Monday, May 27, 2013

A Randomly Wonderful Act of Kindness

Ebbie laughed ruefully. "Bess, do you really think we're going to have to walk to the whole way today?"

Bess looked down at her shoes. Although made in a sensible, teacher style, they were no match  for the ten miles that stretched between the two of them and town.

She looked at her friend and fellow teacher Ebbie and groaned a little. " I can't even think of that, Ebbie." She looked up at the sky. "Lord, please send a ride our way into town, " she implored.

Ebbie added hastily, "And please let it not be in the back of a chicken truck!"

They both shook their heads as if to banish the memory. In the early 1920's, hitchhiking was still a fairly safe, if erratic, mode of transportation for two brand new teachers, and it was the only way they could make it into town from their rural teacherage to buy groceries and do a little shopping. Their last ride to town had been in the back of a large truck hauling cages and cages of chickens. They themselves resembled chickens when they finally arrived in town after several stops picking up more fowl along the way.

They trudged down the road, sticking out their thumbs at the lone vehicle headed north, but it was a farmer in a Model T and he called out as he chugged past, "Sorry girls, got a cow in labor! Can't stop today!"

Bess pushed her long curls out of her face. The dust from the road coupled with the already oppressive humidity was decimating the care she'd put into her hair and makeup that early morning. Ebbie was limping slightly, even though they'd only walked the first two miles.

"Bess, I..." Ebbie began before she was cut off by a car that slid quietly in behind them and slowed to a stop. It was a sleek and shiny black, longer and larger than any they'd ever seen. Had they known anything about cars at that time, they would have identified it as a 1924 Pierce- Arrow, one of the premier luxury touring cars of the day.

A small, elderly woman in the back seat, dressed in black from her hat all the way through her exquisitely made leather shoes, beckoned to them. "Come on, girls. We'll give you a ride into town."

The chauffeur held the door as the girls stepped gingerly into the back with their benefactor. "Are you the new teachers?" she asked as they settled in, dumbfounded at the turn of events.

"Yes, ma'am, we are," Bess replied. "I am Bess and this is Ebbie."

"I am Henrietta King, " she told them. "I live in Corpus Christi now, but I still come down from time to time to check on my ranch. We can drop you in town on our way back."

The girls' eyes widened. The King Ranch was the largest ranch in the world and Mrs. King, one of the richest women in America and owner of the ranch, was almost a mythical figure. Her acumen and largesse were legendary. They never thought they'd have the opportunity to meet, much less ride, with her.

A staunch Presbyterian, Mrs. King talked with the girls of the Bible, her first foray into Texas with her missionary father, and how happy she was they were teachers. The ride was over before they knew it, but the impact of her act of kindness seared into Bess and Ebbie for the rest of their lives.

When Mrs. King passed away the next year, her coffin flanked by 200 vaqueros (cowboys) on horseback, Bess and Ebbie were there to pay tribute as well.

And when my Grandma Bess and her lifelong friend Ebbie would tell us this story, they always ended with, "You'll be more remembered for your kindness than for your wealth."

This is my first blog hop,The Random Acts of Kindness bloghop, sponsored by Wayman Publishing. They are giving away some great free ebooks today. And if you buy any of the .99 ebooks, you will automatically be entered into an iPad Mini-Sweepstakes. Visit this link: Wayman Publishing to find out more.






 



104 comments:

  1. Oh, I loved this. I love how you weaved your Grandma's tale into such an interesting short story. Great read and congrats on sponsored blog hop :-)

    xx Jazzy

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    1. Jazzy: Thank you, my friend! Life for teachers was so different then- but I'm so glad they got to meet Mrs. King that day.

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  2. Hi, Shelly! Your story reminds us of "the way we were" and will probably never again be. Hitchhiking was indeed common when I was a boy. As I recall it was rare for the family to go on a Sunday drive (another thing of the past) and not see one or more hitchhikers along the road. In modern times, as we know, it is considered high risk behavior to hitch a ride with a stranger or offer a ride to one. The new normal makes it much less likely that a heartwarming scenario like this will unfold. It is particularly gratifying to know that this tale of an advantaged person's unexpected benevolence, this random act of greatness on her part, was experienced first hand by your own grandmother and that she passed it down to you and you to us. Thank you, dear friend!

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    1. Shady: I can remember when hearing her and her friend tell us this story being horrified they were hitchhiking. But she always drilled into us that what was safe then was NOT safe anymore. I always loved hearing them tell it, especially together.

      Have a wonderful week, my friend, and thank you for stopping by!

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  3. I really love that last line!!

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    1. Fida: The older I get, the stronger its truth is to me. Thank you for stopping by!

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  4. The unfair stereotype of the wealthy as being unkind is very pervasive. Greed and self preservation are not the way to have abundance flow into a person's life, and your story shows that truth. The teaching legacy in your family is a sacred strand of gold, connecting generations in a spiritual way. Grandma Bess' lesson on being remembered more for kindness is wonderful. I'm going to pass that on to my children today:)

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    1. Jenny: It's not often we think of the wealthy as being unfairly stereotyped, but this is certainly a case of it. I'm so glad they got to meet her and experience her kindness for themselves. I feel blessed that there are so many teachers in my family, and although my chapter in it has now ended with my retirement last week, I will always cherish that part of me. I'm also blessed in that I have friends who are gifted teachers, like you, my friend. Thank you for that!

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  5. Beautiful story! It's true that you will be remembered for your acts of kindness rather than for the money you have accumulated.

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    1. Sherry: Thank you! And yes, it is a wonderful truth~

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  6. Hi there Shelly. I think this is the first week of your retirement. How are you feeling my friend?! I hope you will have a very fulfilled retirement and perhaps try things that you have wanted to do but never had the time! I love it when you weave stories about the 'old' days like this one. Your words really do bring the whole story to life so vividly. Funny reading Shady's comment, but when I was a little girl, we always used to go out for a drive on a Sunday! Gosh, we were so easily pleased in those days! What wise words from your grandma and her friend that we will be remembered much more for our kindness than our wealth. So your grandma was a teacher as well. Do you come from a long line of teachers?! I really enjoyed this post today.

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    1. thisisme: Yes, My first week of retirement! It still hasn't sunk in yet, but it will! I can remember the older folks in my family going out for Sunday drives, long ones. It didn't extend down into my generation, but if gas wasn't so expensive, we'd be doing it.

      Yes, I have teachers, principals, superintendents, coaches, etc. all through my family. It was almost a fate I couldn't escape! Thank you for you always very kind words, my friend. I hope the sun is finding you and your beautiful garden regularly!

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  7. Your final sentence really sums up the blogfest. I'm so glad you're participating. I'd love to see you post more frequently. I love your writing so much.

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. Janie: It's so true that kindness will last much longer than money ever will. Thank you for your sweet words. I do hope to be able to post more than a few times a month, but I hope I can think of more topics!

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  8. Just proves actions DO speak louder than words!! Beautifully written!

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    1. Saimi: Amen to that! They certainly do~

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  9. What an awesome post! She changed their lives--and *I* will never forget her kindness either :)
    Thanks for being part of this.

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    1. Elisa: Thank you- kindness will last longer than anything made of silver or gold. Thank you so much for bringing this wonderful blogfest to life!

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  10. Oh Shelly, this is so true. If only more people realized that. I have been privileged to know some of the kindest people who happened to be very wealthy, but used and continue to use their wealth to share with others.
    A beautiful story and think about what Jesus said about a cup of cold water given to the least of His. Mrs. King, Bess and Ebbie were all blessed. I love that Bess and Ebbie's very specific prayer was answered far and above what they prayed.

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    1. Nonnie: Yes, their prayers were answered beyond what they expected, and that was always a big thing my grandma highlighted when she told it. So true- we never know what an impact our cup of cold water will have on someone else, or for how many generations. Thank you, my friend- God is faithful!

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  11. Hello Shelly, I'm so happy to meet you! Came here through the blogfest and loved this story so much I had to follow you!

    Thanks for sharing your grandmother's tale of kindness with us- you relayed it beautifully!

    Happy Memorial Day!
    Beverly

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    1. Beverly: Thank you for your kind words and for stopping by! I'm headed over to your place now~

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  12. Another great family story, Shelly. It's so neat that you could hear this straight from your grandmother and her friend. The world has changed so much since the twenties; it's very interesting to read true stories from that time. Your grandma sounds a lot like you in outlook as well as profession -- I like how she and her friend ended the story!

    I hope you have a chance to blog more often, as well, once you catch your breath from the whirlwind which was undoubtedly the prelude to your retirement.

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    1. jenny_o: It is SUCH a different world. Both of them were 17, fresh out of high school, when they started teaching. That was back in the day before you had to have a degree, although they both went on to get their master's degrees. Thank you for your kind words- I do hope to blog a little more often than the three or four times a month I do now. Still hard to believe I'm retired!

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  13. Another beautiful story from the pen (or keys) of Shelly. Thanks for sharing it!

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    1. Linda: It was a pleasure to tell it for them!

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  14. What a beautiful story that ended with the wisdom your Grandma gained from her life. It's so great to have known one's grandparents and listened to their stories. I was fortunate that way too.

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    1. Inger: Having grandparents who are such a part of your life when you are young is indeed one of life's great treasures. Thank you for stopping by- I'm headed over to your place~

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  15. Wonderful account of your grandmother's early years; and a lesson in kindness. A quarter-century earlier than this tale's setting, my grandmother walked four miles each day across Clinch Mountain to teach school. She never met anyone rich, but she met her future husband and my grandfather-to-be. I am blessed, too.

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    1. vanilla: Do you have any posts about your grandmother's times in teaching? I'd love to hear of her crossing Clinch Mountain each day- makes me appreciate my car! Love how she met your grandfather to be~

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    2. Shelly, story is not so much about her teaching experiences, but four years ago I posted a sketch of Grandma's life. http://vanilla-ststt.blogspot.com/2009/07/grandmas-birthday.html
      In 1988 I had the privilege of walking through the abandoned schoolhouse where she taught. I believe it has collapsed in on itself now.

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    3. Oh. I just pulled that story up and noted that you have already read it.

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    4. vanilla: That would be a fascinating post if you were to ever write about her early days~

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    5. And I'm still going to go back and re-read it~

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  16. isn't it true, that we much more recall a kindness than some monetary gift. Wonderful story of your grandmother's early days. As always, Shelly, engagingly told.

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    1. Marsha: Kindness sticks deeper and impacts harder than anything material. Thank you!

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  17. Grandma knows best and she has a heart of gold too!

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    1. M.J.: Yes, she did! Headed over to your place-

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  18. It is wonderful to hear about a kind and helpful person who is wealthy. It is true that we rarely forget the kindnesses of others and that is the best way to be remembered.

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    1. Belle: Yes, and it makes me want to get busy doing more acts of kindness. What a great way to live a life~

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  19. Such a simple time with timeless values. Another well- told tale. Thanks. I always look forward to your posts.

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    1. Stephen: As I get older, I believe more and more strongly that simple is better. And thank you!

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  20. Dearest Shelly,
    What a wonderful experience your grandmother had and how marvelously-written☆☆☆ Do you know what I did p;) I checked about the lady "Henrietta King" and the car "Pierce- Arrow" with pc!!! Oh, I could see "The Queen of the King Ranch" pictures and read a bit about her. She sure was a daughter of the missionary and I'm really impressed by the way you expressed about her. "Her acumen and largesse were legendary"♪ It happened 1924 (I learned she died 1925). My husband wished to see the old model of the car (haha, difference of the interest).
    "You'll be more remembered for your kindness than for your wealth." I'll keep your wonderful words in my mind as well, my friend. Thank you very much for sharing the wonderful story with us♡♡♡

    Sending you lots of love and hugs from Japan, xoxo Miyako*

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    1. So sorry, "your grandmother's words"(^^;)
      Heading to father's. Haha, wrote in haste, my friend...

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    2. Miyako: Thank you, my dear friend! Henrietta King was a remarkable woman in many ways, and her influence is still felt in my town, all these years later. I'm glad you got to see the pictures. Her husband died in middle age and she wore black from head to toe for the rest of her long life. And wasn't that car a beauty? I would love to ride in one myself some day. I'm glad your husband got to see it, too.

      Thank you, friend, for your always kind words. I hope you are having a wonderful weekend in Japan~
      xo

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    3. And no worries on the correction!

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  21. Dear Shelly, what a wonderful story about a chance meeting that stayed through time in your grandmother Bess's and Ebbie's hearts and minds. They left you not only the legacy of this act of kindness on Mrs. King's part but also the legacy of words--"You'll be more remembered for your kindness than for your wealth"--that you can hold in your own heart and mind as you touch all our lives. Peace.

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    1. Dee: I love how one simple act of kindness still resonates not just years, but generations later. We have such power within each of us to do great good. It is my prayer that more people, including myself, step into it. We never know what little thing we do will bring such lasting good.

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  22. What a wonderful story. Your grandmother's experience left her with something special to teach others -- "You'll be more remembered for your kindness than for your wealth."

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    1. Bames Pabla: I love those lessons like that. And thank you for stopping by! I'm headed over to your blog-

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  23. What a fun story! I'll bet your grandma is very proud of you and the teacher that you were. Congrats on your retirement!!

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    1. Felt Family: She passed away after my second year of teaching, so I'm very happy that she knew me as a teacher, too. Thank you!

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  24. This is my kind of story and my sort of act of kindness :) Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Stephanie: We never know when one small act is going to be remembered for generations~

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    1. Theresa: If you've gotta hitchhike, that's the way to do it!

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  26. Happy retirement, lady!
    Not only was that a wonderful story, but it is such a treasure that your grandma and Ebbie shared it with you and imparted their wisdom, too. :)

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    1. Rita: Thank you! I'm already loving retirement, all two days of it so far! And thank you- I've always loved their lessons~

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  27. What a wonderful story! And how fun to learn that this really happened to your grandma! Btw, I have never known that hitchhiking was at one time safe and acceptable mode of transportation!

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    1. Maria: It's horrifying to think of now, but I think up into the 40's it wasn't considered as dangerous as it is now. Makes me thankful for my car!

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  28. This was wonderful Shelly!!! A fine tribute to your grandmother...AND Mrs. King. Long live the story in memory and type. You did a marvelous job.

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    1. HOOTIN ANNI: I would have loved to have met Mrs. King. She had to have been a saint to be married to Captain King! And thank you for your kind words. Those were some wonderful women-

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  29. yup..times have changed! People also kept their doors unlocked and children roamed free.

    hitching..now..never.

    Love this story.

    Kindness and love. Makes the world go around!

    Keep us informed on what you will do with your time?!
    read, travel, cook, just hang and relax!??

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    1. She's traveling to Minnesota, right?

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    2. Christine: Hitching- never! It's amazing to me how accepted it was way back then. I still have relatives here who don't lock the doors to their houses, ever.

      As far as my time, I think this summer I am going to be painting some rooms in the house and doing some landscaping. Then we'll see! A new adventure!

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    3. Jamie: Oh, now what a trip that would be!

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  30. Oh, what a beautiful story. I especially love that last line. How very hard to be humble and nice when wealthy. Now, was your grandma Bess as good of a story teller as you?

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    1. Jamie: She was a great story teller, and still one of the kindest people I've ever known. She taught first grade for 47(!) years and people older than me still tell me of the memories they have of her.

      Kindness truly is eternal~

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  31. wow!! love the story and the story behind it!

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    1. Annmarie: I never get tired of stories about kindness!

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  32. Interesting story. And inspiring too.

    Nas

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  33. There is much good in the world, then and now.

    :-)

    Pearl

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    1. Pearl: I love to think about that. It gives me peace.

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  34. Kindness is remembered and worth the effort. :)

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  35. What a great story.........and being remembered for being kind is what I hope I am remembered for

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    1. Jo-Anne: I think you are already well on your way~

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  36. What a wonderful story. I consider it a win if I put on a little makeup to drive two miles to the grocery store, and Bess did her hair and makeup to walk ten miles into town? Hitchhiking wasn't the only thing that was different back then!

    I love the message of simple kindness. The little things really are the big things.

    Congratulations again on your retirement!

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    1. Amy: It was such a different time then. It really does make me more thankful for the things I take for granted, like an air conditioned car! And thank you foe the good wishes- I'm already loving it!

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  37. I will have to come back and read your post as my brain does not retain long paragraphs. I am working at this. There was a time I used to read big fat books and then after having kids I stopped reading as I was busy raising them. Now that I want to read again, I am having a problem with treading long written work. Your blogs are beautiful and your stories are very touching. Thanks for writing and sharing.

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  38. Minor: No worries, my friend! That you would take he time to stop by anyway and leave such a sweet comment really touches my heart. Thank you!

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  39. I've said it before, but I just love your stories. I get very excited when I see a post from you. It's like I'm a little kid sitting on the rug at story time. This was a beautiful little story with a lovely message.

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  40. Karen: Thank you for your very kind words! I'm glad this story is still being thought of today. I think all three if those ladies would be very pleased.

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  41. You're a beautiful story-teller. I hope you don't stop sharing your gift.

    Blessings to you and yours...

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  42. Janette Dolores: What kind words! Thanks and blessings to you, my friend-

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  43. What an inspiration she was, that's a beautiful story.

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  44. Julie: I love to think of them at that time. My grandma and her friend were only 17 then, before you needed a degree to teach, and they remembered it forever.

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  45. What a wonderful story. I love the way you've retold it too. Xx

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  46. Michelle: They were some terrific women. Thank you!

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  47. That was wonderful. I love historic fiction. Your voice pulled me in and made me want more. :)

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  48. Sharon: Thank you! I love history and grew up knowing this from my grandma. Nothing like hearing it first hand!

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  49. What a wonderful thing for me to read this morning - it gave me a wonderful start to the day. Thank you Shelly :)

    This was VERY inspirational!!

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  50. Optimistic Existentialist: Kindness is a wonderful thing to think about first thing in the morning. Thank you!

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  51. Great note. Optimistic :)
      Yours.

    + Please visit our blogs. :)

    "Everyone needs to dissolve the mean time, not only in words."

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  52. That was a great experience and story. It had a little of everything. It was inspirational, uplifting, humorous and of course, well written. LOVED it.

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  53. Pat: I so enjoyed hearing it from my grandma and her friend. Thank you for your kind words about it!

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  54. I love your "Grandma" stories! Is she still alive? I can tell that you absolutely adored and respected her.

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    1. Anita: I was so blessed to have the grandparents I did- adored them all! And this one passed away about 25 years ago. Still miss her~

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  55. what a wonderful story to share, and so very true. My grammy would often tell me stories of her childhood and it always mesmerized me. Thanks for sharing this. :D

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    1. Cathy: I think grandma stories are just the best a child can hear. I am so glad you had them in your life, too!

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