Nice Guys

Will the Old Folks’ Club & Elderly Persons With Ridiculously Expensive Hearing Aids Society meeting now come to order? Thank you.

Ladies and gentlemen, it is a privilege to welcome this evening’s keynote speaker to our podium. He is 94 years young, his name is Jon. Let’s give him a rousing round of applause.

Sustained applause. A few cat calls.

“Good evening, friends, constituents, and esteemed members who are still awake. My name is Jon, and I am pleased to be addressing the Old Folks’ Club & Elderly Persons With Ridiculously Expensive Hearing Aids Society tonight.

“I’d first like to thank your chairman for inviting me. I’d like to also thank the Methodist ladies group for providing the extremely tiny crustless cucumber finger sandwiches. Let’s all give them a hand.”


“Tonight I have a story to share. My tale begins when I was a much younger man of seven. I can hardly remember back that far.

“I had a nice childhood. I liked playing marbles, I was active in neighborhood baseball games, I loved Mallo Cups. Sadly, at my current age I can’t eat candy anymore, and I have yet to relocate my marbles.

“When the Great Depression came along—I don’t have to remind you how hard it was—life changed more for some of us than others.

“In my family we were helpless. There was nothing to be done. My dad lost his job, my mom lost hers. Me and my little brother, Skeeter, didn’t know how bad it was, except that we were eating a lotta cabbage soup.

“My parents started falling behind on house payments. They began taking whatever jobs they could, but each month things got worse. Our water got shut off. Then we had no electricity, and Skeeter and I weren’t getting along because he was a boob.

“Anyway, my dad started working for a grocery store and delivering groceries and such. The money stunk, but it was nice work if you could get it.

“My parents delivered a lotta groceries for people and ran errands. Me and Skeeter helped some, but it wasn’t easy waltzing into a store and buying fancy food for other people when we couldn’t afford food for our ownselves.

“I’ll never forget the day my dad messed up a delivery order for this old lady and she got so mad she started throwing her groceries at us, calling my dad bad names.

“A box of crackers hit my dad in the face and cut him on the forehead. He was real embarrassed, but he just told me and Skeeter that the lady was probably worse off than we were and we should be nice.

“That’s when my dad took special interest in that old lady. He would stop by her house on the way to work, leaving gifts on her porch. We didn’t know why he bothered doing that, but he was such a nice guy.

“He left Hershey’s bars, Mary Janes, handpicked flowers, little notecards. Me and Skeet’ were peeved about this. I mean, we did our chores and didn’t get so much as a jawbreaker, but that mean old crab got chocolates?

“We asked Daddy about this but he just told me and Skeeter to hush.

“Over the years my dad kinda became friends with this old woman, although I don’t know why. My family even started going to visit her.

“Her name was Miss Ellen, and it turned out she was real sick. She lived all alone, and nobody ever visited her. She didn’t even have no dogs or cats or nothing.

“My mom started cooking dinners for Miss Ellen. And even though my dad never admitted it, we all knew he was buying old Ellen’s groceries—that’s just how nice he was.

“My family finally lost our house because we couldn’t pay our mortgage no more. But it was okay, ‘cause my dad found a rental in town. Me and Skeeter had to share a bedroom, and it had rats. But we were okay.

“Then Miss Ellen died. And after that happened my dad kept trying to get in touch with the old lady’s family and get them involved in funeral arrangements. But they said they didn’t want nothing to do with Miss Ellen on account of she was a bad mother and she never did nothing good by them nohow. They didn’t care what happened to the old lady.

“So my mom and dad arranged the whole burial. The only people who attended the funeral was our family and two other people who I didn’t know.

“Mom made us wear ties and we all took turns saying nice things about Miss Ellen to the preacher. I told about how Miss Ellen did jigsaw puzzles with me sometimes.

“And all these years later I still think a lot about my dad. I remember him wearing his funeral clothes that he got from the Salvation Army bin. And how he was so skinny ‘cause he couldn’t afford to eat right. And I also remember how he told us that day, leaving Miss Ellen’s cemetery:

“He said, ‘Jon, Skeeter, listen to me, boys. The best way to not be helpless in this world is to get out there and help someone else. Don’t you ever forget that.’

“Well, I always thought it was real good advice. I only wish he’d lived long enough to see me use it.”

Meeting adjourned.


  1. Sandi. - June 8, 2021 7:19 am

    Kindness never goes out of style.

  2. Susan Corbin - June 8, 2021 7:31 am

    My mother in law always said, ” Everyone has a saving grace.”.

  3. Norma Den - June 8, 2021 9:32 am

    What a wonderful lesson to us all. Kindness can change lives in such positive ways. God bless..

  4. Steven - June 8, 2021 10:26 am


  5. joan moore - June 8, 2021 11:40 am

    That one is in the hall of fame! You raise the bar every day!

  6. Bill Harris - June 8, 2021 11:40 am

    Thank you Sean

  7. Leigh R Amiot - June 8, 2021 11:45 am

    Another column which left me with a smile…thank you.

  8. Joey - June 8, 2021 12:14 pm

    Remember Mrs. Dubose? To Kill a Mockingbird?

  9. Debbie g - June 8, 2021 12:39 pm

    Kind people are easy to be nice to The mean ones are here to help us to even be more kinder Great story and lesson. We all need. Thank you Sean

  10. Amanda - June 8, 2021 1:28 pm

    Kindness can give us purpose whether on the giving or receiving end. What better wisdom than kindness?

  11. Cathy Moss - June 8, 2021 1:52 pm

    Thank you Sean for reminding all who follow you that kindness is more essential than ever. Our world is broken and being kind to one another is the medicine we need every day. Thank you

  12. Bobbie - June 8, 2021 2:16 pm

    It is more blessed to give than to receive.
    God bless you.

  13. Bobbie - June 8, 2021 2:17 pm

    God bless you ❤️

  14. Bill - June 8, 2021 2:55 pm

    Great advice. Thanks Sean Great story as usual..

  15. Tammy S. - June 8, 2021 2:55 pm

    We never know what someone else is going through. Kindness always wins. Even when it’s not reciprocated. Loved this one!!

  16. Marcia MacLean - June 8, 2021 3:10 pm

    You don’t have as much time to think about yourself when you’re busy thinking of others. Great story Sean. You’re going to be a wonderful old man one day.

  17. Suellen - June 8, 2021 3:28 pm

    This reminds me of the sermon given at our wedding. It was a second marriage for both of us. Our second chance. The Pastor hadn’t been there long and had become a good friend. In the sermon he mentioned how we had healed because we turned the focus not on ourselves and our pain but into helping others and volunteering wherever we were needed. I’m not bragging on us. Just saying I’ve noticed that I’ve kind of forgotten that lately and need to get back to it. Life is so much fuller that way.

  18. Christina - June 8, 2021 4:28 pm

    Some of the richest people in this world give so generously out of so little material possessions.

  19. Steve McCaleb - June 8, 2021 5:23 pm

    Think about how much better a place our world would be if we all took Jon’s father’s advice. My dad was cut from the same cloth.He always felt that helping others helped him as much as it did those he was helping. Like kids everywhere, I had no idea what he meant. But I’m starting to understand……only took the better part of 70 years. Thank you dad… were right. About everything.

  20. Linda Moon - June 8, 2021 7:44 pm

    Losing one’s marbles is not a good thing. And neither is describing age as 94 years young, in my humble opinion. I mean…..would anyone describe a toddler as 2 years young? But, my opinion of this LIFE-affirming column and the columnist who wrote it is excellent!

  21. Sandra Wolfe - June 8, 2021 8:44 pm

    Your father was a smart man. We need more like him as examples.

  22. MAM - June 9, 2021 12:19 am

    We certainly do need a whole bunch more that old fellow’s father. And as always, thanks, Sean, for the excellent word pictures. The scenes are so easy to view on one’s mind.

  23. Tracy - June 9, 2021 12:23 am

    These kind of stories are what makes the world go ’round..thank you Sean 🥰

  24. pdjpop - June 9, 2021 11:30 am

    This gentleman painted a beautiful picture of selfishness.
    The greatest love for sure.
    God bless.

  25. Patricia Gibson - June 9, 2021 4:55 pm



Leave a Comment