Recollections of a Small Town
IN SEARCH OF INTEGRITY
How do you know it when you see it? The person of integrity carries
no sign boasting about it. He or she is not likely to recognize it as a
trait they own. And others may not realize such a wonderful quality in
a friend they had until long after.
A dictionary definition falls short of a true description. A supreme
court justice said he could not define pornography, but he knew it when
he saw it. Fair enough, but he would have trouble with integrity, I bet.
But this wise jurist gives us a hint.
We may not know integrity when we see it but we enjoy it without
question while it is there for us. Later it’s up to us to reflect and decide
about our own saints. Too subjective? What do I have except ordinary people
so lately beatified?
Miss Agnes Lawton, the principle of my elementary school who was
dedicated to teaching and doing it fiercely;
The French teacher who refused to boost my failing grade by one-half
a point. She did me a favor;
Emma Mueller, English literature which she loved and cut no slack
for shirkers and smirkers;
G. C. McKelvey, high school principal and math teacher called Cap’n
Mac. As a World War I decorated veteran (and a gay!) he had two suits,
lived in a rented room and spent most of his salary to put poor kids into
A priest of my church whose wise counsel kept me from making a horrid
A college instructor who knew my term project was completed, swept
out by a janitor while I was at my father’s funeral, but gave me no “A”
because my project was unsupported summary. I spent a day and a night writing
that damned summary!;
Charles Leland Harper, the guy who taught me the printing trade,
also much about life. At age 37, with a wife and four children, he enlisted
in the navy after Pearl Harbor. He waived an honorable exemption!
Others throughout life who simply show up when you need them most.
I know integrity exists and is found in diverse places and people.
4 January 2007
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