A Secret Gift: How One Man's Kindness--and a Trove of by Ted Gup

By Ted Gup

An inspiring account of the United States at its worst-and americans at their best-woven from the tales of melancholy period households who have been helped via presents from the author's beneficiant and secretive grandfather.

Shortly prior to Christmas 1933 in Depression-scarred Canton, Ohio, a small newspaper advert provided $10, no strings hooked up, to seventy five households in misery. readers have been requested to post letters describing their hardships to a benefactor calling himself Mr. B. Virdot. The author's grandfather Sam Stone used to be encouraged to put this advert and support his fellow Cantonians as they ready for the harshest Christmas such a lot of them might ever witness.

Moved via the stories of affliction and expressions of wish inside the letters, which he chanced on in a suitcase seventy five years later, Ted Gup at the beginning got down to unveil the lives in the back of them, looking for documents and relations all over the place the rustic who may aid him flesh out the family members sagas hinted at in these letters. From those assets, Gup has re-created the influence that Mr B. Virdot's reward had on each one kinfolk. many of us yearned for bread, coal, or different prerequisites, yet many others obtained funds from B. Virdot for extra fanciful goods - a toy horse, say, or a suite of encyclopaedias. As Gup's investigations published, some of these issues had the ability to show people's lives round - even to save lots of them.

But as he exposed the pain and triumphs of dozens of strangers, Gup additionally realized that Sam Stone was once way more advanced than the cute- retiree personality he'd continuously proven his grandson. Gup finds deeply buried information about Sam's lifestyles - from his impoverished, abusive upbringing to felonious efforts to conceal his immigrant origins from U.S. officers - that aid clarify why he felt this kind of robust affinity to strangers in want. Drawing on his distinct locate and his award-winning reportorial presents, Ted Gup solves a novel relatives secret even whereas he pulls away the veil of 8 many years that separate us from the hardships that united the US through the melancholy. In A mystery present, he weaves those revelations seamlessly right into a tapestry of melancholy period the USA, so one can fascinate and encourage in equivalent degree.

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Extra resources for A Secret Gift: How One Man's Kindness--and a Trove of Letters--Revealed the Hidden History of the Great Depression

Sample text

The price lists set up for “bespoke work” determined wages, and, to a very considerable extent, the functions of merchant, master, and journeyman were united in the same person. In such circumstances, masters and journeymen acted together to maintain the standards of their craft, uphold price lists, and generally protect themselves from unfair competition. There were occasions when journeymen protested against the controls exercised by masters in their capacity as employers. In occupations that did not bring them together in close and natural association, disputes sometimes arose that led to sporadic strikes and incipient labor revolt.

The extension of the franchise and the growing political awareness among workers caused the major political parties to appeal, as never before, directly for labor’s vote. Among the various local workingmen’s parties, the experience of the one organized in New York is at once most revealing of the influence they were temporarily able to exert and of the complicated factors that brought about their collapse. This party grew out of a meeting of “mechanics and others” that had been summoned on April 23, 1829, to protest against any lengthening in the prevailing tenhour day already won in that city by the early trade unions.

In comparison, the great demand for laborers on canals and turnpikes and in the construction of buildings and on other comparable projects had driven up the wages of day laborers from about $4 a week at the close of the Revolution to $7 a week and sometimes more. When they were fed and lodged, their actual pay might amount to more than artisans and mechanics could command. An advertisement for men to work on the road being built from the Genesee River to Buffalo promised $12 a month, with food, lodging, and whiskey every day.

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