Tuesday, February 22, 2011

An Act of Kindness

The recent picture of Helen Wallis and family celebrating her 97th birthday reminded me of an event that occurred in the 1940s but played itself out a decade later involving Chief Deputy Sheriff of Middlesex County, Jack Wallis.

In April 1955 Wallis received a $325 check that turned out to be the second installment of payment in gratitude for an act of kindness. Ten years earlier, Wallis was driving along Marlborough Street in Portland (Rt. 66) at about 2:30 in the morning when he stopped to assist a motorist with apparent mechanical difficulty. Upon alighting from his car, the deputy sheriff found an elderly couple whose vehicle had a flat tire and no spare. Further investigation found that the couple was on the way to Lynn, Mass. to visit a friend in hospital.

When it became apparent that no spare would be available for several hours until a garage opened, Wallis loaded the couple into his car and drove them to their destination. In Lynn he found accommodations for the couple and himself, it still being early morning. Several hours later, as Sherriff Wallis prepared to return home, the old gentleman still protesting his thanks and gratitude, made an attempt to pay his benefactor for his assistance. Wallis even reluctant to discuss the affair refused any money and made an attempt to leave quickly and quietly. But the old man took 2 $10s and a $5 from his wallet and threw them on the car seat insisting to Wallis that he would not take the bills back. Wallis got into his vehicle and returned to his office in Middletown.

On April 18, 1955, a letter arrived addressed to Wallis with the check, the one mentioned above – a legacy left by the old man who couldn’t forget the stranger who helped him in a brotherly spirit at a time when he desperately needed it.