A Legacy of Smiles

While cleaning out my office this weekend, I came across a tiny card with the following printed on it, and I thought I’d share it and, I hope, share a smile with you.

Before I do, though, a bit of background: Ray Perlick was my mother’s cousin. He grew up in Plymouth, PA at the beginning of the 20th century. When he was about 4 or 5, his brother found their father’s gun and was playing with it. It went off, and the bullet lodged in Ray’s spine. He was horribly crippled for the rest of his life, with no muscle control from his waist down and misshapen legs.

As a little girl of 4 or 5 or so myself, I was always horrified to watch him struggle so hard to get from his rolling chair (a precursor of today’s high-tech wheelchairs) to the wooden bench in their backyard. Or trying to perch his uncooperative, non-responsive limbs on the leather stool where he worked as a jeweler in his tiny shop. I felt guilty that I could bounce around their yard, while he could only watch. I only became aware of the horrible pain he suffered all his life much later, when I was old enough to understand.

The card I found in my desk was, I suppose, his business card. He had given it to me many years ago, and I guess I slipped it into my wallet. Then another wallet. Then tucked it into a desk or two, as I traveled through life.

One side simply listed his business:

Ray Perlick


6 – – W. Main St.

Plymouth PA

(No zip codes back then; even the 2-digit, pre-zip postal codes weren’t needed, in this little town on the Susquehanna River)

The other side of the card said this:



A smile costs nothing but gives much. –

It takes but a moment, but the memory of it usually lasts forever.

None are so rich that can get along without it.

And none are so poor but that can be made rich by it.

It enriches those who receive

Without making poor those who give –

It creates sunshine in the home.

Fosters good will in business

And is the best antidote for trouble –

And yet it cannot be begged, borrowed or stolen, for it is of no value

Unless it is freely given away.

Some people are too busy to give you a smile –

Give them one of yours.

For the good Lord knows that no one needs a smile so badly

As he or she who has no more smiles left to give.

Such a happy philosophy, wrapped in a body like his! How blessed we are, then, we of sound limb and body! Let’s all try to share Ray’s happiness with everyone, one smile at a time.

The perfect legacy, Uncle Ray!

4 thoughts on “A Legacy of Smiles

  1. Thanks D! Here’s wishing you and yours a happy equinox and wonderful start to the new season!


    • And a happy equinox, today, to you to! I hope the snow stops at least long enough to enjoy this first day of spring. 🙂

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