.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Free Citizen

This writer espouses individual liberty, free markets, and limited government.

Location: Jackson, Mississippi, United States

Friday, April 29, 2005

Secret Santa Returns to Mississippi

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Every Christmas since 1979, the city's "Secret Santa" has wandered the streets handing cash to those who seem in need.

He was giving out cash on Thursday to people standing on street corners, waiting for buses, shopping in grocery stores, buying gas.

Now a successful businessman, he went to Nick and Betty's Cafe, where Nick used to let him run a tab when times weren't so good. He gave waitress Kim Hoy $300 - one bill for her, and one for each of her children.

"I can't handle this," Hoy said through tears. "This is the first Christmas without my mom. I wasn't looking forward to it."

The man says he usually gives away $50,000, and estimated he was dispensing about $85,000 this year. He keeps his identity secret, in the custom of a "Secret Santa."

"I don't even know that man," said 69-year-old Jerry Brooks, who received $100 as he shopped for a scarf in a thrift store. "I can't believe that. I don't know where he came from, but if he doesn't live to be 500, I'll eat my hat."

As the man continued his tradition this year [1999], he paused to remember why it began.

It was 1971 in Houston, Miss. He was homeless and hungry, and the owner of the Dixie Diner bought him breakfast while saving his dignity.

The man had been working as a salesman for a small company that suddenly went out of business. Left without a paycheck, he lived in his car for eight days until running out of gas and food.

Desperate, he walked into Ted Horn's diner, ordered a big breakfast and tried to think of a way to get away without paying.

Horn, who was his own cook, waiter and cashier, took note of the man's plight. He walked behind the man, reached down as if he'd dropped something and handed him $20.

The man ran as fast as he could, pushed his car to the gas station and got out of town.

On the road, though, he thought about what Horn had done.

This year, he asked a friend to help him find Horn, and went back down to Houston.

He walked into Horn's home to find him holding a magazine article about Kansas City's "Secret Santa." Horn, 81, knew the man in the article was the person he'd helped many years ago.

"I'm that guy who was there 28 years ago," the man said. Horn nodded.

He asked Horn what he thought that $20 bill was worth today.

"Probably like $10,000," Horn said.

A good number, the man said, and handed him an envelope. Inside was $10,000.

"Good God," whispered Horn, who is caring for a wife with Alzheimer's disease after battling cancer and other ailments.

David Horn, his son, was astounded.

"For this man to come down and do this for my father - it's almost more than we can bear," he said.

The man and Horn then went downtown and had lunch, and soon, his giving ways began again. Waitresses and cooks cried out in joy.

Then he went to a laundry, to a drive-in, to the barber cutting hair where Horn's diner used to be, leaving a trail of cash everywhere.


Cash flows on Secret Santa's annual rounds
By DONNA McGUIRE - The Kansas City Star
December 21, 2000

Amanda Green went to work Thursday at a Liberty gas and convenience store, fretting about her landlord's plans to evict her and her two children.

She had just charged a customer 52 cents for hot chocolate when a jolly man in a red flannel shirt darted inside her Conoco store on Missouri 152.

"I had $15 in gas," said the man, who thrust a $100 bill toward Green. "Why don't you keep the change."

"You're not serious," Green replied as the man headed for the door.

"Sir!" she yelled, waving his $85 above her head.

"Keep it," the man said as he disappeared into the frigid winter air.

Tears welled in Green's eyes. She stared after him and swallowed.

Another customer approached.

"You ready for Christmas?" the customer asked before sliding Green another $100. "Have a merry one."

"Oh, my gosh," Green said. "What is going on?

Green had just been helped by Secret Santa and one of his elves.

Secret Santa, a successful Jackson County businessman who wants to remain anonymous, began handing out holiday cash 21 years ago. It's his way of paying back a kindness he received in the early 1970s, when a Mississippi diner owner helped him out of a tough spot.

Before Thursday, Santa already had given away $7,000 this yuletide. He disbursed a few thousand more dollars Thursday and plans to give away more today and Saturday.

Green, who was late with her rent, feared her landlord was going to file an eviction notice Thursday. Although she was more than $400 behind on that payment, she had used some money to buy Christmas gifts for her two children, ages 8 and 6.

A few minutes after Santa and his elf left her store Thursday, the front door jingled again, and Jackson County Sheriff Tom Phillips stepped inside. Phillips often accompanies Secret Santa as he drives through Kansas City neighborhoods, looking for people who need a little Christmas cheer. This day, Santa was making a rare swing through Liberty, where he'd already visited a widow in her apartment, bought a $300 cola at a Sonic Drive-In and dished out $400 to people at a coin-operated laundry.

"Is it true you are in a little trouble?" Phillips asked Green, who nodded. Phillips handed her four more rolled-up bills.

"Merry Christmas," Phillips said before darting outdoors.

Green unrolled the money. Each bill had "100" printed on it. Green burst into sobs. Her hands shook so severely that she was unable to ring up the next purchase, so she asked a co-worker to help.

Handing out Ben Franklins has become a Secret Santa trademark, earning him the nickname "hundred-dollar-bill man."

"I get a whole lot more out of it than I give," Santa said on his lunch break. "I hope they don't pass a law against it."

Driving a salt-encrusted red "sleigh" through Kansas City, Independence, Liberty and Blue Springs, he watched for places frequented by the poor.

Inside a Liberty coin-operated laundry, a mother with a bandaged hand played Battleship with her 12-year-old son. Santa slipped each $100.

Another woman, Judy Libbert, thought the money was a joke. When she figured out it was real, she wanted to give Santa a hug. But he was already gone.

"There's a friend of mine who doesn't have a family to spend Christmas with," Libbert said. "I'm going to take her to lunch."

In Kansas City, a family of three received $300. "We couldn't ask for a better Christmas," the father, Corey Cornejo, said after giving his wife a kiss. "God bless him."

At a small diner, all customers and employees received $100 each.

"If you don't need it, give it to somebody else who does," Santa told them.

Waitress Donna Edwards clutched her chest. "I'm having a heart attack," said Edwards, who had planned to ask her boss for a loan Thursday so she could finish her Christmas shopping.

Near 17th and McGee streets, Santa spotted a man in a wheelchair who was pushing himself, backward, up the street with one foot. Santa handed him $400.

"I heard about this guy," said the man, Norman Anders, who receives $477 monthly in disability payments but has been staying at a homeless shelter. "I can get an apartment now. I'm going to stay off the street. Thank you from the bottom of my heart."

Secret Santa enjoys the season as much as young children enjoy it. He woke up excited Thursday at 4:12 a.m., nearly two hours before his alarm was to sound. So he got up and headed for the computer.

He wanted to do something special for his first "victim," Christina Thomas, whose husband died in a trench collapse in October. A month later, Thomas lost nearly everything in a house fire.

Friends at the Kansas City Fire Department had told Santa about Thomas. Santa decided to award her a certificate naming her a "John Tvedten Angel," in honor of the Kansas City battalion chief who died inside a burning building in 1999.

He invited three firefighters to join him for the visit. Inside Thomas' small Liberty apartment, the firefighters choked up as Santa read the certificate and told Thomas she had the "responsibility to pass on kindness to others in the same spirit it is given to you."

They had no idea Santa was going to do that.

Then Santa opened a white envelope and handed Thomas $5,000.

Her chin quivered. A tear rolled down her left cheek.

"This is overwhelming," she said as her 11-month-old son, Dakota, watched. "It will help me cope with everything that has happened.

"Thank you. Thank you so much."

To reach Donna McGuire, call (816) 234-4393 or send e-mail to dmcguire@kcstar.com


Alice Lowder-- homeless, bundled against frigid cold in a corduroy jacket, carrying all her possessions in two satchels and a sack-- met an angel Thursday.

Make that two angels. >>>Read more>>> http://www.kansascity.com/mld/kansascity/news/local/10488413.htm




Wednesday, December 22, 2004
Copyright © Las Vegas Review-Journal


Secret Santa gives thousands to Las Vegans


Shoppers and employees inside the Goodwill Industries outlet on West Sahara Avenue were a bit surprised Tuesday by the portly gentleman from Missouri who entered the store dressed in red while flanked by ex-FBI agents, pro football Hall-of-Famer Dick Butkus, the daughter of a Las Vegas casino developer and others.

When the self-described Secret Santa began handing out $100 bills, the surprise turned to joyous tears.

The same reactions were felt by employees of a fast-food restaurant, patrons at a Laundromat, and individuals waiting at bus stops. Others, those identified by the unnamed individual's "elves," benefited from a personal visit and received holiday blessings in the form of $100 bills.

"I have seven grandkids at home and this is going to them," Goodwill employee Robin Clark said as tears streamed down her cheeks. "I'm taking it home for them to see because they would never believe it."

Secret Santa did not want his name to be used and was only identified as a businessman from the Kansas City, Mo., area. In all, he planned to give away between $30,000 and $40,000 to strangers in Las Vegas. The gifts ranged from a $100 bill up to several thousands.

More than 30 years ago, Secret Santa said he was befriended by a stranger while broke in Mississippi. He vowed to offer the same sort of assistance to others if he ever had the means. The Secret Santa said he's been handing out holiday gifts to strangers since 1979.

"I've had over a $1 million in smiles," he said through a distinct Southern drawl and not divulging the exact figure he's bestowed upon strangers.

Donna McGuire, a reporter for the Kansas City Star, verified Secret Santa's anonymous endeavors, having covered his holiday gift-giving for 10 years. The businessman mostly hands out money during the holidays in economically depressed areas of the Kansas City community. He appeared on an Oprah Winfrey television show a few years ago in disguise after he took his holiday handouts to New York City following Sept. 11, 2001.

In 2002, Secret Santa handed out money in the Virginia area terrorized by the sniper attacks. Last year, he visited fire-ravaged communities in San Diego.

Last week, according to media accounts, he gave away about $30,000 in hurricane-stricken areas of Florida. He came to Las Vegas to honor his longtime friend, legendary casino host Charlie Meyerson, who died last month. He plans to return to Kansas City to give away another $30,000.

"Charlie was a real secret Santa," he said. "They call $100 bills 'Ben Franklins.' Today, I'm handing out 'Charlie Meyersons.' "

Each of the $100 bills given out Tuesday had been stamped with Meyerson's name and the Secret Santa's Web site, www.secretsantausa.com.

At the Goodwill outlet, Maria Flores expressed in Spanish the joy of being able to help her son with his college studies thanks to the $1,100 given to her by Secret Santa.

Shaunda Banks was "overwhelmed" when Secret Santa handed her $100.

Another Goodwill patron, Roger Marcellus, thought the $100 was counterfeit. "Tonight, I'm going to buy groceries," he said.

Butkus, one of the National Football League's most fearsome linebackers in his days with the Chicago Bears, said he met the Secret Santa more than a decade ago in a casino-sponsored golf tournament. He turned soft describing the day's events.

"We're his elves. We help him find the people who most need his help," Butkus said. "He's such a great guy, and it takes a lot of people to help him do this."

In addition to his random stops, the Secret Santa had a list of more than a dozen Las Vegas families and individuals with various financial hardships. All were identified by Las Vegas law enforcement sources as well as the businessman's Las Vegas connections. Two Metropolitan Police officers accompanied Secret Santa on his rounds.

Arthur Schwartz left his job as a casino porter to care for his wife, Gertrude, who is stricken with multiple sclerosis and is in need of a refurbished wheelchair. Secret Santa showed up at their northwest Las Vegas townhouse and peeled off $4,000 in $100 bills, leaving the money on the kitchen counter.

"We're in shock. We couldn't believe it," Schwartz said, searching for words to describe his feelings. "I knew Charlie Meyerson. This is really so special."

Kevyn Wynn, daughter of Wynn Resorts Ltd. Chairman Steve Wynn, joined Secret Santa for about 90 minutes on the excursion. Before heading out, they sprayed some of the money with Meyerson's favorite cologne.

"I had always wanted to help Secret Santa," said Wynn, who teared up while talking with some of the Goodwill customers and employees. "He's done this for so long and it made me feel good to help him."

The gifts came in different ways.

Cameron Miller was picking up lunch for his co-workers at the Jack in the Box restaurant on Spring Mountain Road during Secret Santa's visit. When store employees were hesitant about accepting cash from a stranger, Miller spoke up.

"I said if they don't want it, give it to me. So he did," Miller said. "He said, 'Happy Holidays.' "

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

John D. Johnson, R. I. P.

[The Clarion-Ledger ran this letter on October 5, 2002. Similar versions ran in The Natchez Democrat and the Oxford Eagle at about the same time.]

I noted with shock and sadness ("Johnson, 55, former 'C-L' editor, dies," September 15) the passing of my old friend John Johnson, Ole Miss journalism professor and former executive editor of The Clarion-Ledger.

I knew him "when."

At Natchez-Adams High School in 1964, Johnny and I paid a price for our love of baseball. We were library assistants, and all World Series games were then played in the afternoon. He had brought a small transistor radio, so we repaired to the back of the library to listen to the game. (He rooted for the Cardinals and I for the Yankees.)

The next day, the librarian, who clearly was not a baseball fan, informed us that we were being transferred to the physical education class.

Years later, I was not surprised to learn that Johnny's baseball card collection numbered in the thousands.

His father, prominent Natchez attorney Forrest Johnson, founded a weekly newspaper, the Miss-Lou Observer. It was here that Johnny gained his first real journalistic experience; I had the privilege of writing a little column for this paper.

His father was unpopular with many whites because he had a large black clientele. Mr. Johnson represented all his clients vigorously-- whether they were able to pay him or not.

Johnny and his father had a vision of equal opportunity for all Mississippians long before most of the rest of us did.

A gentle soul who seldom spoke up in class, Johnny had a history teacher who hated President Kennedy. One day Larry Abrams, sitting in the front of the class, criticized Gov. Ross Barnett; the teacher [Flossie Klotz] told Larry that if he didn't like the state government, maybe he should get out of Mississippi.

From the back of the room came Johnny's voice: "If you don't like the national government, maybe you should get out of the country!"

Johnny, you left us much too soon.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Goldie Jane

Teacher, poet, mystery fan, cat lover, bon vivant-- Goldie Jane Feldman was one of the most interesting people I have ever known.

I knew Miss Feldman during the last 14 years of her life. She had fairly serious health problems but never let them stop her from enjoying her many activities. A diabetic, she never tried to hide the fact that she occasionally strayed from her diet.

She had a physical resemblance to the actress Ruth Gordon. Miss Feldman's outlook on life was similar to that of Gordon's character in the movie Harold and Maude.

She insisted that I call her "Goldie." I was not comfortable with that so we compromised on "Miss Goldie."

Miss Feldman always had at least one house cat. One of these was a big tom cat named Gray Boy. I recall her also regularly feeding a stray cat that came to her back door.

Once when one of her cats was very sick, she promised the Lord that she would resume her churchgoing if the cat survived.

There was an elderly black woman who had worked for years as Miss Feldman's maid. The woman's failing eyesight caused the quality of her work to suffer considerably. Miss Feldman nevertheless continued to employ her, because she knew that the woman needed the income.

Following her obituary from The Clarion-Ledger of March 19, 1997 is a poem that Miss Feldman wrote some years prior to her death.

Oh by the way: She was also a tough opponent in the game of Trivial Pursuit!


Goldie Jane Feldman, 80, of 765 Avalon Road, Jackson, a retired adjunct Latin professor, died of pneumonia Monday [March 17, 1997] at Mississippi Baptist Medical Center.

Services are 11 a.m. today [Wednesday] at First Baptist Church [Jackson] with burial at 4 p.m. in Evergreen Cemetery in Gulfport. Visitation is after 10 a.m. today at the church. Reynolds-Malatesta Funeral Home in Natchez is handling arrangements.

Miss Feldman was a Gulfport native [February 27, 1917] and a member of First Baptist Church. She was an adjunct Latin professor at Mississippi College in Clinton, a former coordinator of the hazardous devices course and a former high school teacher. During World War II, she served as a translator with the Office of Censorship in New Orleans and the Panama Canal Zone. She was a member of Eta Sigma Phi, Mortar Board, Sigma Tau Delta, and Kappa Delta Pi. She was past president of the Mississippi Poetry Society. [She received a Master of Arts degree from Mississippi College in 1970; she also attended the Jackson School of Law, predecessor of the Mississippi College School of Law, though she never practiced law.]

David Malatesta, a close friend said, "Goldie was a free spirit. Just to be in her company was a stimulating experience. Her keen wit and quick comments were always a joy."

She is survived by her sister-in-law, Katerine Feldman of Jackson.


When you see my name in an obit column,
Don't let the viewing make you solemn.
I've had great fun while I was here,
So bid me farewell without a tear.

Remember me from time to time
When you read or compose a clever rhyme;
Or when you're eating chocolate candy,
Reflect, "She would have thought that dandy!"

Or when you are watching a mystery
You think that I would like to see--
Perry Mason, Hercule Poirot,
Lord Peter Wimsey, or poor Clouseau,
Nero Wolfe or Inspector West--
It's British sleuths I like the best!

Or when you savor cuisine francaise--
Langoustes, crevettes, ou creme aux fraises;
Or if you chance to skate on ice,
A pastime I thought rather nice,

Or go to an opera matinee,
Or dress to the nines for a grande soiree;
In short, when you do these things I've done,
I'll live again when you're having fun!

Monday, April 18, 2005

Mississippi's Morgan Freeman: A True Class Act

[The Clarion-Ledger ran this article by Cori Bolger on February 28, 2005.]

Jackson, Miss.-- Even the Oscars didn't stop Morgan Freeman from keeping a promise.

So three days before his appearance at the Academy Awards, Freeman flew his own plane from Clarksdale to Jackson to fulfill one he made more than a year ago.

The visit surprised and delighted some 200 English professors, who were gathered at the Hilton Hotel for a yearly educational conference.

In his signature smooth-as-butter voice, Freeman spoke about the relationship between literature and film and posed for photos with squealing female fans.

"He immediately agreed and never canceled and that says a lot," said Laura Hammons, the conference's meeting coordinator.

Freeman then made a flawless transition from County Line Road to Hollywood's red carpet.

On Sunday [February 27], the Charleston resident and four-time Oscar nominee finally nabbed the coveted golden statue for Best Supporting Actor for his role as half-blind ex-boxer Eddie "Scrap Iron" Dupris in Million Dollar Baby.

Freeman, who was critics' top pick, beat out Alan Alda in The Aviator, Thomas Haden Church in Sideways, Jamie Foxx in Collateral, and Clive Owen in Closer.

During his time in Jackson, Freeman shrugged nonchalantly when asked how much he would value the win, especially after three prior close calls.

"I've been getting them all my life, so they go with the territory," he said. "It's nice to get accolades, though."

In 1987, Freeman was nominated for his role as a pimp in Street Smart, followed by a Best Actor nomination for Driving Miss Daisy two years later ["I'm tryin' to drive you to the sto'!"]. Then, in 1994, he scored another Best Actor nomination for The Shawshank Redemption.

"He doesn't take any of this too seriously, frankly," said close friend and Clarksdale attorney Bill Luckett, referring to Freeman's celebrity status. "He does his job and enjoys the benefits of doing a good job, but he is a fun person to be with and he's very intellectual and well read."

Tim Hedgepeth, executive director of the Mississippi Arts Commission, called Freeman's three previous Oscar-worthy roles a "trinity of great performances" and predicted this would be Freeman's year to get the recognition he's deserved.

"Personally, I think he's one of our greatest living American actors," Hedgepeth said. "He makes it look so easy. You're always aware that there's a master actor at work."

Sunday's Oscar win is not the first highlight of the year for Freeman. Two weeks ago, he won the Screen Actor's Guild award for Supporting Actor in Million Dollar Baby.

Freeman paid respect to fellow contender James Garner by singing a verse from the theme song of Garner's old TV western, Maverick, and covered all his bases by adding, "I want to thank everybody I ever met."

Between takes, he's been in and out of Mississippi, popping up in Clarksdale at Ground Zero and Madidi, a juke joint-inspired blues venue and a fine dining restaurant he co-owns with Luckett and Howard Stovall.

The trio are in the process of extending their business north to Memphis, where they hope to open another Ground Zero in the Beale Street District by the end of the year.

"We were asked (to look at Farish Street in Jackson) but we're trying to take it one step at a time," Luckett said.

Freeman, who grew up in Greenwood, also finds solace riding horses on his 44-acre farm in Charleston, where he lives with his wife, Myrna Colley-Lee, a costume designer. The couple has four grown children.

When strangers ask Freeman why an internationally famous movie star would choose to live in Mississippi, he's known to reply, "Because I can live anywhere I want."

During his first appearance on The Tonight Show on February 11, Freeman further explained why he decided to stay in Mississippi.

"One thing that's great about Mississippi and small towns is that you're in a friendly place," he said. "Our history has sort of clamped down on us and I don't know why ... We're digging our way out of that now so y'all come down and visit us." [bold added]

Back at home, Luckett said that the reaction from tourists who run into Freeman has gotten "pretty intense" in the past five years.

"I kind of feel for him a bit," Luckett said.

On one occasion, Freeman stopped at Ground Zero to say hello to his friend, bluesman James "Super Chikan" Johnson.

"He quickly snuck back to the stage and everybody saw him," Johnson said. "They were waiting for him when he came down."

Luckett described Freeman as "laid back and self effacing," a graceful man who would rather chat with fans than sign his name.

Three years ago, the two men were sitting at dinner when Freeman suddenly announced, "I'm ready."

"I said, 'Are you ready to leave? Ready for the check? Ready for what?'" Luckett said with a chuckle.

After more prying, Luckett discovered that Freeman wanted to chase a pilot dream he had during his Air Force years before he left to pursue theater.

During the next few weeks, Luckett taught Freeman how to fly a twin engine plane and eventually referred him to a licensed instructor.

"He would go (flying) on location and at any spare moment or on the weekends he would be out at the airport," Luckett said. "He even flew into the Czech Republic once."

Tom Howorth, an Oxford [Miss.] architect who's known the Freeman family for 10 years, said Freeman's warm personality is what makes him attractive on and off the big screen.

"Naturally, people would hope that he's that way in real life and he is every bit that way in real life," Howorth said. "Mississippi is fortunate to have people like Morgan, who choose to spend their time here. It speaks highly of Morgan, but it also speaks highly of Mississippi."

Besides acting, Freeman is passionate about several causes, including education, Howorth said. He's previously donated money to Jackson libraries and Charleston public schools and lent his sonorous voice to several number public service announcements.

"My feeling is that we need more than anything to educate our children," Freeman said during a 1999 interview with The Clarion-Ledger. "That's the most important step forward for our state, and I'm all for promoting Mississippi."

He plans to join other homestate celebrities, including Faith Hill and B. B. King, on a panel dedicated to establishing the new Mississippi Arts and Entertainment Center in Meridian.

"He's the man, no doubt about it," said John Maxwell, a Jackson-area actor and playwright. "I was lucky enough (to see him in Oxford) and I can remember looking at him and saying, 'This is a guy who carries himself with dignity.' ... I just know he is a classy, classy person."

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

The Legacy of Ratliff Hall

[This article appeared in Volume 1, Number 5 of The MC Beacon Connection of Mississippi College at Clinton, spring 2005.]

In the spring of 2004, renovations began on Ratliff Hall, thanks in part to the financial support of W. T. Ratliff of Birmingham, Alabama, for whose grandfather the building is named. It was finished in time for male students to move in for the fall semester of 2004, and Ratliff is now equipped with modern conveniences including wireless internet!

A Piece of History:

When Dr. J. W. Provine was elected as president of Mississippi College in 1911, one of his earliest concerns was to find ways to help students with the cost of attending college. At that time, Jennings Hall was up and running as the college's first real dormitory, but many students had trouble paying even the modest expenses of living there. In 1913, the trustees approved Dr. Provine's comprehensive plan to establish the Self-Help Club. Part of the plan was to construct another dormitory, officially named Ratliff Hall, in honor of Captain W. T. Ratliff, chairman of the board of trustees.

As Dr. Provine explained in the Mississippi College Magazine in October of 1913:

"This by many is regarded as the most important step of recent years in our internal affairs. The object is not to attach an agricultural department, but provide a place where men can get good, but cheap food, comfortable rooms, and conveniences. In addition, work is provided for these boys, if they desire it, sufficient to pay for half their board. Board will cost about six dollars per month. In order to provide work, the college has established a splendid dairy of forty fine Jerseys, built a splendid barn, milk house, etc. It not only provides work for the men, but becomes a profit at once for the college. The board has also bought about two hundred acres of splendid land on which crops will be grown to give labor to the men and provide food for the herd of cows. Sixty or eighty acres of the land is woodland, and the whole college plant will be supplied with wood from this land, thus giving employment to another group of boys."

Apparently this land was slightly to the southwest of the campus, on both sides of Clinton-Raymond Road.

The Self-Help Club appealed to students, most of whom came from rural backgrounds, and every room in the new dormitory was taken before it was finished. Not only did the students operate the dairy farm, but in the dormitory they provided housekeeping, maintenance, and food services with their own kitchen and dining room. The Self-Help Club was a remarkable success, accommodating 110 students in the first year of operation. In June of 1915, the college farm gave an abundant yield, was no expense to the college, and the herd of Jerseys even made a small profit.

However, within the next few years, the farm diminished as student labor bacame more intermittent and the land was finally sold in 1929, leaving Ratliff Hall as a conventional dormitory. In 1936, with the Great Depression exerting its influence, and with Jennings, Chrestman, and Ratliff providing more than enough dormitory rooms, the Board of Ministerial Education brought a proposal to the trustees in which the Board would lease Ratliff in order to provide housing for ministerial students. Soon the basement, second, and third floors of Ratliff were given to ministerial students rent-free, and the privilege could be extended to other students if space were available. This arrangement continued until the fall of 1945, when Ratliff was remodeled and returned to service as a regular dormitory due to booming enrolment at the return of war veterans. Ministerial students were provided with financial aid and allowed to room wherever they chose.

Ratliff became the site of another ministry when student Clinton Dona began a food pantry in his dorm room. His efforts established what is now known as the Clinton Community Christian Corporation, or the 4C's. For his story, refer to the 2002 Homecoming edition of The Beacon.

-- Taken from the writings of Charles E. Martin (1930-2004), Vice President for Academic Affairs, Emeritus

Knowing History and Knowing Who We Are

The following is an abridged transcript of remarks delivered by historian David McCullough on February 15, 2005 in Phoenix, Arizona, at a Hillsdale College National Leadership Seminar on the topic, "American History and America's Future."

Harry Truman once said the only new thing in the world is the history you don't know. Lord Bolingbroke, who was an 18th century political philosopher, said that history is philosophy taught with examples. An old friend, the late Daniel Boorstin, who was a very good historian and Librarian of Congress, said that trying to plan for the future without a sense of the past is like trying to plant cut flowers. We're raising a lot of cut flowers and trying to plant them... . >>>Read more >>> http://www.hillsdale.edu/imprimis/