Food and money were still extremely scarce
and bartering was used, extensively.
One particular day Mr. Miller was bagging some
early potatoes for me. I noticed a small boy, delicate of bone and feature,
ragged but clean, hungrily apprising a basket of freshly picked green peas.
I paid for my potatoes but was also drawn to the display of fresh green
peas. I am a pushover for creamed peas and new potatoes. Pondering
the peas, I couldn't help overhearing the conversation between Mr. Miller
and the ragged boy next to me.
"Hello Barry, how are you today?"
"H'lo, Mr. Miller. Fine, thank ya. Jus' admirin'
them peas ......sure look good."
"They are good, Barry. How's your Ma?"
"Fine. Gittin' stronger alla' time."
"Good. Anything I can help you with?"
"No, Sir. Jus' admirin' them peas."
"Would you like to take some home?"
"No, Sir. Got nuthin' to pay for 'em with."
"Well, what have you to trade me for some of those
"All I got's my prize marble here."
"Is that right? Let me see it."
"Here 'tis. She's a dandy."
"I can see that. Hmmmm, only thing is this one
is blue and I sort of go for red. Do you have a red one like this at home?"
"Not 'zackley .....but, almost."
"Tell you what. Take this sack of peas home with
you and next trip this way let me look at that red marble."
"Sure will. Thanks, Mr. Miller."
Mrs. Miller, who had been standing nearby, came
over to help me. With a smile she said: "There are two other boys like
him in our community, all three are in very poor circumstances. Jim
just loves to bargain with them for peas, apples, tomatoes or whatever.
When they come back with their red marbles, and they always do, he decides
he doesn't like red after all and he sends them home with a bag of produce
for a green marble or an orange one, perhaps."
I left the stand, smiling to myself, impressed
with this man.
A short time later I moved to Utah but I never
forgot the story of this man, the boys and their bartering. Several
years went by each more rapid than the previous one. Just recently I had
occasion to visit some old friends in that Idaho community and while I
was there learned that Mr. Miller had died.
They were having his viewing that evening and
knowing my friends wanted to go, I agreed to accompany them. Upon our arrival
at the mortuary we fell into line to meet the relatives of the deceased
and to offer whatever words of comfort we could. Ahead of us in line were
three young men. One was in an army uniform and the other two wore nice
haircuts, dark suits and white shirts ...very professional looking.
They approached Mrs. Miller, standing smiling
and composed, by her husband's casket. Each of the young men hugged her,
kissed her on the cheek, spoke briefly with her and moved on to the casket.
Her misty light blue eyes followed them as, one by one, each young man
stopped briefly and placed his own warm hand over the cold pale hand in
the casket. Each left the mortuary, awkwardly, wiping his eyes.
Our turn came to meet Mrs. Miller. I told her
who I was and mentioned the story she had told me about the marbles. Eyes
glistening she took my hand and led me to the casket.
"Those three young men, that just left, were the
boys I told you about. They just told me how they appreciated the things
Jim 'traded' them. Now, at last, when Jim could not change his mind about
color or size... they came to pay their debt. We've never had a great
deal of the wealth of this world, but, right now, Jim would consider himself
the richest man in Idaho."
With loving gentleness she lifted the lifeless
fingers of her deceased husband. Resting underneath were three, magnificently
shiny, red marbles.
Moral: We will not be remembered
by our words, but by our kind deeds.
Check out NumbersUSA.org
H. Limbaugh Jr Speech - "Our lives, our fortunes, our sacred honor"