Posted: Wednesday September 27, 2006

Two Nashvillians ask Americans to do good deeds
By Bill Harless, The City Paper

Beginning in Kentucky and ending in Alaska, two Nashvillians set out across the country, interviewing the men and women they came across, giving each $10, asking each to do a good deed with the money. They were searching for people of good will.

Pat Price earned his bachelor’s degree at Lipscomb University in 2003, and his father Scott, general counsel for the Eller & Olsen Stone Company, asked him to postpone attending business school for a year so they could make their journey.

From July 2003 to June 2004, the two visited every state in the U.S. and conducted 106 interviews, which they are now compiling in a book.

At the end of each interview, the Prices took the interviewee’s picture and asked him or her to write them in Nashville, telling how the money was used.

The responses vary in length from a single sentence to a lengthy, single-spaced letter that carefully outlines the author’s deliberations.

“Great to be part of your worthwhile mission. I thought long and hard about the distribution of the $10,” replied a man from Vincennes, Ind., a city on the Wabash River.

“It ran the gamut of returning it to you so you could more easily continue your journey, to taking my nephew to a tennis lesson, to taking my wife to lunch, to giving it to the very poor newspaper delivery guy, and finally, to including it with a card to a poor old lady here in Vincennes who has health and money problems aplenty. I sent it anonymously [to the old lady] with a note of good cheer.”

A man from Florida wrote, “I used your money to buy stamps and envelopes, and I’ve sent $10 to 13 other people that I know will do good things.”

The Prices made their trip in intervals, taking a region of the country at a time. Father and son would fly to a city, rent a car and then drive wherever they felt inclined, not using an itinerary. They traveled more than 57,000 miles, according to Scott Price.

“I had seen a cartoon in Barron’s …of a father and son looking at the evening news together, and the little boy is saying, ‘Dad, has there ever been any good news?’ And I was really struck by that. I thought, probably for a lot of young people, if all they’ve seen is the news on television, it’s pretty grim much of the time,” Scott Price said.

So on the journey, he said, “We were just determined to try to randomly approach folds in whatever setting we found them and tell them that we were motivated by a desire [to find] goodwill…”

Pat Price, who has spina bifida and must use a wheelchair, conducted the interviews while his father took notes and recorded the conversations.

First, Pat Price would ask where a person’s favorite place in his or her state was (the reply was usually one’s hometown), and then, what was the best about the hometown, who was the best person one knew and what was the best decision one had made in life.

Telling about some of the characters they encountered, Scott Price described an elderly man, Abe Correia, whom they met at a memorial to John F. Kennedy in Hyannis, Mass. He was selling baseball caps to raise money so that underprivileged children could attend college.

Correia said his best decision was marrying his wife Shirley, whom he met at a theater in Australia where he did an acrobatic act on the trapeze. Before working at the theater, Correia served in the navy in World War II.

“Here’s a guy who’s 83 – he’s not in a rocking chair on the front porch of a retirement home. He’s out doing volunteer work to help underprivileged kids. That’s exactly what we were looking for.”

The Prices have made a draft of their book and are now speaking with publishers about having it printed.

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