Saturday, September 23, 2017

An Approach to Life

MGC's Comment Below Appeared in TDP Entry "When is it Worth the Money?"  (Original Photograph, Which Accompanied the Post, from SWNE Archives)  
Capturing, in writing, a regional character is a challenging task.  Judson Hale has done it exceptionally well.  And as impressive and accurate has been the TDP/SWNE commenter known only as MGC, in a series of wonderful notes he left on this site, too valuable to be lost to the sands of the Internet.  An example:
A close friend, who had grown up in a relatively rich family, once faced a decision she never would have anticipated; should she buy toilet paper or food? It was the end of the month, she had just a few dollars left and her future did not look rosy. 
Despite her situation, her spirits were always up in those days. She was a single mother to a teenage son, who was turning out to be an exceptionally fine young man. And she had her ice skates, her cross country skis, her garden in the summer, binoculars for bird watching and a host of friends from the village. When it came time for her son to go to collage, she found every scholarship that was available. He graduated from the University of Vermont four years later. 
Never once did she lament her financial situation. Instead of buying things, she did things. She got involved in town affairs and helped others whenever help was needed. And her tiny house had the most warm and inviting energy. When her roof began to leak, I came over to fix it. It took all day and I can’t imagine an activity that would have given me more pleasure. 
In 2000, my friend had saved enough to splurge on something for herself. She bought an Apple computer, which opened up a new world. In 2002, an aunt died and left her $10,000, which could buy a lot of toilet paper. She invested every penny in Apple stock, much against my advice and the advice of every analyst on the street. Why? Because, as she put it, "Apples are user friendly, beautiful and owners love them.” Peter Lynch employed the same observations when investing for his hugely successful Fidelity Magellan Fund. As far as Apple stock in concerned, the rest is history. 
My great aunt (my great-uncle’s second wife), however, had a somewhat different approach to life. As an example, every Christmas she would display her ‘gift’ from my great uncle, who indecently had been dead for thirty-five years. The gift was pretty much the same year after year, diamonds from Firestone and Parsons, which has a store in the Ritz Carleton. The cost of each new bauble was about the price of small house. Both my mother and I could barely hide our revulsion, and my great aunt’s house, filled with priceless objects, was about as inviting as a mortuary. 
- MGC

20 comments:

  1. MGC--Thank you for a wonderful story about what truly matters. Integrity, perseverance, community, friends and giving to others. N from VA

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  2. Yes, another great post, Muffy. Thank you. I think we all want to enjoy the fruits of our labor, so to speak, but no one appreciates a gaudy display, especially to those less fortunate. Discretion is always best.

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  3. Precisely why I love this blog. A great author, but also home to a collective from all over the world whose charming opinions and lifestyle provide a refreshing place to visit for an antidote to the "norm". Long live SWNE and all who visit her.

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  4. If only more people realized the negative effect a showy display can have on others. Great post. Thank you.

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  5. I thought I might as well share this story, as it fits nicely with the photograph. Sometime between 1938 and 1940, my father was competing in a horse show in New York. It was evening and patrons sat at tables circling the show ring. My father's cavalry horse ( he was a cadet at military college) caught the flash of a camera and threw him over the rail. He landed on the table of the president of a major soft-drink company and his family. Dinner, drinks, virtually all the table held went flying in every direction. The president catapulted from his chair, the mother screamed, but the daughter, who must have been very bold for the times, wrote her name and address on a napkin and stuffed into my father's coat pocket. They corresponded.

    Later that summer, the daughter invited my father to visit the family's seaside estate, which turned out to be a month of opulence to which he was unaccustomed. By summer's end, the horse-show mishap now a footnote, my father's new girlfriend had transferred to Middlebury College to be closer to him. She had received the blessing of her father and considered herself engaged, although nothing was made offical. Her path was clear, however, her future certain and the reins were now firmly in her hands.

    That fall, my father was hitchhiking back to campus through rural Vermont when a Ford convertable pulled over. The driver, a striking beauty with long black hair, had never stopped for a stranger and in fact would never do so again. At least that's how my mother told her part of story many years later.

    There could be several morals to this story: never trust a horse or the person riding it; be open to what the universe might bring you; if you want to make God laugh, make a plan. They all work for me.

    MGC

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    1. What a wonderful story! One should always be open to the wonders that fate and circumstance may throw one's way.

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    2. Patsy, I see your jewelry was highlighted in a previous post. You've created a very cool line that will never go out of style! Best...

      MGC

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    3. Thank you so much for your kind words, much appreciated!

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  6. It is such a pleasure to hear (or to read) a great story told by a wonderful story teller.

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  7. In case anyone is wondering, $10,000 invested in Apple stock in 2002 is worth over $1 million today.

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  8. MGC,
    Was it you that once posted on this site that the secret to life was knowing how much is enough?

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  9. I wouldn't have posted that as I am still trying to figure out what the secret is.

    MGC

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    1. I know I read that in the comments section of this site and although I don't know if that is the secret to life, it sure is funny how often I reflect back on reading this. I wish I could recall the author. Perhaps Blue Train or Mr. Rowe or another of the regulars (it could have been all the way back to Ferd).

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    2. As I sit behind my desk high atop the Acme Building in downtown St. Paul searching for the answers to life's persistent questions...well, actually the office is in South St. Paul in a strip mall, back in the corner, but the rent's okay even though I'm a month behind. Anyway, I don't know the answer and I'm not sure I understand the question. Could you maybe repeat the question?

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    3. Funny, BlueTrain. I don't know the answer either.

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  10. You people are all so delightful, and our hostess so generous.
    Thank you, sincerely,
    Suzanne

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  11. It was my great grandmother's and grandmother's jewelry that got family members out of life-threatening politically tumultuous times living overseas on two occasions; so I say bring on the baubles.

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