At age 88, my mom received the annual Celestine Park Distinguished Service Award this weekend. That reminded me of a story she told me when I interviewed her some years ago about her life: Vagabonds were common in rural Dubois County during the Depression, going from house to house begging for food. One such gentleman, a one-legged World War I veteran, traveled my mom's neighborhood between Jasper and Celestine several times a year, staying at the local school overnight to stay warm and the next day begging door to door. One day when he got to my mom's house, her parents were not at home. So she, at age 10 or 11, had to decide what to give him, if anything. She gave him a few pieces of speck, a fatty bacon that was somewhat plentiful after home butchering, a common tradition on area farms at that time. The man, who carried a skillet in his backpack, thanked my mom and left. "I felt bad after that that I didn't give him some bread to go with it," she told me. That's how she is — not thinking about all she has done, but considering what more she could do, what else she could give, how else she could help.
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