Barefoot Jerry

Barefoot Jerry

Jerry was a big boy who lived in the mountains with his parents and seven brothers and sisters. He was the oldest in the family and was sixteen years of age. The father was a back woodsman and made a scant living for his large family by snaking logs with the help of his old horse from the mountain sides. One cow supplied the milk for the family and a few pigs the meat during the long winter. The mother cultivated a large garden in the valley and managed to raise enough vegetables for all of them. Their house was a log cabin of only one room which served as kitchen, dining room and bedroom.

Not many people lived near Jerry's home. The closest neighbor was three miles away. Jerry, like his sisters and brothers, walked four miles to the little one room schoolhouse which stood at the side of a winding road in a dense forest. Sometimes in winter when the snow was deep the school would close. The only education which they received was simple reading, writing and arithmetic.

They were happy mountain boys and girls. The mother mended the clothes until sometimes the trousers of the boys were covered with patches. Since Jerry was the oldest of the children he had to hand down his clothes to his younger brothers when he had outgrown them. To get enough shoes for so large a family was always a problem because they were expensive and the rough mountain country wore them out very fast.

The children had gone barefoot all summer. School would open very soon, the colder weather would come; and now Jerry had handed his old shoes on to his next brother. Jerry was as big as his father, and for the first time he realized how awkward he would look at school in his bare feet. That night he complained to his father and mother about it. His parents would gladly have bought him shoes if they had had the money. He went to bed with anger and resentment. He complained because he had no shoes. Daily he reminded his parents of his need of shoes. I am sure that you and I can understand how Jerry felt. The parents felt worse about it than Jerry did.

Then one day the mother gave Jerry two dollars in pennies which she had saved for just such an emergency. The next day school was to open. Luckily Jerry was able to get a ride into the village with Mr. Wright who lived in the next valley. His mother had also given him some money for groceries.

When Mr. Wright stopped his old wheezy, rattling car in front of the village store a beautiful new black car also stopped. The people in it were tourists from another state. They all got out except one man in the rear seat. Jerry walked around the car and touched it. He had never seen such a beautiful car. "Do you like the car, sonny?" asked the man in the rear seat. "Yes," answered Jerry, "it surely is a nice one." Then coming closer he said, "Don't you want to come out, mister, and see our town?" "My boy," said the stranger, "I would like to, but I have no feet; they were shot off in the war. If it could be done I would gladly give you my car for your two good feet. If I only had your feet! I would be happy if I had to go barefooted the rest of my life." "Yes," said Jerry, "yes, I guess a man really should have feet; I had never thought much about it."

Two hours later Jerry and Mr. Wright were on their way home. Jerry laid the groceries on the table. "But, where are the shoes?" asked the mother. "Well," said Jerry, "I don't want any shoes just now, at least, not until it gets too cold to go barefooted." "But, I don't understand," said his mother, "you complained for days because you had no shoes." "Yes, I know," replied Jerry, "I complained because I had no shoes, but today I met a man in the village who had no feet."

Jerry learned a lesson that day which I hope he never forgot. Often we complain because we do not have this or that. How thoughtless we are. Let us thank God for our feet, our hands, our eyes, and our health. That is something for which to be thankful on this Thanksgiving Day.

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