Forest City Courier, May 26, 1938
Blessings on thee, little man,
Barefoot boy, with cheek of tan!
With thy turned-up pantaloons,
And thy merry whistled tunes.
Let the million-dollar ride!
Barefoot, trudging at his side,
Thou hast more than he can buy,
In the reach of ear and eye
Outward sunshine, inward joy;
Blessings on thee, barefoot boy!
—John Greenleaf Whittier
This portion of Whittier’s immortal poem, “The Barefoot Boy,” brings to our mind a picture of a boy trudging down a dusty road wearing a ragged straw hat, overalls, and carrying a fishing pole. His face and hands are not any to clean but in his eyes is the joy of anticipation, for he is on his way to a stream which abounds in fish of various sizes. Before he left home he told his mother she could count on fish for supper. A few hours later, he returns, his face beaming, proudly displaying a few cat-fish on the end of a string. Perhaps mother, worries while he is away, but the happy look on his face more than compensates for her worry. A fisherman may fish for food; his is a vocation, but to a young boy it is a game. He loves the rush of the brook, the stillness of a lake, the excitement of the catch, to test his skill against that of the fish. When our school closed a few weeks ago we wondered what we would do with our young son to keep him busy and satisfied through the summer’s vacation. So far, all the entertainment he has needed has been a fishing pole and a can of worms. Isaac Walton who wrote “The Compleat Angler,” expressed himself thus: We may say of angling as Dr. Boteler said of strawberries. “Doubtless God could have made a better berry, but doubtless God never did; and if I might be judge, God never did make a more calm, quiet, innocent recreation than angling.”
Cheer is a great tonic. Who is more popular than the person who radiates cheer? It is the official advertisement of health and happiness. The Bible says, “Be of good cheer” and “A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance.” Cheer is also the enemy of worry. This is proved by the fact that no two objects can occupy the same space at the same time. If we are occupied with cheerful helpful thoughts, we naturally have no room or time for depressing thoughts. Confucius, the Chinese philosopher, said, “Do not do any act to another, that you would not like another to do to you,” and later on Christ uttered the same thought in a more positive form which we know as the Golden Rule. What great world this would be if everyone would abide by this great rule. Kindness brings happiness. There is nothing we can invest in that will bring greater and more satisfactory dividends than kindness.
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Recently I read an interesting description of the mocking bird. His reputation as a musician worldwide and whoever hears his song is deeply impressed. He is one of the first in the spring to sing, and besides his native song he has the wonderful power of acquiring by practice the notes of other birds he hears. He imitates the songs of the robin, and the wren. Their nests are variously situated in small trees, brush heaps, briers, fence corners, etc., and if they are destroyed, they immediately begin building a new one. If kindly treated he will often become very trustful, and if you are so fortunate as to have trees and shrubbery about your house, he will sometimes perch in your doorway.
Reprinted with permission from The Daily Courier. Copyright owned by The Daily Courier.