Yesterday I finished another non-fiction book that I started about a week ago. This was Ted Gup's A Secret Gift.
Back in the middle of the Great Depression, a clothing store owner named Sam Stone did an anonymous kindness for neighbors (and strangers) in Canton, Ohio. He placed an ad in a local paper right before Christmas, under the name of Mr. B. Virdot, asking for people who were down on their luck to write him a letter if they needed help for Christmas. He then sent $5 checks to 150 families. At that time, five dollars could make a huge difference for a family. It meant clothes, or food, or rent.
More than 70 years later, journalist/professor Ted Gup received a suitcase of his grandfather's papers. His grandfather was Sam Stone. When Gup started trying to understand the letters, written to Mr. B. Virdot, and what they had to do with his grandfather, it started him on a long journey. He learned about his hometown during the Depression, about his own secret family history, and about the hurting people who had reached out for help during one poor Christmas during the 1930s.
I enjoyed this book so much I'm thinking about giving copies as Christmas presents. It is just amazing, I loved going on this journey with Ted Gup, finding out why his grandfather gave the money away, and about the family history that had been hinted at, but never spoken about openly. The stories about those midwestern families who struggled to keep their homes and families together, with varying degrees of success, were very touching.