More than a hundred years ago, two boys were fishing in a small river. They sat in a heavy flat-bottomed boat, each holding a long, crooked rod in his hands and eagerly waiting for “a bite.”single-pedal-boat-green-no-bckgrnd
When they wanted to move the boat from one place to another they had to pole it; that is, they pushed against a long pole, the lower end of which reached the bottom of the stream. “This is slow work, Robert,” said the older of the boys as they were poling up the river to a new fishing place. “The old boat creeps over the water no faster than a snail.”
“Yes, Christopher; and it is hard work, too,” answered Robert. “I think there ought to be some better way of moving a boat.”
“Yes, there is a better way, and that is by rowing,” said Christopher.
“But we have no oars.”
“Well, I can make some oars,” said Robert; “but I think there ought to be still another and a better way.
I am going to find such a way if I can.” The next day Robert’s aunt heard a great pounding and sawing in her woodshed. The two boys were there, busily working with hammer and saw. “What are you making, Robert?” she asked.
“Oh, I have a plan for making a boat move without poling it or rowing it,” he answered. His aunt laughed and said, “Well, I hope that you will succeed.”
After a great deal of tinkering and trying, they did succeed in making two paddle wheels. They were very rough and crude, but strong and serviceable. They fastened each of these wheels to the end of an iron rod which they passed through the boat from side to side. The rod was bent in the middle so that it could be turned as with a crank. When the work was finished, the old fishing boat looked rather odd, with a paddle wheel on each side which dipped just a few inches into the water. The boys lost no time in trying it.
“She goes ahead all right,” said Christopher, “but how shall we guide her?”
“Oh, I have thought of that,” said Robert. He took something like an oarlock from his pocket and fastened it to the stern of the boat; then with a paddle which worked in this oarlock one of the boys could guide the boat while the other turned the paddle wheels.
“It is better than poling the boat,” said Christopher.
“It is better than rowing, too,” said Robert. “See how fast she goes!”
That night when Christopher went home he had a wonderful story to tell. “Bob Fulton planned the whole thing,” he said, “and I helped him make the paddles and put them on the boat.”
“I wonder why we didn’t think of something like that long ago,” said his father. “Almost anybody could rig up an old boat like that.”
“Yes, I wonder, too,” said Christopher. “It looks easy enough, now that Bob has shown how it is done.”
When Robert Fulton became a man, he did not forget his experiment with the old fishing boat. He kept on, planning and thinking and working, until at last he succeeded in making a boat with paddle wheels that could be run by steam.
He is now remembered and honored as the inventor of the steamboat. He became famous because he was always thinking and studying and working. When he first introduced his unique and wonderful invention, the so-called steamboat skeptics arrived on the river bank ready with their vicious remarks.
They started shouting “It will never start! It will never start!” When the steamboat actually started and made its way down the river, those loud-mouthed critics began shouting, “It’ll never stop! It’ll never stop!”

I sat with my friend in a well-known coffee shop in a neighboring town of Venice, Italy, the city of lights and water.
jeremybennett-sticky-note-pad-and-pencil-svgAs we enjoyed our coffee, a man entered and sat at an empty table beside us. He called the waiter and placed his order saying, “Two cups of coffee, one of them there on the wall.”
We heard this order with rather interest and observed that he was served with one cup of coffee but he paid for two.
When he left, the waiter put a piece of paper on the wall saying “A Cup of Coffee”.
While we were still there, two other men entered and ordered three cups of coffee, two on the table and one on the wall. They had two cups of coffee but paid for three and left. This time also, the waiter did the same; he put a piece of paper on the wall saying, “A Cup of Coffee”.
It was something unique and perplexing for us. We finished our coffee, paid the bill and left.
After a few days, we had a chance to go to this coffee shop again. While we were enjoying our coffee, a man poorly dressed entered. As he seated himself, he looked at the wall and said,
“One cup of coffee from the wall.”
The waiter served coffee to this man with the customary respect and dignity. The man had his coffee and left without paying.
We were amazed to watch all this, as the waiter took off a piece of paper from the wall and threw it in the trash bin.
Now it was no surprise for us – the matter was very clear. The great respect for the needy shown by the inhabitants of this town made our eyes well up in tears.
Ponder upon the need of what this man wanted. He enters the coffee shop without having to lower his self-esteem… he has no need to ask for a free cup of coffee… without asking or knowing about the one who is giving this cup of coffee to him… he only looked at the wall, placed an order for himself, enjoyed his coffee and left.
A truly beautiful thought. Probably the most beautiful wall you may ever see anywhere!
MORAL OF THE STORY: Need not wait for your turn to help needy.