered. 
"Great to have you here in Tennessee," the stranger said ... "What do you do for a living?" 
"I teach at a seminary," he replied. 
"Oh, so you teach preachers how to preach, do you?  Well, in that case, I've got a really great story for you."  And with that, the gentleman pulled up a chair and sat down at the table with the couple from Oklahoma. 
The professor groaned and thought to himself, "Great!  Just what I need - another preacher story!"
The man started, "See that mountain over there? (pointing out the restaurant window). Not far from the base of that mountain, there was a boy born to an unwed mother.   He had a hard time growing up in these parts, because every place he went, people always asked him the same question, 'Hey boy, who's your daddy?'  Whether at school, the grocery store or the drug store, people would ask 'Who's your daddy?'"

"The boy often avoided going places just to avoid hearing the question, 'Who's your daddy?'   A new preacher arrived in town and one Sunday as the young boy was going out of church with the crowd, the new preacher, not knowing anything about the young boy, put his hand on his shoulder and asked him, 'Son, who's your daddy?'"

"The whole church got deathly quiet and the preacher could feel that every eye in the church was watching as if now they  would finally know the answer to the question, 'Who's your daddy?'  Sensing this awkward situation around him and how uncomfortable the little boy looked, the preacher said 'Wait a minute!  I know who you are!  I can clearly see the family resemblance now.  You are a child of God.'   With that the preacher patted the little boy on his shoulder and said, 'Boy, you've got a great inheritance.  Go out in the world and claim it.'"

"The little boy, for the first time in a long time, smiled big and walked out of church that Sunday a changed person.  He was never the same again.  From that day forward whenever anybody asked him, 'Who's your Daddy?' he'd just tell them, 'I'm a Child of God.''' 

The distinguished gentleman got up from the table and said, "Isn't that a great story?"  The professor and his wife were obviously moved and both responded that it really was a great story!   As the southern gentleman walked toward the door to leave, he turned to look back at the couple from Oklahoma and said, "You know, if that new preacher hadn't told me that I was one of God's children, I probably never would have amounted to anything!"  And with that he walked out of the diner.

The seminary professor and his wife were stunned by those final words.  When the waitress came to their table with their bill, the professor asked, "Do you know who that man was -- the one who just left our table?" 
The waitress grinned and said, "Of course.  Everybody down here knows him.  That's Ben Hooper.  He's the former Governor of the State of Tennessee!"

Ben Hooper (1870-1957) - Governor of Tennessee from 1911-1915

This great story is attributed to Dr. Fred Craddock, Pastor of Cherry Log Christian Church, Cherry Log, Georgia.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

What's Her Name?

During John Johnson's second month of college, his professor gave the class a pop quiz.  John was a conscientious student who had breezed through all the questions until he read the last question.  The question was:

"What is the first name of the woman who cleans our school?"

Surely this was some kind of joke. John had seen the cleaning woman several times.  She was tall, dark-haired and in her late 50's, but how in the heck would he know her name?   John walked up to the professor, handed in his paper leaving the last question blank, then returned to his seat.

A few minutes later another student raised his hand and asked the professor if the last question was actually going to count toward the grade? 

 "Absolutely," replied the professor.   "In your careers, you will meet many people. All in their own way are significant. They deserve your attention even if all you do is smile and say hello."

John never forgot that college pop quiz nor the lesson it hammered home.  The next day John made a point to walk up to the cleaning lady and introduce himself.  He learned her name was Dorothy and every day, from that day forward, he would say good morning to Dorothy as he entered his classroom.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Two Sheets of Paper

Late one Friday afternoon, Ms. Simpson handed out two sheets of paper to each of the students in her class.  She asked the students to list the names of all their classmates on the two sheets  paper – instructing them to leave a big space between each name they wrote down.   

She then told them to think of the nicest thing they could say about that classmate, then write that thought under the person's name.  She gave her class one hour to complete this assignment.  When the time was up, she had the students turn in their papers as they left the room.  

Over the weekend, Ms. Simpson sat at her dining room table and recorded all the things her students had written down. On Monday morning, Ms. Simpson handed each student the individual list she compiled and gave them a few minutes to read it.  All the students beamed large smiles as they read what their classmates had said about them.  Ms. Simpson was glad she had used the exercise to fill up time on a Friday afternoon.

She never mentioned this assignment again and never knew if the students discussed their papers after class or even shared them with their parents. The school year ended and all of her students moved on.  For some reason, she never found the time or had the desire to repeat that exercise with any subsequent classes.

Several years passed when Ms. Simpson learned one of her former students was killed in Afghanistan and she decided to attend his funeral.  The church was packed with family and friends and many, including Ms. Simpson, walked up to the casket to pay their last respects.  
As she returned to her seat, a soldier in his dress uniform approached her and asked, "Are you Ms. Simpson - Were you Mark's teacher?"  She nodded 'yes.'  He said, "Mark talked about you a lot when we were in Afghanistan – he really enjoyed having you as his teacher.  He said you were the best teacher he ever had."

Following the funeral service, a luncheon was served in the church basement and Ms. Simpson decided to attend. Just as she finished her lunch, Mark's mother and father walked over to her.  Mark's mom said, "We’d like to thank you for coming and we want to show you something."  Mark's father took out his wallet.   He carefully removed two worn pieces of paper that had been folded and refolded numerous times and were now covered in several layers of scotch tape.

He said, "They found this on Mark when he was killed.  We thought you might recognize it."  Ms. Simpson immediately knew what those two pieces of paper were.  They were the papers on which she listed all the good things Mark's classmates had said about him.
"Thank you so much for doing this," Mark's mom said.  "Mark was so proud the day he brought these papers home - he could not stop talking about them - and, as you can see, he treasured it all his life."

Soon several of Ms. Simpson's former students, the classmates of Mark who also attended the luncheon, came forward and gathered around her.  Charlie smiled sheepishly and was the first to speak, "I still have my list, Ms. Simpson. It's in the top drawer of my dresser at home.  I look at it almost every night before I go to bed." 
Chuck's wife said, "Chuck had me put ours in our wedding album.  We show them off all the time."
"I have mine too," Marilyn said.  "It's in my diary."
Then Vicki, another classmate, reached into her purse, took out her billfold and pulled out her worn and frazzled list for the group.  "I carry mine with me at all times."

Without batting an eyelash, Wanda said, "I think we all saved our lists."  
That’s when Ms. Simpson sat down at a table and  began to cry.  She cried not only for Mark and all his friends but also for all the students she had taught throughout the years that she never took the time to repeat this effortless exercise.

Having a lasting impact on those we meet in life is easier than most of us think.  Once in awhile we need to take time out of our busy schedule to point out the nice things we see in those around us, the ones we work with and the ones we serve. 

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Mayonnaise Jar & Two Cans of Beer

A professor of philosophy at a major university stood before his new freshman class and, without saying a word, he picked up a large, empty mayonnaise jar and filled it with golf balls.  He set the jar down and asked the students in his class if the jar was full.  All the students agreed it was.

The professor then picked up a plastic container full of small pebbles and tipped it over the jar, shaking it lightly.  The pebbles all rolled down into the open spaces between the golf balls.  He then asked his class again if the jar was full. Unanimously, they all agreed it was.

Next the professor picked up a large canvas sack containing fine white beach sand which he poured over the jar.  The sand immediately filled up every void between the golf balls and the pebbles.  Once again, he asked his class if the jar was full.  Again all the students responded with a unanimous "yes".

Finally, the professor popped the tops on two cans of beer and  poured the entire contents of the two beer cans into the jar.  The students were all amazed and began to laugh.  After their laughs subsided, the professor said, "I want you
to think of a jar as your life.  The golf balls represent the important things in your life - your family, your children, your health, your friends and your favorite passions.  Should everything else in your life be lost and only these remain, your life would still be full."

"The pebbles, on the other hand, are the other things that matter to you like your job, your house and your car.  Finally, the sand represents everything else, all the small stuff you have in your life."

Now understand if the sand had been poured into the jar first,
 there would not have been room for any pebbles or golf balls.  The same is true with your life.  If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for things that are really important.  So always, always pay attention to the important things - those things that are critical to your happiness.  Remember, there will always be time to clean the house and fix the disposal.  Take care of the golf balls first- then set your priorities."

A student in the back of the room raised her hand and shouted out, "Professor, you never told us what the beer represented."  
The professor smiled and said, "I'm glad you asked.  The beer just represents that no matter how full your life may seem, if you have set your priorities, there will always be room for a couple of beers with a good friend."

Monday, June 27, 2011

Easy Eddie

Many years ago, Al Capone, the notorious criminal, was involved in everything from booze to prostitution to murder.  Al had a personal lawyer nicknamed "Easy Eddie" and Eddie's skill at legal maneuvering was the primary reason Big Al was kept out of jail for so many years.

Capone paid Eddie well and Eddie lived the high life.  He and his family occupied a fenced-in mansion that filled an entire Chicago city block.  Though involved deeply with the mob, Eddie had one soft spot, his son whom he loved dearly.  Eddie saw to it that his young son had clothes, cars, and a good education and despite his involvement with organized crime, Eddie tried his best to teach his son right from wrong.  Eddie wanted his son to grow up to be a good man.

One day, Eddie decided to rectify wrongs he had done and went to the authorities to tell the truth about Al Capone so he could clean up his tarnished name and offer his son some semblance of integrity.  Eddie knew the cost for testifying against the mob would be great ... and he was right.  Within a year, Easy Eddie's life ended in a blaze of gunfire on a lonely Chicago side street.  But in his eyes, Eddie gave his son a great gift.  When the police emptied his pockets, they found a rosary and a poem Eddie had clipped from a magazine.

The poem read:

"The clock of life is wound but once, and no man has the power to tell just when the hands will stop.  Now is the only time you own. Live, love, toil with a will.  Place no faith in time, for the clock may soon be still."

Now an unrelated --- but necessary parallel to the above story ---- please read you won't be disappointed.   

World War II produced many heroes. One such man was Navy Lieutenant Commander Butch O'Hare, a fighter pilot assigned to the aircraft carrier Lexington in the South Pacific.  One day his squadron was sent on a mission.  After he was airborne, Butch looked at his fuel gauge and realized the ground crew did not top off his fuel tank.  He knew he would not have enough fuel to complete his mission and return to his ship.  Butch’s flight leader ordered Butch to return to the carrier. Reluctantly, Butch dropped out of formation and headed back to the fleet.

On returning to the fleet, Butch saw in the distance a squadron of Japanese aircraft heading toward the fleet.  Since the fleet’s fighters were all out on their missions, the fleet was now virtually defenseless.  Butch was unable to raise his squadron leader on the radio to bring them back in time to save the fleet.  There was only one thing for Butch do … he had to stop the Japanese planes from attacking the fleet.

Without hesitation or regard to his personal safety, Butch dove into the formation of enemy aircraft; with his wing-mounted 50 caliber's guns he blazed in, attacking one surprised aircraft after another.  Butch wove in and out of the now broken formation and fired at as many planes as possible until all his ammunition was finally spent.

Even though his ammo was gone, Butch continued his assault by diving at planes, trying to clip a wing or hit a tail in hopes of damaging them and rendering them unfit to fly. Totally exasperated, the remaining Japanese aircraft headed home and Butch perished in the ocean.

Butch’s home town vowed not to allow the memory of this WWII hero to fade from their memory.  They named their city airport after him.  The City of Chicago decided to pay tribute to its courageous native son.

So for all you travelers who fly in or out of Chicago's O'hare airport here is my recommendation:  The next time you find yourself waiting for a flight at O'Hare Airport, give some serious thought to visiting Butch’s memorial.  Take a look at his statue and his Medal of Honor he earned.  It is located between Terminals 1 and 2.


Butch “Edward” O'Hare - the World War II Hero was "Easy Eddie's" son.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Why Mrs. Thompson Quit Teaching

Mrs. Thompson stood in front of her fifth grade class on the first day of school and told a lie, a big lie.  As she welcomed the students, she said that she would treat them all the same.  But that was not true because there was one student she would not treat the same – his name was Teddy Stoddard.

The school district hired Ms. Thompson the year before and she couldn't help but notice Teddy last year.  He was a known problem child with a lousy academic record. He didn’t play well with others; his clothes were a mess; he always looked like he needed a bath, and he had a bad attitude.  Consequently, Mrs. Thompson delighted in marking Teddy’s papers with a broad red pen and placing big bold 'X's on all his wrong answers.  She loved putting a large 'F' at the top of his papers so other students could see his grade when she handed them out.

School policy required that each teacher review the records of their students during the first week of December.  Mrs. Thompson held Teddy's file off until last.  When she finally sat down to review his file, she was taken aback.  Teddy’s first grade teacher wrote, "Teddy is a bright child who does neat work and has excellent classroom manners. He is a joy to have in my class - I will miss him next year."

His second grade teacher wrote, "Teddy is an above average student who is well liked by his classmates.  He has been having trouble lately because of his mother’s illness, and life at home has really been a struggle for him." 
His third grade teacher wrote, "His mother's recent death has been very hard on Teddy.  He tries hard to do his best, but his father doesn't show much interest and his home life is negatively affecting him."
Teddy's fourth grade teacher wrote, "Teddy is a withdrawn child who doesn’t show much interest in school.  He has few friends, often comes to class unprepared, and is frequently disruptive."

Mrs. Thompson was now ashamed of her behavior. She felt even worse a few weeks later when her students brought in their Christmas presents for her.  All were wrapped in holiday paper and tied with ribbons except for one.  Teddy's was clumsily wrapped in brown paper from an old grocery bag with no ribbon.  Mrs. Thompson opened Teddy’s present first.   Some children laughed when they saw a rhinestone bracelet with several stones missing and an old bottle of perfume only 1/4 full; but Mrs. Thompson quickly stifled their laughter by commenting on how beautiful the bracelet was as she put in on.  She then dabbed some perfume on each wrist, inhaled deeply and said it smells wonderful.

Before he left class that afternoon, Teddy walked up to Mrs. Thompson's desk, slowly leaned in and said, "I just want you to know you smell just like my Mom use to."  Then he ran out of the room.  When all the other students left, Mrs. Thompson cried at her desk. That was the day she vowed to quit teaching.  Never again would she teach reading, writing or arithmetic, instead she would start teaching children.

She began to pay attention to Teddy.  As she worked with him, his mind came alive.  The more she encouraged him, the faster he responded.  By the end of the school year, Teddy was one of the brightest students in her class.   Despite "her lie to treat all students the same," it was obvious Teddy was her pet.  The following year, Teddy transferred to middle school and Mrs. Thompson never saw him again.

Towards the end of the next school year, Mrs. Thompson found a note under her door.  It was a note from Teddy telling her that she was still the best teacher he ever had in his whole life.  
Seven years passed before she received another note.  This time Teddy wrote he had just finished high school - third in his class - and that he would be going to college and that, by the way Mrs. Thompson, you are still the best teacher I ever had in my whole life.  
Four more years went by when a letter from Teddy arrived explaining he had graduated from college and was planning on going to medical school in the fall and, by the way Mrs. Thompson, you are still the best teacher I ever had.

Several years passed before another letter arrived.  In this letter, Teddy stated he met a woman and they would be getting married in June.  He explained that his father died a few years earlier and he was wondering if she, Mrs. Thompson, would agree to sit in the place of honor reserved for the groom's parents at the head table. This letter was signed Theodore J. Stoddard M.D.

Of course Mrs. Thomson agreed. She arrived at the plush wedding ceremony wearing an old rhinestone bracelet with several rhinestones missing and carried a scent of a perfume that Teddy once said reminded him of his mother.  Dr. Stoddard came forward and hugged her.  As he inhaled the fragrance of her perfume, he whispered in her ear, "Thank you Mrs. Thompson for making me feel important and thank you for making a difference in my life." Mrs. Thompson, with tears in her eyes, whispered back, "No Teddy you have it wrong.  I need to thank you. You taught me. You taught me I could make a difference."

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A Christmas We Should All Remember

A pastor and his wife were transferred to a new ministry in Brooklyn New York. Their assignment was to reopen an old church.  When they arrived at their new assignment in early October, they were excited. 

However, upon seeing their assigned church and how run down it actually was and all the work it needed, they decided to set a goal to have it ready to open on Christmas Eve.

The pastor and his wife worked hard everyday repairing the pews, scrubbing the floors, plastering and painting the walls, etc.; however on December 18, they were ahead of schedule and so happy that they were just about finished.

On December 19 a terrible driving rainstorm hit the area. The storm conditions lasted for two days and, when the pastor arrived at the church on the morning of December 21, his heart sank. The old roof had leaked, causing water to enter the building and the water damaged a large area of a wall they had re-plastered - an area of about 20 feet by 8 feet – near the front of the sanctuary.  

The pastor did his best to clean up the mess on the floor, but not knowing what else he could do, he decided to tell his wife they would have to postpone the Christmas Eve service.  However on his drive home, he noticed a local flea market type sale for charity, so he stopped in to look around.   One of the items he noticed was a beautiful, handmade, ivory-colored, hand-crocheted tablecloth. It was really an exquisite piece of work, with fine colors and a large cross embroidered in the center.  The pastor thought this tablecloth might be just the right size to cover up the hole in the front wall of the church so he bought it and headed back to the church.

By now it had started to snow now and when he arrived back at the church, he saw an elderly woman running, trying to catch a bus. Unfortunately, she missed the bus.   Knowing the next bus wouldn’t come for about 30 minutes, the pastor invited her in the church to get out of the cold and keep warm as she waited for her bus.   

As she sat in a pew, she watched the pastor get a ladder and hangers to mount the tablecloth up on the wall as a tapestry.  The pastor could hardly believe how beautiful it looked, as it was the perfect size to cover up the entire problem area.

The woman, upon seeing the tablecloth hanging on the wall, stood up and walked toward the pastor.  Her face was white as a sheet. "Pastor," she asked, "Where did you get this tablecloth?"  The pastor explained the story.  The woman asked him to check the lower right hand corner to see if the initials, EBG were crocheted into it. He checked and yes they were.   These were her initials - initials which she sewed in this tablecloth when she made it 45 years ago in Austria. The woman explained that, before the war, she and her husband were Austrians. 

Then the Nazis came and her husband asked her to leave for America.  He promised he would follow in two weeks; however she later learned he was captured by the Nazis and sent to concentration camp.   She never saw her husband or her homeland again.

The pastor got back on the ladder and offered to give her the tablecloth; but she insisted he keep it for his church. The pastor then insisted on driving her home as that was the least he could do for her.  She lived way over on Staten Island and had come to Brooklyn just for the day.

Well when Christmas Eve arrived, the old church was almost full.  The music and the holiday spirit of the people filled the air.  At the end of the service, the pastor and his wife stood at the door and greeted everyone goodbye and wished them a Merry Christmas.

When they returned to lock up the church, they noticed an old man sitting in a pew crying.  The pastor had recognized from the neighborhood but did not know him.   The old man just sat silently in the pew, weeping and staring at the tapestry. The pastor wondered why he didn't leave and walked over to talk to him.

The man asked him where he had gotten the tablecloth on the wall because it was identical to one his wife made for him many years ago when they lived in Austria before the war, and how could it be possible that two tablecloths could be so much alike?

He told the pastor how the Nazis came and how he forced his wife to flee to America for her safety and that he promised he would follow her, but he was arrested and put in a concentration camp for four years until the Allied soldiers can and freed the prisoners. With the war over he had come to America to look for his wife but could not find her.  He never again saw his wife or his home land.

The Pastor asked the gentlemen if he would allow him to take him for a ride; the man agreed.  The Pastor drove over to Staten Island to an old brown stone apartment building - the same building the pastor had taken an old woman too just a few days earlier. 

The pastor helped the old man walk the three flights of stairs to the woman's apartment.   Once at the door, the Pastor knocked and then right before him he witnessed the greatest Christmas present ever imaginable - a reunion never to be forgotten.

This is a 'True Story" -  which happened to Pastor Rob Reid

Monday, May 30, 2011

This Blog Was Started Memorial Day, May 30th, 2011 - Please Enjoy

John Hollingsworth placed his carry-on luggage in the overhead compartment of the Boeing 757 aircraft, then sat down in his seat. He knew it was going to be a long flight and was glad he brought along a book to read between his planned naps.   Just prior to take- off, a group of young soldiers walked down the aisle and sat in several of the seats surrounding him.   John leaned over and asked a young man across the aisle,  "Where are you guys headed?"
"Petawawa.   We'll be there a few weeks for training, then we ship off to Afghanistan after the first of the year."

About an hour into the flight, a flight attendant came on the PA system and made an announcement that snack lunches were available for five dollars for anyone who wished to purchase one. Since the flight would be several hours, John decided to purchase a lunch just to help pass the time.   As he leaned forward to retrieve his wallet from his back pocket, he heard one of the young soldiers in front of him ask his buddy, "Are you going to get a snack lunch?"
"Naw, $5 is a lot of money just for snacks, I'll wait till we get to the base tonight to eat."
"Yeah, that’s what I think," said his friend.

John stood up and walked towards the rear of the plane.  When he got to the galley, he handed one of the flight attendants a fifty-dollar bill and said, "Please give all ten soldiers on board a snack lunch."
She grabbed his arm, squeezed it tight and said, "Thanks.  My son is in the Army; he is serving in Iraq."

John returned to his seat and began to read his book.   Soon a flight attendant, with ten snack lunches in her arms, began handing out the snack lunches to all the soldiers on board.   Rather than return to the galley, she headed up the aisle.  
Several minutes later, the same flight attendant walked up to John, leaned forwarded and whispered quietly in his ear, "Which would you prefer - beef or chicken?"
"What? Beef or Chicken?  Chicken I guess," he replied, as he wondered why the heck she wanted to know.  
A few minutes later, she returned with a dinner plate from first class. "This is for you … courtesy of the Captain."

After he finished eating his meal, John got up and walked to the back of the plane, heading for the rest room.  A man seated near the galley stopped him and said, "I heard what you told the attendant and with your permission, I'd like to chip in." and he handed John a twenty-dollar bill.

Not long after John returned to his seat, the Captain came walking down the aisle.  When he arrived at John’s row he stopped, smiled, held out his hand and said, "I wanted to shake your hand, Mr. Hollingsworth." 
Quickly John unfastened his seat belt, stood up and shook the Captain's hand. 
With a booming voice the Captain said, "I was once a military pilot and when I was young, lonely and broke someone bought me a lunch when I was traveling home for Christmas.   It was an act of kindness I have never forgotten."   The Captain placed a folded twenty-dollar bill in John’s shirt pocket and said, "Put this toward my share."  As the Captain walked away, John was embarrassed when the passengers nearby erupted into a loud applause.

An hour or so later, just to stretch his legs, John walked toward the front of the plane.  A man seated near the magazine rack reached out to shake John’s hand.   When he finished shaking John‘s hand, a twenty-dollar bill was neatly folded and left in John’s palm.

When the plane finally touched down several hours later, John began to gather his belongings and head for the door.  Waiting just outside the plane’s door was an elderly lady obviously well off, and when John stepped through the door, she put something in his shirt pocket, then turned and walked away; she never said a word.  When John looked in his pocket, there was crisp fifty-dollar bill.

As he entered the terminal area, John saw the young soldiers all gathering over in one corner for their trip to their new base.   John walked over and handed one of them the $110 and said, "It might take you guys some time to reach base tonight and you might get hungry."

Remembering those who serve our country shouldn't be limited to just Memorial and/or Veteran’s Day.   Every day there are those like John, and his fellow travelers, who truly do remember.