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Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The "A Fairy Tale Ending" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Grabbed the morning paper and headed to my lounge chair to read the news.  In no time Creamsicle, our orange and white tabby cat, was parked in my lap waiting to have his head scratched.  Opened the paper to the "Living" section and there, staring back at me, was the same little girl whose face I just saw a few days ago while leafing through the book my son gave me for Christmas last year.  
Book by Richard Hertzler titled "My Lancaster County"
Book titled "My Lancaster County" which features page after page of photographs taken by Lancaster Newspaper's staff photographer Richard Hertzler throughout his career and made into a coffee-table book last year.  The photo was a black and white taken in September of 1977 in eastern Lancaster County.  The photograph features a little girl with a welcoming smile and a young boy who seems to be less thrilled about having his photo taken.  It was featured in the Lancaster New Era, the daily evening paper in 1977, and eventually won Hertzler first place in Pennsylvania for a portrait/personality photo in an Associated Press contest.  At that time in history the photo was taken on film and the film was filed away for almost 40 years until retrieved by Hertzler for use in his book. Then a few months ago a fellow named Paul Reiff, who lives in Leola, a town in eastern Pennsylvania, saw the book and wanted to buy a copy.  He had no means of transportation and after calling the newspaper office found that Hertzler would hand deliver a copy of the book to him.  As he leafed through the first few pages while Hertzler stood by, he told Hertzler he thought he knew the girl standing by the garden gate.  
Newspaper article lays under the page in the book.
Richard left shortly after telling Paul to call him if he ever found out who the little girl might be.  Wasn't long before Paul left a message at the newspaper telling Hertzler that if he wanted to meet Alice, the girl in the photo, to call him.  Seems that little girl is now all grown up and has children of her own and the little boy in the photo, her brother, now lives in Iowa. Alice explained that back in '77 she and her brother stood by the gate while her mother was tending to their siblings inside the house which is where she still lives today with her family.  It's amazing that Paul was able to recognize this little girl and her surroundings and know that it was Alice.  He lives a hop, skip and a jump from where the photo was taken and somehow knew that it had to be Alice in the photo.  Something in the forehead and eyes of the little girl told him it was Alice.  Well, Hertzler recently got a chance to meet Alice once again and said it was like going back in time.  Was funny that the photo originally wasn't one that Hertzler had planned to place in his book, but his wife told him it was one of her favorites and after all, it one the Associated Press award.  And, if Paul hadn't purchased the book and seen the photo, Hertzler and Alice might never have met once again.  An amazing story with a remarkable ending.  Good things really do happen from time to time to good people.  This was one of those times.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

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