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A Secret Gift
A Secret Gift: How One Man's Kindness--and a Trove of Letters--Revealed the Hidden History of t he Great Depression | Ted Gup
8 posts | 3 read | 8 to read
An inspiring account of America at its worst-and Americans at their best-woven from the stories of Depression-era families who were helped by gifts from the author's generous and secretive grandfather. Shortly before Christmas 1933 in Depression-scarred Canton, Ohio, a small newspaper ad offered $10, no strings attached, to 75 families in distress. Interested readers were asked to submit letters describing their hardships to a benefactor calling himself Mr. B. Virdot. The author's grandfather Sam Stone was inspired to place this ad and assist his fellow Cantonians as they prepared for the cruelest Christmas most of them would ever witness. Moved by the tales of suffering and expressions of hope contained in the letters, which he discovered in a suitcase 75 years later, Ted Gup initially set out to unveil the lives behind them, searching for records and relatives all over the country who could help him flesh out the family sagas hinted at in those letters. From these sources, Gup has re-created the impact that Mr B. Virdot's gift had on each family. Many people yearned for bread, coal, or other necessities, but many others received money from B. Virdot for more fanciful items-a toy horse, say, or a set of encyclopedias. As Gup's investigations revealed, all these things had the power to turn people's lives around- even to save them. But as he uncovered the suffering and triumphs of dozens of strangers, Gup also learned that Sam Stone was far more complex than the lovable- retiree persona he'd always shown his grandson. Gup unearths deeply buried details about Sam's life-from his impoverished, abusive upbringing to felonious efforts to hide his immigrant origins from U.S. officials-that help explain why he felt such a strong affinity to strangers in need. Drawing on his unique find and his award-winning reportorial gifts, Ted Gup solves a singular family mystery even while he pulls away the veil of eight decades that separate us from the hardships that united America during the Depression. In A Secret Gift, he weaves these revelations seamlessly into a tapestry of Depression-era America, which will fascinate and inspire in equal measure. Watch a Video
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Crazeedi
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Pickpick

5🌟 #WinterGames #ReadNosedReindeer #TBRRead #HolidayRead @StayCurious @Clwojick
This is an excellent book. The author finds that his Grandfather played Secret Santa during the Great depression, 1933. He advertised in the Canton, OH paper under an alias inviting people to write to him as to their wishes. He handed out $150 in increments of $5 to those he deemed worthy. The letters will touch your heart. This is a book worth reading.

StayCurious Sounds great! +21 20h
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Crazeedi
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I'm reading the tagged book, and the poem the author quotes struck me as relevant to many of us. I'll be posting review of this Christmas story when done.
#WinterGames #ReadNosedReindeer @StayCurious @Clwojick

StayCurious How interesting! +1 3d
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Crazeedi
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I decided to read this next. A story of hope in the midst of despair , definitely a story for our time, as I worry about family. This looks like the book I need to read. I remember buying it, but never picked it up. Must be today's the right day #hopeneverdies #gratitude

Crazeedi I've decided to wait and read in December for #wintergames. 4w
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BookAddict4
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It's scary but a bit precentient when you think about America today.

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erinreads
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Mystery Laura, I received a book from Amazon today! Almost opened it until I saw #secretsantagoespostal on the tag. Not late at all!

erinreads @MrBook @BookBabe @Avanders I just sent an email to the gmail address. Not sure how often it gets checked, so just wanted to give you a heads up! 🙃 2y
MrBook 😁👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻 2y
Avanders 🎉🎉🎉♥️🎄 And thanks for letting us know! 2y
75 likes3 comments
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BookishFeminist
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LESS THAN 2 HOURS IM EXCITED. The wrapping paper is so pretty! ✨

#SecretSantaGoesPostal #SummerSolsticeBookExchange

downtherabbithole 😁😁😁 I hope you enjoy it!!!! 📚📚 2y
BookishMarginalia Me too! 🎉🎊🎈 2y
Ruri_kaichou Almost too pretty to open! 2y
LeahBergen Eeee!! 😬😬😬 2y
125 likes4 comments
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MelodySchreiber
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Can't wait to discuss this one at @OneMorePageBooks on Wednesday!

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Ksvz
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Pickpick

Memoir Audio I think this collection of letters gives a fantastic insight into the immigrant and Depression Era experiences. the unifying factor of both was a sense of being an American and fulfilling that illusive dream of a better life. The parallels to the economic downturn and lack of unity resonate throughout.