Sorry for the length, but I didn't have time to write a short blog.

Friday, November 30, 2012

O'henry Comes to New York


I know that at this time of year we sometimes forget in all the stress and turmoil that good things happen.  I also know that only a few of you may know who O'henry is. A few more of you may know one of his stories, a Christmas tale called the "Gift of the Magi."  At one point his stories were included in virtually every literature text for every high school.  He was a master of the surprise ending.  His stories were carefully crafted so that if his readers would go back and look all the details were there for the ending.

At any rate use one of my favorite stories by O'henry was the "The Cop and the Anthem." It is a wonderful story about a hobo named Soapy and his attempts to get arrested so that he can spend the winter months in  a jail cell protected from the elements.  If you would like to read the story you can find it here.

Today I heard of a true life story that happened on a cold fall day in mid-November on the streets of New York City.  It is sort of tale that O'henry would be proud to claim and "The Cop and the Anthem" in reverse.

Walking his beat in Times Square on a brisk November 15th night, Officer Larry DiPrimo noticed a homeless man who had no shoes.  DiPrimo asked the man where his shoes were? The homeless man replied that he didn't have any shoes or socks.  DiPrimo remarked that he was wearing his service boots and two pairs of socks and his feet were cold.

DiPrimo ran two block to a shoe store and went in where he told the clerk to give him the best winter boots they had.  The clerk learning what the young beat cop was up to, threw in his employee's discount; nevertheless the socks and boots cost DiPrimo nearly what a beginning cop makes for a day.  Why not buy cheaper shoes? DiPrimo says that it was his grandfather who told him if you are going to do something, then do it one hundred percent or don't do  it at all.

The three year "rookie" cop returned to the homeless man and with the man sitting on the sidewalk, he placed the socks and boots on the cold and blistered feet with the words " I have these size 12 boots for you; they are all-weather. Let’s put them on and take care of you."

The story should have ended there with no one ever knowing of this simple act of kindness except for the classic O'henry twist.  Jennifer Florence from Arizona, who has been in "law enforcement for 17 years" was visiting NYC with her husband and was about to approach the homeless man who was asking for change when DiPrimo arrived with the boots and heard that fateful statement.  She took a picture not because of the gift, but because the young officer kneeling, putting shoes on a needy man reminded her of her own father who was a police officer.


Florence who does not use Facebook or any social network, waited until she returned to work in Arizona and then emailed a letter and after a request the picture to the New York City Police Department congratulating them on the act by the officer whose name she did not know.  They put the letter and picture on their Facebook page.  It was a story of a cop and a hobo that was never meant to be told.

Merry Christmas