With the 50th anniversary of John Kennedy’s death upon us, there have been all kinds of behind the scene accounts written. One of them had to do with the Zapruder’s film. Apparently, within hours of the President’s death, the staff of Life magazine came to understand that a Dallas businessman, Abraham Zapruder had captured the shooting on an 8mm movie camera.
They dispatched a LA bureau chief, Dick Stolley to the area with the instructions to “get that film!” At 11pm that night, Stolley found Mr. Zapruder and asked if he could come right then and see the film. Zapruder said no. Everything in Stolley’s background as a newsman said, “press harder.” But he didn’t. He agreed to meet Zapruder in his office the next morning.
At 8am Stolley saw the film along with some secret service agents. It was only a 26 second film but Stolley realized the monumental nature of those seconds and he began to negotiate on behalf of Life magazine. A pack of journalists had gathered in the hall outside Zapruder’s office. They pounded on the door, screamed their offers through the cracks, slipped notes under the door and even called the office from a booth across the street. In the end, Zapruder sold both the film and TV rights to Life magazine.
The next day, Stolley called one of Zapruder’s business partners to clarify some details. That partner asked Stolley if he knew why Zapruder sold him and only him the rights. Stolley responded, “The money.” The partner agreed that the money was very important. Then he asked the question again, “Do you know why Zapruder sold it to you?” And he went on to answer his own question with a statement: “Because you were a gentleman.”
Stolley could have pressed Zapruder the night before, but he did not. And history records the effect of his graciousness-Life magazine had the single most important piece of film in American history! All because someone was a gentleman.
As I read that story, I asked myself the question, “Where are all the gentlemen?” I am blessed to work in an environment that has many those kind souls. Our teachers are training young men to be gracious and treat women as ladies. Young boys open my doors. Older men are kind and carry my bags. But I fear that I work in a very unique place.
Others are not so blessed…so this week, all of us, let’s start a campaign to create more gentlemen. Let’s be appreciative when we do encounter these gracious men. Ladies, say loud “thank yous!” And for those of us with young men in our homes, let’s spend time explaining to them the virtues of being a gentleman. Society is richer and relationships are sweeter when men are kinder.
We need more gentlemen.
By His Grace and for His Glory,
Sherry L. Worel