Secret Santa Visits Kmart

Santa Claus has been very kind.  He went to Kmart last week and paid off a bunch of bills for them.  This story was featured in the “Making a Difference” segment of “Nightly News with Brian Williams.”  There were other news stories on this segment of random acts of kindness.  The Secret Santa in Plainfield Township paid off Mary Chapin’s layaway last week and she was sincerely grateful, attributing it to the best gift she ever received, as it really was the “gift of believing in people,” showing her that there really is good in people, which one does not always see.

And as they say, one good deed often results in another.  After the initial donation of $500 was given, a couple of days later another special giver donated $2,000 anonymously, which settled an additional 13 layaway bills. The following day a further $1,000 was given for the same cause and within no time at all this trend spread across the country.  Indeed, in California thereafter, Kmart received $5,000 to pay off layaway tabs and then the same thing happened in Montana at the value of $1,000.

It really is the season for goodwill and charity.  Once one person shows generosity, it becomes a bug and lots of people want to do the same.  Giving makes people happy and receiving – when one is really in need – is the best present one can get over the holiday season.

Chaim Weizmann Sends Thanks to America for Their Support

When Chaim Weizmann took office as the First President of the new State of Israel, he had many people to thank. First securing a future for Israel on November 29th, 1947 with the Partition of Palestine, Israel then became a recognized state on May 14, 1948.

Prior to serving such an esteemed role in the development of the Jewish State, Weizmann was a spokesman of the Zionist cause in England, where he helped to get the Balfour Declaration passed in November of 1917. This declaration then set the stage for the Mandate over Palestine which was given to England by the League of Nations in 1922.

As a leader of the World Zionist Movement, and then as Israel’s first president, Weizmann worked tirelessly for the Zionist cause.

He met with President Harry Truman in March of 1948, urging the American President to understand how important the establishment of the Jewish State was. This meeting, and his tireless campaigning undoubtedly helped America to vote for the creation of the Jewish State.

Weizmann was elected as the first President of the State of Israel in February of 1949 and was sworn in on February 16th in Jerusalem. Only four days later, on February 20th, he wrote a letter to President Harry Truman’s aid, Clark Clifford. In the letter, which the Shapell Manuscript Foundation is featuring as part of its “Between the Lines” program, he wrote,

“Our mutual friend… has kept me informed of doings in Washington, and especially of your magnificent cooperation in many critical situations. In these days of struggle and readjustment we are desperately in need of understanding friendships, and it is good to know that we have in you a genuine friend of our cause. I assure you, and I wish you would in turn assure your great Chief, that we desire nothing but peace and amity with our neighbours, and that we have no aggressive designs on any of them. We shall always be mindful of the Biblical injunction: “Zion will be rebuilt in Justice”.”

He included a copy of his book, “Trial and Error” with the letter featured with the Shapell Manuscript Foundation and he signed off warmly by saying, “With kindest personal regards and best wishes.”

President Chaim Weizmann understood how pivotal America’s support had been in the establishment of the State, and he took the time on his first official day in office to make his appreciation understood.

Too Much Cuteness?

A seal pup ended up on Annette Swoffer’s couch last week.  The seal named Lucky (given that name because he always crosses streets and doesn’t get hurt), ended up sleeping on Swoffer’s couch.  He found a cat-door in her house through which he snuck in.  Swoffer thereafter called the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals which contacted the Department of Conservation that was already aware the seal was missing and had been on the lookout for him.

Lucky has disappeared more than once.  This is not the first time the Department has had to go out on a search.  Indeed, the seal has been dropped back into the sea already twice before and no doubt it will happen again.  Still, it was definitely something cute for Swoffer!

A Cat Who Doesn’t Need to Budget

Tommassino – an Italian cat – who started off on the streets – just inherited close to £10 million (nearly $16m).  Maria Assunta – his wealthy 94-year-old Italian owner – passed away, leaving all her wealth to him.

Ms. Assunta’s wealth spanned an extensive property portfolio, being the owner of various villas and homes throughout the country as well as quite a few large bank accounts.  The lawyers – Anna Orecchioni and Giacinto Canzona – were unable to find any living relatives.  Assunta wrote the will leaving the fortune to her cat two years ago.

Tommassino Denied Cash?

However, there is an issue with the law that may prevent Tommassino from inheriting his great fortune.  But in her will, Assunta also requested the large sum of money be donated to a “worthy animal association, if one could be found.”  Various organizations made requests to get their grubby paws on the cash but it seemed none were deemed suitable.  So in the end, Stefania – the nurse who took care of Assunta and loved animals (especially cats) – was given the task of administering the money.  She was shocked – she had no idea her charge was that wealthy.

Musical Births and Deaths on This Day

On 8 December, Composer Bohuslav Martinu was born.  On the same day, legend musician John Lennon was killed.  It was 1890 that Martinu was born and 90 years later to the date, that Lennon was shot.

Martinu was best-known for being the 20th century’s leading Czech composer.  He studied violin at Prague Conservatoire but was dismissed for his bad attitude.  Later on though, he ended up touring with the Czech Philharmonic and thereafter to Paris to study with Roussel.  Martinu also got very into Parisian culture.  His principal works include: Julietta, Double Concerto, Fantasies symphoniques.

John Lennon – probably the most famous of The Beatles – on the same day in history 90 years later was killed.  Just a few months after his 40th birthday, the musician was shot a few times on entering his apartment in the upper west side of Manhattan, across from Central Park.  It was a man called Mark David Chapman who fired the five bullets that hit Lennon four times in his back.  He immediately pled guilty at the scene and sentenced to 20 years to life at the Attica Correctional Facility, Attica, New York prison where he remains today.  His parole has been denied six times. John Lennon was an excellent songwriter and had a stunning melodious voice – he was a true natural and an asset and is still missed and mourned today by his fans and family, Yoko Ono (his wife) and Julian Lennon (his son).

Real Rags to Riches Tale


From Barber to Rolls Royce Owner

Yes it’s true.  Today’s very wealthy  Ramesh Babu used to earn a mere 5 Indian Rupees ($0.10) a day!  But time has changed a lot of things and now the man is the owner of a staggering 67 luxurious cars!  Included in this mix is a BMW, Mercedes and Rolls Royce, the latter of which is valued at close to $2m.  He purchased this one just a few months ago.  Clearly therefore, the now-41-year-old man has come a long way.  Bangalore isn’t exactly known for its worth and only five other people in the whole of Bangalore own such cars.

But even though he has come so far, it is important to Babu that he not forget his humble beginnings.  He still works as a professional barber, styling the hair of his regular and loyal customers, who have been there with him from the start.  This, of course, is not where he makes his big bucks though; it is his car rental business that is raking in the Rupees.  Still, Babu did need to take out a loan for his Rolls Royce.

Good Business Move

But the loan was a business move – and a smart one. Should a client want to use it for the day, Babu charges 75,000 Indian Rupees (almost $1,500!).  These individuals are usually Bollywood stars or top models like former Miss World Aishwarya Rai Bachchan.

The Last Three Decades

Things have changed a lot for Babu since 1979.  His father had just passed away and this led to the entire family being homeless, living on the streets. Babu was just 9-years-old at the time and his 5 Indian Rupees per day weren’t exactly cutting it for the family (he was making this by working in his father’s salon – at such a young age).  Thus, pretty soon after his father’s death, he didn’t have a choice but to leave school and become a full-time barber. 

Fifteen years later, however, things started looking up.  He got the idea to start a car rental business.  He initially purchased a Maruti omni van which he rented out and still has today. The rest they say, is history! 

Still, no matter how well he does, he’ll keep his saloon on Bowring Institute; it’s just a part of him.  Indeed, if he goes to bed without having cut someone’s hair, he won’t be able to sleep!  Good for him.  Clearly, Babu won’t be forgetting his difficult beginnings in a hurry; maybe it’s this that will keep him motivated and ensure he is never forced to live on the streets again.