In December, Judy Bacon and Craig Scott invited me to the Gadsden Public Library to speak to their Friends of the Library group about keepsakes, storytelling, and writing. The Gadsden Public Library is a hub of community activity—a model for other libraries. In addition to its shelves and shelves of books, the library features a spacious bookstore that sells slightly-used books, magazines, and movies at deep discounts. The proceeds from bookstore sales go back into the library to make even more improvements. It also boasts a cafe cleverly named Novel Cafe. As a family history researcher, I was pleased to learn that one entire floor is devoted to genealogy and archival material. Most of all, the folks associated with the library are as warm and welcoming as rocking chairs on a wrap-around porch in the springtime. I felt so at home there.
It was there that I met fellow writer, Will Bevis.
Will shared one of his many keepsake stories with me that evening, then pulled out a sealed envelope to show me. On the front of the envelope, he had written the words, "Clifford Fountain gave me this money about maybe 71/72."
You'll understand the significance of the envelope and its contents after you read Will's story titled, "The Bread Man." I've posted it in its entirety below.
After the Gadsden event, I drove home in December's darkness, traveling through downtowns dressed-up with the whimsical decorations and twinkling lights of Christmastime in the South. I drove the expanse without the distraction of music or news, opting instead to be alone with my thoughts. I reflected on 2014 and the many keepsake stories strangers—now friends—shared with me throughout the year, but my mind kept returning to the story of the bread man.
After listening to Will's story detailing the actions of a good samaritan, I said, "We have to find Clifford Fountain. Time's running out."
But Will said, "No." He remains resolute in his plan to return Clifford Fountain's kindness with a small fortune some day. I admit, I've googled the name and looked for clues, but I will not interfere with his plan. I made a promise to Will that night, and I'm not in the business of breaking my promises.
Thank you, Will Bevis, for sharing your story with me and allowing me to share it with my many Project Keepsake readers. I believe your story will prompt many people to think about goodness, selfless acts, stereotypes, mistakes, and starting over. Most of all, I hope your story will inspire others to write about their own experiences.
"The Bread Man," and many other of Will's stories such as "The Killing of Train-Man Brown," "Send Me a Friend," and "Then Her Wig Fell Off," can be downloaded from the Kindle store. There have been over 55,000 downloads of his work, and there will be thousands more, I'm sure. Click here to view a listing of Will's work. He also has a website at willbevis.com, and you can follow him on Twitter @WillBevis.
As always, keep storytelling alive, my friends. To read more keepsake stories or learn to write your own keepsake story, consider buying a signed copy of Project Keepsake. The link is on the left. And feel free to contact me about hosting a Project Keepsake presentation or workshop in your community.
Thanks for visiting! Hope you stop by again in the future.