There is an older gentlemen who goes for walks around the neighborhood. No one knows how old he is.
“There are just some
questions that can’t be answered,” he says. He doesn’t go to a job for a
living. He walks around the neighborhood in the morning, in the
afternoon, and in the evening. He sometimes walks around the
neighborhood after midnight. Most people think he is retired, he looks
old enough to be, while other people say he is a famous author no one
around these parts have ever heard of because most of the people in this
neighborhood don’t read. Those who do read, spend most of their time
reading the Racing Form before placing their bets at the track up the
The older gentleman is always dressed like a gentleman. He
always wears a necktie, even if he isn’t wearing a jacket. He dresses
with comfortable formality. He is never hatless. A driving cap in
spring, a panama in summer, a fedora in autumn and early winter, and a
woven wool watch cap during the coldest months. His shoes are scuffed
from all the walking he does, but they are always polished and good
repair. They must have cost twenty-five dollars twenty years ago.
isn’t strange to see most of the elderly neighbors taking their daily
constitutional strolls around the neighborhood. Regular exercise is a
normal part of a healthy lifestyle. Being engaged in the neighborhood
means getting out and about. Many families sit out on their front
porches during the warmer months. They talk to the pedestrians going
about their routes, whether they circumambulate the neighborhood for
recreation or to run errands to the pharmacy or the grocery or the
Chinese take-out kitchen on the corner of Orchid and Broad Streets.
is exceptional about the older gentleman is not that he is older, and
it is not that he appears to be a gentleman. Most of the retired older
men who walk around the neighborhood are gentleman. What is remarkable
about this man is that he always walks with a fairly large Rottweiler by
his side. The dog does not have a leash and the older gentleman does
not carry a plastic bag to pick up after his dog. There is no need for
The older gentleman is in complete control of his dog,
more so than other pet owners. Where the man goes, the dog follows.
Where the dog goes, the man goes with him. The older gentleman will
call his dog to the side of the curb when another dog or fellow
pedestrians approach, and the man will put himself between the dog and
everyone else. The Rottweiler has never been known to be interested in
either barking or biting, but good manners require the older gentleman
to defuse any potentially frightening situation. He stands tall and
straight in his necktie and vest with a relaxed composed smile on his
I was passing him with my daughter this morning. She has just
learned to walk. We both know the older gentleman and his dog as
passing acquaintances. We live in the neighborhood, too. We walk about
every morning as my daughter becomes acquainted with her surroundings.
After saying hello, as we always do, the older gentleman commented that
my daughter had finally got her balance right. “None too soon,
either,” he said. My daughter petted the dog respectfully. The dog
licked her little hand as the man watched carefully.
you’re a good mother,” he said. “Every time I see you I think that.” I
thanked him for his estimation. “I try,” I said.
we can really do,” the older gentleman said. “You always have a smile
for everyone. Your daughter does, too. The apple doesn’t fall too far
from the tree when the tree is strong. This little girl,” the older
gentleman said, “she isn’t going to upset a cart or spoil a barrel. I
can see that.” He patted my daughter on the head and gave her a quarter
for being a good girl.
A butterfly flew by and my daughter
started chasing it. It was time to say goodbye.
The man said, “A smile
is the most powerful thing we have as human beings. I try to keep a
lifetime of smiles in me. You should, too. Whatever you don’t use,
your daughter will pick up.” He smiled at me as I chased the butterfly
with my daughter.
Story written by Whalehead King
About this story: This story was inspired by a post I made on Facebook. When my friend, Whalehead King, read the Facebook post, it inspired him to write the above story. His story is based on a true event, and further illustrates that our writing can come from anywhere, whether a fictional event or a real one. Below is the post I made on FB.
There is an older gentlemen who goes for walks
around the neighborhood. While this is a normal thing, since when
people get older they need to move their bodies more, what is remarkable
about this man is that he has a fairly big-size rottweiler by his side.
He is in complete control of the dog (more so than other pet owners as
he will pull his dog to the side and put himself between the dog and other
walking pedestrians). Anyway, we called out "Hi" to each other as we
usually do, as he made a comment about Jaq walking on her own. Then, he
said, "You are a good mother." My only reply to that was, "Thanks. I can
only do what I can." As the gentleman walked away, he commented to
himself. "She always has a smile for everyone." As life is, a smile is
the most powerful thing we have as humans, and more people need to use