The First Step — March 2014
There is a story about a lady named Martha Berry. As a former school teacher, any story having to do with children really perks my interest. Probably that is why I love to see the drivers of the junior dragsters at their events at Woodburn Dragstrip and throughout the Northwest Division. Meanwhile, back to the story about Martha Berry.
Martha had a strong desire to help children. She was especially concerned for those children from poor families. Her desire was to start a school that would be tailored to their needs. But, Martha had no books, no building, and no money. But she did have a dream. (Sounds like a good time for a fundraiser, right?)
One person that Martha knew was named Henry Ford. Martha went to Mr. Ford and asked for a donation to get her dream off the ground. Now dear old Henry reached into his pocket and pulled out a dime and gave it to her. Most people would have been insulted, but not Martha. She took that dime, bought a packet of seeds, planted a garden, raised a crop, sold it and bought more seeds. With this process repeated four times and through the assistance of neighbors and friends, a one room log cabin was built which became the first “Berry School.”
Martha Berry returned to Henry Ford and said, “Look what your dime has done.” He was so impressed that he donated one million dollars to Berry School. Other supporters of note included Andrew Carnegie, Theodore Roosevelt, and Ellen Louise Axson Wilson (wife of President Woodrow Wilson). With their support, Martha Berry’s school was able to expand into two high schools, one for girls and one for boys. As the support continued over a period of ten years, a junior college was founded and in 1983 a four-year college, named after its founder, was incorporated.
As I think of all that she accomplished, I am reminded that a lot can be accomplished from a small beginning. Yes, it will take time, effort, an immense amount of dedication and hard work. But, without giving it a start, it will not happen.
We can translate that same motto to our racing endeavors. Most of us begin small. It would be very difficult to tally all of the hours of labor, all of the money invested, and all of the assistance of our friends and family that comprise the total of any one racing program. However, if we look back, we will discover at some point, there was a vision, a desire, and a small beginning. The start began when we took that first step. For some, that will happen this year. I wish you all the best.
Elvon Kauffman has been drag racing since 1975. He has been a NHRA Northwest Division Bracket Champion twice – first in 1978 when he defeated fellow Woodburn racer, Joe DiFillipi at Seattle International Raceway and secondly, in 1980 when he again defeated a Woodburn racer, Ron Burch at Woodburn Dragstrip. He was the first and only World Champion in Heavy Bracket, winning with his 1970 Plymouth Road Runner 4-speed at the now defunct Ontario Motor Speedway in October, 1980. Elvon’s variety of life experiences become the basis for the stories he shares in Straight Talk, a monthly column produced by Woodburn Dragstrip.