W H I S T L E
b y Lin Stone

I wasn't even thinking about it. My whistling simply echoed around me in happy, ecstatic trills. But after 42 long years Daddy finally asked me:  "Son, how did you ever learn to whistle like that?"

My thoughts raced backwards to that day around the hot stove with the radio playing.

"You done it, Daddy." I told him.

"You taught me how."

Well, he didn't believe it.

Daddy shook his head. "No. Nobody in our family knows how to whistle, son. I didn't teach you how."

And the years were stripped away more surely than ever. "Yeah you did, Daddy. You taught me how. When we lived on Narramore ranch you told me that you had always wanted to whistle, but never learned how. You said that if I ever learned how to whistle a tune you'd give me a dollar."

He almost remembered.

His eyes grew misty, and mine glistened too as I continued. "Boy Daddy, I practiced for months, but my mouth just wasn't made right. All I could ever get was some piercing shrieks. I must have given up on the project a thousand times. Only, I never give up on anything.

"So I always came back to give it another shot. Sometimes my whistle would get a little better, and I'd think, Hey, this is good enough. So I'd sneak in close beside you and try to whistle you a tune.

"You never said nothing. Never a word. I don't think you even heard. Most of the time you never even looked at me when I tried.

"So I'd know I wasn't really whistling, and I'd give up again. Only I never give up on anything. And I kept coming back to it. I knew that someday I'd be good enough. Someday I'd whistle a tune so good that you knowed it was a tune. I was going to earn that dollar. And boy, many a time when I NEEDED that dollar I'd fly into practicing again even though you were a hundred miles away.

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"Finally I done it.

It was years later. Down in a foxhole in Korea I whistled a real tune. I was so excited I could hardly wait to get home and strut my stuff in front of you.

I practiced on that one tune for months. Only, when I finally got home and whistled, your head just turned the other way. After all that practicing, I still wasn't good enough to whistle you a real tune.

"I gave up again, and again. Only I never give up on anything. And I kept coming back to practice my whistling all over again because I was determined to earn that dollar from you if it was the last thing I ever did on earth. Over the years I've whistled a tune for you a thousand times. But you never seemed to hear me, Daddy.

"Gradually I realized you'd forgotten your words. Finally I realized your promise had been given on the spur of the moment, that you had intended for me to learn how to whistle that very week. And then you'd forgotten about it when I let you down on yet one more thing.

"But even then I never quit practicing because whistling had meant something to you once and just maybe you was feeling a little pleasure those times when I whistled near you. I still ain't good. But Daddy, I'm the best whistler I'll ever be."

When I stopped I saw tears, silver tears, squinting from Daddy's gray eyes. "Son," he said. "I ain't got a dollar right now. But the way you've learned to whistle is worth a thousand."

And hearing him say that was worth more than all the money in the world. My eyes were glistening so bad I could hardly open the door to hurry outside before my heart busted open.

I felt like whistling for God.

"There's a sucker
born every minute!" 

That may well be true, but P.T. Barnum did not say it, or think it.

The saying came from a competitor trying to explain away the flock of happy spenders surging through Barnum's doors. Barnum's favorite way of advertising was by being talked about. For instance, inside a room with numerous exhibits he put up a sign that said: "This way to the Egress." 

Narrow-minded cynics believed that Barnum was trying to get a few pennies for re-entry tickets to those he fooled into leaving the exhibit. But no -- No! Barnum was simply advertising. The big fools weren't the ones that found themselves outside looking in; it was those who paid for tickets just to show their friends the Egress sign.  Lin Stone 

P.T. Barnum's book The Golden Rules For Making Money will reveal the solid secrets to super publicity he used to build a world wide reputation in a hurry!  

the end.

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Lin Stone is an author, writer and photographer living in Mena Arkansas among the gentle mountains known as Ouachita.  He writes about adventures and he writes about the peaceable things of this world.  

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