Goodness

People have been so nice to us you wouldn’t even believe it if I told you. They have given us food and money and rides and advice and anything we needed, until we got back on our feet, all just random people who didn’t want any credit.

DEAR SEAN:

My family went through some real hard times during the last two years before my husband found his job. It got so bad my kids were eating Chicken Helper casseroles (the store brand) without any meat or oil. My husband and I were taking turns skipping dinners…

Now everything’s good and my husband has this good job…

People have been so nice to us you wouldn’t even believe it if I told you. They have given us food and money and rides and advice and anything we needed, until we got back on our feet, all just random people who didn’t want any credit.

[My husband’s] boss has even given him three different bonuses and what not. To make a long story short, we’ve actually got savings accounts for the first time in our life and it’s all because of kind people.

I was going to see if you have a story about how nice people can be to each other, ‘cause I want something special to read to my kids tomorrow when we buy our first house.

Have a good day,
I-BELIEVE-IN-NICE-PEOPLE

DEAR I-BELIEVE:

I’m going to tell you about a family. The first thing you ought to know about this family is that they were poor. Deep-fried poor. So destitute, they didn’t have running water. And according to my sources, they cooked meals over an oil drum. The kids had hardly any meat on their bones.

They say the pastor visited their house with money. The father refused the money, claiming things were looking up. But this was a Great Depression. There was no up.

The pastor left a check anyway. And I understand he cashed it before lunchtime.

The first thing school kids noticed were her new shoes. Red leather ones, she loved red. I don’t know what it is about shoes and poverty. They’re the first things to go when times get rough; first things you buy when you can.

The oldest girl walked with a bounce in her step, down the school hallways. She was a nice-looking girl, who rarely spoke. Nobody paid her any mind. Too bad. She had an angel-face. I suppose ratty clothes are hard for junior-high brats to look past.

It was during field class—when kids changed into white T-shirts and white shorts and exercised outside. She left her new bright-colored shoes in her locker.

When class was over, her shoes were gone.

They say she cried in front of everyone. A few kids laughed at her. The gym teacher’s blood pressure sky-rockted into the red-zone. Teachers held a school-wide search. They combed through every bag, locker, and trashcan.

Nothing.

She did a good job not showing sadness that day, but I understand she was sick-to-her-stomach blue. It wasn’t about the shoes, but about someone disliking her enough to steal them. About being so poor that footwear meant so much in the first place.

The next morning, before class, teachers ushered all students into the gymnasium. Theirs wasn’t a big school, the lot of kids only took up the first row of bleachers.

Then, all five middle-school teachers formed a line in the auditorium without saying a word. Even the janitor stood with them.

The principal, said something like, “When one of us suffers, we all do.” Then he quoted a Bible verse to drive his point home.

After that, one by one, the teachers took off their shoes and pitched them in the garbage can. The girl’s face turned red. As it happened, it was the exact same shade as the new shoes her teachers bought her. All three pairs.

Truth be told, when I first heard this story, I didn’t know what to think.

But then, I’d always known there was a reason Granny liked red shoes so much.

16 comments

  1. Erin Neathery - June 1, 2018 5:58 am

    Beautiful! Your story reminds me of this gem from Loretta Lynn: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HgOjLi_RYAM

    Reply
  2. Sandi in FL. - June 1, 2018 6:48 am

    Sean, I hope all your readers will now go to YouTube and listen to you read “Deep Fried Poor” about your Granny’s red shoes. It’s even more impressionable when hearing it read aloud by you, the author. Very heartwarming, poignant, touching story. I wish your Granny could hear you read it, too.

    Reply
  3. Beth Ann - June 1, 2018 10:48 am

    <3

    Reply
  4. Maxine - June 1, 2018 10:52 am

    Thank you Sean. A better solution than is used so many times these days. Compassion, empathy, just plain ole caring on the part of the teachers brought a message home to everyone there including whoever took her shoes.

    Reply
  5. Naomi Storey - June 1, 2018 11:36 am

    My husband grew up on a farm in Georgia during the depression. He didn’t wear shoes in the summer and wouldn’t have worn them to school if they weren’t required. He didn’t date much because the girls didn’t like country boys. However, he was a good student and was valedictorian of his graduating class. After graduation, he went to business school and learned how to type and take shorthand which helped him get a job with the Georgia Air Force National Guard. He got shipped to Japan during the Korean War. After he got back to Georgia, he went to college under the GI bill and got a degree in business administration, with a major in accounting. He stayed in the AF and ANG for 42 years, retiring as a Lt Col from the AF Audit Agency. He also was ordained as a Southern Baptist Preacher and worked as an auditor for the federal government for 30 years. Not too bad for a country boy. By the way, we still live on the farm.

    Reply
  6. marsha weisel - June 1, 2018 12:51 pm

    Sean, sometimes your writing restores my faith in humanity. Thank you for your soothing words.

    Reply
  7. Sandra Smith - June 1, 2018 12:59 pm

    I remember my Mom & Dad talking about, what made an extra special Christmas for them. A new pair of shoes and a big, juicy orange in their stocking. It was REALLY good, if Pawpaw killed a deer or a turkey, for Christmas dinner.
    How far we’ve come…..or, have we ?

    Reply
  8. Jack Darnell - June 1, 2018 12:59 pm

    Yep, funny I never thought of the shoes are the first to go and the first to want. Amazing.

    Reply
  9. Sarah Alley - June 1, 2018 1:47 pm

    Loved this. Your Granny was special. Love a redemption story. ❤️

    Reply
  10. Linda Chapman - June 1, 2018 2:02 pm

    Amazing! Have I told you how much I love your blog?? I do! I really do!!!

    Reply
  11. Edna B. - June 1, 2018 3:33 pm

    What a beautiful story, and a great way to start my new day. Thank you. You have a super day, hugs, Edna B.

    Reply
  12. Amy - June 2, 2018 3:48 am

    ❤️

    Reply
  13. Jody - June 2, 2018 4:09 pm

    Reflecting on the powerful message that was taught by all employed in the school This collective action of conscience was an example for society. Thanks for the reminder of MY responsibility to stand by those who suffer injury. Blessings

    Reply
  14. Dave - June 2, 2018 9:17 pm

    Too bad more families don’t pass down stories, todays kids only know what the see on social media and have no idea who their parents are let alone their grandparents.

    Reply
  15. Linda Chipman - June 3, 2018 4:46 pm

    Oh how I wish my Mama was here to read this one. I LOVE red shoes and am fortunate enough to have several pairs. But I remember how when I had on a pair Mama wouldn’t like it. She said red shoes looked cheap! Now I just wish I had asked her why she felt that way instead of getting upset.

    Reply
  16. Lori Carlisle - June 9, 2018 8:01 pm

    I would like to think that it is this way at my school.

    Reply

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