David Bruce: Good Deeds Anecdotes

People respected the dancer/ choreographer Katherine Dunham. In Paris, France, the luggage of her dance troupe was not released to them because workers on strike in the port of Cherbourg were using it to block a road. However, when the workers learned that the luggage belonged to Ms. Dunham and her dance troupe, they immediately sent the luggage to Paris. Ms. Dunham did her own good deeds: She fought prejudice. So did her parents. Her father was dark, and her mother was light. They bought a house in a mostly white suburb of Glen Ellyn, Illinois. Her father worked hard to improve the house, and neighbors thought that he was working for a white family. When they learned the truth, someone planted a bomb on the Dunham property. When the bomb went off, it shattered windows. Her father stayed up nights for a while with a gun in his hands, and no more bombings occurred. When Katherine was in high school, she objected to some songs that depicted black people as lazy and that the music teacher made students sing. She told her mother, who complained to school officials, and thereafter the students no longer had to sing the racist songs. As an adult, Katherine once performed with her dance troupe in Lexington, Kentucky, in front of a segregated audience. She told the audience exactly what she thought about segregation, and the following week, singer Marian Anderson performed in Lexington in front of an integrated audience. Katherine and her dance troupe performed in many places in the United States, but major hotels would not allow African-Americans to stay in the hotels’ rooms. Katherine filed — and won — lawsuits against some of the hotels. She also once filed suit against a major hotel in Sao Paulo, Brazil, that would not allow her and her dancers to rent rooms to stay in. Because of the lawsuit, Brazilian politicians passed an anti-discrimination bill. By the way, Katherine also painted, but her painting did not win the same respect that her dancing and choreography did. A critic in Milan, Italy, once described one of her paintings as “globs of strawberry jam.” Such criticism did not bother her.

In December 2013, Kalen Stimpson, a senior at Cedar Hill High School in Cedar Hill, Texas, lost her pink wallet. It contained a paycheck debit card with over $300 on it and such sentimental items as a $2 bill, a gift about which Ms. Stimpson said, “I got it on my 14th birthday and I haven’t spent it. I just keep it.” When she realized that she had lost her wallet, she worried about Christmas: “I was like, ‘Oh! I can’t get anybody Christmas gifts. I can’t because all my money was in there. I don’t know how I’m going to get my parents, or friends or anybody anything.’ I was just really upset about it.” Kewpie Steward, a senior at Ferris High School in Ferris, Texas, found the wallet. She said, “I was just going with my boyfriend to get his hair cut and I dropped him off and parked the car. It [the wallet] was just lying right by my door.” Ms. Stewart spent $6 of her own money to return the wallet, mailing it — and a note — to an address she found inside the wallet. She said, “I looked at her birthday and said, ‘Hey, she’s a month younger than me! Man, I know how she’s feeling.” Ms. Stimpson said, “I wish I could just grab her right now and hug her because she really went out of her way.” Ms. Stimpson’s mother wrote about the good deed on Facebook.

Ed McMahon knew a very wealthy man named Dan Kelly who often talked to waitresses about their children. One meal, he found out that a waitress named Ruth had a son who needed an operation. The next morning, Mr. Kelly told his secretary to “check on Ruthie’s son. Find out what the operation is, how much it will cost, and follow through.” “Follow through” meant “Make sure that I am the one who pays the bills for the operation and hospital stay.” Mr. Kelly’s mother lived alone in her own apartment. Of course, he often saw her, but each morning he would drive by her apartment, where he knew that she was looking out the window for his car, and he would honk his car horn. Mr. McMahon said, “There are all kinds of ways of telling your mother you care, beyond gifts and financial aid. That personal little fly-by and honk on the horn meant more to Mrs. Kelly than all the flowers and other attentions he lavished on her. It was something no one else did for any mother she knew.”

When three boys — Jason Burgess, age 10; Malachi Shelton, age 10; and LaMont Kirkesy, age seven — found a box containing $100 while they were playing in a park in Warren, Michigan, they made sure to give the money and box to a responsible adult: Carol Fame, Jason’s grandmother. She found a $10 check that was made out to the nearby First Church of Jesus Christ and returned the money, check, and donation box to the church, which will use the money for its Christmas service. In December 2013, Warren Mayor Jim Fouts gave the three boys mayoral resolutions at city hall to celebrate their honesty. Mayor Fouts said, “What a wonderful Christmas gift you have given to all of the young people in the metro area. And that is you serve as models of honesty and integrity.” Ms. Fame said, “It’s amazing. All the attention these three are getting shows that doing good things, you know, they get rewarded for it. So that’s pretty awesome.”

On 23 December 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada, Yellow Checker Star Cab Company taxi driver Gerardo Gamboa found a brown paper bag containing $300,000 that a gambler had left behind. He turned the money in to the cab company; police located the gambler and returned the money to him. The gambler then rewarded Mr. Gamboa with $10,000. Yellow Checker Star Cab Company awarded Mr. Gamboa an additional $1,000, gave him a gift certificate to a Las Vegas steakhouse, and named him Employee of the Year.

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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