Misty of Chincoteague

This is a story told by my wife, Lanita Bradley Boyd.

The island of Chincoteague (chink-uh-TEEG), off the coast of Virginia, became famous due to the book, Misty of Chinoteague, by Marguerite Henry.  In a poll of the most famous children’s horse books, Misty of Chincoteague came in second only to Black Beauty and has had over twenty hardcover printings.  Misty became the ideal horse that any child longs for.

Chincoteague Island has also developed into a “destination wedding” location.

Recently, our friends went to Chinoteague Island  for a wedding.  Many of the guests heard talk about the book, Misty of Chinoteague, and were eager to get to the local bookstore to buy books for children or grandchildren.

In the front window of the quaint bookstore was a sign, “Misty is here.”  Yes, the horse Misty has been preserved through the art of taxidermy and stands for all to see there in the back of the store.

One of the wedding guests, knowing only that it was a famous book and she wanted to buy it, was excited when she saw the sign in the window, “Misty is here.”  She picked up a book from the display and went straight to the store employee. Misty

“Where is Misty?”  she asked, “I want to get her to sign my book.”

Smiling, the clerk said, “That will be a little hard to do, ma’am.  But she’s right around the corner here.”

Imagine the woman’s surprise when she saw a horse!

Hurrying back to the car she said to the other passengers, “Well, you could have saved me a lot of embarrassment if you’d told me Misty was a horse!”

Keep It Concise

Mark Twain had a clever and often humorous way to make a point through his stories. He told of a Missouri farmer who ran five times for the state legislature without winning. It wasn’t because he didn’t practice his speeches. He practiced his campaign talks every day while milking. He referred to himself as “my humble aspirant.”  He referred to his audiences as “my enlightened constituents.”  He talked of “obtaining a mandate” for his “legislative mission.” He did not understand the concept of being concise.

Then one day even his cow balked at these speeches and kicked him in the teeth. With his front teeth knocked out, the farmer could speak only words of one syllable. The result was he won his next election and kept getting reelected.

Practice Short Leaps

A story I found in Guideposts many years ago has application to various topics, especially when giving tips for improvement in some area. It is a good hook for a presentation if you are having a hard time with the continuity of your main points.

A big game hunter in India sighted a large Bengal tiger. Since the animal was only a short distance away, the hunter took a quick shot and missed. The tiger leaped toward the hunter, and, fortunately for the hunter, he jumped over the hunter and the hunter escaped.

The relieved hunter returned to camp and was concerned about his poor aim. So the next morning he went behind the camp to practice shooting at short range. As he was practicing, he heard rustling in the bushes nearby. He looked, and there was the same tiger practicing short leaps.

Sometimes it is not the big goal that makes a difference, but the short leaps that are significant. Here are some short leaps that we can all use to improve our (fill in the blank with your topic).

Anticipation: When the Impossible Becomes the Possible

Anticipation is a great trait of any effective presentation. This rhetorical technique can be found in many places. One that excited me was the announcement  on May 6, 1954, that Roger Bannister had broken the four-minute mile record. Here is the way Neil Bascomb, author  of  “The Perfect Mile,” recounted the public announcement that the record had been broken:

“Ladies and gentlemen, here is the result of Event Number Nine, the One Mile:

First, Number Forty-One, R. G. Bannister, of the Amateur Athletic Association and formerly of Exeter and Merton Colleges, with a time which is a new meeting and track record, and which subject to ratification will be a new English Native, British National, British All-Comers, European, British Empire and WORLD’S RECORD, the time is THREE…”

The actual time of 3:59.4 was drowned out by the joyous cries of the crowd.

Children Ask the Good Questions

Children in their innocence can ask the best questions. I read of an eight-year- old who went on a field trip to the local police station.  The sergeant in charge was taking them through the facility and showing them various parts of the system. He took them inside the jail and had them look through the bars. Then he said, “This is not where you want to be.”

This was certainly startling to the third graders. He let them look around and then took them to the pictures of the “Most Wanted” criminals posted on the bulletin board.

Then he said, “These are the people we are looking for that belong in jail.”

The eight-year-old raised his hand and said, “Why didn’t you keep them when you took their picture?”


Here is an excellent story regarding teamwork.

Jimmy Durante was a singer, comedian, and actor during the early and middle part of the 20th century.

During World War II, Ed Sullivan asked Jimmy to entertain a group of soldiers who had just gotten back from the war and were temporarily staying on Ellis Island. Jimmy said he would but he only had time for a short performance because he had to catch a ferry in time to do his radio show back in New York.

But when Jimmy got on stage, something interesting happened. He went through a short monologue and then stayed. The applause grew louder and louder and he kept staying. Pretty soon, he had been  on fifteen, twenty, and then thirty minutes.

Finally he took a last bow, and left the stage. Backstage someone stopped him and said, “I thought you had to go after a few minutes. What happened?”

Jimmy answered, “I did have to go, but I can show you the reason I stayed. You can see for yourself if you’ll look down on the front row. “

In the front row were two men, each of whom had lost an arm in the war. One had lost his right arm, and the other had lost his left. Together, they were able to clap, and that’s exactly what they were doing, loudly and cheerfully.

Now that is teamwork in action.

The Power of the Positive

Over several decades I have developed a habit of keeping notes and letters that have special meaning to me. This  letter from a student is one of my all time favorites.

Seven days before I started this course I had made up my mind to make it  my final day. I will always remember the first day of class when you said, ‘this class will change your life.’  I have not entirely understood what you may have meant, but hearing it was just enough.

As I sat on my bed that night something made me believe a complete stranger that maybe my life could change. Instead of ending everything, I fell asleep. I don’t know what would have happened had I not heard someone say that things will change for the better….I just want you to know that what you do changes lives. 

I often talk about the power of positive language. This note convinces me even more that this idea is not theory but reality for all of us.

Share a positive idea with someone today.

Introducing Ourselves Clearly

Josh told me this story to use when, as you begin your presentation or your workshop, you want your participants in a small audience to pronounce their names distinctly.

His friend Dean was in medical school at Indiana University and a teaching physician he saw periodically introduced himself as “Dr. Tonibaroni.”  So whenever Dean saw him in the hall he would say, “Hello, Dr. Baroni.”  To which the doctor would reply, “Tonibaroni.” Dean would think, Whatever.  He just figured some people preferred first names, but he wasn’t comfortable with that, so whenever he saw the doctor he would say, “Hello, Dr. Baroni.”  Again the doctor would reply “Tonibaroni,” and Dean would think, Whatever.

This happened several times until, one day, Dean discovered to his chagrin that “Tonibaroni” was the doctor’s last name! He had a first name also, so his name was something like Joe Tonibaroni.

This is a good example to encourage the group to speak distinctly, pronouncing both names clearly so everyone can distinguish between first and last names

A Unique Personality

The following story, with names changed, was told by one of my students years ago.

When parents remarry, you just never know what you are in for. I met my stepmother eight years ago when my dad brought her over to my grandmother’s house. “Girls,” he said, “tNo teethhis is Marjorie.”  She stuck out her hand and gave a big smile. My sister and I stood, stunned. She only had three teeth.

It had been a while since I had seen Marjorie before my wedding. When she arrived, I kept telling my husband, “There’s something different about her.”  It came to me: she had gotten false teeth.

At the next family event, Marjorie kept raving about the chocolate cake on the table. Moments later Joe came to me sort of chuckling. “What’s happened now?” I asked.

He replied, “Well, your stepmom took out her teeth and she’s chomping on her chocolate cake in the corner.” I thought, okay, this must be just because we’re around family.

Months later we went out to dinner with Dad and Marjorie at a local restaurant. She picked at her food for a while and kept mumbling to my dad. Finally, he said, “I don’t care, just do it.”  Joe and I looked at each other puzzled. Then Marjorie picked up her napkin, placed it over her mouth, pulled her teeth out, and set them on the table. She smiled, all gums, and began to eat her food.

If you’re going to deal with a challenging relationship, you would probably rather deal with a person that doesn’t have any teeth than one who doesn’t have any personality.

[Or you might choose to make your punch line just the opposite, especially in the business world: if you’re dealing with a challenging relationship, perhaps you’d rather have a person with no personality than one with no teeth.]