Neil Gaiman says:

Neil Gaiman says:
pic by Allan Amato

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Galloping legends and the meaning of Glurge

Every now and again I get jokes and the like fwded to me (I'm sure, everyone who has email and the InterWeb does as well.) Occasionally, I get sensational stories,letters urging me to fwd them to alternately: Make Money, Something funny will appear, a Number of signatures will make something happen (but one never finds out what or if something actually gets done..), etc etc...

I think the ones that irk me the most are the Email forwards that purport to be true. Whenever I get one of these, my radar goes up and before I even think of passing them on to anybody, I check Urban Legends and/or Snopes. And baby, 9/10 of the time, the "true" story is a hoax. The one I got today is a beauty and the explanation detailed enough that I thought I'd share it with y'all.

Here ya go:

Statistics Canada | 170 Tunney's Pasture Driveway Ottawa ON K1A 0T6
Government of Canada
-----Original Message-----
From: ******** ***** - OID/DOI
Sent: Wednesday, July 18, 2007 7:00 AM
To: (undisclosed recipients)


As she stood in front of her 5th grade class on the very first day of school, she told the children an untruth. Like most teachers, she looked at her students and said that she loved them all the same. However, that was impossible, because there in the front row, slumped in his seat, was a little boy named Teddy Stoddard.

Mrs. Thompson had watched Teddy the year before and noticed that he did not play well with the other children, that his clothes were messy and that he constantly needed a bath. In addition, Teddy could be unpleasant. It got to the point where Mrs. Thompson would actually take delight in marking his papers with a broad red pen, making bold X's and then putting a big "F" at the top of his papers.

At the school where Mrs. Thompson taught, she was required to review each child's past records and she put Teddy's off until last. However, when she reviewed his file, she was in for a surprise.

Teddy's first grade teacher wrote, "Teddy is a bright child with a ready laugh. He does his work neatly and has good manners... he is a joy to be around.."

His second grade teacher wrote, "Teddy is an excellent student, well liked by his classmates, but he is troubled because his mother has a terminal illness and life at home must be a struggle."

His third grade teacher wrote, "His mother's death has been hard on him. He tries to do his best, but his father doesn't show much interest, and his home life will soon affect him if some steps aren't taken."

Teddy's fourth grade teacher wrote, "Teddy is withdrawn and doesn't show much interest in school. He doesn't have many friends and he sometimes sleeps in class."

By now, Mrs. Thompson realized the problem and she was ashamed of herself. She felt even worse when her students brought her Christmas presents, wrapped in beautiful ribbons and bright paper, except for Teddy's. His present was clumsily wrapped in the heavy, brown paper that he got from a grocery bag. Mrs. Thompson took pains to open it in the middle of the other presents. Some of the children started to laugh when she found a rhinestone bracelet with some of the stones missing, and a bottle that was one-quarter full of perfume. But she stifled the children's laughter when she exclaimed how pretty the bracelet was, putting it on, and dabbing some of the perfume on her wrist. Teddy Stoddard stayed after school that day just long enough to say, "Mrs. Thompson, today you smelled just like my Mom used to."

After the children left, she cried for at least an hour. On that very day, she quit teaching reading, writing and arithmetic. Instead, she began to teach children. Mrs. Thompson paid particular attention to Teddy. As she worked with him, his mind seemed to come alive. The more she encouraged him, the faster he responded. By the end of the year, Teddy had become one of the smartest children in the class and, despite her lie that she would love all the children the same, Teddy became one of her "teacher's pets.."

A year later, she found a note under her door, from Teddy, telling her that she was the best teacher he ever had in his whole life.

Six years went by before she got another note from Teddy. He then wrote that he had finished high school, third in his class, and she was still the best teacher he ever had in life.

Four years after that, she got another letter, saying that while things had been tough at times, he'd stayed in school, had stuck with it, and would soon graduate from college with the highest of honors. He assured Mrs. Thompson that she was still the best and favorite teacher he had ever had in his whole life.

Then four more years passed and yet another letter came. This time he explained that after he got his bachelor's degree, he decided to go a little further. The letter explained that she was still the best and favorite teacher he ever had. But now his name was a little longer.... The letter was signed, Theodore F. Stoddard, MD.

The story does not end there. You see, there was yet another letter that spring. Teddy said he had met this girl and was going to be married. He explained that his father had died a couple of years ago and he was wondering if Mrs. Thompson might agree to sit at the wedding in the place that was usually reserved for the mother of the groom. Of course, Mrs. Thompson did. And guess what? She wore that bracelet, the one with several rhinestones missing. Moreover, she made sure she was wearing the perfume that Teddy remembered his mother wearing on their last Christmas together

They hugged each other, and Dr. Stoddard whispered in Mrs. Thompson's ear, "Thank you Mrs. Thompson for believing in me. Thank you so much for making me feel important and showing me that I could make a difference."

Mrs. Thompson, with tears in her eyes, whispered back. She said, "Teddy, you have it all wrong. You were the one who taught me that I could make a difference. I didn't know how to teach until I met you."

(For you that don't know, Teddy Stoddard is the Dr. at Iowa Methodist in Des Moines that has the Stoddard Cancer Wing.)

Warm someone's heart today. . . pass this along. I love this story so very much, I cry every time I read it. Just try to make a difference in someone's life today? tomorrow? just "do it".
Random acts of kindness, I think they call it!
"Believe in Angels, then return the favor"


From Snopes:

"Home --> **Glurge Gallery --> Teddy Bared

Teddy Bared
Claim: Teddy Stoddard, an objectionable little boy, gives his teacher old perfume and bracelet in gratitude for her kindness — the resulting friendship turns around his life.

Status: False.
Example: [Collected via e-mail, 1999]
* The child is variously named "Teddy Stallart," "Teddy Stoddart," or "Teddy Stallard."
* Some versions in circulation conclude, "For those of you who don't know, Teddy Stoddard is the Dr. at Iowa Methodist in Des Moines that has the Stoddard Cancer Wing." There is no Dr. Teddy (or Theodore) Stoddard working at the John Stoddard Cancer Center at Iowa Methodist Medical Center in Des Moines. Moreover, that facility was named for John Stoddard, a real estate developer who donated money for the center after his own battle with cancer.

Origins: This Scent of Momtouching tale is one of pure invention: there is no Teddy Stoddart (or Stallart) whose life was so changed by one special teacher who reached out to him, no Mrs. Thompson of rhinestone bracelet-wearing fame.

This work of fiction was penned by Elizabeth Silance Ballard in 1976 and published that year in Home Life magazine. The author's intent was far from unclear, as the piece was clearly marked as fiction and was presented as such, not as an account of a personal experience.

Elizabeth Ballard (now Elizabeth Ungar) has encountered versions of her story on a number of occasions, as she noted in a 2001 interview with Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reporter Dennis Roddy: I've had people use it in their books, except they made it as if it happened to them. In the '80s I heard Robert Schuller tell this story on one of his broadcasts. He told it as if it was someone he knew. Schuller's personification of the tale is far from unusual — folks determined to make a point will often claim a closer relationship to a story than actually exists in an effort to get their message taken more seriously. Someone charmed by the Teddy Stoddart story will thus claim to actually know the teacher or the boy, although neither

Elizabeth Ungar (née Ballard) has come to see her story attributed to others. Those who do include the author's name along with the piece almost always get it wrong, with "Elizabeth Silance Baynard" proving to be a popular choice for this form of misattribution. Yet the name "Ballard" is key to how the fictional little boy — named Teddy Stallard in the original version — came by his name, and during his 2001 interview with the author, Dennis Roddy uncovered the backstory.

A friend who was filling in as a Sunday School teacher received a gift of cheap perfume and a broken rhinestone bracelet from a grubby little boy one Christmas, and afterwards she told Elizabeth Ungar about it. Ungar combined this incident with one from her own childhood: her Christmas gift of hand-picked pecans to her long-ago elementary school teacher. The box of the pecans had caused the other children to laugh derisively, but the teacher soon quelled them with the announcement she was making fruitcakes and these nuts were exactly what she'd been lacking. Her teacher's compassionate response coupled with her friend's story formed the basis for the work of fiction we now know as "Three Letters from Teddy." Teddy's last name came from this origin: The surname of the grandmother who urged young Elizabeth to bring pecans to her teacher (Stanley) was combined with the author's then surname (Ballard) to form "Stallard."

Can one special teacher make a lasting difference in the life of a child? Yes, absolutely. Our history books are filled with instances of precisely that. But those looking for a real-life example of the importance of teachers will have to look elsewhere than this story.

Barbara "unsteady teddy" Mikkelson

Sightings: Paul Harvey read this story during his daily radio broadcast on 4 April 1998.
The Teddy Stoddard story has also been turned into a glurgerific video.
Urban Legends Reference Pages © 1995-2007
by Barbara and David P. Mikkelson
Baynard, Elizabeth Silance. "Three Letters from Teddy." In A 2nd Helping of Chicken Soup for the Soul. Deerfield Beach, FL: Health Communications, 1995.
In The Ten Greatest Gifts I Give My Children. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1994.
Roddy, Dennis. "A Story So Heartwarming, It's Unreal." The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 29 September 2001 (p.1)"

**PS I didn't know the definition of "Glurge" until I read the Snopes analysis.. for those of you wondering:

"...What is glurge? Think of it as chicken soup with several cups of sugar mixed in: It's supposed to be a method of delivering a remedy for what ails you by adding sweetening to make the cure more appealing, but the result is more often a sickly-sweet concoction that induces hyperglycemic fits.

In ordinary language, glurge is the sending of inspirational (often supposedly "true") tales that conceal much darker meanings than the uplifting moral lessons they purport to offer, and that undermine their messages by fabricating and distorting historical fact in the guise of offering a "true story."

Many of us, it seems, cannot overcome the urge to glurge."


Anonymous said...

GAK!!! I've been glurged!

Eifriger said...

Beware the GLURGE BDD ;-) Glad you enjoyed the post :-)

Anonymous said...

Two years on and I've just had exactly the same email sent, and exactly the same reaction ... gakkk! So sickly-sweet (and me a chocoholic, too) it set all my alarm bells ringing, and I took a quick look at Snopes. Well, wasn't that a surprise ... it's all fake.

Loved finding "glurgerific" there, too. I'd never heard that one till today, and it covers so MUCH of the sentimental-spam rubbish one gets. Thanks for posting and for the "glurge" definition, love it!