Hasty Judgements

An excellent example of why judging solely by what's on the surface is a bad thing


A lady in a faded gingham dress and her husband, dressed in a homespun

threadbare suit, stepped off the train in Boston, and walked timidly

to the Harvard campus and without an appointment into the president's

outer office. The secretary could tell in a moment that such

backwoods, country hicks had no business at Harvard and probably

didn't even deserve to be in Cambridge. She frowned.

"We want to see the president", the man said softly.

"He'll be busy all day," the secretary snapped.

"We'll wait," the lady replied.

For hours, the secretary ignored them, hoping that the couple would

finally become discouraged and go away. They didn't. And the

secretary grew frustrated and finally decided to disturb the

president, even though it was a chore she always regretted to do.

"Maybe if they just see you for a few minutes, they'll leave," she

told him. And he sighed in exasperation and nodded. Someone of his

importance obviously didn't have the time to spend with them, but he

detested gingham dresses and homespun suits cluttering up his outer


The president, stern-faced with dignity, strutted toward the couple.

The lady told him, "We had a son that attended Harvard for one year.

He loved Harvard. He was happy here. But about a year ago, he was

accidentally killed, and my husband and I would like to erect a

memorial to him, somewhere on campus".

The president wasn't touched - he was shocked.

"Madam," he said gruffy, "We can't put up a statue for every person

who attended Harvard and died. If we did, this place would look like

a cemetery".

"Oh, no," the lady explained quickly, "We don't want to erect a

statue. We thought we would like to give a building to Harvard.

The president rolled his eyes. He glanced at the gingham dress and

homespun suit, then exclaimed, "A building! Do you have any earthly

idea how much a building costs? We have over seven and a half million

dollars in the physical plant at Harvard."

For a moment the lady was silent. The president was pleased. He

could get rid of them now.

And the lady turned to her husband and said quietly, "Is that all it

costs to start a University? Why don't we just start our own?" Her

husband nodded. The president's face wilted in confusion and


And Mr. and Mrs. Leland Stanford walked away, traveling to Palo Alto,

California where they established the University that bears their

name, a memorial to a son that Harvard no longer cared about.