Sunday, April 22, 2018

Malcolm Forbes

March 31, 2010 by  
Filed under Nuggets

A TRUE STORY

By Malcolm  Forbes

THE  GINGHAM DRESS

A lady in a faded  gingham dress and her husband, dressed in a homespun threadbare  suit, stepped off the train in Bosto , and walked timidly without an appointment in to the Harvard University President’s outer office.

The secretary could tell in a moment that such backwoods, country hicks had no business at Harvard and probably didn’t even deserve to be in Cambridge.   ’We’d like to see the president,’ the man said softly. ‘He’ll be busy all day,’ the secretary snapped.  ’We’ll wait,’ the lady replied.

For  hours the secretary ignored them, hoping that the couple would  finally become discouraged and go away. They didn’t, and the secretary grew frustrated and finally decided to disturb the president, even though it was a chore she always regretted.

‘Maybe if you see them for  a few minutes, they’ll leave,’ she said to him!  He sighed in exasperation and nodded. Someone of his importance obviously didn’t have the time to spend with them, and he detested gingham dresses and homespun suits cluttering up his outer office. The president, stern faced and with dignity, strutted toward  the couple.

The lady told him, ‘We had a son who  attended Harvard for one year.  He  loved Harvard. He was happy here. But about a year ago, he was accidentally killed. My husband and I would like to erect a memorial to him, somewhere on campus.’

The president wasn’t touched. He was shocked. ‘Madam,’ he said,  gruffly,’we can’t put up a statue for every person who attended  Harvard and died. If we did, this place would look like a  cemetery.’

‘Oh, no,’ the lady explained quickly. ‘We don’t want to erect a statue. We thought  we would like to give a building to Harvard.’

The president rolled his eyes. He glanced at the gingham dress and homespun suit, then exclaimed, ‘A building! Do you have any earthly idea how much a  building costs? We have over seven and a half million dollars in the physical buildings here at Harvard.’

For a moment the lady was silent. The president was pleased.  Maybe he could get rid of  them now.

The lady turned to her  husband and said quietly, ’Is that all it costs to start a university? Why don’t we just start our own?’  Her husband nodded. The president’s face wilted in confusion and bewilderment.

Mr. and  Mrs. Leland Stanford got up and walked away, traveling to Palo Alto, California where they established the university that  bears their name,  Stanford University, a memorial to a son that  Harvard no longer cared about.

You can  easily judge the character of others by how they treat those who they think can do nothing for them.

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