It Pays to Be Courteous
That old adage which declares “Good deeds remain, all things else perish,” and another, “A good action is never thrown away,” were clearly exemplified not long ago in a southern city, according to a recent issue of the American Lumberman, of Chicago. The incident is the result of a visit of E. C. Hale, manager of the Chicago publication, to Shreveport, La., where he met Chris O’Brien, the popular chief of the fire department of that city, of whose hospitality he was the recipient, although both remained incognito. Subsequently, learning the chief’s name, Mr. Hale wrote him a letter, expressing his gratitude, and forwarded a copy of the American Lumberman, which contained the following:
“About a week ago I arrived in one of the medium-sized cities of Louisiana, on a beautiful morning, the train reaching the Union depot about live minutes of six. I was ready to hunt a restaurant, for I had had an early supper the night before up in the woods, and the inner man was craving for something to eat. I found a lunch room and, after having a good breakfast, an hour and a half remained before my train left for the north. Having checked my baggage, I started out for a good walk. Realizing that I had an all day’s ride ahead of me, I wanted to get all of the good fresh air 1 possibly could before boarding the train again.
“In this pleasant place everybody seemed to be stirring, birds were singing, trees were green and the flowers were blooming. I said to myself: ‘This is a beautiful town’ I walked on up the street, turned to the left and stopped before a handsome building that was just being constructed. It was the First Methodist church, one of the finest I ever had the pleasure of inspecting, a church that would be a credit to Chicago or New York. It was a magnificent structure. As I was going through the building the workmen began to arrive. Out in front stood a gentleman who appeared to be more interested in the building than any one else. As I walked over close to him he saw that I was a stranger and bowed to me. I acknowledged his greeting, and after he had finished his directions to the workmen he said to me, ‘You are a stranger, aren’t you?’ I said, ‘Yes.’ After I had told him that 1 was from the north and was waiting an hour or so for my train, I said, ‘You have a beautiful town here, your streets are clean, and your people look happy and prosperous.’
“He invited me to come around the corner, said he wanted to show me something. I went with him a couple of blocks and there he had a great big, red automobile ftre car. He said he would like to have me take a ride as he was going to inspect the stations that morning, he was the fire chief of the city. I answered that I didn’t want to impose upon his good nature, I was just visiting for an hour in his city. But I said it certainly was mighty nice of him to invite me to accompany him, though 1 was afraid he was carrying his hospitality too far, ‘Not at all,’ he said, ‘jump in,’ and away we started. As we took a little run about the business streets I could see that his eye was on the lookout for all that pertained tu his department. As we took a run down to the wharf, he said, ‘There is something that the department was not properly notified of.’ We found that a large commission house was tearing up some planks in the street and rearranging some of its shipping rooms and platforms The chief asked the man in charge if the concern had notified the fire department or the proper officials, but he did not know. The chief told him to look the matter up, but he himself made a note of it. Then we started for outlying stations Though we went along at a pretty rapid gait, I noticed that the chief spoke to almost every man we met: ‘Good morning, John; good morning, Mr. Brown: good morning, captain; good morning, colonel.’ He spoke to the colored men and to the boys also. We ran up to the lirst engine house, he looked the engine over and asked the boys if they were all well. Hearing a hearty ‘yes,’ he quickly turned the car around and we were off again. At the second engine house a lieutenant, who came out, said: ‘Our man Kelly says his back is paining him pretty had; you know, he strained it at that last fire. He wants to come back to work, but I’m afraid he ought not to. I think he better lay off another two weeks.’ The chief told the lieutenant to tell Kelly to stay quiet; ‘I’ll run in and see him to-day. I don’t want him to take any chances,’
“Then, as we took a spin down a street that was just being boulevarded, the chief showed me an arrangement for fire protection and told me about the amount of pressure they had. He told me much about the people living along the street, their business, and, above all, he praised the public spirit some of them are showing. He said; An ex-senator of Louisiana lives here and he is a public-spirited man; here is another who is building a park; here is one who is contributing to a hospital.’ A few minutes later we ran through the yard of a beautiful home. At the windows were nurses and out in the front yard were children. The chief waved his hand to them all and each of them gave hack an answering wave. I asked what the place was, and he said it was an orphan asylum. ‘I always speak to them,’ he said; ‘the matron says the children look for my car, and it does them good to have me wave to them.’ Then he said in a low tone, ‘And it does me good to have them wave to me.’
“We ran up to a new standpipe just building and :be chief took me up on to the highest point, which gave me a view of a larger portion of the city. All the time he kept up a running talk about the town’s people, about their hopes and their ambitions, how titey are trying to make theirs the best city in the entire southland; how they were keeping it clean and sanitary; how everybody is working to build up that section of the State. He was a thorough community builder, and, above all, he was a splendid gentleman, beaming with hospitality. 1 was so impressed by his manner that I thought to myself; What a grand thing it would be for the nation if all fire chiefs and other officials in all cities had the same spirit; but I never happened to run across it before. We then took a little ride through the poorer sections of the city, where the laboring people live. The chief showed me the care with which they build houses. He said that everybody is interested in improving living conditions. The authorities are persuading some people to tear down the poorer houses and are helping them to build better ones. I could not hut feel that in the town were a great many men who were sincerely interested in one another’s welfare, and that interest speaks for the future welfare and happiness of that city. Promptly on time, within an hour, the chief returned to the depot in time for my train. My experience in the town was a pleasant memory all day long; in fact, it has remained with me ever since, and I think it always will be one of the brightest of the recollections of my trip to the southland.”
After a thorough clean-up of the filtration plant at Grand Rapids, Mich., the water is now being delivered practically sterile. The hardness has been reduced from ten grains in the raw river water to four. Each month the plant removes hundreds of tons of sediment and impurities are taken from the water and every day approximately eight tons of lime stone deposit are removed, In the settling basins within fifty days the sludge reached a depth of eight feet.