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.
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.
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.
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.
you come to school tomorrow morning? Please do that, just for me.”
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
new blue dress?