Friday, December 10, 2010

Doing The Right Thing...!

The generation of our parents and grand parents was of a completely different mind set about things.

They, for the most part, seem to automatically know the difference between right and wrong! They didn't question whether or not something was the "right thing to do", but in most cases...they just did it!

Theirs was a time of deals sealed with a hand shake, a man being as good as his word, and promises made meant promises kept! One reason it was a simpler time was the fact that peoples attitudes were so different! Peoples standards were higher and their morals were set at a different level than today!

At least, that's the way I see it! But then again, that is just my opinion!

Here is a story of the kind of person so prevalent in those days...the days of the "Greatest Generation"!

Widow offers to pay fine for library book overdue 74 years

By Anita Creamer
Published: Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2010 - 12:00 am | Page 1A

For 95-year-old Hazel Severson, the decision was straightforward. The book didn't belong to her, so she needed to return it.

"It was the library's book," she said. "I wanted to get it back to them."

So what if the book – "Seaplane Solo," Sir Francis Chichester's autobiographical account of his 1930 solo flight across the Tasman Sea – was 74 years overdue from the public library in Amador County? To Severson, returning the book was the right thing to do, period.

With the help of her longtime South Land Park neighbors, Jim and Laurie Gibson, she turned the book over to Amador County librarian Laura Einstadter on Oct. 13.

She even offered to pay an overdue fee of $2,701, or 10 cents a day, which the library refused to accept.

"I don't want people to think we'd make her pay," said Einstadter. "We were happy to have the book back. It's lovely that she and the neighbors cared enough."

When people worry that older Americans' solid sense of values is vanishing from American life along with their generation, maybe this is part of what they mean: Hazel Severson's unwavering grasp of right and wrong and her strong sense of obligation.

"This is a very typical example of what the Greatest Generation did and still does," said Eskaton Vice President Lynette Tidwell.

Top among the values that demographers widely ascribe to these older Americans are dedication, hard work, sacrifice and conforming to the rules. As Tidwell notes, members of this generation have also tended to put the public good ahead of their personal interest.

Because they had to.

"They took care of each other," she said, "because they lived through the Depression and World War II."

In contrast, San Diego State University researchers say that as the "Greatest Generation" fades away, Americans' personality traits have shifted toward self-involvement and narcissism.

It's hard to imagine Snookie and the Situation saving the world from the Nazis, after all. But perhaps that's putting matters unfairly.

"I wouldn't say people today don't know the difference between right and wrong," said Senior Center of Elk Grove President Pat Beal. "I'd say it's a matter of how they value their time."

Hazel Severson's sense of what's right landed her on "Good Day Sacramento" and made her a minor celebrity at the Merrill Gardens at Greenhaven assisted living facility, where she's lived since May 2008. People tease her she'll be on "Ellen" next.

She likes the attention, this lively, blue-eyed woman with a cap of white curls and a quick sense of humor.

Her late husband, Howard Severson, a Sacramento businessman and longtime aviator who died in 2006, checked "Seaplane Solo" out of the Amador County library in 1936.

He was 24 at the time, and he and Hazel Navlet, his Sacramento High School sweetheart, had only recently eloped to Carson City, Nev. They kept the marriage secret from their families for six months, until he could leave the used-car lot in Amador City where he was working and move to Sacramento to be with his bride.

Even the Greatest Generation had its moments of irresponsibility, when overdue books were forgotten amid the drama of young love and early marriage.

The first edition hardcover was forgotten, as well, in the passing of the years, until early 2010, when Laurie Gibson found it as she was packing up Hazel's belongings for a garage sale.

Consider the kindness of longtime neighbors: Howard Severson helped Jim Gibson, now 77, renovate his house after Gibson moved next door in the mid-1980s. Now Jim and Laurie, 79, take care of Hazel Severson's house in her absence.

"I really couldn't be without either one of them," said Severson.

And so Jim Gibson wrote to the Amador County librarian, telling her of the book's discovery and offering to pay a late fine. (The library accepted a small donation instead.)

"I just thought it was a great story," he said. "And it's a connection for Hazel with Howard."

It was also a chance to do what's right.

"I thought the library should have their book back," said Severson. "It made me feel good to do that for Howard."

All I can say is that I feel so lucky that so many of my friends follow along the same paths that were traveled by this great generation! I'm proud to say that the majority of the people I know, both on the web and off, are more likely to follow these same guidelines as not!

They will look you in the eye when they talk to you, shake your hand to seal a deal, and if they tell you something is the can bank on it being just that!

That is one of the main reasons I'm proud to call them FRIENDS!

Now, how about some fresh coffee in the kitchen? Proud to have you share my table, ya know?


chinasyndrome said...

Great story Jim! I still have some friends like that,very cool!


Kyddryn said...

Good stuff, Mister Hermit, sir.

I wouldn't say that my generation (several removed from the Greatest) has lost, forgotten, or set aside those same values...but we certainly have altered their appearance a bit. What we value is different because we've grown up in different times.

While I'll concede that many of us ARE conceited little block-heads, there are still one or two of us who will rally for a cause, to help a neighbor, to do what's right. We're no so good at conforming or toeing the line, though...much to the government's chagrine.

I wonder if that library will keep the book in circulation or sell it? Often, libraries will sell less popular books to make room for new releases...and I bet that one would fetch a pretty penny at auction!

Shade and Sweetwater,
K (who would probably have let the nice lady keep the book, with thanks for her honesty and conscientious efforts)

JoJo said...

Good Morning My Special One,
Great story. Yes that was the greatest generation. I used to love to listen to my dad tell stories about growing up. They really had it tough. There wasn't any goverment hand outs, except for the ration stamps but you could only buy certian items as far as I can remember him telling it. To have a piece of fruit was like having a piece of gold. To always be truthfull was the big thing. I think I would have loved to live in that life time.
Pass the pot please I still have time to sit with my friends and enjoy more of this conversation.

HermitJim said...

Hey China...
I say that if we have even a few friends like this, then we can count ourselves lucky!

Thanks, buddy, for coming by today!

Hey K...
I don't think that I have any friends that you could really say or "conformist"...and you are correct about that bunch driving the PTB crazy!

Ain't it fun?

Thanks, Little Mama, for coming by today!

Hey JoJo...
The reason their word was so good, it was the only thing that many of them had!

We are just lucky to have the circle of friends that we have now...and it's nice to know that they have our back!

Thanks, sweetie, for coming by today!

Anonymous said...

What a great story! To sad those kind of persons almost doesn´t exist any longer.

Today it´s all about ME ME ME and that is really sad to see.

Have a great day now!

Dizzy-Dick said...

Great story representing a great generation. They were a tough but loving bunch.

BTW, "ration stamps" mentioned above were used to make sure you ONLY bought what was described on them and only the quantity allowed. Nothing was "given" to them, just restricted. Got some in my collection.

2 Tramps said...

Sadly yes, so many of the next generations are all about "me". The first Christmas card that arrived here had no personal message, not even a hand written signature - just pictures of the young couple enjoying a trip to Europe.

Now, I need to get to town and pay my library fine - but first I will have some coffee with you!

f said...

I'm feeling awfully grouchy today - so, as I was told, I'll keep my mouth shut - though a fresh coffee would be much appreciated...

Anonymous said...

It is extremely rare to find these qualities in today's generation, mores the pity. We could do with a heap more of that.