A modern morality tale

There is a fable (or is it a folk tale, or perhaps a fairy tale, I’m never sure) about the king who placed a large stone in the middle of the road, with a bag of gold beneath it. In some versions it is a box of gold. Several years ago I suspect some citizen of Princeton wanted to demonstrate the moral of this story, because for weeks during the winter there was a garment or small blanket (or something, I forget) imbedded in the snow and ice of the sidewalk at our town’s main intersection. It was there for at least a couple weeks, getting more and more trampled into the ice and snow. One day I decided to remove and dispose of it, and when I tugged it up I found money beneath it (I forget how much). But it’s a nice story, however I tell it.

A couple weeks ago, I confessed an act of vandalism to a city official. For a long time the awning over the former meat-market front had been hanging in tatters, an eye sore for the city. Finally one night I tore down what I could reach, but left the material sitting on the sidewalk by the front entrance. Later I thought about the fable and my mid-winter experience, and returned to the scene of my crime. Apparently someone had kicked the pile of canvass further back into the store entrance, but still left it sitting. I proceeded to put a five-dollar bill under the pile as a small reward for anyone who might dispose of the material. Two-and-a-half weeks later, it was still sitting there, so today (Thursday the 19th) I cleaned up my mess (who else should do it?) and took it to a dumpster. I also collected the five dollars, which will go into the coffee fund at Senior Dining.

Richard Gist, Princeton

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