Ted Gup, a legendary investigative reporter for The Washington Post and Time Magazine and now the director of the Emerson College Journalism Center in Boston, has written a compelling memoir of his fascinating grandfather, Sam Stone.
Sam J Stone, a businessman from Canton, Ohio, died in 1981 at he age of 90. Ted thought he knew his grandfather until his mother handed him a briefcase filled with family papers. Letters addressed to B. Virdot were written responses to the generosity of his grandfather who had run a newspaper ad at Christmas 1933 offering money to needy citizens who described their hardships. At this time during the heart of the Great Depression, most families were struggling and many didn’t know from where their next meal would come. Ted discovered the true story of his grandfather’s painful background as he tracked down the families of these letters and researched the 75 years of hidden history of his grandfather.
Five dollars given to 150 different individuals brought far-reaching benefit to Canton white-collar businessmen. The thank-you letters revealed the immense suffering and psychological trauma suffered by ordinary individuals that had had good jobs, nice homes and money in the bank. Overnight many found their jobs gone, homes repossessed and banks closed. A Secret Gift encourages introspection as we look at the economic climate today and see how quickly life changed less than a century ago for our relatives and friends.