The Good SamaritanOn January 5, 2022 by Elyse
Here at Second Glance History, I’m starting the year off with a celebration of strangers who help those in need—most especially an angelic lady named Ali, who was in the right place at the right time to rescue a certain silly blogger who got in over her head in the Pacific Ocean last month. As my life flashed before my eyes, I repented of all the bad puns I’ve ever made.
Although Ali deserves a very nice gift basket, I never saw her again. Instead, as a tribute to her bravery and kindness, I dug up some stories of ordinary people who went above and beyond for their fellow human beings when the opportunity arose, albeit with slightly more mixed results.
There are precious few historic images that scream “Good Samaritan,” so you’re stuck with my vacation photos instead. If you’re in a climate as cold as mine is today, I apologize and understand if you stop reading right here.
Peruse this blog long enough, and you’ll find plenty of stories about criminals of all stripes. A newspaper blub like this is nothing notable:
Mrs. Frances Falls, 2318 Madison st., held for passing worthless checks. Alleged to have swindled 25 grocers.– The Day Book, June 30, 1914
But unlike fellow forger and “automaniac” Floyd Merrill, she wasn’t going for a joyride.
Yesterday the grief-stricken young woman, who forged to keep herself and her baby after her husband deserted her, was arraigned before Judge Sabath. Things looked pretty bad for her. The heavy hand of the law was upon her.
But came there to the bleak courtroom, quietly and announced, the “good samaritan.” He wasn’t a preacher, he didn’t spout about the “Golden Rule.” He was a distiller.
And he just walked quietly up to the judge and said: “Myself and some friends have read of this woman’s case. I don’t think she ought to be punished So if the men who hold those checks will present them at my office they will be paid in full.”
The man was H. D. Graham, part owner of Graham Bros. and the Einstein & Palfrey Co., both distilling firms. Those who are with Graham in the good work are Ned Palfrey, the R. D. Winship Oil Co., and Sheriff Dent, Dobyns & Freeman, attorneys. . .
Judge Sabath smiled down on her and told her to go free. Mrs. Falls is back with her baby in the little flat at 2318 W. Madison street today.– The Day Book, July 2, 1914
Along with crippling poverty and no social safety net, there must’ve been something in the water because Frances wasn’t the only woman in 1914 who was saved from prison by strangers.
On the other hand, no good deed goes unpunished.
They seem to have queer ideas of good samaritanism in Montgomery county, says the St. Joseph Observer. Two years ago a man was arrested in that county for taking water from a rural school house well to give to a sick man. The directors had him arrested and he was fined for theft. He in turn, has instituted suit against the board of directors for $25,000 for arrest.– The Butler Weekly Times, August 14, 1913
I know water bills are expensive, but so are legal fees. The directors might’ve been better off giving this do-gooder a whole aquarium (whale included).
(Click below for full-size image.)
I’m not out of clichés yet! The road to hell is paved with good intentions:
Two telegraphists of Stoke Newington—Ernest Priest and Frank Varmen—were unfortunate enough to get tipped out of a boat at Teddington Lock. A good Samaritan gave them brandy to drink, but in their exhausted state it proved too much for them.
With a remarkable sense of rectitude they made haste in a cab to the Richmond Police-station, imploring to be taken care of. They were detained, and their clothes dried.
But the police were unkind enough to charge them with being “drunk and incapable.” On recital of their sad story, and payment of costs, however, they were discharged.– The Rhyl Journal, October 7, 1899
At least Ernest and Frank didn’t start drinking until after they finished boating. It’s nice to see someone was paying attention to Second Glance History’s public service announcement.
Not all Good Samaritans walk on two legs. Meet the real-life Lassie:
William Dredge lives about five miles from town, at the base of the mountains which tower north of us. A short time after midnight, on the morning of Wednesday last, he was roused from his slumbers by the howl of a dog. . . The dog continued to walk round the cabin, still repeating his dismal moaning and howling, occasionally making efforts to effect an entrance through the closed doorway. . .
Mr. Dredge at last hastily dressed himself and unbolted the door, when a large mastiff rushed in. The dog at once caught hold of his trousers, and employed every gentle means to induce the man to accompany him outside. . . he finally yielded, and proceeded without the cabin.
A joyful yell was the result, and the delighted brute, now capering and wagging his tail before him, and now returning and gently seizing him by the hand and trousers, induced Dredge to follow him.
Their course was up the precipitous side of the mountain, and soon they were forcing their way through a snowdrift. . . upon the snow lay the body of a woman who had evidently perished from cold and exhaustion. . . but what was the surprise of Mr. Dredge to see that faithful dog ferret out, from a bundle of clothing that lay by the side of the woman, a young child about two years of age, still warm and living. . .
With a mother’s affection she had stripped her own person in order to furnish warmth to her exposed infant. The trusted dog had completed the work of self-sacrifice.
Mr. Dredge immediately conveyed the child to his own cabin . . . The child and dog have been adopted by this good Samaritan.– The Welshman, November 21, 1856
“Don’t open the door to strangers” doesn’t apply to strangers with fur.
Despite the unexpected consequences, I don’t want to deter anyone from being a Good Samaritan. After all, I’ve been the recipient of more than my share of kindness from strangers, especially while far from home. A few years ago in London, I looked the wrong way at an intersection—typical American abroad—and if a young man hadn’t raised his arm to stop me, I would’ve walked directly into an oncoming car. It’s truly a wonder I’ve made it this far in life.
A big, inadequate thank you to the brave souls who go out of their way to help those in need, despite the risk of high water bills.
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About This Blog
Welcome to Second Glance History! This blog seeks to uncover the people and the stories forgotten by history and give them another read through a modern lens. Join me every week as we examine the differences that divide and the common threads that connect the then to the now.