Thoughts and Reflections: Remembering the Norman Rockwell Painting

By Richard Mabey Jr.


In September of 1965, I began the seventh grade. In the middle of September, I became ill with a strep throat. My mom immediately brought me to the doctor. The doctor prescribed penicillin tablets and bedrest. But sadly, the strep infection spread to my heart and I attained full-blown rheumatic fever.


I had a Boy Scout calendar on wall, directly across from the foot of my bed. The local scout council had printed it. A local tire company had their name, address, and phone number printed at the very bottom of the oaktag backing, so that their ad could be seen all year long.


The month of October featured the Normal Rockwell painting of a scout saving a little girl’s life from the disaster of a flooded home. Just to put the icing on the cake, to melt your heart, the painting showed a little black and white kitten atop the scout’s left shoulder.


Rheumatic fever required strict bed rest back then. So, for the entire month of October, during all of my waking hours, I looked at that famous Norman Rockwell painting. You see, I had no television in my bedroom. So, I either looked at the wall ahead of me or turned my head to my right-hand side to view Route 202 outside my second-floor bedroom window.


That painting became engrained in my subconscious mind. The essence, the spirit, the truth of that painting deeply moved my heart. A scout is brave is the tenth point of the twelve-point Boy Scout Law. Bravery was something that I took very seriously.


I was by far not the strongest boy in my class. I was neither the toughest boy in my class. But there were a few times when I had to stand up to the school bully. One thing about bullies, for the most part if you call them out, they’ll back down. Deep down bullies are the real scaredy cats of the school playground. I learned that golden lesson from Opie Taylor in an episode of the Andy Griffith Show.


At times it takes true bravery to stand up for ourselves. Whether at school, or work, or in some other setting. It’s not always easy to stand up for what we believe. It’s important that we remain true to our moral beliefs.


To all the young people out there, may I share this thought with you. Be courageous and be brave. Stand tall. Believe in your moral convictions. Don’t sell your belief systems out to be one of the gang. Dig your heels deep in the sand and stand firm. Stand tall and proud for what you know is right.


It’s not always easy to be brave and courageous. But if you dig deep down enough, you can find that courage and bravery lying deep within the chambers of your heart. Be brave, be strong, and stand tall for what is right. It will give you a sense of conviction that you can hold near and dear to your heart for years to come.


Richard Mabey Jr. is a freelance writer. He can be reached at Please reference “Thoughts and Reflections” on the subject line.

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