One of the stories which I still remember with great fondness relates a young farm boy’s sacrifice when a much anticipated biplane was scheduled to land in the town where he lived. He and all his family, classmates and fellow citizens were excited about the prospect of seeing a biplane and its pilot. Unfortunately on the very day the plane was scheduled to land and take local folks for rides, the fence on the boy’s farm developed a serious breach. Had it not been fixed immediately, a whole herd of cattle might have escaped and been lost or injured.
The boy, who had greatly anticipated seeing the plane for some time, unselfishly volunteered to stay behind and fix the breach in the fence allowing his entire family to attend the event. Of course, he was disappointed but not resentful. As he was working diligently to mend the fence, he heard a sputtering, whirring noise overhead. Much to his surprise, it was the awaited biplane. As he gazed at it, the plane’s engine sputtered and stopped requiring the aircraft to make an unexpected landing in the farm’s pasture just yards away from him.
The plane landed safely and its pilot climbed out of the cockpit. He was wearing handsome riding-type britches, goggles, a leather helmet, knee-high leather boots and was the epitome of a pilot of that era. The aviator was happy to see the boy and explained the obvious. He had run out of fuel and asked the farm boy if he might have any gasoline on hand to spare. The boy was delighted to inform the pilot that he did indeed have fuel and would be happy to put it in the plane in order for the visiting pilot to continue his journey.
Much to the boy’s surprise, the pilot thanked him for his generosity and also invited him to climb into the cockpit and ride along with him to the landing field where the entire town, including his family, was anxiously awaiting. The boy was thrilled and graciously accepted the invitation after taking a last look around the farm to see that all the fences and cattle were secure. The fit, agile farm boy easily climbed into the plane’s cockpit. He and the pilot were soon on their way and landed at the designated airstrip. When the aircraft came to a halt in plain view of the onlookers, they were amazed to see the boy climb out onto the wing and wave at his family, friends and neighbors. It was a thrilling experience for everyone, especially the boy and his astonished family.
The story pointed out to the young readers that when a person sacrificed his own wishes and plans for the benefit of others, often it turned into a reward. This story is a wonderful example of that philosophy. All of the Elson Readers taught young folks many helpful lessons which became a part of their life’s moral compass.