A lady in a faded gingham dress and her husband,dressed in a homespun
threadbare suit, stepped off the train in Boston, and walked timidly
without an appointment into the outer office of the President of Harvard
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. She frowned. "We want to see the president," the man
softly. "He'll be busy all day," the secretary snapped.
"We'll wait," the
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 to do. "Maybe if they just see you
for a few minutes, they'll leave," she told him. And he signed in
and nodded. Someone of his importance obviously didn't have the time to
spend with them, but he detested gingham dresses and homespun suits
cluttering up his outer office.
The president, stern-faced with dignity, strutted toward the couple. The
lady told him, "We had a son that attended Harvard for one year. He
Harvard. He was happy here. But about a year ago, he was accidentally
killed. And 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 plant at Harvard."
For a moment the lady was silent. The president was pleased. He could get
rid of them now. And 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.
And Mr. and Mrs. Leland Stanford walked away, traveling to Palo Alto,
California, where they established the University that bears their name, a
memorial to a son that Harvard no longer cared about.
Today Stanford University is the Best in the World in Technical Education.
BETTER than The BEST.
Sometimes first impressions are wrong. Someone might look like a chunk of
gold, and quickly rust. Or we might turn away someone with drive,loyalty,
ambition, determination, etc. We hear that what goes around,comes around.
Just in case that might actually be true and in case you have ever felt
under appreciated, then you might consider taking advantage of the next
opportunity to look a little deeper for the goodness in others.