Is this old dead duck still circulating?
The story is that a poor farm kid in England Scotland saves a rich kid from drowning, and the rich family offers to pay for college for the poor kid. The poor kid goes to college, and later makes a great discovery, and that discovery later saves the life of a member of the rich family, who goes on to save the world.
In various forms I’ve seen this story, that a member of the Churchill family, or Winston Churchill himself, was saved by a member of the Fleming family, or Sir Alexander Fleming himself (the discoverer of penicillin). Then, years later Churchill has a deadly infection, but his life is saved by Fleming’s discovery.
It’s a great story, actually, but it is fabrication from start to finish, laced with famous names, our natural ignorance of some parts of history, and our desire for such coincidences to be true. It’s such a great story that the wrong, hoax version still circulates even after it is so easy to learn that the story is wrong.
The Churchill Centre, in England, has a denial that should be embarrassing to Americans and Christians — they point out it was distributed in the 1950s by churches here.
The story apparently originated in Worship Programs for Juniors, by Alice A. Bays and Elizabeth Jones Oakberg, published ca. 1950 by an American religious house, in a chapter entitled “The Power of Kindness.”
Here are several ways to tell the story is false: Read the rest of this entry »