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Anybody here heard of a rich man called John Davis who lived in Hiawatha, Kansas? Davis, was a farmer and a self-made man. He began as a lowly hired hand and by sheer determination and frugality he managed to amass a considerable fortune in his lifetime. In the process, however, the farmer did not make many friends. Nor was he close to his wife's family, since they thought she had married beneath her dignity. Embittered, he vowed never to leave his in-laws a thin dime.


When his wife died, Davis erected an elaborate statue in her memory. He hired a sculptor to design a monument, which showed both her and him at the opposite ends of a love seat. He was so pleased with the result that he commissioned another statue, this time of himself, kneeling at her grave, placing a wreath on it. That impressed him so greatly that he planned a third monument, this time of his wife kneeling at his future gravesite, depositing a wreath. He had the sculptor add a pair of wings on her back, since she was no longer alive, giving her the appearance of an angel. One idea led to another until he'd spent no less than a quarter million dollars on the monuments to himself and his wife! So right there in Mt. Hope Cemetery, in Hiawatha, Kansas, stands a rather strange group of gravestones.


Whenever someone from the town would suggest he might be interested in a community project (a hospital, a park and swimming pool for the children, a municipal building, etc.) the old miser would frown, set his jaw and shout back, ¡§What¡¦s this town ever done for me? I don¡¦t owe this town nothin¡¦!¡¨


After using up all his resources on stone statues and selfish pursuits, John Davis died at 92, a grim-faced resident of the poorhouse. But his monuments¡K it¡¦s strange¡K Each one is slowly sinking into the Kansas soil, fast becoming victims of time, vandalism and neglect. Monuments of spite. Sad reminders of a self-centered, unsympathetic life. There is a certain poetic justice in the fact that within a few years, they will all be gone.


Oh by the way, very few people attended Mr. Davis¡¦ funeral. It is reported that only one person seemed genuinely moved by any sense of personal loss. He was Horace England¡K the tombstone salesman.


Source: ¡§Monuments¡¨ by Charles L. Allen in Stories for the Heart, compiled by Alice Gray (1996).


John Davis set his heart on statues and things below. And guess what happened? He did not make a lot of friends. He died but no one really cared that he was gone except for Horace England. His focus was on building statues on a gravesite (things below). The fruit of his labor now is slowly sinking into dirt.


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