7-year-old's honesty an example for King birthday

This Just In...

January 17, 2000|By Dan Rodricks

I WOULD LIKE to enter Davey Thomas' small act of honesty and thoughtfulness in the Do Something Kindness and Justice Challenge, the national campaign that honors the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. with a call to kids to do good things.

"If they can do good acts for a day, they can do it for a week," says Martin Luther King III, eldest son of the slain civil rights leader. "And if they can do it for a week, they can do it for a year, and if they can do it for a year, they can do it for a lifetime."

Davey Thomas did it at age 7.

Ask yourself: If you found U.S. Grant staring up at you from a shopping center parking lot, would you turn him in? Call police? Stuff him in your pocket?

Davey Thomas, a second-grader at Quarterfield Elementary School in Anne Arundel County, found a $50 bill outside the Glen Burnie Costco-Price Club warehouse store a couple days before Christmas. Instead of claiming finders-keepers, Davey took the Grant note to store management.

Within a few hours, someone called the Price Club to ask if anyone had returned the $50. Tara Takovich, who had dropped it during a shopping trip, and her parents, Peggy and Lou, were amazed to hear that a 7-year-old boy had turned it in. How amazed? They got Davey's address and sent him a reward he would never forget -- a check for $100.

This acts-of-kindness business can rub off, brothers and sisters.

"My son got a lot of pleasure out of returning the money. He didn't expect anything for it," David Thomas Sr. said. "And he's done it before. Once at Six Flags [in Largo], he found two $1 bills and wanted to turn them in. We did, and they gave him cookies and let him keep the money."

Thomas and his wife made sure their son understood that honesty is inherently rewarding, that it's not meant to be a double-your-money venture. Sounds like Davey already understood that. You go, boy.

Brothers tee off again

Mark and Eric Johnson, brothers who put this columnist on to the story last week, expected me to express outrage -- not mere amusement -- at the Baltimore Municipal Golf Corp.'s decision to require a golf cart in every group that departs for a day of slicing, shanking and putting on the city's 18-hole courses.

The Johnsons are walkers, and they're peeved. They like walking with their golf clubs. They're partial to the city courses, especially Pine Ridge. They don't like having to pay extra for the rental of a high-tech, satellite-linked golf cart.

They think the new policy is ridiculous. They're outraged. And they expected me to share their outrage when TJI (Jan. 12) reported the new policy.

I guess I can't get as upset as they are. (A range of golfing fees that top off at $18 still sounds pretty reasonable to me.) But in this matter I'm certainly sympathetic to the man or woman who sees golf as an opportunity to get some exercise.

As you might expect, they've become a minority. According to the nonprofit corporation that runs the city courses, walkers make up about a third of regular players these days.

With the new policy, there will be fewer hoofers on the links -maybe none. It's an effort, course management claims, to pick up the pace of play on increasingly crowded city golf courses.

Eric Johnson disagrees. "Why should we be discouraging walking on our public courses?" he says. "It does not serve the public interest to do so. I know of no other municipal golf courses that have such a restrictive policy for walkers." Johnson believes there is no evidence that carts pick up the pace of play.

To convert from foot to cart, Johnson and other walkers will have to pay $6 more to golf than they paid last year. "A rise from $12 to $18 may not seem like much to you, but to many working-class residents of Baltimore this may make a huge difference," Johnson says. "A primary responsibility of our city should be to make its public facilities as accessible as possible."

Good points all. I should have included them in last week's column.

If Pine Ridge, Forest Park, Clifton Park and Mount Pleasant were private courses, I'd consider them free to set whatever policies they wanted. But they are public courses, and their management should make room for everyone. Pace of play can't be an issue at all times of day, every day of the week. There must be windows -- two to four hours each weekday -- when demand drops. The management could allow walkers during certain off-peak hours, with no charge for a cart rental.

That's it from here, fellas.

Speaking up for oldies

These days, some drivers on Interstate 95 through Harford County hear a familiar voice over the radio announcing oldies by artists like the Jive Five or Al Hibbler. Dennis Hill, for three decades the public relations spinmaster for five Baltimore police commissioners, has been spinning tunes for WAMD-AM, "Oldies 97" in Aberdeen.

"Actually, I get a lot of reaction from people who recognize me when I was spokesman for the Police Department," Hill says. "It's nice."

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