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Saturday, October 20, 2018

When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that's amore.

Julie and Rich Morgan live in Indianapolis, Indiana, and for the last 25 years they've been reminiscing about legendary pies sold at Steve's Pizza in Battle Creek, Michigan."We were young and money was tight, says Julie, "but every payday Rick would bring home Steve's pizza. We've never tasted anything better." The couple were recently planning to revisit Battle Creek for Julie's birthday, but an unexpected illness left Rich in hospice.

The couple didn't know it, but Julie's dad called Steve's Pizza, hoping the restaurant might contact the couple or send them a text. But 18-year-old manager Dalton Shaffer had a different idea. After hearing their story, he immediately asked what kind of pizza the couple liked. Even though Steve's has a firm take-out-only rule, he drove 225 miles to Indianapolis to deliver two pepperoni pizzas to the couple's house. Julie remembers, "At 2:30 a.m., while Rich and I slept, Dalton rolled into our driveway, left his car running, and delivered two extra-special pizzas to my waiting family." Then Dalton drove back, so he could be at work the next morning.

Friday, October 19, 2018

"She was mine, and I was hers."

What's the secret to lasting love? Is it her hourglass figure, or his fancy car? Is it a shared interest in art or music? Or can love be born from agony?  In his book, "My Germany," Lev Raphael remembers April, 1945, when his dad and 2,500 other prisoners from the Nazi Bergen-Belsen death camp were packed into a train without food or water to prevent Allied forces from setting them free. The train cars (like the one shown here) remained sealed shut as the train wandered aimlessly for a week.

On April 13, two American tanks appeared and the Nazi guards fled. When the locked cattle cars were opened, the stench was so bad that many in the 30th infantry division vomited. American troops took the starving Jews from the train and cared for them at a former Wehrmacht base, now a Displaced Persons Camp. The clean, heated quarters were paradise for Jews who had been treated like animals for years. Lev's mother had escaped from a slave labor camp 16 miles away and was already on the base when his dad arrived. They had lost everything -- home, family, country. There was no time for courting. His dad simply asked her, "Do you like me?" She answered "yes" and his dad later recalled that, from that moment on, "she was mine and I was hers." Their marriage lasted 54 years.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

A cut above the rest

If you have a passion, stay with it. That's what Callie Terrell has done. The beautician from Memphis, Tennessee, earned her cosmetology license in 1945 and has been doing hair for 73 years. She is the oldest licensed cosmetologist in Tennessee.

She once had her own thriving beauty shop, but now rents space in another, and has decided when to retire. Her last day will be on her birthday this November, when she turns 100. The customer she's had longest is her daughter Inez, who is too old to drive. Terrell picks her daughter up and brings her to the shop for haircuts, since the 100-year-old still drives. Even after retirement, she'll still be buzzing around town, keeping busy.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Prayer in public schools?

Two years ago on the National Day of Prayer, Alabama Governor Robert Bentley signed into law the Student Religious Liberties Act. Bentley explained "the right to student-led prayer...while on campus grounds is secured and protected in Alabama's public schools." And not a moment too soon.  Two weeks later, during commencement at Clay-Chalkville High School, grads were receiving their diplomas when someone shouted "medic, medic, medic!" A woman in the audience had suffered a seizure. Instead of stopping the ceremony until EMTs arrived, school librarian Shannon Petty turned to graduating senior Christian Crawford for help. Crawford took the microphone, looked beyond the stadium lights, and delivered a prayer which has reached over 85,000 Facebook news feeds.

A member of New Rising Star Missionary Baptist Church in Birmingham, Crawford claims he did nothing more than listen and relay information straight from above. "I cannot take any credit for what God is doing through me for His glory. People are saying, 'you're famous.' No, God is famous. I prayed, and the will of God took over." The lady suffering a seizure recovered, and soon after graduating, Crawford was invited to present the opening prayer at the Alabama Legislature. 

Monday, October 15, 2018

If Ronald McDonald was real, he'd be Wendell

Wendell Gill has worked at the same Lexington, Kentucky, McDonalds for about 43 years, since before he and his wife adopted their two special needs grandsons. In 2016, the Herald-Leader wrote a feature about his affable nature and work ethic. But last August Della, his wife of 68 years, died. Since then, at 85, he has been mourning his wife, caring for his two adult grandchildren, and still working several days a week at McDonalds to make ends meet. When his friend Todd Oldfield, 56, came for a breakfast sandwich and asked "how's it going?" Wendell told him the truth.

                                                                           Photo of Wendell and Todd  (by Frank Goad)
A few weeks ago, Todd set up a GoFundMe headlined "Wendell Needs Us to Serve Him Now! He's 85 and needs to retire." GoFundMe donor Stephanie Baker wrote, "We used to go to McDonalds as children and still talk about Wendell to this day. Such a sweet soul." In just 12 days, the GoFundMe raised more than $32,000 for Wendell's expenses. One person offered to buy a headstone for Della, which Wendell could not afford. Another family has offered to sponsor Christmas for Wendell and his boys. "They really care," says Wendell, "and I care too."

Sunday, October 14, 2018

He never considered keeping the money

An Army medic named Luis Ocampo left his home in Charlotte, North Carolina, when his national guard unit was called up to help with Hurricane Florence relief. While he was gone, someone broke into his vacant house and looted it. They stole his computer and many other valuables.

Some of his friends started a GoFundMe campaign to replace what was stolen. Their goal was $5,000, but they raised $15,000. That's when Luis told them to stop taking donations. He said he could not take advantage of people's generosity. So he gave away every dollar he didn't need. Much of it went to a charity called Soldiers and Airmen Assistance Fund.