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Information Please

 When I was quite young, my father had one of the first telephones in our  neighborhood.  I remember well the polished old case fastened to the  wall. The shiny receiver hung on the side of the box.  I was too little  to reach the telephone, but l used to listen with fascination when my  mother used to talk to it.

 Then I discovered that somewhere inside the wonderful device  lived an amazing person - her name was "Information Please" and there was nothing she did not know. "Information Please" could supply anybody's number and the correct time.

 My first personal experience with this genie-in-the-bottle came one day while my mother was visiting a neighbor.  Amusing myself at the tool bench in the basement, I whacked my finger with a hammer. The pain was terrible, but there didn't seem to be any reason in crying because there was no one home to give sympathy.  I walked around the house sucking my throbbing finger, finally arriving at the stairway. The telephone!  Quickly, I ran for the footstool in the parlor and dragged it to the landing. Climbing up, I unhooked the receiver in the hall and held it to my ear.

 "Information Please," I said into the mouthpiece just above my  head. A click or two and a small clear voice spoke into my ear.


 "I hurt my finger. . ."  I wailed into the phone.  The tears came readily enough now that I had an audience.

 "Isn't your mother home?" came the question.

 "Nobody's home but me." I blubbered.

 "Are you bleeding?"

 "No," I replied.  "I hit my finger with the hammer and it hurts."

 "Can you open your icebox?" she asked.  I said I could.  "Then chip off a little piece of ice and hold it to your finger," said the  voice.

 After that, I called "Information Please" for everything.  I  asked her for help with my geography and she told me where Philadelphia was.  She helped me with my math.  She told me my pet chipmunk that I had caught in the park just the day before would eat fruits and nuts.

 Then, there was the time Petey, our pet canary died.  I called "Information Please" and told her the sad story. She listened, then said the usual things grown-ups say to soothe a child.  But I was un-consoled.  I asked her, "Why is it that birds should sing so beautifully and bring  joy to all families, only to end up as a heap of feathers on the bottom of a cage?"

 She must have sensed my deep concern, for she said quietly,  "Paul, always remember that there are other worlds to sing in."  Somehow I felt better. 

 Another day I was on the telephone.  "Information Please." 

 "Information," said the now familiar voice.  "How do you spell fix?"  I asked.

 All this took place in a small town in the Pacific northwest.  When I was 9 years old, we moved across the country to Boston. I missed my friend very much.  "Information Please" belonged in that old wooden box back home, and I somehow never thought of trying the tall, shiny new phone that sat on the table in the hall.

 As I grew into my teens, the memories of those childhood  conversations never really left me.  Often, in moments of doubt and perplexity I would recall the serene sense of security I had then  I appreciated now how patient, understanding, and kind she was to have spent her time on a little boy.

 A few years later, on my way west to college, my plane put down in Seattle.  I had about half an hour or so between planes.  I spent 15 minutes or so on the phone with my sister, who lived there now.

Then without thinking what I was doing, I dialed my hometown operator and said, "Information please." Miraculously, I heard the small, clear voice  I knew so well, "Information."

 I hadn't planned this but I heard myself saying, "Could you  please tell me how to spell fix?"  There was a long pause.  Then came the soft spoken answer, "I guess your finger must have healed by now."  I laughed.  "So it's really still you,' I said.  "I wonder if you have any idea how much you meant to me during that time."

 "I wonder," she said, "if you know how much your calls meant to  me."  I never had any children, and I used to look forward to
your calls."

 I told her how often I had thought of her over the years and  asked if I could call her again when I came back to visit my sister.

 "Please do!" she said.  "Just ask for Sally."

 Three months later I was back in Seattle.  A different voice answered "Information."  I asked for Sally.

 "Are you a friend?" she asked.

 "Yes, a very old friend," I answered.

 "I'm sorry to have to tell you this," she said.  "Sally had been working part-time the last few years because she was sick.

She died five weeks ago."

 Before I could hang up she said, "Wait a minute.  Did you say your name was Paul?"


 "Well, Sally left a message for you.  She wrote it down in case you called. Let me read it to you."
 The note said, "Tell him I still say there are other worlds to sing in.  He'll know what I mean."
I thanked her and hung up.  I knew what Sally meant.  

Never  underestimate the impression you may make on others.

~ Paul ~ or Whomever ~  
A special thanks for sharing!

Click here for a complete Apples of Gold bibliography





7 Wonders
of the World
A Favor
A Fountain of Good
A Psalm of Life
Abraham Lincoln
Advancement in Life
Albert Einstein
Allan Bloom
Anna Quindlen
Apples of Gold
Benjamin Disraeli
Brian Azar
Choosing to Survive
Daniel Goleman
Dogs Can Teach
Dreams That Come True
Edward Young
Energy and Ill Temper
Fair Treatment  
Fyodor Dostoevsky
Gary Zukav
Glenn Clark
Glenn Clark on Trust
God's Loan
Happiness Is....
Happy Is The Man...
Henry Van Dyke
How Far You Go in Life
How Rich Are We?
I Wish You Enough...
I’ve Learned…
Ibn Hazm
Information Please
Just Checking In
Kahil Gibran
Keep Your Fork
Kind Words
Kingsley on Friendship 
Laura Lee Randall
Leaves of Gold on Education
Leo Tolstoy
Let Yourself...
Life Is.....
Living Life to the Fullest
Look to this Day
Love of Truth
Mary Stewart - Collect
Norman Cousins
Oliver Goldsmith
Oliver Wendell Holmes
On Life and Love
Parable of Motherhood
Personal Worth
Prayer to the Holy Spirit
President Ronald Reagan
Public Speakers Library
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Remember Me....
Right to Choice
Robert Louis Stevenson
Ron Yarnik
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Santa's Helpers
Santa's Prayer on Christmas Eve
Serenity Prayer
Simone de Beauvoir
Social Intercourse
Someone Special
Sonnet 116
St. Jerome
Supreme Happiness
Take Time...
Tewa Indian Song 
The Answered Prayer
The Best Day of My Life
The Christmas Spirt
The Common Good
The Crow
The Father's Eyes
The Gold 
The Goose Story
The Hero
The Lord's Prayer
The Man in the Arena
The Paradox of Our Time in History
The Prayer of St. Francis
The 'Present'
The Trouble Tree 
Thomas a' Kempis
Thoughts From
the Shore
Tom Brokow
True Glory
True Passion
Unique Flaws
Wealth, Success and Love
What I've Learned in Life
When You 
William Ellery Channing
William Faulkner
Within the Human Heart
Words of Encouragement
Words to Live By
Wrapping Paper
Your Children


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