Don Lambert worked at a small newspaper in Kansas nearly 50 years ago when an example of goodness on Christmas Eve appeared on the cover. He submitted the story to GNN, saying, “You have a message that is important to us every day. Goodness is all around us. “
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Here is Don’s memory of the events of December 24, 1973.
I was a puppy reporter at the time; He was not yet experienced enough to have learned that an act of kindness, large or small, is sometimes found in the most unlikely places and at the most necessary moments.
On Christmas Eve, ‘The Boss’ had made this deal. If we all finished our work early, he would put the newspaper “to sleep” a few hours earlier, giving us employees a few extra hours to be with our families.
Since I received a police beating, my main task was to register with the local police department to find out if there had been a crime, such as a bank robbery or a jailbreak, to inform the public.
“No, nothing here,” said the police chief, anticipating my first question, adding with a smile, “It’s too cold for local criminals.”
As he did every morning, he handed me the police notebook, a handwritten list of calls made to the police department. With my finger, I lowered the list. Mostly insignificantly, as always. However, there was one entrance that caught my eye from the north side, the poor part of the city. A husband called to report that his family’s clothes had been stolen.
How terrible, I thought, especially on this day. The next day, an entry from the same man, reporting that all of his clothes had been found. He had a feeling there might be a story there. I asked the officer, “Do you know the scoop?”
“Nope,” he replied. “In that neighborhood, you never know.”
I got into my Volkswagen Beetle and headed straight into the neighborhood in search of the crime scene. With a notebook in one hand and a pencil in the other, I knocked on the door.
I said I was hoping to write a story about your “incident”. She was carrying a baby in her arms, two small children were hiding behind her skirt.
He explained that this had not been a good time for his family. Her husband had been ill and lost his job. Getting ready for Christmas, she washed all her clothes. The dryer was broken again, the owner had not been able to fix it. I could have taken the wet clothes to the laundry on the other side of town. “But,” he whispered, “that costs money.” Instead, he hung them on the clothesline behind the house.
When he checked a short time later, he found that all the clothes were missing. Stolen! It was then that he called the police for the first time. A couple of hours later, someone knocked on his door. When he got there, no one was there. Instead, there was a large cardboard box at the front door. In it were all the clothes: dry, ironed and folded. And there was a note: “I wish we could do more. Merry Christmas.”
Arriving at the newspaper office, I screamed for the first and only time in my career: “Hold the press!”
“This better be good,” growled the Chief.
“Since your story is late,” said the grumpy person, “the best I can do is try to get it on page 7.”
“Page 7,” I squealed. The obituary page? No way! “I insisted:” My Christmas story continues on page 1, and put it at the top. “
My last minute story had set everything back by about an hour. By the time the press was heating up, the transportation guys were arriving, some with shiny new Schwinn bikes, others with used items. Each boy folded about a hundred newspapers and stuffed them in a canvas bag over his shoulder, to be tossed onto the waiting front porches.
When printing began, The Boss and I were the only remaining staff members. He got the first one from the press. There it was, My Christmas Story on page 1, above the fold.
“Good job,” The Boss said with a rare smile and an even weirder pat on the back. “Thanks to your story, the whole town will have a better Christmas, me too.”
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