“It is one of the most endearing and touching stories of our generation.” From the play, “The Man Who Came to Dinner.” by George Kaufman and Moss Heart. Sheridan Whiteside recounts a famous story he knows about Elias P. Crockfield in the only way he knows how, endearingly with just the right amount of dry humor. Ideal for Adult males 45-65, 2-3 minutes.
It is one of the most endearing and touching stories of our generation. One misty St. Valentine’s Eve—the year was 1901—a little old lady who had given her name to an era, Victoria, lay dying in Windsor castle. Maude Adams had not yet caused every young heart to swell as she tripped across the stage as Peter Pan; Irving Berlin had not yet written the first note of a ragtime rigadoon that was to set the nation’s feet a-tapping, and Elias P. Crockfield was just emerging from the State penitentiary.
Destitute, embittered, cruel of heart, he wandered on this St. Valentine’s eve, into a little church. But there was no godliness in his heart that night, no prayer upon his lips. In the faltering twilight, Elias P. Crockfield made his way toward the poor-box. With callous fingers he ripped open this poignant testimony of a simple people’s faith. Greedily he clutched at the few pitiful coins within. And then a child’s wavering treble broke the twilight stillness.
“Please Mr. Man,” said a little girl’s voice, “won’t you be my Valentine?” Elias P. Crockfield turned. There stood before him a bewitching little creature of five, her yellow curls cascading over her shoulders like a golden Niagara, in her tiny outstretched hand, a humble valentine. In that one crystal moment a sealed door opened in the heart of Elias P. Crockfield, and in his mind was born an idea. Twenty-five years later, three thousand rudd cheeked convicts were gamboling on the broad lawns of Crockfield Home, frolicking in the cool depths of its swimming pool, broadcasting with their own symphony orchestra from their own radio station.
Elias P. Crockfield has long since gone to his Maker, but the little girl of the golden curls, now grown to lovely womanhood, is known as the Angel of Crockfield, for she is the wife of the warden. And in the main hall of Crockfield, between a Rembrandt and Eli Greco, there hangs, in a imple little frame, a humble valentine. And in the men’s washroom, every Christmas Eve, the ghost of Elias P. Crockfield appears in one of the booths… Will you sign this please!