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Luke 4:22

A Local Boy

The return of the local-boy-made-good is not always the triumph that legend has it. Around the turn of the century there was a young man named James Lewis Kraft who was a clerk in Ferguson’s general store at Fort Erie, Ontario, across the Niagara River from Buffalo. Kraft had been born on a farm near there. He was obviously a good clerk, appreciated by his employer, because he was making $150 a month—a good salary in those days.

A neighboring storekeeper, a man named Land, remembered him very well. Years later, when Kraft revisited the Land store on a trip home, the elderly proprietor identified him with every sign of pleasure. A good deal of water had gone over the falls during that interval. James Kraft had founded the Kraft Cheese Company in Chicago. The company’s products had reached practically every grocery store in the U.S.A. and adjacent Canada as well. Millions of dollars in advertising had etched the Kraft name into public consciousness, and J.L. Kraft had every expectation that neither the name nor the products had bypassed the admiring attention of his old friend.

But Land merely said, “Why, hello, Lew. Haven’t seen you for years. You still clerkin’ up at Ferguson’s?”

It couldn’t, as the saying goes, have happened to a nicer guy. For J.L. Kraft was a humble man, even though he built a multi-million-dollar business.

Bits & Pieces, July 21, 1994, pp. 19-21