Story – Honest George

One day some years ago when people traveled mostly by trains, an energetic shoeshine boy stepped up to a man standing on a platform in Grand Central Station in New York City. “How about a shoeshine, Mister?” the boy asked.

“Well,” the man replied, “I could use a shoeshine. But do I have time? I need to catch the Hudson River train.”

“There’s no time to lose,” the boy admitted. “But I can do a good job for you before the train pulls out.”

“Are you sure?”

“I’m sure.”

“Ok,” the man agreed. And in two seconds, the boy was down on his knees putting on the polish.

“You won’t let the train leave without me, will you?” the man asked anxiously, looking at his watch and then at the train nearby.

“No, I won’t sir,” the boy assured him, and he quickly reached for his brushes and began buffing the man’s shoes to a high gloss.

“What’s your name?” asked the man.

“George Holmes.”

“Is your father living?”

“No, sir. He’s dead. There’s no one except Mother and me. There you are, sir, and the train is starting to move!” George stood up, his job completed.

The man reached quickly into his pocket and took out a dollar. He handed it to George who started to count out his change. But the man was afraid there wasn’t time to wait, and he turned and jumped aboard the moving train. George ran alongside with the man’s change, but before he could reach him the train picked up speed and pulled away.

George felt bad that he hadn’t been able to give the man his change.

Two years later, as George was walking along the street near Grand Central Station, he saw this man again. He was sure it must be him, because George rarely forgot a face. Approaching the man, George asked, “Sir, have you ever been here in New York City before?”



“About two years ago.”

“Didn’t I shine your shoes on the platform here at Grand Central Station?”

“I don’t know. There was a boy who shined my shoes. It could have been you.”

“And did the train pull out before that boy could give you your change?” George asked.

“Yes, it did,” the man replied with a surprised look.

“Well, sir, I’m the boy, and I owe you seventy-five cents. Here is your money. I was afraid I wouldn’t ever see you again.”

Now, since this is a true story, perhaps you would like to know what became of George. The man whose shoes he had polished was so pleased to find such an honest boy that he asked George where he lived. He took the time to learn about George’s situation, how he lived alone with his mother and how they worked hard to make ends meet. The man helped them find a more comfortable place to live and gave them the money to pay the rent. He set up a fund to make sure George would be able to get a good education. All because of an act of honesty.

Of course, what happened to George doesn’t always happen just because we are honest. But even if no one notices, it still pays to be honest. And there are other ways of being honest besides in matters of money. You can be honest with your parents. You can be honest in school. You can be honest with your friends.

Be honest in everything, so that at last God may say to you, “I have been able to trust you in the little things of this life. Now I will make you ruler over great things.”

Storytime, Character-building Stories for Children, ©2008, 56, 57.