Thursday, March 31, 2016



When spring came to the city of Cleveland in 1909, it did not change 
Gates Avenue. People who lived on the pretty streets near Gates 
Avenue were making gardens and painting their houses. 
But Gates Avenue continued to look dirty and ugly.

Gates Avenue was a short street, but it seemed longer because 
it was so ugly. Most of the families who lived there had very little 
money. They never expected to have any more. Their houses 
had not been painted in many years, and they did not even 
have running water. The street itself was ugly too. There was 
no pavement, there was no streetlight; and the railroad at the 
end of Gates Avenue added noise and dirt.

The other girls in the school near Gates Avenue wore new 
and pretty clothes that spring. But the little girl from Gates 
Avenue still wore the dirty dress that she had worn all winter. 
Probably that was the only dress she owned.

Her teacher was very unhappy. The little girl was so nice! 
She always worked hard in school; she was always friendly and polite. 
Her face was dirty and her hair was untidy, but anyone could see that 
she was pretty under the dirt.

One day the teacher said, “Won’t you wash your face before 
you come to school tomorrow morning? Please do that, just for me.”

The next morning the child’s pretty face was clean, and her hair tidy. 
Before the little girl went home that afternoon, the teacher said, 
“Now, dear, please ask your mother to wash your dress.”

But the girl continued to wear the same dirty dress, “Her mother is 
probably not interested in her’’ the teacher thought. So she bought
 a bright blue dress and gave it to the little girl. The child took the gift 
eagerly and rushed home.

The next morning she came to school in the new blue dress, and she 
was very clean and tidy. She told her teacher, “My mother couldn’t 
believe her eyes when she saw me this morning in my new dress. 
My father wasn’t at home, but he’ll see me at supper tonight.”

She was full of excitement. When her father saw her in her new 
blue dress, he was amazed to find that he had a very pretty little girl. 
When the family ate supper, he was even more amazed to see a cloth 
on the kitchen table, The family had never used a table cloth before. 
“We’re going to begin to be tidier here,” his wife said. “I’m ashamed
 to be dirty when our daughter is so clean.”

After supper, the mother began to wash the kitchen floor. 
Her husband watched silently for several moments. Then he went 
outside and began to repair the fence. The next evening, with 
the family’s help, he began to make a garden.

During the following week, the man in the next house 
watched what his neighbor was doing. And by the end of the week, 
the man began to paint his house — for the first time in ten years. 
A few days later, the young minister of a church near Gates 
Avenue passed these two houses and saw two men working. 
For the first time he noticed that there was no  pavement on Gates 
Avenue, and no streetlight, and no running water. “People who are 
trying so hard to make decent homes here deserve help,” 
the minister thought. He asked some important citizens in the 
city to help them.

A few months later, because of the young minister, there 
was a pavement on Gates Avenue. There was a streetlight 
on the corner, and the houses had running water. Six months after 
the little girl got her new blue dress, Gates Avenue had become 
a tidy street where respectable citizens lived.

When people in other places heard the story of Gates Avenue, 
they began to organize their own ‘clean up’ campaigns. Since 1913, 
more than seven thousand towns and cities have organised 
campaigns for painting and repairing homes and making better 
lives for the people who live in them.

Who knows what will happen when a teacher gives a little girl a 
new blue dress?



  2. Hi Sailaja
    You made my day. I was searching for this story for along time now. Thank you

  3. I'd like to know the author of this lesson

  4. Hi Shailaja,

    This is Shobhin Sadharajan from Sangareddy town, Telangana State.

    Firstly, a heartful thanks to u for posting such a lovely story. This has taken me back to those Golden Days of School education. This is the story I still remember even after 21 years of its first time reading and I cannot forget even after 10 - 20 years down the line. Coz this is the story which has brought a great change in the people of a small street which then spreaded among the other thousands of streets and towns. Generally, people expect someone should bring a change in the society, but they never give a thought of starting by themselves. It is rightly said by the Legendary People in the history of the world, that even a small act can bring a great change in people and in the societies. I am very happy to share my feeling,after finding this beautiful story which i have read in my good old school days.